Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Imitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery. . .But Not in Writing

I just read that Stephanie Meyer who wrote the infamous Twilight series about a romance between a vampire and a 'normal' person, is being accused of plagiarism. The accuser states that parts from her own book were used by Ms. Meyer for the fourth book in the Twilight series.

I haven't read but a portion of Twilight, first book in the series, and I haven't even heard of the the accuser or her book, but from what I have read of the lawsuit, me thinks I smell a rat. J.K.Rowling went through the same kind of deal after she became wildly popular, and I'm sure other famous authors have as well.

Common sense tells me the accusations are likely unfounded. As a writer, I know how a story comes to life, and the book Ms. Meyer is accused of using plagiarized material for, is the fourth in the series. A story evolves and grows as one writes.

There is really nothing new under the sun. I have received more than one rejection for both novels and magazine articles alike, where the reason for rejection was because the publisher was already under contract to print something very similar. Titles are often similar, as are storylines, characters, settings, whatever. And sometimes that can be a deal-breaker in the writing world.

When I was around eight or nine I subscribed to a childrens magazine called Wee Wisdom. I loved the stories in that magazine and devoured it as soon as it arrived in the mail. One day, as I sat reading a story, I had a sense I'd read it before. I don't remember all the details, but I did figure out where I'd seen it. I was able to locate the story in another publication by a different author, and wrote to the magazine. A while later, I received a letter that stated they were very appreciative of my informing them of the deception, because the story published in their magazine was plagiarized. I don't remember getting a free subscription or anything like that. Just a thank you.

That future writer learned one huge lesson. One I've never forgotten.