Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Word in Time

Earlier this week I ranted a bit on my personal blog about being trolled in a livestream chat room. (And before the innuendo starts flying, it was a perfectly harmless chat/livestream belonging to an artist that I like. (Livestreams are great to get a bird's eye view into a talent that I'll never have, anyway.)

The chatting portion became a little strange at one point when one of the other chatters essentially accused me of being a liar. That I couldn't possibly have written a book. (Part of the discussion was about what we were working on at the moment  - pretty harmless stuff.)

I have no idea why. No idea who this person is or why they decided I couldn't be trusted. In the end I suppose it doesn't really matter. I know what I've done and that's what counts.

However, the whole thing did get me to thinking  more about voice and style overall. Plagiarism happens all the time - of writing, of art, of any number of things. There's a fine line between taking inspiration from something and outright copying. (And this sort of goes back to an email I'd received a few weeks ago asking me where I got my inspiration from...and the answer is pretty much everyone and everything is fair game.)

But still, how can an author "prove" they wrote something? Is it a matter of certain words? Of plot? Style? Artists copy from the masters all the time - not to try to fool anyone, but because technique often has to be experienced to understand...and what better way than to try to replicate that than to actually pick up a paint brush or a pencil and go through the motions?

As writers, I suspect the best teacher is reading other authors. And I'll admit I don't have as much time as I used to, but I still gravitate toward my favorites - though sometimes my motivation is different now. Whereas before, reading was something I simply did for pleasure, now I tend to keep an eye toward craft as well. Hard not to, especially when I'm in revision mode on my own writing.

Still.  Though I would never dream of copying from someone else, I take a fair amount of pleasure in coming across phrases or words or descriptions that make me think of developing my own scenes a little differently. Sometimes I write them down in a scrap folder and sometimes I don't, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to study someone else's craft in the hopes of making my own better.

1 comment:

Mario said...

What a coincidence. I'm teaching a class today on plagiarizing...from your life. Great post, BTW.

Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?

We're a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors who occasionally blog, make filthy jokes and prowl the halls of conferences and conventions with switchblades!

Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells

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