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Writing Tips

Writing Tips: Avoiding Plagiarism

Research: Good. Plagiarizing?? Not so much!

The risk of plagiarism is a deep, dark fear in many writers’ hearts. After all, in the creative writing world, all depends on your reputation and ability for original thought and imaginative, inventive, expression.

And you never want to lose your good reputation for, “… good opinion, once lost, is lost forever” And yes … we did copy that from a book! After all, who could say it better than Jane? Did we plagiarize it? No, Sirree. We quoted a short excerpt, are attributing it to Jane Austen and including the fact that it comes from Pride and Prejudice, although you already knew that.

In a world where many have claimed with justification that there are really only seven main basic plots, it might seem inevitable that the same old thing, written in the same old way would just keep on re-appearing, one author plagiarizing from the last.

Yet it does not. Every year, countless books are written with fresh variations on these themes, variations that are original, compelling and narrate a story in a unique way. Here’s the thing. If the words come from your own head, even when based on research from previously printed facts or fiction, you can relax. They’ll be original and you will be safe from criticism.

You can liken it to the infinite variety of faces we raise to the sun. Basically, we all have pretty much the same main features. Two eyes, a nose, a mouth. Yet those few features are reproduced in many billions of different ways that result in instantly recognizable unique faces.

We humans are a complex, infinitely variable lot and our thoughts and experiences are just as infinite. So relax. If you are not copying, you won’t be plagiarizing.

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Julia Nelson

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