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On the Originality of Speakers - Words in the Heroes' Tongue
I have a variable-sword. I urge calm.
speakr2customrs
speakr2customrs
On the Originality of Speakers
There seem to be a couple of major kerfuffles going on in the Buffy fandom at the moment. I’m going to ignore them. I have Friends – and in fact friends – on both sides and I don’t want to get involved.

Outside this fandom there is the Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Affair and I have been thinking about it a lot recently. The article that the link leads to is very long and often tedious. To sum it up; a major figure in the Harry Potter fandom has been discovered to have been peppering her fanfic with quotes from other books, and to have taken major plot elements and monsters from a different published Fantasy series without any disclaimer or credit being given.

This is held to be plagiarism, and that worries me. If you have read my stories you will know that they are filled with quotes from other works. To me it’s a necessary part of writing Buffy fanfic; chop out the Pop Culture references and it just isn’t Buffy. I obviously don’t intend people to believe that the phrases in question are all my own work; I intend the sources to be recognised, and in many cases the jokes simply wouldn’t work if the reader doesn’t know the original. The creative element as far as I am concerned comed from my choice of quotes, and their placement; and of course I do frequently twist them. But I don’t annotate my works with explanations of where I am getting the quotes. If anyone picks one out and asks me I will tell them, certainly, and often the characters will say something to give away the source. But life’s too short to spend ages putting loads of footnotes after each of my chapters or ficlets. And I’m not going to start now.

However I am not certain that what I do differs from what Cassandra Claire has done. I don’t feel as if I am doing anything immoral. BtVS and AtS were absolutely littered with quotes. Hell, the very last line of ‘Not Fade Away’ is a quote from ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and Joss doesn’t give any credit. Well, maybe he does in the DVD commentary, but I never listen to those. So, is Cassandra Claire innocent, or am I guilty? And, if I am guilty, then isn’t Joss guilty too?

In other news, my story ‘Life, Resumed’ has been nominated in the Love’s Last Glimpse Awards as Best WIP, Crossover, and Future Fic. ‘Crossover’ there means between BtVS and AtS. I have also been nominated as Best Author. Oh, and ‘Merry Sport’ was nominated at the Serenity on the Hellmouth Awards in June, for ‘Best Joyce’, and I didn’t get round to mentioning it here. That category didn’t receive enough nominations and was held over until the next round. Thanks to whoever nominated me (and apologies for not mentioning the ‘Serenity in the Hellmouth’ nomination earlier).

And I am currently reposting a rewritten version of my Season 4 magnum opus ‘Pandora’s Boxer’ at seven_seasons. For the first time ever it is available on LiveJournal and is in my memories HERE. It’s about halfway through at the moment and I’m posting at a rate of a chapter a day or so. Of course it makes use of non-original material. Not only is it Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic but it is peppered with quotes from songs and movies and TV shows. And one of the characters uses an idea taken from the ‘Modesty Blaise’ books by Peter O’Donnell. But she does talk about where the idea originated. I hope that is enough.

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Current Mood: cold cold

47 comments or speak 2 me
Comments
airawyn From: airawyn Date: August 10th, 2006 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Have you read the examples of plagiarism in the report? It's not just the quotes. She lifted entire passages from fantasy novels, rewrote them slightly and dropped them into her stories.

If quotes are used as a character quoting something, that's fine. If the lines are used for allusion/parody reasons, that should be okay. If you're dropping in a line that is so well-known that only people living under a rock would mistake it for your own words ("Use the force"), that shouldn't be a problem.

If you're frequently getting compliments on your witty dialogue or elegant prose or clever plot twist that you lifted from somewhere else - there may be a problem.
makd From: makd Date: August 10th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
ITA.

What you do, S2C, isn't IMHO, plagiarism: it's clever use of well-known materials to parody/satirize, etc.

Whereas, taking entire scenes, etc, from someone else's work to pad your own - that's plagiarism.

You're within the limits, as I see it.
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: August 10th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
The poster who detailed the Cassandra Claire Affair did seem to have an issue with any quoting without references at all. She didn't seem to me to be totally rational on the subject but it still worried me.

