Get Over It

Monday, May 25, 2015

I’m tired of hearing writers complain that somebody else stole their story. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, it simply isn’t true. These complaints tend to be based, at least in part, “upon that obsessive conviction, so frequent among authors and composers, that all similarities between their works and any others which appear later must inevitably be ascribed to plagiarism.”*

As I mentioned in my January 26, 2015  post, there is nothing new under the sun. Two people can independently have the same idea for a plot, and they are both likely to use the elements that flow naturally from it (called scènes à faire). Take the idea of putting Judas on trial for betraying Jesus. Wouldn’t you expect courtroom scenes with Caiaphas and Peter as witnesses? Of course you would.**

I don’t care how creative you are: you aren’t the only person who has had that idea and written a similar story. Nobody stole it from you any more than you stole it from them. So get over it.

Then turn that obsessive energy to good use and get back to writing.


* The statement originated with the 2nd Circuit in Dellar v. Samuel Goldwyn, Inc., 150 F.2d 612, 613 (2d Cir. 1945) and was quoted by the 9th Circuit in Litchfield v. Spielberg, 736 F.2d 1352, 1358 (9th Cir. 1984).

** Porto v. Guirgis, 659 F.Supp.2d 597 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)


The picture at the top of this post is a painting by Italian artist Gaetano Lodi, who was born in 1830 and died in 1886.

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