[DWJ] Plagiarism or homage? (was Big Bad Read)

sally at sallyodgers.com sally at sallyodgers.com
Fri Jun 23 21:35:23 EDT 2006

Minnow writes: 

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

It depends on if the name is unique. I saw a man named Aslan on a quiz show 
once. I assume he was named for Narnia. However, if I met a girl named Emma, 
I would NOT assume an Austen borrowing.  I was a bit startled to encounter 
an internet persona named Pirimba Raven - I asked her where she got it, and 
she said it was from her favourite book character (she's the heroine of one 
of my books). She was a bit startled to hear from me, having assumed, I 
think, that I was a myth. 

So... I would use the surname Chant in a book. That would be double homage, 
to DWJ and Margaret Mahy. I would use Elda, but not for a griffin. I might 
use Sophie or Martha, or Michael (*I* would know why) but not Chrestomanci, 
Howl or Miss Angorian of Calcifer - except possibly for a pet dog, with the 
implication the character was named AFTER the original. 

I don't see that names are copyright in any real sense, because they can be 
invented independently. I named four unicorn characters Zaius, Kyalas, 
Rinella and Odyllicus in my teens - and much later discovered a Zaius in the 
Planet of the Apes series which I had never seen. 

I MIGHT, if feeling evil, invent a character called Henry Potter, Harold 
Potter or Potter Henry... but all the characters named Harry I have ever 
used in books,  Harry Fletcher, Harry Matthias Zachary Gilchrist, Harry 
Parsons and Harry son of Herewald were named PRE-Harry Potter. 

Ya reckon Maisie Potter from AG is a rellie? 



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