Plagiarism vs. Inspiration
A lot of people think plagiarism is taking another persons words word-for-word without citing. I know of some people who will throw a stink if the words plagiarism are used for anything that isn't word-for-word, or even near-word-for word. You can still be guilty of plagiarism if you paraphrase, and you can still be guilty even if you give some kind of credit. Again...
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is stealing another person's words or ideas. Plagiarism isn't just exclusive to word-for-word, or near-word-for-word because that leaves out a person's ideas. When talking about ideas here we aren't talking about basic ideas that you can find in everybody's stories otherwise known as tropes, or cliches.* We're talking ideas that are unique to the writer like how they put a plot together, or how they choose to put together their cast of characters.
Why is it an issue?
It's not writing, it's copying/transcribing and that is stealing. The person who deserves credit for coming up with the brilliant story is the original creator, but in reality you're getting credit for their brilliance because you decided to take their story and change their male lead into a female as well as drop in other minor changes. Everything else though is the exact same story. How would you like it if another writer came in changed one of your stories by replacing the characters from one fandom with another? I bet you wouldn't.
But what if they give credit?
A few writers think they would like it so long as they were given proper credit. However... copying another persons work and substituting stuff out without permission isn't a form of flattery. If the person really wanted to flatter you they would take your story and actually transform it into something new. On top of this even if you did give permission to them it would still be plagiarism because of the amount taken.
Yup... I said that right.
It is still plagiarism even if you give credit, and even if you have permission. Even when someone uses an artists base or picture they are expected to change it up to become something new, rather then just running it through a filter, or tweaking it with a few minor edits. There is a major difference between copying another person's story and making edits and actually writing a story.
How to avoid plagiarism?
Attitude ~ One of the reasons I see people plagiarize other people's work is because they lack self-confidence in themselves and their own work. They become frustrated because they know that their writing lacks the skill other writers have so they resort to plagiarizing an existing story line because it makes them feel like they've achieved something.
In reality they have achieved nothing. Copying another persons work and claiming it as your own work only bolsters your self-esteem for a short time, and once you get caught you'll actually end up with worse self-esteem issues. A better way to build up your self-esteem is by setting goals you know you can meet, and looking back at how you've managed to improve as a writer over the years .
Other writers plagiarize in a sad attempt to revenge themselves of a perceived wrong. This is again a self-esteem issue. Those who are trying to bully you will win by getting a negative reaction from you. Those who tried actually helping you grow as a writer will find themselves not wanting to help you any more. Sometimes to a perceived wrong doesn't exist.
Know What an AU is ~ An AU is a story where canon ends up changed. There is though more to creating an AU then changing things. I am hoping to go more into how to create a good AU later on, but the best way to put it is you can't count it as an AU if all you're doing is substituting she for he.
Know What a Parody is ~ This is the other place I've seen writers get stuck on. A parody mimics the style of the work, but doesn't do an exact retelling of the original work. It also specifically mocks the original writing, or finds a way to satirize it. I again hope to write more on this later, so for now this is what you need to know. There is more to a parody then replacing one set of character names with another set of character names.
Remember that most people have read the story already.~ Some people forget that other people have already read the books. Don't cover events that aren't important to your story, and if it is important to your story find a way to briefly summarize the events, or to tell the events in a manner that gives a new perspective on the work.
I also need to discuss RTB's or Reading the Books. The reason these works are popular is because people have read the work and can easily skim read the work at a fast speed as they already know what goes on, or in some cases the person hasn't read the work and knows it is an easy way to read the work for... well... free. Write something where you insert text between lines of copyrighted material and you risk losing your Wattpad account.
This doesn't though mean you can't do an RTB that doesn't plagiarize, or run fowl of copyright law. The original purpose of the RTB was to explore a characters reactions, not to actually listen to the books being read to the characters and hearing their comments. Ask yourself the question, "how would blank react to finding out blank because they read the books." That there is your story. I'd go into more depth, but I wish to cover this in more depth later on as well.
The main point though is use your own words, and make as much of the work your own as possible. Sometimes you may want to include a quote which inspired you at the beginning, or story calls for direct quoting of some dialog. Quoting of dialog should be limited to a character thinking back on something another character said, or one line leading into an AU version of the events.
*Hunger Games has been accused of plagiarizing Battle Royale for having the fight to the death scenario , and Harry Potter has been accused of plagiarizing Worst Witch because they both use wizarding schools.
YOU ARE READING
How to Write FanfictionNon-Fiction
How to Write Fanfiction is a writing resource that contains tips and tricks on crafting fanfiction stories - by the community, for the community. This guide will serve as a helpful point of reference for fanfiction writers both old and new. We ultim...