Plagiarism and validation

Image: Pixabay

Noun: plagiarism:  the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

Sometimes when I’m about to write about a particular idea, I will look at quotes on the subject. Not to use either the quote or the idea, but to spark ideas from them and follow where they might lead. Ideas come from many sources and while most of them seem to self-generate, there is every possibility that they originated somewhere else. Something you have seen, heard or read may have been incubating for years before it comes to the surface, reshaped and repackaged, with a relevance that is all your own. Indeed, unless you are deliberately plagiarising the work of another, you can say that it is your own. How else do we learn but by taking in what life offers and allowing our own mind and heart to work their alchemy?

Am I plagiarising the great poets when I use two words that rhyme, just because they have been used before? Or stealing the work of the creators of the alphabet when I rearrange their letters and write a book? There are only  very small number of letters after all; we are bound to string them together in a way that has already been done. If we are going to take things to their logical conclusion, existence itself is plagiarism. Whatever the creative force of existence is seen to be…scientific, religious or spiritual… there is a point of origin somewhere between non-being and being and, whatever its nature, the copyright of that particular creative Work must begin there. No matter how you look at any part of the world and seek to recreate it artistically, no matter what medium you may use… or by what name or image you know its origin… everything we know bears the same stamp… copyright © God.

That means we are all guilty of plagiarism when we seek to capture or reflect the beauty and character of the world around us. We choose to call it by another name…inspiration… yet the principle is the same, we take something from another source and, passing it through the filter of our own gifts and being, call it our own.

There is a darker side, though, to the way we appropriate and shape ideas that have originated in a mind other than ours…

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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20 Responses to Plagiarism and validation

  1. I think the way creativity works is that we take things from environment, process them, and produce something different. Existing works, the works we’re inspired by, act as raw materials. So in order to be creative, what we create must differ from whatever our raw material was. There must be something new that we add, and this difference stems from our difference in perception. After all, we all look at the same things, but perceive them as different things.

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  2. I read a book the other day (online) which had quite a few of ‘my’ ideas from my own published (online only) books in it, with a few small differences but generally similar. I could find no date on this work so I don’t know who was first. Me or her. My books are available for free to Kindle users thus I have no control over who reads it. It’s frightening to think that this or any author may read my books and think the same. I guess the world is only so big and there are only so many ideas and natural phenomenons (in this case bioluminescence) to go around…and with our books being available online I guess it is very easy for someone to ‘steal’ ideas. Copy and paste. Scary. That is why you should publish your work as soon as you can in order for the dates to be available and clear. Sometimes I wonder if its all worth it.

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  3. Interesting. I’m always worried about plagiarism, but I never really let it control me too much. Similarities appear at times like when you get two asteroid or Snow White movies within a few months of each other. I think one problem here is that you now have people actively hunting for similarities between works. They want to declare plagiarism like it’s the artist scarlet letter.

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      I agree, Charles… and the daft thing is that it only hurts the creative process. If the creator knows their ideas are their own, regardless of where they may have found inspiration, they should just go with it.

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      • True. Met many authors that are determined to be 100% original. They’re routinely sent back to square one by people mentioning similar stories. Even a character name can cause trouble for them.

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        • Sue Vincent says:

          I’d steer away from using character names and places from the few mega well known books, but you now, how many people have shared my name? And how many variations are possible on a single story theme?

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          • I gave up trying to avoid the ‘used’ names. That system means you’ll eventually run out and have to make new ones. It’s really only a problem if the character is identical to the famous one. Hence why I never changed Luke’s first name. I figure most of the good ones have already been used too.

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            • Sue Vincent says:

              I see nothing wrong with Luke… especially given its derivation, it is a good name for a hero. And to be honest, I’d never even registered that it was the same as Mr Skywalker’s until you mentioned it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t call my hero Aragorn or Frodo…

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  4. I already left my comment on the second part of this, so I’ll just thank you again 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rijanjks says:

    We all have the ability to take an idea and spin it through our filters and styles. It’s a fine line, as you say, Sue.

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