Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Some authors’ storylines are motivated by a popularized idea. But when they take inspiration from other authors, where do they draw the line at plagiarism?

Every artist starts somewhere.

When searching for their new muse or motivation to create, artists seek stimulants to feed their minds. Painters take inspiration from nature, museums, or other artists’ paintings. Chefs drive through different restaurants to try different flavors and cuisines.

For authors, this typically means reading other books to fuel their creativity and imagination. Aside from practice, reading is vital to writing an excellent book. Whether it’s to learn from what is written or how it’s composed, no writer has attempted to create a story without reading other materials first.

Hence, in a way, what inspires authors to craft their own is always another’s story. And in a way, perhaps, subconsciously, they may have taken hints from this inspiration and reflected it to their own. Regardless of what story it is and how “out-of-the-world” its plot points are, its author must have taken inspiration from a story, a character, or a theme that left an imprint on their mind.

When Authors Take Inspiration From Other Authors, They Aren’t Copying

People can easily mistake inspiration for imitation. After all, the former means taking a part of one thing and creating something new out of it. It’s walking on a tightrope where a single mistake leads to duplication; then, it falls under the latter. However, what authors end up with depends on how carefully they tread around an idea, so no resemblance demeans their creation as a rip-off or plagiarizer.

No writer ever wants their book to be assumed plagiarized. Hence, every step they take throughout writing their story must be deliberately planned.

For instance, in Man-Dar of Atlantis by Sousa, readers are re-introduced to a famous epic around conflicts and battles in the fictional land of Atlantis. The place already rings a bell and may have produced several titles. It’s safe to assume the author who wrote the book, which made the land popular, did so well that they inspired various authors to create derivatives. But does this mean these succeeding authors merely created copies or plagiarized the theme?

The short yet sweet answer is no.

These authors managed to evade allegations of plagiarism despite banking on a popular theme because they each made Atlantis their own. Although each of their books might have followed the typical formula for a story, they each added their individuality to their crafts.

When authors take inspiration from other authors, they merely use the theme while weaving their original story around it. This is where the thin line separating inspiration from plagiarism lies. However, this line often becomes so thin that some authors might not notice it.

How Do Authors Steer Clear From Plagiarism?

What’s tricky about the plagiarism debacle is that even with great effort, some authors may still unintentionally plagiarize another. When they’re surrounded by a multitude of like-minded individuals, the space for originality significantly narrows. Ideas get thrown around, and nobody closely tracks what’s been done. Ensuring authors know how to avoid plagiarism regardless of what idea they’re using is highly crucial.

Here’s how authors take inspiration from other authors safely:

Read More Within the Target Genre

When authors read more materials, the more varied they’ll be inspired by. This decreases the chances of them sticking to a single book and storyline to bank their story on. The more scattered their inspirations are, the less likely authors will mimic one author’s work or tone. Not to mention reading more books will also give them more ideas about what to do with their current project.

It’s hitting two birds with one stone.

Find a Unique Twist

An original plot twist will always do wonders in maintaining the book’s originality. As established earlier, when authors take inspiration from other authors, they only borrow a specific aspect of the theme. Hence, they must add their unique ideas to the story, giving it a distinctive form away from its inspiration. Whether it’s an excellent plot twist or the author’s unique narrative, there should be any authenticity to the book for it to be original.

Authors Must Stick to What They Truly Want

Authors write because they have the burning desire to. Regardless of where they’re inspired to start, the strength to continue is always found within. Every story is the author’s to tell. Hence, staying true to what they want to share is the perfect way to maintain originality. It’s safe from plagiarism if everything comes from their heart alone.

By following the tips above, hopefully, you’ll avoid plagiarism issues.