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Why You Should Steal From Other Authors

Why You Should Steal From Other Authors

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Published by K.M. Weiland
Confession time: I pilfer the wealth of other writers' words on a regular basis. I filch characters. I purloin themes. I steal plots. In other words, I am a big fat thief. And I want you to be one too.
Confession time: I pilfer the wealth of other writers' words on a regular basis. I filch characters. I purloin themes. I steal plots. In other words, I am a big fat thief. And I want you to be one too.

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Published by: K.M. Weiland on Feb 21, 2010
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02/21/2010

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Confession time: I pilfer the wealth of other writers’ words on a regular basis. Ifilch characters. I purloin themes. I steal plots. In other words, I am a big fatthief. And I want you to be one too.Yeah, okay, so most of that was said tongue in cheek. Obviously, I don’t goaround plagiarizing the works of others, not only because of the obvious moralreasons, but also because that would pretty much kill the whole challenge and joy I find in writing. But that doesn’t mean I don’t rifle every book I read andevery movie I watch, looking for something shiny to walk off with.Some of the goods I’ve acquired include:*
A delicious new word
. (My latest greatest, gleaned from Christopher Priest’s
The Prestige
: horripilation.)*
A fascinating setting
. (The WWII-era China of Pearl Buck’s
Dragon Seed 
found its way into a recent story idea.)*
An unforgettable theme
. (The beautiful representation of self-sacrificefound in Jane Porter’s
The Scottish Chiefs
laid the groundwork for my
 A ManCalled Outlaw 
.)*
A brilliant dramatization of character
. (I’ll probably spend the rest of mylife trying to imitate the success of Orson Scott Card’s intricate scene betweenhis main character and five children in
Speaker for the Dead 
.)*
A distinctive method of dialogue
. (The masterful manipulation of rhythmand phrasing to indicate dialect,
without 
resorting to phonetic spellings, in
The
www.wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.comwww.kmweiland.com
Why You Should Steal From Other Authors
 
Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
by Robert A. Heinlen will influence my own foreign-speaking characters.)*
A new plot idea
. (Audrey Niffenegger’s
The Time Traveler’s Wife
inspired meto revive a time-travel idea of my own.)The artistic community is an unending circle of inspiration. Just as we light ourown torches from the fires of other authors, our own ideas will throw sparksonto the tinder of others’ imaginations. This is one of the reasons it’s soimportant that we read widely and voraciously. Snag as many ideas as you can,and your own output will be the richer for it—thereby enabling you to then giveback to the writing world. Like every good little pickpocket, keep your eyestrained for the next fat purse of inspiration and don’t be afraid to grab it andrun!

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