Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Accidental Plagiarism…Sort of

Plagiarizing someone isn’t something I worry too much about. First, I would never do that to someone, no matter how fantastic I thought their writing was. And second, between writing fanfiction, novels and short stories, I have yet to accidentally plagiarize someone’s work…until now. Dum-dum-duuuuuuuuum *rubs hands sinisterly*

Actually, I caught myself by the time I’d moved onto the next sentence. My current WIP (which I hope to actually finish by the end of NaNo) is about a girl who has psychic dreams. Well, she dreams of the Headmaster of her private school slipping in the cafeteria and falling in front of everyone. When I mentally wrote it, Headmaster Mannor slipped on mashed potatoes, but when I actually put it on paper, for some strange reason I wrote: I laughed, remembering my dream of Headmaster Mannor slipping on that banana peel. I mean, an actual banana peel!

I’d completed the next sentence after that, and then I stopped and said to myself, “Self, why does that sound familiar?” My self answered that it did not know. So I sat there, thinking about that, staring out of my terrace doors at the gloomy rain and then I was like, DOH!

The second sentence is nearly an exact sentence from Justine Larbalestier’s Liar. Now, I know it could be argued that the sentence in and of itself is pretty non-distinct and no court in the world would find be guilty of using it, but I knew where it came from, and that was enough for me. If I’d read that book years ago and had no real memory of reading that sentence, then I wouldn’t think twice about using it. But the combination of the scene originally being with mashed potatoes, then my changing it to a banana peel, and knowing exactly where I got it from felt too much like plagiarism to me.

Has this ever happened to you…even if it’s a small incident like this?


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

It hasn't happened to me and I sure hope it doesn't, but when you think of all the books we read there's got to be stuff stuck in the subconscious. Glad you had your radar working. Good show!

Amna said...

ooo, I'm now worried I do this.

*runs to check WIP*