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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Writers Weekly Question...

Aurielalata has posed a weekly question:

Writer's Weekly Question #14

How much do you borrow from your favorite writers, and how much is actually your very own ideas? At what point does "borrowing" become "plagiarism?"

It seems the question of plagiarism has been in the news lately, once with Oprah Winfrey and now with a new young author named Viswanathan who has been accused of plagiarism and since been dropped by her publisher.

I found this definition: Plagiarism is using others’ ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information.

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use

  • another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;
  • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge;
  • quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or
  • paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words.

I began to wonder.. everyone goes through life reading books and stories, watching television and movies, so if they wrote a story of their own, and unknowingly took "information" of one sort or another from things others wrote or movies, are they plagiarists? And what if this "information" was shown to them as someone elses words or ideas but that person had never even heard of said person and never read that person's writings or never saw that persons movie?? Is it still plagiarism? Can no two people ever have the same idea? Can no two people ever ever write down the same thoughts?? Though I feel it would be rare, if at all.. what would happen to that person, who is guilty, but not really guilty. Who had the same idea as another and worded it much the same as another?

I have heard it said that there are but few storiesto ever be told.. but many ways to tell those stories.... so in one form or another, aren't most writers committing plagiarism to one degree or another?? I just wonder.

I'd like to think that no one would purposely commit plagiarism, (but I am sure some do) and I am afraid many more do so unknowingly.. after all no matter how much a person reads, they can't read everything, so how can one really know? How can you remember everything you've ever read? How do you know what stays in your mind deep down and hidden and what doesn't? It poses many questions... too many questions.

For myself, I've only written one story (trilogy) that I claim my own. To my knowledge I have not committed plagiarism.. but honestly, I don't know, and I will probably never know. However, I did write my story as fantasy fiction, which is mostly what I read, so I can assume they all had some influence on me.

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