The Flip Side of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is dastardly, plain and simple. Only a common thief, one with no imagination, would steal another writer’s work and call it their own.

Writing can sometimes be an onerous job, though. Where do I get original ideas? How do I fit those ideas into a story? What to I take out or leave in?

It’s all too easy to slip over that dreaded line and “borrow” ideas or lines verbatim. After all, some writers ask, with the millions of books available, in libraries and online, who’s going to know?

The answer is: you will. The beginning of a guilt trip that will plague you to your grave.

There is hope for us all, however. I call it the flip side of plagiarism.

If you didn’t already know, the Bard himself “borrowed” ideas from his predecessors. The likes of Chaucer, Holinshed, Plutarch, Seneca, Ovid; many others. All played significant roles in Shakespeare’s writing.*

It’s true: we can’t all write like Shakespeare. Though we can imitate his innate ability to take the words and ideas of his mentors and turn them into something original.

Editors call it “rewriting.” I coined the term, “origineering,” a portmanteau of originating and engineering. Re-engineering a story idea, in characters, time, and place, to make it original.

Did you know the Bible was one of Shake’s sources?

Here’s one of my sources for Shakespeare’s influences:

*Mabillard, Amanda. What Inspired Shakespeare?Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000.

So. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is, to learn how to get it “write” without plagiarizing.

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