How to Steal

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There's nothing original in the world. Good writers are always stealing ideas from each other and recycling stories. It's expected. And it's natural.

photo by LollyKnit

photo by LollyKnit

The coworker in the cubical next to you has a snack. You hear his wrapper, decide you're hungry, and go get a snack yourself.

You stole his idea.

Your opponent in a heated tennis match always slices the ball making it impossible to return. She's winning anyway so you decide to try it.

You stole her move.

You read a good book and liked the way the writer crafted sentences and maybe even without realizing it, you find yourself doing the same thing.

Your stole his voice.

Braiding

When it comes to being a writer, forget everything you've ever learned about stealing. If it makes you feel better, consider it “borrowing.”

Stealing like a writer is like making a braid. One idea from over here; one idea from other there.

Some people may have a bigger piece of yarn in your braid than others but when you're influenced by different people is when illegal plagiarism becomes accepted stealing.

Weave them together and out comes something new. No one else has the same combination of voices, stories, and opinions woven together in your braid. Since no two braids are the same, no two stories are told exactly the same way.

(Disclaimer: When in doubt, cite your sources).

Who are some writers with pieces of yarn in your braid?

PRACTICE

For 15 minutes write like somebody else.

You know the drill. Post it in the comments and comment on a few other practices.

Katie Axelson is a writer, editor, and blogger who's seeking to live a story worth telling. You can find her blogging, tweeting, and facebook-ing.

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70 Comments

  1. James Hall

    Balance of Detail versus Plot, Level of Detail, Pace, Plot, Characters, Setting. The only way you don’t have an original story is if you are intentional copying after one person. I’m not even a reliable source to say what writers have influenced me. Everything I have ever read has influenced me.

    The Scarlet Ibis is the goal of all of my death scenes.

    I hope my descriptions of setting are like Tolkien’s, because his are extremely vivid.

    When things are dark in my books, I hope my readers say “GAH! I’m going to go read The Raven by Poe to cheer me up.”

    In order to write like an author, first you have to pretend to be one. Once you’ve figured out some of the other author’s secrets, then, you can figure out your own.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Well said, James. Perhaps you need to write a post about stealing next. 🙂

      Reply
      • James Hall

        Do you mean stealing or secrets? I just wrote a post on stealing… I wasn’t that off topic was I?

        Reply
  2. Janey Egerton

    Funny post! Only recently I realised that some very important passages of my work in progress are made of borrowed ideas and I was not even aware of it until I started reading two books I hadn’t read for more than ten years and found out that those ideas were not original after all. I thought I should just ignore my discovery, since I had used my own words after all, but it still felt like stealing.

    A few days later, I was reading Philip Pullman’s acknowledgements at the end of his “His Dark Materials” trilogy (in my opinion, the best novels of all times in any language) because I was needing some “inspiration” to write the acknowledgements in my PhD thesis. In his acknowledgements, Pullman writes: “I have stolen ideas from every book I have ever read. My principle in researching for a novel is ‘Read like a butterfly, write like a bee’, and if this story contains any honey, it is entirely because of the nectar I found in the work of better writers.”

    After reading this I thought, if Philip Pullman, who is a master, steals ideas, why not little insignificant me?

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I read that too and thought it was interesting.

      I loved the first two books of His Dark Materials but felt the last too pedantic. I’m open to being dissuaded though.

      Reply
      • The Striped Sweater

        I agree with you, Joe.

        Reply
    • eva rose

      Great comment! I believe we learn to express ourselves in a different way, to see life through more appreciative eyes when we observe beautiful writing techniques. Imitation is a sincere form of flattery? Thanks for sharing the idea that most writers do this!

      Reply
  3. Marie Caseri

    The second novel I had written was original in my mind. I had set it aside, left it alone for almost two years. Just a couple months ago I watched the movie speak based of the YA novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and I could not believe how similar the my novel was to hers. Like I took her story and rewrote it in a different way. It was a bizarre experience.

    I think we are easily influenced by the material we absorb, be it books, movies, tv, music, or art. They go straight into the heart of a person and latch onto their innermost being. They mold us into who we are and what we believe, think and feel. From our influences we write. Like a good apprentice we take on the traits of our master, most of the time without recognition. We write who we become, so it’s vital to become something and someone of depth, intellect, and passion. It’s important to watch what we let influence us. Because there is truth to the saying “I now feel dumber for having watched this” when instead you could have been saying “I now feel inspired/brave/happy/smarter for having read this.

