Sunday, September 29, 2013

Copy, paste, publish...

Well, another week and another plagiarism scandal breaks. And once I was over my usual incredulous head-shaking, I started wondering...

Okay, so just imagine you want to publish a book. So you trawl through the vaults of fanfiction, and what do you find? A few different stories that you decide to cobble together as one, change the names, and voila, a book! 

Except instead of being a shortcut, doesn't that actually seem like a lot of work? 

Now, I understand how easy it would be to steal a book, change a few details like the title and names, and slap it on Amazon under my name. Easy, and totally reprehensible. But this more sophisticated sort of plagiarism where you steal from multiple sources? Frankly, I'm not seeing the point.

If you're talented enough to take a bunch of different manuscripts and edit them together with all those pesky tenses, and POVs, and voices, and plot points, then you're talented enough to come up with your own idea surely?

I could download 80 000 words of a couple of different fanfictions in minutes...but putting them together? That's like one of those jigsaw puzzles with no edges. And where you also lost the box with the picture on it. 

I don't know about you guys, but I find editing the hardest part of writing. And the very thought of taking a bunch of different stories and actually making them into something cohesive...hell no. I'd rather start from scratch, thanks. 

I'm not saying this to be disingenuous. Once, I tried to restart a WIP after I'd already written three chapters because I wanted to change the genre, and go from sci-fi to contemporary. Easy, right? I'd just have to change a few details and it would all be done. I had to throw those chapters out and start again, because simple tweaking didn't make it make sense. It had to be entirely rewritten. 

Plagiarism seems like it would be hard work. Harder than actually writing. And why would you pick something that managed to be hard and reputation-killingly-stupid at the same time? I just really don't understand it at all. 

Which is lucky for me, because it means I'll never be caught out in this sort of shit fight. 


  1. Now, we both know you've used parts of my letters in your erotica. I'm referring in particular to my detailed recounting of the night I spent trapped in the college library with nothing but a bottle of wine, a loaf of French bread, and the hunky grad student I'd locked in with me. You changed our names, yes, but not our positions. : p

    But really, I never looked at plagiarism that way before. And you're right - it's got to be more difficult to halfway change a paragraph than simply type out a new one. Unless, of course, you're doing a school report about something you have no clue about.

    1. Well, of course I did. But only because you described it in such detail. I'll never look at the Dewey decimal system the same way again...

      See, I never even plagiarised school reports. Too much hassle for a born bullshitter like myself, who could just make the whole thing up. I do remember there was one poetry assignment I just couldn't face, and by a stroke of luck my sister was struggling with something at the same time, so we swapped and wrote each other's assignments. Cheating? Sure, but still more honest than plagiarism :)

  2. It does seem like a lot of work. It's like editing, which is way harder than rough draft writing. If you're going to cheat, at least cheat to make it easier on you.

    1. Exactly! It kind of ruins the whole point of cheating, doesn't it?

  3. I still can't imagine why people STILL think they can get away with plagiarism these days. With the ability to google everything and stupid.



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