[DWJ] Big Bad Read

rohina at shaw.ca rohina at shaw.ca
Fri Jun 23 15:03:11 EDT 2006

Such an interesting question.

I think partly it's a question of intent (and also of reader 
cleverness). That is, if I deliberately write in another author's style 
and I expect people to realise it, then it's homage, if I have no idea I 
am doing it, it's derivative, and if I am doing it but think no one will 
notice, it's plagiarism. (Although I admit this is not the academic 
standard; that's a whole nother kettle of fish.) e.g. David Lodge's The 
British Museum is Falling Down is a pastiche of parodies, with each 
chapter written in the style of a different modern novelist. When the 
book came out, some critics thought it was clever, but others just 
thought it was derivative.


>  I've always wondered where to draw the line between homage and  plagiarism.  This sounds like a clear case of an author who knows  the other author, was involved in a project with some other authors,  and is continuing a delighful idea with a nod to a friend who has cool  literary ideas.  But I've been thinking about other forms of  homage and/or stealing of ideas, and when I read this I thought I'd  solicit opinions.  What if a newbie author uses her/his favorite  character name in her/his ms?  Is that an homage or is it  stealing?  Does it depend on whether the original character is  from a classic or from a newer work -- the classic being both possibly  in the public domain and also more "owned" by the public by being so  well-loved?  For example, if a new fantasy writer used the names  Romeo, Harry Potter, and Chrestomanci, I think the first would be  totally acceptable, the second would slip by, and the third might be  plagiarism.
>  These are musings and I'm interested in your responses.  I suppose  this comes from my stance as a reader but also as an aspiring novelist;  at times I've run into a name I love, but I do not to use other  authors' character names because I figure it would be stealing to do so.
>  (I know this discussion wasn't about names, so I admit to changing the topic....)
>  EGH
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