Wednesday, April 26, 2006

And......we're back

At least we seem to be. Who knows, the evil Blogger minions could be lurking at my door this very moment, ready to take me down with a poison-tipped arrow.

So unless you've been under a rock the past couple of days, I'm sure you've heard about the whole Kaavya Viswanathan thing. (If you don't know what I'm talking about go see Galleycat, their coverage has been excellent.) It appears that nothing is sacred these days, including young adult novels and chick lit.

A couple of days ago, Brian put up an excellent post on his blog addressing the Viswanathan controversy, as well as the issue of plagiarism in general. He raised the question of whether or not it's acceptable to "borrow" ideas or themes from other writers, which set off an interesting debate in the comments section.

Brian was concerned because he had an idea for a story that was generated by something another writer had presented in workshop. He felt that it would be wrong for him to go and write his own version of the story, despite how different it might have turned out. For my part, I offered up Michael Cunningham and Helen Fielding as examples of writers who had borrowed from another writer's story with huge success.

I posed this question over there and now I'm posing it here: where do you draw the line between stealing another writer's work and simply being inspired by someone else's ideas? As I told Brian, I'm still fairly naive about the rules of writing. I'm not in an MFA program, I've only been published a handful of times. I look for inspiration in everything around me, including what I read. Am I treading dangerous ground here? I'd really like to know what other people think.

(By the way, this whole thing has me so freaked out that I'm worried Brian's going to come over here and kick my ass and say I ripped off his blog post. See why I need help?)


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