The Fourth Cornerstone of Writing

Time for a lesson on writing for all you non-writers out there (this is for non-writers because, in this argument, they seem to be the ones that don’t understand how things work). It has come to my attention that a certain author, who shall remain nameless, has stated that they had “no idea” about a certain other book even though it is excessively clear that their book was heavily influenced and inspired by said other book (not a blatant rip-off, but way more than enough to warrant giving credit were credit is due). What’s the lesson here? It’s simple, as a writer you will spend your time doing four things above all else:

1. Reading
2. Editing
3. Writing (If you’re writing more than you’re editing, you’re doing it wrong.)
and, the one that applies here:
4. RESEARCH!

You get an idea to write about cowboys, you don’t just make up every damned detail. You get an idea to write about the Book of Revelations, you look around to see what other authors have already done. That’s as basic as it gets. For a writer to claim that they had no idea a book that is basically the same as theirs exists, just set in a different locale and a couple other minor changes thrown in, is a bold-faced lie. They could have come up with the idea all on their own, that I don’t dispute. But, for them to basically claim they didn’t do any research on their main topic is BS plain and simple. Books with similar topics, themes, etc can be overlooked, sure. JK vs. Nancy Stouffer is a fine example of authors overlooking things and coming up with similar ideas, it does happen. But, the similarities here are too close for that. As others have pointed out in this argument, if this was a scientific paper, they would quickly be accused of plagiarism because they didn’t ‘cite their sources’. Yet, novels are held to a different standard, unfortunately.

Perhaps it’s cryptomnesia, perhaps it’s just another author trying to take spotlight that isn’t theirs, perhaps they are a completely inept writer that has no idea what they’re doing  and got insanely lucky to be inspired by the exact same muse, perhaps it’s something else. I am not going to pick a side in that regard, I just want to make it clear to non-writers that such statements are hokum. As a writer myself, I might not research something down to it’s bare bones, but this kind of statement is like saying, “Look I invented a new animal called a baere! Oh, baeres already exist, and they’re called bears? I had no idea!” xP

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