I certainly never claim originality for something that isn't mine - curiouswombat reminded me of several instances where I received feedback on 'Tabula Avatar' that praised me for various things and I pointed out in my replies that they are taken directly from 'Baldur's Gate 2' and are not my own creaton - but neither do I specifically list which parts of that story are taken directly from the game and which are my own creations. It would just make the writing process too unweildy to be feasible.
jedibuttercup From: jedibuttercup Date: August 10th, 2006 07:06 am (UTC) (Link)
What I got out of the whole Cassandra Claire affair--mostly from reading all the wanky reports on the subject, though I actually was reading in HP fandom back in the day-- was that the flood of pop-culture quotes she used were put in there simply as a nod and a wink to her friends-slash-fans, rather than because it flowed naturally from the characters' dialogue. As in, their "character voices" were frequently OOC because of shoe-horning exact quotes in where they didn't precisely belong. And all the Pamela Dean issues were because she virtually copied entire scenes of action-- though in paraphrase-- without giving credit for it, not just borrowing ideas.

So, in short, you should be fine. =)
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: August 12th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I certainly believe that what I do is okay - but I have a feeling that the person who recounted the Cassandra Claire Affair would probably have a problem with my work too.
bogwitch From: bogwitch Date: August 10th, 2006 07:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I seriously think you don't have a problem.
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: August 12th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
ffutures From: ffutures Date: August 10th, 2006 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
The trouble, which a lot of people seem to be missing, is that what she did went far enough into plagiarism that the sites that carried her work could find themselves in serious legal trouble, of the "cease and desist order" variety.

If you want a really crass example, someone once posted a story to TTH which was the novelisation of a moderately well-known film, with the name of one character replaced with Willow, otherwise completely unchanged apart from typos where the "author" didn't copy it properly. As it happened I'd started to read the book a couple of days earlier and spotted it, and TTH pulled it before any real harm was done. If that had gone unnoticed and the publisher had spotted it they might have demanded compensation for "unsold books" based on the number of hits.

Off to look at Pandora's Boxer...
hesadevil From: hesadevil Date: August 10th, 2006 07:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Heck, even Shakespeare 'borrowed' stuff. If you take the criticism of using allusions and dialogue from other sources to its logical conclusion, only geniuses would write anything original.

If you're guilty, then so are most of the fanfic writers I know.

PS - I've bookmarked 'Pandora's Box' but haven't had the time to srart it yet.
verboseartistry From: verboseartistry Date: August 10th, 2006 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the issue stems from two major factors that differ from your work; the maturity of the readership and the method of delivery.

I may be unjustified in saying this - my only evidence is my experience, and that was shallow at best - but the Harry Potter readership is, by and large, a less mature one. While one doesn't have to be immature to appreciat the Harry Potter books for what they're worth, Buffy tends to draw a more sophisticated/mature audience due to its subtleties. I'm sure this spills over to fanfiction. I'm sure this would lead to a greater chance of things being viewed in a more black and white light.

The other, and I feel more prominant, reason your work is rarely - if ever - viewed as plagiarism is the way you use quotes and ideas. Most often it is for comedic effect; the humour works because you know it's from somewhere else, like you noted. People tend to view things taken for comedy as okay but when a more dramatic piece or quote is lifted whole then they get shirty.

Myself, I'm not too fussed when things are taken so long as it's not unreasonable. If someone is pretty much just telling me someone else's book or story, I just stop reading and don't think about it. This is fanfiction. We're not published authors and we're not writing academic papers. I don't think plagiarism is a massive issue - there's no profit in stealing other peoples' work to be made in internet fanfiction. It's just distasteful.
reddwarfette From: reddwarfette Date: August 10th, 2006 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
The issue was far more involved than borrowing a few simple quotes from the original text [in this case, HP books] or referencing pop culture in a fan fiction. As far as most of the fandom is concerned, directly quoting from the original source [a line or two] isn't that shocking when the fan fiction is based in that conceptual universe. As you say, BtVS and Ats would become almost unrecognisable if they didn't use pop culture references, the same holds true for many BtVS/Ats fan fics. It's when writers lift large chunks of texts and dump them into their fics without any acknowledgement to the originator/original source, that's people start getting restless. I really don't think you have anything to worry about :)
elisi From: elisi Date: August 10th, 2006 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmmmm. Having actually read a bit of that HP post, I don't think you (or any writers I know of) have anything to worry about. We all use quotes the way they were used in the show - as in-jokes to those who recognise them, and as a way of referencing particular film/events/books whatever. From what I can see, this woman was 'borrowing' rather than quoting, using the quotes not for reference but in place of her own prose. There is a vast difference.

