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(Uh, nope this isn’t the second in my naval contemplation of genres. I’m on the road today, crew, and will be posting periodically. So I went with an easier one to bat around. Enjoy!)
“Sin? Sin! Blast it, where did that sneaky tart go?” Chance held up the vial of perfect brightness, figuring even that ninja couldn’t hide from that elvish light. She hadn’t counted on that cloak Sin had flinched from the wizard’s school. The Quartermaster was invisible, still!
“Wow, this thing is great!” Terrio spun, holding out an old looking compass. “If I think of my daughter, it points to her! If I think about a job, it points toward toward the southeast! This is so cool! Slipping into that script was a great idea, Chancy!”
Chance rolled her eyes, hating that new nickname. She glanced over toward Marnee, who was gazing intently into a large mirror of water.
“I can see my son…he’s going to be so handsome! Oh, and the new baby...!” Marnee beamed, being careful not to let anything touch the oddly still bit of water. On a ship…and it didn’t move. Gotta love magic.
“I’ve got twelve things done and in the oven!” Santa twisted the lever of the time piece she’d lifted from the girl at Hogwarts. “And I’ve finally caught up with all my e-mail!”
This ship was becoming dangerously full of stolen ideas.
Chance thought it would be fun to slip into other books and lift a few bits of sparkle. After all, they are pirates and pirates…uh…borrow. A lot. But she had a feeling the Captain wasn’t going to agree about this. Though her never ending barrel of rum was stolen from an idea from her own book…
But Hogwarts! There was going to be hell to pay when the Captain made it on the ship.
You do know there are no new ideas. No new plots… Everything that seems new is just a different perspective on an old idea. I, personally, have lifted ideas from numerous sources. My sexual witch? Janet Morris did it first. (Though I’m sure the erotic pubs have played this. It’s a natural!) Traveling through time and space? Thank you, the BBC and Dr. Who. Riding through space without a vehicle? Thank you Doris Piserchia and Star Rider. An infinite variety of alternate worlds? Michael Moorcock. A world without people? Left to rot without human intervention? The History Channel and Life After People. I am sure there are more examples in my books. Dozens. Or more.
J.K. Rowling purportedly credited Diane Duane and the So You Want to Be a Wizard? series as inspiring Harry Potter. (An American version… I like Duane. It’s a good series.)
Tolkien borrowed extensively from the myths of Northern Europe. (In the movie, anyone else see Saruman’s Orcs and think…Klingons?)
The entire Star Trek universe, personal opinion, can be traced back to A. E. van Vogt and The Voyage of the Space Beagle. Van Vogt had an episode in the Beagle book that had to be the inspiration for Alien.
We all do it. We all read something that just twinkles for us and like the good pirates we are, we steal it. Er…borrow it. Now, we generally disguise it. Give it a different name, twist elements of it. Be it a basic universe, a magical toy, a plot device, a character’s profession…
The key, I’m certain, is to brand it in some unique way. To make it ours. Change it so that it isn’t instantly recognizable. Now, some readers are going to see it and be offended. Or entertained. Sometimes, we’ll do it better. Sometimes, we’ll do it worse. But we must make it ours.
I tread close with A Caribbean Spell… I struggle to separate it from fan fiction. And I am constantly tweaking it, changing this and that…pulling it away from the roots of the idea. I think I need another good rewrite to cement it as an individual work of fiction. I won’t mind if it be seen by those who love pirate stuff as a tribute to Pirates of the Caribbean. It certainly won’t be the last!
You can’t steal characters. You can…borrow elements that inspire you to create a new character, a new universe, a new romance. Of course, it won’t really be new, but if you really take care, it will be yours.
Because nothing is new, and we are all thieves. In the strictest definition of the word. Or perhaps just the spirit…
How about you? Noticed anything when you read that you know is the hallmark of another author? I know I’ve read books where I say to myself, “She read Jennifer Crusie… But it’s good! Nicely done.” And I’ve read ones where I thought, “Oh. Big Eloisa James fan. Eh.” Ever read one book and then every other book by that author reminds you of the last? (Yup, we borrow from ourselves, sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t…) Same with movies, television…
Can you admit to what you’ve lifted? Give credit where credit is due! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or something like that. Confession is good for the soul!
Have an idea you want to flinch? Need some help on how to make it yours? We’ll help! Well, I’ll help.
Because I admit it, I’m a thief.
Stolen articles: Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, the Phial of Galadriel, Jack Sparrow’s Compass, Galadriel’s Mirror, Hermione’s Time-Turner