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What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism definition – to take or copy the work or ideas of another person and pretend they are your own. For further information, see the Oxford English Dictionary definition of plagiarism.

What is Inspiration?

Inspiration definition – a sudden, clever idea inspired by an event, an observation, or just daydreaming. Again, for more details, try the Oxford English Dictionary definition of inspiration.

what is plagiarism, plagiarism definition

What is the difference between inspiration and plagiarism?

Well, if you’re searching for writing inspiration and you go and watch a Harry Potter movie and decide to write a story about a young wizard called Barry Cotter who is attending a school of magic with his friends Don and Harmony, that’s copying someone else’s ideas. That’s plagiarism.

If you watch the movie and think Robby Coltrane’s portrayal of Haggrid makes him look like a humongous badger, then you might start thinking about a planet called Spadge where gargantuan badgers wage war against baboons that shoot venom from their oh so colourful posteriors creating a world of desolation and perturbing aromas. That’s inspiration. I should point out that inspiration does not always bring forth good ideas, but any ideas you do have should always be original.

Plagiarism Checkers

If you are unsure about anything you have written, or, for that matter, anything anyone has written, there are many online plagiarism checkers. These will also help you search out those who might have stolen your work and used it on their own websites without your permission.

Copyscape is an excellent, free online plagiarism checker. The free version is very useful, but the paid version is very reasonably priced.

If you think someone has stolen your words and you want to do something about it, you can learn a lot more from this very informative Plagiarism website. However, I must point out that I have no experience in dealling with plagiarism of my own work or ideas to date. Long may it stay that way :)

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Voice of Russia plagiarism radio debate

Through writing this blog post, I was invited by Voice of Russia (a well regarded radio station) to participate in a debate regarding plagiarism. At the time, Led Zeppelin were being sued for allegedly copying Randy California's riff when they wrote Stairway to Heaven. The radio debate is all about music, but still very interesting for writers.

The debate has been removed from the Voice of Russia website now, but you can listen to the podcast on Joe Bennett's website. Joe appeared on the show with me.

How to Write a Short Story

By Christopher Fielden

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Sheogorath
...you clearly know what plagiarism is, and I'm glad you haven't let anyone feed you crap about it. .

Sheogorath
In my honest opinion, plagiarism isn't using unoriginal ideas, it's using ideas unoriginally. For example, Labyrinth has a scene where the main character looks in a mirror, and by so doing, finds out that her experiences were real. I nicked that idea, but  didn't commit plagiarism because I presented it in a completely different way.

Chris Fielden
Good point, Sheogorath. I agree - as long as you're inspired to create something original by seeing something else, it's fine. If you directly copy other people's ideas or words, that's plagiarism!

Sheogorath
Christopher Fielden said: "If you directly copy other people's ideas or words, that's plagiarism!"

Well, according to the dictionary definition of the word, plagiarism only occurs when you claim others' work as your own. So repurposing Hamlet's Soliloquy without even indicating the fact that you based what you wrote on a Public Domain work is plagiarism, but rewriting 'Interview With the Vampire' with full credit to the original author isn't. Expect to meet Anne Rice's attorneys in court as you're sued for copyright infringement in the latter case, though!

Chris Fielden
Lol!

Amanda C
I love the articles and the input you put into this work. I recently started my Freelance Career. This is excellent! Mands

Chris Fielden
Thanks Mands - best of luck with the new career :-)