    Reply
    • James Hall

      I’m not sure I agree with the “I now feel dumber for having watched this” opinion. The only way that I think something can truly have a negative influence on you is if you don’t know better. If the only books you’ve ever read were terrible, you might think that terrible books are good. But, as soon as you read one good book, you’ll realize how terrible they were.

      The things we don’t like influence us, but usually in a negative way. We say we don’t want to do it that way.

      I’ve noticed since I’ve started writing, that I critique movies I watch a little harder. Last night, for example, I watched that new “Hansel and Gretel” movie with my wife and her folks. My wife loved it. Since it was in a medieval setting, the cussing took away from the film. It was packed with action scene, gore, action scene, gore. Yet, the back story of the characters was pretty interesting, they put up some interesting ideas. Of course, put in a book I don’t think it would have taken over 50 pages to tell everything in the story (without adding a whole bunch).

      Before, I probably wouldn’t have been so harsh on my critique, but I know more about writing a story these days.

      Reply
      • Marie Caseri

        I felt the same way about that movie. it was very disappointing and felt untrue to the characters and how they would have spoken during that time period. While the guns were awesome, they too would not have been around and I wish we would have gotten just a tad more back story on them to make it more believable.

        Yes, things can influence you in a number of ways and often if we don’t agree with something we will turn it away, but sometimes we don’t know what is good for us and what is bad. It’s a part of our human nature to do things that are against what is helpful, i.e. foul language, smoking, over eating, eating junk food, staying up too late on a work night, going on the internet when we should be writing etc.

        Sometimes we may watch or do something and not realize the negative effects it has on us. We may not know for a long time. Sometimes things we don’t like can influence us little by little. Take a song we might abhor. keep listening to it over and over again (because the radio controller at your work loves to play the station that repeats that song) and you might find yourself dancing to the tune you couldn’t stand a few weeks ago.

        Reply
        • James Hall

          You have a point, when you are around people that cuss all the time, it is hard to not let that become part of your dialog. So, yes, if you read garbage all day, you will be more incline to write garbage. Yet, I still thinking that if good stuff catches your interest and you recognize it is better, it will have a profound effect on that negative influence.

          Reply
          • Marie Caseri

            Oh without a doubt, I definitely agree with you on that.

          • James Hall

            Well, welcome to the Writer Practice, if you indeed are new to it. I hope you write as good as you argue.

          • Marie Caseri

            Thank You James. I’ve been silently reading the posts without using the practice part for the last month. It’s usually what I like to do before I start writing/editing to kick up some inspiration. I look forward to contributing to the comments section more.

          • James Hall

            I’ve also only been on here, making posts, for the last month. I can’t believe that I’ve posted 150 times.

            I like your picture. From a distance, it looks like someone crawling.

            I usually come here when I’m stuck on something or frustrated. At the same time, I probably spend too much time on here…

          • Marie Caseri

            I guess it sucks you in.

            Thanks, though I can’t make my eyes see the crawling person…no matter how far I back up. It’s likely because I already know what the picture is of.

            Definitely helps when you’re stuck to read about writing.

          • James Hall

            Reading about writing rarely helps me actually. Writing prompts and writing help me. I just tend to force myself to write when I’m practicing. I’m more likely to write about anything also. Writing anything helps writing what you want to write.

            As for the picture, the face becomes the whole head, the front folds of the robes become the arms, and the back folds haunches. It looks like a person fetching water from a river.

  4. eva rose

    In the quietness of the beach front, I disconnect from daily thoughts. My ears discover new voices in nature. Far out to sea the breakers crash and pour foam on a sand bar while the near waters lap gently. The sound is commanding even from a distance. I watch three great waves descend, then a gentle lull before the glassy sea rises once again for repeat performance. Further down the beach, new music catches my attention as receding waves rush back to the sea and a multitude of seashells tinkle in concert on wet sand.
    A legion of pelicans, gulls and pipers caress the ocean with their distinctive motions and calls, happily in search of treasures from the sea.
    How underrated are the sweet voices of the insect world, chirping and singing, the sand crabs bubbling back to their homes. The breeze translates its message through the gentle flapping from a beached sailboat and the distant clang of a buoy.
    Above all I renew my love of the sun, providing the great natural drama by which we live, radiating poetic opinion on all below.
    (Thanks to the influence of Henry Beston, “The Outermost House”.)

