Avoiding Plagiarism – or – “Reading off-genré while writing”

When you’re a writer, there’s always the chance that you’re going to be accused of plagiarism, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. The problem is that plagiarism isn’t only taking someone’s work and passing if off as your own, but is also defined as taking someone else’s ideas and doing the same. Considering that original ideas are as scarce as hens’ teeth, how in the world can a writer hope to avoid such an accusation? Well, my personal practice is that, if I’m going to be reading in between bouts of writing, I read off-genré.

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At present, the genré in which I’m writing is Visionary Fiction. This is a relatively new designation which includes a combination of fantasy, scifi, metaphysical and so on. I knew that it was going to be a bit difficult to find something to read, but I didn’t realize just how difficult until I ran into a bit of a writer’s block and decided to take a break. It seemed as though every book I picked up involved a portion (no matter how small) of something I address in Folded Dreams, even if what I’m reading is historical fiction, elves, magic or romance. As a matter of fact, I have a half dozen books open in Kindle right now because I only got so far before running into a similar story-line as my book.

The same situation arises when I watch a movie. I can’t tell you how many times in the past week that I’ve had to change channels five minutes into some film or another because I didn’t want it to influence my writing. That’s not to say I avoid all of them; I do look for inspiration for surroundings and descriptions (adjectives, phrases, etc.) from whatever I read or watch, but I’m so paranoid on the subject of plagiarism, that if a subject comes even close to what I’m writing, I step away from it and go watch PBS, read poetry (and I have to be careful there as well!) or either take a walk or a nap. About the only thing I’m safe reading – and that only relatively – is non-fiction.

I subscribed to Bright House cable television service for the first time in about 2 years this week. Movies, y’all. Lots and lots of movies that I haven’t seen…and all in my favourite genrés: fantasy, time travel, ghost stories and so on. I’ve been lucky that we now have a 24-hour news channel, Food Network and The Travel Channel, and that one of the channels has been showing nothing but all eight Harry Potter films for days now, and that The Conjuring and The Conjuring II (stories from the files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren) were On-Demand, otherwise I would have slept my week away!

Maybe I am paranoid, but the idea of anyone finding cause to say I plagiarized any part of Folded Dreams is horrifying to me. So I stay off-genré as much as I can when I’m reading or watching television. “Writer’s Life”. I swear, sometimes it can be hell. Just sayin’.

 

Where book characters are born or ♪ ♫ “Who’s that girl?” ♫ ♪

THIS...is one person!

THIS…is one person!

Regardless of genré, all fictional book characters are born in the writer’s mind. Whether historical fiction, scifi, metaphysical, visionary fiction or any other genré, the character is either a faithfully reproduced version or a conglomerate of individuals the author has known or seen. How many times have friends, acquaintances, family members…or anyone who reads a book…quoted, in essence, the old song – “Who’s that girl?” – when they find that they can relate to the protagonist. Or antagonist?

My sister was (and still is) one of my heroes, as are my mother, father (may they rest in peace) and children, in some way or another. They are, or were, not perfect. Everyone has their bad sides, no matter how easy it is to forget when they are such awesome and admirable human beings 98% of the time! It is worth it to bear in mind, however, that there are two or more sides to every single person who has been born on this planet, and any writer worth his salt will be able to objectively access these when creating a book’s characters. Of course, this is only my opinion.

Let’s be perfectly honest; how do we define certain adjectives or adverbs as they might apply to a protagonist or antagonist – if only to ourselves? As for me, all of you who follow this blog or have corresponded with me have often heard or seen me say, “Mama always said…”, usually followed by some tidbit of wisdom. Elsewhere, I also relate stories and memories of my childhood, experiences with my own children, strangers, hospitals, employers and even my own attitudes and beliefs as an adult when describing something.

For example: “That character is like one of the people I used to work for; he has a good heart, but unlike my granny, he lacks the strength of character to do the right thing.” The character in question is built on memories of my boss and my granny, and probably with a few other character traits from others I have known.

Now read my books. You will find all of the above in the personalities and experiences of the characters I have given birth to. Sometimes those characters are patched together as though I was the long lost great-great-granddaughter of Frankenstein, only not so evil…usually!

The human mind is like a computer: data is never completely lost no matter how many times you delete and “Empty Recycle Bin”. It is from all the data that has ever been entered into the writer’s brain that the characters in their books, short stories or poetry and prose are born. Experience is how we learn and experience is what fuels our imaginations.

“Who’s that girl?” Well, that’s my sister and her compassion, my mother and her wisdom, my granny and her strength of faith, and my father and his boardroom persona. When I state in the Disclaimer at the beginning of my books, that “the characters in this book are fictional and created strictly from the mind and imagination of the author”, it is true. Mostly. But then, so it goes with other authors.

Just sayin’.

“Folded Dreams – the Beginning” Goodreads Giveaway Starts Today!

Today marks the the start of my very first Goodreads Giveaway! Enter today and you could win 1 of 4 signed copies of my debut book, “Folded Dreams – the Beginning”!

“Memories. Are they remembrances of things past? or those yet to come? Is time itself, linear or relative?

Perhaps time isn’t even ‘when’, but ‘where’…and if so, where does that place memory? Or even reality?

The child is born, lives, grows old and dies. These are her memories.

Or are these yet, simply, folded space…folded time…

…Folded Dreams.”

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Folded Dreams by Pearl Kirkby

Folded Dreams

by Pearl Kirkby

Giveaway ends June 14, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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