Say Xander wants to comfort Buffy when she has to do something really difficult (Slayer-related). He'd be likely to say "With great power comes great responsibility." Which everyone can identify as being a Spiderman quote. We all know that Xander likes Spiderman and it's perfectly in character.

But what this woman seemed to do was to borrow a whole scene from Spiderman (including dialogue) to boost her own storytelling.

The point of quoting is that people recognise it...
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: August 11th, 2006 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I borrowed heavily from 'Spiderman' in 'Sunnydale Passions'. Parker is bitten by a radio-active spider and develops spider-powers, and says "with great power comes great... rewards."

But I depend on people knowing that Peter Parker is Spiderman and knowing the original version of Spidey's famous saying. It wouldn't be half as funny to people who don't.

I do see the difference but I'm worried about humourless people (including the person who wrote the Cassie Claire report IMO) not seeing the difference.
sammywol From: sammywol Date: August 10th, 2006 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations on the nominations!

That is not plagiarism, neither by the legal nor the aademic definition. Does this come from so many fans being college level people where all quotations and direct references have to be acknowledged in academic work? Well fiction is not an academic essay and different rules apply. These inserts are called 'allusions' and indeed part of the point of using them is to have readers figure them out for themselves. Greater artists than Joss have done the same thing you describe here, and will continue to do so. Dorothy L. Sayers springs immediately to mind. Also Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Sometimes fandom gets into serious wank over what is and is not plagiarism. Borrowing ideas isn't plagiarism either, although it can occasionally be rather rude when stealing another author's thunder. OTOH I have seen kerfuffles over Oz having blue hair in one fic that wasn't credited to the first person who ever had that idea before.
magic_wanderer From: magic_wanderer Date: August 10th, 2006 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)
It's one thing to homage, quote or pastiche (OK, three things); another entirely to rip-off, lock stock and barrel. You're not guilty. :)
megan_peta From: megan_peta Date: August 10th, 2006 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
That is a really thought provoking point. I'm not sure where the jury would come on that one.
(Deleted comment)
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: August 13th, 2006 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
booster17 From: booster17 Date: August 10th, 2006 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you're safe.

The trouble with the CC affair in my understanding is that she didn't rip off just quotes and one-liners that were clearly recognisible, but entire passages only slightly altered. When you take the words describing actions, appearences and events, that's crossing a line for me.

Not to mention the sheer quantity of them.
gamiila From: gamiila Date: August 10th, 2006 09:16 am (UTC) (Link)
As I see it, pop culture references (such as "Me Tarzan, you Jane", "May the Force be with you", or "E.T. home phone") or allusions to well-known quotes from the past (e.g. "To be or not to be" or "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity") are part of the public domain. They're used quite frequently in the real world too as a kind of shorthand, and no one in the Western world at least, upon hearing them or seeing them written down would ever make the mistake of assuming they were the author's own expressions. They don't need to be credited - in fact, they'd lose much of their appeal and practicality, if every time anyone said "Et tu, Brute?" to someone they believed had stabbed them in the back (figuratively speaking, of course), they'd have to add "as Julius Caesar is reported to have said as his last words" or even "as the character of Julius Caesar says as his last words in that play by Shakespeare".

So like everyone else has already said, I don't believe you have to worry about pop culture referencing in your work. The way you use it to comedic effect or to clarify a character's position, and as long as it isn't OOC for that character to use that phrase at all, is fine.
gillo From: gillo Date: August 10th, 2006 09:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations on the noms, especially the well-deserved "Best Author" one.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you have nothing to worry about in terms of plagiarism. You write sophisticated, witty stuff chock-full of allusion and reference, much like Joss does. You assume your readers are sophistcated enough to recognise most of the provenance, and the jokes often depend on their having done so. Oh, and you're a damned good writer with a clearly recognisable style of your own too. I don't read HP fic, but all the suggestions I picked up about this affair convince me that this particular writer was going a very long way beyond anything you, or any of the other fic writers in the Buffyverse whose work I read, ever do. So keep up the good work!
diabola79 From: diabola79 Date: August 10th, 2006 09:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, I read the report about the Cassandra Claire case a few days ago, so I think I actually have something to comment here. :-)

There are various significant differences between what she did and what you do.