    Reply
    • James Hall

      A poetic setting. Very well done. Never read the influencing author though. For some reason, when I got to the gulls and pipers, you described their distinctive calls. Yet, I wondered what impact it would have if their calls were described as slightly loud and obnoxious. Like in the Little Mermaid singing “Kiss the Girl” and the seagull is squawking and ruining the mood.

      Guess this is where you could draw the line between a dreamy but realistic scene or just a dreamy scene. Depends on what you were shooting for.

      Reply
      • eva rose

        Thanks for your comment. Yes, gulls can be obnoxious. I was searching for a meaning in nature, beyond irritations. Too many irritations in life! Thanks, James.

        Reply
    • Stephanie Nickel

      I can hear the sounds and see the sights. Thank you for whisking me away to the seaside. Living inland as I do, I haven’t been in decades.

      Reply
    • Eric Schneider

      I was raised on the East Coast, 30 minutes from the Atlantic. Then I lived twelve years on the West OCast, 6-1/2 blocks from the Pacific. Thanks to you I miss – and appreciate – them both now, Eva. Thanks.

      Reply
  5. Anna

    Through the bookstore’s front windows the store’s owner watched the sun shine and passersby continue on their way as if it was any other Tuesday. He looked down at the worn volume in his hands, then at the clock on the wall, then out the window once more. A woman in a lavender dress walked by, stopped to pick up a novel on the shelves setup outside the store, put it down and continued on her way to the waffle shop next store. A child in striped shorts hopscotched his way to the crosswalk on the corner. His mother followed hastily behind, holding a small pocket mirror in one hand and applying lipstick with the other. Everyone was always passing the small, dusty shop on their way to somewhere else. Even though it was a quiet street and the village was small, the pedestrians were always changing from day to day.

    Michael’s gaze went to the clock once more. 1:18. She was late. He remembered her as always being on time, but memories had a way of
    making loved ones seem a little more perfect than possible. Back to the window. A small girl was looking in, peering into the shade of the store with her hand held over her brow, searching for something. Michael got up from his wooden chair, walked over to the window and held up the book so she could read the title.

    Reply
    • James Hall

      This is great. I originally thought it was a big city, until you said it was a small village. I like how you mention that he is waiting on someone, but really don’t suggest who that is. I also thought the girl peering in with her hand over her brow was a nice touch. Would love to hear more on this story.

      Reply
    • Stephanie Nickel

      You’ve painted a very detailed picture. For this visual learner, that is very helpful. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Stephanie Nickel

    I don’t think I am familiar enough with any author’s work to intentionally write as he or she does for 15 minutes, but as a freelance editor, I see some writing with very basic mistakes. In light of that, I decided to incorporate as many novice mistakes as I could in the piece below – a parody, if you will, of inexperienced writers . . .

    She’d tossed and turned all night. Even pulling the covers
    over her head didn’t block out the sun.

    “Seriously, if I didn’t have to use the washroom . . .”

    Alexi threw off the cover, threw one leg out of bed, then
    the other. Seven months pregnant, she waddled to the ensuite.

    “I look like a house . . . or maybe a whale. Jim says I look
    like a beached brother. That’s a kid brother for ya.”

    She used the facilities, washed her face, combed the rat’s
    nest that was her naturally curly hair, and brushed her teeth . . . front,
    back, top, bottom, and don’t forget the tongue.

    “I don’t want to die young because I forgot to scrub my
    tongue.”

    Alexi dragged herself to the closet, threw back the doors,
    and sighed.

    “I have absolutely, positively NOTHING to wear.”

    “Of course not. You haven’t been shopping in what is it now?
    Three days maybe.”

    She’d toss a shoe at her brother . . . if she could reach
    down that far. Instead, she turned to face him and stuck out her tongue. “Go
    suck an egg.”

    “Funny you should say that. Mom made Eggs Benedict for
    breakfast and wanted me to come get you. But if you don’t want them . . .”

    “Oh, shut up your face. You know they’re my favourite. I’ll
    be there . . . well, sometime in the next millennium or so. Now leave me be so
    I can figure out which of these far-too-tight outfits or hideous maternity
    ensembles I’m gonna wear today.”

    “Whatever . . .”

    Did she love him or hate him? Some days she wasn’t sure.

    “Why bother?”

    Alexi pulled on first one leg of her drab grey sweatpants
    and then the other.

    “Why wear a bra? Oh yeah, cuz if I don’t Jim will call me a
    cow – again.”

