Tag Archives: plagiarism

PSA: Plagiarism

I’ll be honest, I really do not want to be writing this. However, it apparently needs to be said:

If you’re going to send us examples of your work, don’t plagiarize the first line.

Really, don’t plagiarize content at all. Just, don’t.

This time, we caught it. It was the first line, and it left me sitting there thinking, “wait a second, I’ve read this before.” That is the best possible outcome. Someone caught it early, and put a boot in it, before it got off the rails.

The worst possible outcome is, no one catches it before publication. At that point, someone will catch it. At that point, it will end your career. Don’t get caught plagiarizing, and the safest way to ensure you don’t get caught is to not do it in the first place.

I do understand. Writers are, by nature, intellectually omnivorous. We read some weird and obscure stuff sometimes. Pick up the pieces on the way through, and wander out the other side with a lot of ideas that we’ve spliced together along the way.

Nothing is created in a vacuum. You’ll encounter ideas, and concepts that inspire you. You’ll see a story hook and thing, “but, what if…” That’s fine. That’s being a writer. Sometimes it’s simply saying, “hey, I found a thing that speaks to me, go, read it, check it out.” There are ways you can incorporate that into your own work. In a phrase you’ve probably heard before, write it, “in your words.”

When you see the cliche that, “great artists steal,” that is what we’re talking about. The ability to pick up something, absorb it, and turn out your understanding of it on the other end.

It is not intentionally taking something you read somewhere else and regurgitating it onto the page without fully comprehending the context. Tell us what you’ve seen, give us your version.

I’m sure the author who provoked this post thought they’d found something obscure, that spoke to them on a deep and profound level. Problem is, the text in question is instantly recognizable in its genre.

-Starke

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