Writers just can't help stealing. Kleptomania is intrinsic to the creative process.
What else can we write about if not the life we see around us?
That woman on the bus ...
That overheard conversation ...
That snippet of news ...
And it's true for what we read too. When I've edited a manuscript and return to my own WIP, I often find myself writing in a style that is not my own.
I analyse it and realise I've written in the style of the MS I've critiqued.
I was discussing this the other day with Emma Darwin. She describes it as the equivalent of chopping an onion on your breadboard.
You can never quite get rid of the lingering taste and smell.
But plagiarism - real plagiarism where someone intentionally (note italics) steals another person's words - though rare, does exist.
So yesterday (better late than ...) was heralded by Jane at How Publishing Really Works as Anti-Plagiarism Day.
The response has been a series of balanced, thoughtful perspectives about the creative process and the line dividing acceptable influence from downright theft.
See Tania Hershman's here, Sarah Salway's here, Sue Guiney's here, and... and ...
Oh, there are loads. Give a writer a topic and just let us loose!