    One arm then the other followed by pulling the neck over the
    mop on top of her head. Matching sweatshirt. “Charming,” she said as she walked
    past the mirror.

    “One, two, three . . . nineteen, twenty, twenty-one.”

    “Why do you always count the steps? Do you think I magically
    removed one while you slept?”

    “With you, Jim, one never knows.”

    “You two fight like an old married couple,” their mother
    said. “Can I not get a minutes peace? It isn’t even 9:00 in the morning. You’d
    think you were a couple of toddlers.”

    “Toddlers are more sure-footed than Godzilla here.”

    Reply
    • Stephanie Nickel

      Can you tell, even here, that I’m character-driven? 😀

      Reply
    • Stephanie Nickel

      *Make that “beached whale.” i was good. I didn’t even re-read the piece before posting. Sigh!

      Reply
      • Stephanie Nickel

        Being eclectically-interested, I read a wide variety of authors. Although I’m sure some – perhaps many – of them influence my writing, I have not, as yet, identified which ones.

        But if you’re asking me why I assume you can tell I’m character-driven . . . That’s because my fiction is often thick with dialogue. I’m all about relationships: in life, in the books I choose, and in my own writing.

        Reply
        • James Hall

          Sorry, I should have been more specific. Why would you want to incorporate novice mistakes?

          Reply
          • Stephanie Nickel

            It was more of a parody. I see this kind of thing often in the work I edit – though usually not from one author. As we were to write as someone else, I wrote as the Novice Author.

          • James Hall

            You succeeded at failing… But I still don’t see the point. You are barely even ingraining new bad practices to avoid. Why not strive to write your best? You learn more through failure than success.

    • Laplumedematante

      Stephanie, I read this with interest, as an inexperienced writer myself, and attempted to extract the gaffes. Can you do me a huge favor, and help me understand what they are? I picked out a couple, but I’m sure there are more!

      Reply
      • James Hall

        ALL CAPS.

        Contractions from the narrator (especially a third person narrator) are usually frowned upon.

        Shoddy dialog at points.”Oh, shut up your face.” for example, sticks out like a sore thumb.

        Highly rough-drafty, lacking essential details about the setting.

        Inconsistencies. Her brother is in her room while she is getting dressed? And they are apparently teenagers. They seems off a bit.

        Honestly, I feel the passage lacks any real tensions or interesting events. Its namely a back story dump. It introduces characters that are kind of shallow. Their conversation is flat and mundane.

        Reply
        • Stephanie Nickel

          James, you would make a great critique partner. You are good at spotting the problems with a passage. I was especially focussing on the itemized, day-to-day activities that don’t need to be explained and the cliches/overused phrases. I agree 100 percent. “Shut up your face” stood out to me as well. The rest of the things you pointed out were a natural result of my attempt to write as the Novice Writer.

          Reply
          • James Hall

            Thanks, I do often give detailed critiques. A lot of people respond like… OK?! I just wanted you to say whether you liked it or not… Nope, not me…

          • Stephanie Nickel

            It’s not easy to hear what others don’t like about our work, but it is definitely crucial if we’re going to improve. Brutal honesty can be seen as well . . . brutal, but it’s part of the process. What would your number one tip be for creating a character that isn’t m’eh? Parody or not, it is one area I have to work on.

          • James Hall

            I always give some sugar with my criticism. If I can’t find anything good to say, I don’t critique it most of the time. People are more inclined to believe you if you show that you saw the good stuff and are not just trying to “rip them a new one”.

            Most of what I have seen on creating solid characters comes from right here one The Write Practice. I’ve seen people, in less than 500 words, build believable characters… unwittingly even. Almost always, it is the little details that makes a character. Dreams, goals, conflicts, and little details. Its when they don’t respond or roll their eyes, or they go out of their way to squash a spider (that didn’t even cross paths with them).

          • Stephanie Nickel

            Thank you. That helps.

          • James Hall

            I found a “Shut up your face” in my pseudo-medieval dialog the other day and it still bothered me. I’ll never write “Shut up your face” with confidence again…

            Anyway, thanks for sending Shah Wharton my way. If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know!

        • laplumedematante

          Bad writing or no, I think this would sell decently on the teenage fiction market.

          Reply
    • Eric Schneider

      Vivid. I was there. Good job, Steph.,

      Reply
      • Stephanie Nickel

        Thanks, Eric.

