Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Plagiarism Part II

Plagiarism Part two

After my post yesterday, it got me to thinking about the collective conscious. (I think a friend started it) :P She knows who she is!

But as I read many, many books I come across writers who I feel FEED off of each other’s ideas.

Two right off the top of my head? Dean Koontz and Stephen King! Not that they plagiarize each other but feed off of a single thought or idea.

What do I mean by "feed off of" and would you like some examples? Ok, I just finished reading The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz AND I read Duma Key by Stephen King. I read Duma first! Do you want to talk about an awesome book? I could go on and on!

Anyway in Duma, there is this man who sketches (yeah the pencil and paper kind) and the pictures just so happen to become a reality. There is a ship, a haunted ship (that only the artist sees) sitting out in the water. I won’t go any further because I will never give a story away.

DEotY by Koontz, has an architect who sketches a dog. A haunting dog with beautiful eyes that seem to speak to him. There is a ship (minor player in this tale) but you see, these books were BOTH published the same year, so there is no way one took the idea from the other but they (being of the same genre) THINK ALIKE! I have had the opportunity to note this happening on more than one occasion between the two authors.
Except the books were published in different years.

I have read books where it appears that one idea has spawned a whole story from a different author. They are not stealing the idea and writing the same story, or stealing sentences and words, calling them their own. They are creating, like any artist would.

Artists can look at the same Willow tree in the setting sun and both paint a different picture. A photographer can snap a picture of Redwood trees and a totally different photographer can capture the exact same trees but in a different light and maybe make the National Geographic cover.

This is what happens to writers sometimes in their writing. In my writing workshop, there are weekly prompts. I set the stage and the author writes at least 500 words or less from one sentence (maybe two.) On more occasions than one, we have often leaked into our writing the same story and sometimes we unknowingly used the exact same character’s name.

There is a difference in surfing ideas off an image, ideas or a word and plagiarism. The two do not walk hand in hand like lovers under the moonlit sky. As writer’s we feed off of what others write (by reading a story) and out of our imagination our own story forms, and we’re down the stretch to making the individual piece our very own artistic masterpiece.

An idiom that comes to mind, "Great Minds think alike." I don’t know the original author of this or I would surely give her/him credit for doing so. Because, in a nutshell we are all of one collective conscious, kindred spirits where like minds collide in a kaleidoscope of thoughts and ideas.

Writers are the artists that form beauty from words. I’ll leave the painting to those artists.

"In a world of discoloration, the writer reigns in beauty all with the mighty word." ~joni


June said...

Hi Joni,

Good points about the collective sharing of ideas.

Each author takes an idea (normally) different directions. The idea of creating something (either by drawing it, thinking it, using words, etc.) is not a new one. Remember the little boy in that Twilight Zone episode who would get mad at people or pets and make them "disappear into the cornfield?" Well he also make up things out of his mind. . and I'm sure the idea is much older than that.

Writing prompts are a great example of the directions multiple writers might go all based on their understanding of a single idea, concept, or sentence.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

And THIS is why you can not copyright an idea. Every writer is unique in the way he/she translates the ideal into the literary "real". Imagine if Shakespeare had been able to copyright the plots in all of his plays? If Gene Roddenberry copyrighted space travel with a team of interacial shipmates? If Stephen King copyrighted a gunslinger on an adventure?

We'd all be in trouble. Plagerism is distinct from collective creativism. I've enjoyed many versions of Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelly Frankenstein, and the like.

THink of all the wonderful interpretations we would have missed had copyright choked the life out of creative thought and demanded no idea be alike, no theme be similar to another, and no characters have similiar traits.

I'd be bored. I probably be out mowing grass instead of writing.


Debbie/Granny said...

It's all in the translation and we all bring different backgrounds to the idea.

Great stuff joni!


joni said...

Thank you ladies for your opinions.

This is why I did a plagiarism II because it is not as easily defined as "someone stole that from me."

And yes the moment it is on paper it it copyrighted. (some people need a more legal venue to copyright) but you are the creator of your work.

Some good points Raven. Duly noted.
We are what WE create!
Who said that? lol

Creative plagairism is apparently ok, as opposed to downright thievery.
but then again, it isn't plagairism if YOU create something out of 'a nothing'.

Thanks for stirring the stew! I love it! :-D


Debra said...

Joni, just had to tell you I love your site. Reference this blog, I don't have a comment about plagiarism but had to tell you I just finished Duma Key and loved it as usual. Stephen King is my god, I worship his Dean Koontz is my second and did not notice the similarities. You certainly have a good eye.

Debra from WVU, aka dreamrider

joni said...

Thanks for visiting Deb! :-)

I hope you keep coming back as NEW things will often appear here and have you scratching your head! lol

Duma Key was awesome! I just can't say enough good things about it. Maybe I should write to Mr. King? I could be his spokesperson! lol

Glad you came Deb!(((DEB)))

Joni (big smiles)