Writers are Thieves!

We’re all plagiarists whether we know it or not. Oh, I don’t mean like politicians who steal whole paragraphs and pages from people who are way smarter than they are. Which doesn’t take much, when you come to think of it. Most of the politicians I’ve observed are almost illiterate. Why do you think they pay so much to have speech writers do their work for them? No, what I mean is that we consciously or subconsciously “steal” from other authors whom we admire.

I learned to read before first grade. So if I wrote a novel in first grade and took “Jack and Jill” out of my first grade reader and used it in my novel that would be plagiarism. But, if in the second or third grade I wrote another best seller and wrote “Jill and Jack went around the hill,” I would be subconsciously borrowing something that had stuck in my mind and seemed appropriate for my current work.

Writers are always influenced by good writing and we also read a whole lot. So I may be writing something and a phrase or a sentence will pop into my mind and just seem right and I will type it out. If I had time to go back through the thousands of books I have read, I might find that phrase in one or two or more. That’s not plagiarism that is my subconscious bringing back a fragment of something that my brain has stored away because the structure of the words intrigued me. Writers are like sponges, we absorb everything. Some famous writers, Hemingway, for instance, used actual sentences that he had heard others say in conversation. I wouldn’t go that far, but as long as you are not consciously writing while having some author’s book open on your desk, and typing word for word what you are reading, don’t sweat it. Just know that if you write some sentence, phrase, or paragraph that is really good – someone, sometime, will “borrow it.”

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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