        Reply
    • Katie Hamer

      I had an unfortunate image in my head when you talked about throwing one leg out of bed, followed by the other! I think your idea of spotting amateur mistakes would make an interesting practice. I guess the challenge would be that because these mistakes are mostly unintentional, it would take some keen observational skills to parody. So writing badly on purpose actually takes some skill!

      Reply
      • Stephanie Nickel

        I’m now careful that one character’s eyes don’t follow another character, but the same principle applies to legs. I better be careful about that too. 🙂

        Some of the mistakes in the above piece were intentional. Others were just natural byproducts. Actually, it’s too easy to write badly. 😛

        Thanks for commenting, Katie.

        Reply
  7. James Hall

    Ok… my practice is… No, really, stop laughing… I know this is lame but…

    They told you that you couldn’t write about that
    The Settings are so bland and your plot is old hat
    The bad guys are lame and your characters are flat
    Just write it, just write it

    You better work, you better do what you can
    Been posting on your blogs, not found a single fan
    You want to be great, better do what you can
    So write it, but my grammer’s so bad

    Just write it, write it, write it, write it
    Who cares if no one reads it
    Now that it is coming, show ’em some insight
    It doesn’t matter if it is wrong or right
    Just write it, write it, write it, write it

    Reply
    • James Hall

      I should have followed in the footsteps of Weird Al…

      Reply
    • Stephanie Nickel

      What fun! I write poetry but never thought of using a song as inspiration for this prompt.

      Reply
  8. Eric Schneider

    [Guy Noir/Woody Allen channeling Raymond Chandler]

    The victim’s house was bigger than my raised-bed vegetable garden, but not by much. The bed didn’t so much fold down from the wall as need an old boy scout belt to hold it in. The quarter bathroom – you know, just a sink and a toilet – was so small you had to pee from outside the door and hope you hit the pot.

    I don’t know what the blonde who watched me walk through it, taking notes, did, but an 8-year-old could have twisted my arm to watch her do it. She was fully equipped. Five-foot eight, with boobs my sister would have killed for, shiny hair down to her waist and legs up to her crotch, she had the looks that make men do things they can never understand later why they did it. The nightgown and the helpless, ‘please-save-me, oh gallant knight’ frown she wore, didn’t help. I hoped she didn’t ask me to do something dangerous, like kill somebody, or kiss her.

    What she did was turn and point her full set at the little eating table by the fridge. The vic sat in a wooden chair that badly needed paint. His upper body lay forward on the table, his head in the spaghetti. A black-handled TV knife grew out of his back, alongside three other bloody, jagged holes the approximate shape of the serrated blade.

    Blondie was at my side, her large, warm, ripe breasts pressed against my arm, her eyes wet. “I can’t believe it, Detective,” she whispered. “He never showed any signs before.” She pressed closer, and breathed on my neck; I’m only five-ten myself.

    “But clearly,” she murmured, “you can see that it was suicide…can’t you?”

    Reply
    • James Hall

      Great details. A murder mystery. Is the blonde his sidekick? I’m guessing he’s a detective of some sort.

      Reply
      • Eric Schneider

        Thanks, James.
        Yeah, it’s a giveaway when she whispers “I can’t believe it, Detective.”
        She’s the vic’s girlfriend. She started out as the perpetrator, too, but I’d hate to see anyone lethally inject a body like that, so…I don’t know.

        {Please excuse the sexism, ladies. I’m a happy husband with a healthy appetite for my wife.}

        Reply
        • James Hall

          ‘Yeah, it’s a giveaway when she whispers “I can’t believe it, Detective.” ‘

          If it was a snake, it would have bit me…

          Reply
    • S.C.

      Gal Noir

      The victim’s kitchen was massive, bigger than my whole house put together. His cock matched. Pity the battery had died. Corpses can keep their erection for some time. Sadly, we were too late.

      I couldn’t help noticing his feet. For a big guy, magnificently stretched out there along the kitchen bench in all his manly glory, his feet hung puny and awkward at the end of impressively long tanned legs, like the wrong feet. A couple of limp fish, too small to bother with. So much for that theory.

      I kept the limp fish to myself, Tom had enough to deal with, by the looks of it, coping with the cock. Even dead and flaccid I could sense his envy and embarrassment of the man’s chief asset the minute we walked in, me there beside him with my grin of inside knowledge barely kept in.

      What would it be like living with a porn star, I wondered, as I surveyed the sweeping scape of the penthouse apartment, the grandeur of the marble stairway, splayed wide at the base, narrowing elegantly up and up, an invitation to a heavenly romp indeed.

