1. Psychopath toaster
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    Psychopath toaster New Member

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    Plagiarism

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Psychopath toaster, Sep 5, 2009.

    Hey,

    I was wondering, if you want to write a story, is it not hard to write a really unique piece, that could not in any way be seen as plagiarism?

    I mean, if you write something, say a ghost story, how would it be possible to not to write something similar to the perhaps hundreds of other ghost stories?

    Or if you write a story about a police officer doing an investigation?

    Or if you write any sort of science-fiction, like about aliens, or hyperdevelopped robots out to kill the human race?

    I can't stop thinking about it. It freezes me, the thought of writing a story, that would be very similar to something else, even though I wouldn't know the other work!

    And it's not just the story itself, but also the way of writing it. I feel that if I write simple, it is too simple, and people will find it very dull.
    But if I write more complex, I feel like plagiarising other author's ways of writing, their unique ways.

    Anyone else ever have that feeling?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Plagiarism and unoriginality are not the same thing.

    It's true, whatever you write will share some traits with other stories, by its very nature. What's important is what is not the same. It doesn't have to be the whole thing.

    Plagiarism, on the other hand, is passing off someone else's work as your own, and is a very serious matter. It shouldn't be trivialised by misunderstanding, and confusion with problems of originality in writing.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You might want to use the forum Search feature as well. This question has been discussed many (many MANY) times, and you'll find many more responses than you can expect to see in yet another "What is plagiarism and how do I avoid it" thread.
     
  4. Psychopath toaster
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    Psychopath toaster New Member

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    I just read a whole bunch of topics about plagiarism, and it's depressing really ...

    Everyone seems to be saying that you can't write anything new anymore, that everything you write will be like someone else's work.

    Which pretty much means you have to write an amazing story if you ever want your story to be seen as "good".
     
  5. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Well said, Banzai.

    "Unoriginality" simply means that a story is dull and lifeless because it reads as uninteresting and predictable, and a criticism might be something along the lines of "cliched," or "heard it before over and over again." That has nothing to do with plagiarism, which is something the writer virtually always KNOWS he is doing.

    That said, if you're an author of note (who happens to read a LOT of other people's work), you may get called on a phrase or some piece of writing that sounds too much like how someone else described something in another story you might have read at some point. I believe this very thing happened to Asimov, and he acknowledges in a little essay that this can happen. But this kind of predicament is more the consequence of being a celebrity of some sort to begin with (with critics hoping to poke holes in his reputation or gain from his wealth in some way). There are critics of famous classical authors who genuinely believe they plagiarized various (canonical) works.

    I think the key is, if you, yourself, believe you might be passing off someone else's work as your own, then you probably are. At the very least, that's a HUGE signal that you'd better be more creative. But I think writing your own story and then worrying that someone else may have already written it is just needless paranoia.
     
  6. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    This is pretty true, actually. But it hasn't anything to do with plagiarism. More, really, to do with "originality" (of style), a distinctive voice, and casting a new light on something or other.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all of the above... you're confusing plagiarism with a lack originality...

    go here to learn what plagiarism is in the legal sense: www.copyright.gov

    and google the word for more details, if needed...
     

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