Inadvertent Plagiarism

Most writers are avid readers, or so I have always assumed. Perhaps there are statistics out there somewhere to prove it one way or another, but I know it is true for me. Though I love to read and write in the same genres, I sometimes fear I will inadvertently use the ideas of other authors, unaware they were not original to me. I can’t always remember where and when I was exposed to a great idea or concept, so I end up including them in my own writing, all the while patting myself on the back for my creativity.

So what is the solution? Cut back or stop reading the genres in which I write? Keep detailed records of cool ideas from other authors so I don’t accidentally use them in my own work later on? Leave a disclaimer in every book such as: “This story may include ideas from other authors. If they are yours, please excuse the borrowed content”?

One of my favorite authors said it this way, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun.” Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:9) In other words, the wonderful concepts and ideas found in another writer’s work cannot be said to be 100% unique – it’s all been seen and heard before in one way or another.

Don’t misunderstand – plagiarism is always wrong! I would never knowingly claim someone else’s work as my own, but the content of my writing draws directly from the sum total of all my life – everything I have seen, heard, thought, experienced and read. Hopefully, though, I can bring a fresh twist to old ideas and create something which is not entirely new, but newer under the sun.

Authors – what do you think? Are you concerned your reading material may unduly influence your writing?

Author: Alexander Elliott

Alexander grew up in the Midwest, was compelled to attended private school, and ended up with an eclectic career. He’s still trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. When not working to pay the bills, he loves to read, watch Star Trek, and laugh at Calvin and Hobbs cartoons. He also enjoys long baths, country music, nature photography, cooking and keeping up with his large family. Until recently, his writing included unpublished stories, music, poetry and drama scripts. Writing his first novel in 2016 changed everything, and he struggles to balance a boatload of ideas with very little time. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and romance. The author’s writing style is sometimes plot-driven, meaning his books may not rely heavily on detailed character development. Overall, he strives to create imaginative, upbeat stories with happy endings, making sure the bad guys get their comeuppance. He considers reading a chance to get away from it all and invites you to join him. If you enjoy Alexander’s work, he would love to hear from you.

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