      “Died as he lived, a proper prick” Tom’s brittle voice hit me from behind as I began my ascent, killing the mood dead.

      “What a waste,” I said, continuing my climb…,

      Reply
      • Eric Schneider

        Haha! Who’d you steal from, GN – me? Haha!

        Reply
  9. Yvette Carol

    Great post, Katie. I’ve heard of borrowing before, and of course, it’s been covered here in the past as well, however ‘braiding’ was a new spin on it that really made sense to me. I like that.

    Reply
  10. Sarah

    The writer with the “biggest piece of yarn” for me is Tolkien. I love his voice especially, the way he made his world come alive through his eloquent use of words. So here’s my practice trying to write in that style. (And yes, this is all I got in 20 minutes.)

    The moon’s reflection wavered in the silver pool, while about it the pinpoint stars danced. A cloud passed over like a dark creeping mist, for a moment obscuring the pale light. A chill air hung over the land, leaking through the tent’s coarse weave. Inside a child shivered and pressed closer to his mother. He felt as though some great power bent its will upon this land, and the sound of his own breath pounded in his ears. All was dark, and cold, and utterly still.

    Reply
    • James Hall

      Pinpoint write-stealing. You forgot the semi-colon sentence, though.

      They crept through the gray swards under the moon’s dull light, carefully eying their captor, a towering tyrant sleeping against the rocks; their feet were a mere whisper, fainter than a scuttling mouse, lost in the waling howl of the wind over the seaside and rocky abode. Each step was slower than the last, their heads reeling back and forth. As they reached the edge of the rock-speckled surface and slipped their first foot into the lush greens of the silent forest, a crack of lightning lit the sky, followed by a great thunderous rumble, and from out of the utter stillness that followed, followed faster thunderous footfalls.

      Reply
      • Sarah

        Nice!

        Reply
  11. Karoline Kingley

    As a younger reader, I read ALL classics. Nothing written in the 21st century. Jane Austen was, and still is my favorite. Therefore, as you may well imagine, my writing voice is old-fashioned, and sometimes more flowery than I would like. Now I feel like I’m back tracking a little bit, in that I’m hoping to add a more modern flair to my style so young readers won’t get totally bored.

    Reply
    • James Hall

      Nothing wrong with the classics. I should read more of them myself. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was awesome. William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. Don’t believe I’ve read any of Jane Austen.

      Is Tolkien considered a classic… He has some deeper stuff. I’ve been looking forward to trying out the best of horror, since I’ve never read any. Some of the top horror novels, so I’ve heard, are old and dark prose that have aged a century or two.

      On the other hand, I think you should try some of the modern books. You are use to writers laying it on a little thick probably, so I would suggest something that is kind of thin. Might give you a sense of whether you can stand a story to be that thin. If you are remotely into fantasy, I would suggest reading R.A. Salvatore’s Homeland. It’s a Young Adult novel that is pretty cheap to buy for a Kindle. They are fast-paced, interesting, and simple. The prose will definitely be lighter than what you are used to.

      But, I’m not very well read.

      Reply
  12. R.w. Foster

    My influences are Steven King, J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts), Terry Goodkind, and a little of Janet Evanovich, R.S.Guthrie, and Jen Boyce.

    Reply
  13. Bex vanKoot

    IMO it’s only stealing if you are depriving the original “owner” of the thing they possess. If you can replicate without taking away from them, it’s not stealing. 🙂

    Reply
  14. themagicviolinist

    I love this analogy! 😀

    J.K. Rowling always has a huge piece of yarn in my braid, no matter what kind of story I’m writing. When I try my hand at dystopian novels, I find myself writing like every other dystopian author out there. Tamora Pierce often has some yarn in my braid when I’m writing medieval fantasy. But I try really hard to have a lot of me in my braid.

    Reply
  15. RedGramLiving

    Hey Steph, I like your analogy to a braid. So much more free flowing than that of (weaving a) tapestry. We never know where we picked up the yarn, but there it is, a thread of iridescent neon. Maybe it came from a blog or book or a co-worker. All I know is that we should be grateful for that thread influencing our future writing (as you have mine).

    Thanks for the enjoyable post and now I have to go play a different song to get Michael Jackson out of my head.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Nickel

      This was Katie’s post, Kay. I just responded in parody. Credit where credit is due.

      May all the threads of your writing form a beautiful braid. Happy Writing!

      Reply

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