For once, and this was a point made in the report, pop-culture references are definitely an important part of BtVS and AtS. Joss himself had his characters using them a lot, and dismissing tat part of their makeup in fanfiction would lessen the characters. In the HP-verse on the other part that is not the case. The connection between that world and "our" world is rather vague, and having the characters suddenly quote movies, books and TV-shows when they never did that before is rather odd.

Still, I doubt if that had been all Cassandra did, no one would have complained. It was the fact that she used someone else's words in her narrative that set off the whole thing. I seriously doubt that anyone would count that as a quote that the readers can be expected to recognize. If she had gone and ONLY the original authors words for the scene (and added a footnote), fine; if she had taken the scene and used her own words, fine; but this? Even with the footnote I still think it's kinda shady.

As for the later part of the report, where the "accuser" went on to show more example, some containing nothing but dialog-quotes, I think that was at least partially a reaction to the way people dismissed the earlier accusation. That alone wouldn't have been a problem, it was only in combination with the other issue that it became hard to swallow.

So I doubt what you are doing can be compared to what she did, don't worry too much.

Hope I managed to make some sense.
petzipellepingo From: petzipellepingo Date: August 10th, 2006 10:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't imagine anyone being bothered by quotes, but entire paragraphs are quite another thing. You're just fine and I hope you continue to write.
alwaysjbj From: alwaysjbj Date: August 10th, 2006 10:30 am (UTC) (Link)
As everyone else has already stated I think there is a huge difference between the references you use and what she did... I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.

Congratulations on the nominations!

desdemonaspace From: desdemonaspace Date: August 10th, 2006 10:48 am (UTC) (Link)
...chop out the Pop Culture references and it just isn’t Buffy...

I cannot imagine Xander or Andrew without their popcult references. What you do is different from taking plot elements or monsters from published works, though. You take an established quality of the series and riff on it, like a jazz musician. I don't compare what you do with plagiarism.

Oh, and congratulations on the noms!
digopheliadug From: digopheliadug Date: August 10th, 2006 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Since you already have so many opinions that say basically what I was going to, I'll just that I don't think you have to worry. Buddy without pop culture isn't Buffy. Fic on! (can I use "fic" as a verb like that? ^_^)
quinara From: quinara Date: August 10th, 2006 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
*adds voice to horde* With your stuff it's always clear what's allusion (even if I have no idea what the heck it's s'posed to be to), as opposed to you just not being bothered to come up with your own way of describing things. It's the difference of referencing Modesty Blaise and writing in a pastichey style vs. getting out a Modesty Blaise book and copying scenes for Harmony almost verbatim.

But anyway, congratulations!
clancy_s From: clancy_s Date: August 10th, 2006 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm fairly new to your writing and concentrating on Tabular Avatar at the moment. One thing I'm noticing looking at past reviews is how often when complimented on the storyline you say "that wasn't my idea, it was the game creators'".

There's none of the "thank you and aren't I clever" line in reference to borrowed ideas that really bothers me in the CC work.

The line between allusion and plagiarism can be thin and where to draw it is very subjective, to me you're well on the allusion side of that line, and displaying great elan on the way.

Congratulations on the nominations and keep up the good work!
makd From: makd Date: August 10th, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations on the nominations - very well-deserved.

Question about Pandora's Boxers: is it available on dowload on your website, or is it indexed by chapter?
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: August 12th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!

'Pandora's Boxer' is divided up into chapters on the website - it is 150,000 words and I didn't want to put it up as one large file. It is indexed there by chapter.

However the version that I'm posting at seven_seasons, and that is indexed in my LiveJournal memories, is not the same as the version on the website and I think that it is significantly improved. There were an awful lot of Britishisms in the website version, the voices are often not right, and the punctuation is shaky. In a couple of places I have made quite substantial alterations. It will be a long time before I get round to doing the html coding to enable me to put up the revised version on the website.

The site is way, way, behind the times; I have over 200,000 words of fic (e.g. Tabula Avatar and Dojo Hard) that has appeared on LiveJournal but isn't on the website yet!
fishsanwitt From: fishsanwitt Date: August 10th, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the difference between most of the fanfic writers I know and CC (who I don't know and had never heard of before this) is that you (collectively) acknowledge your sources. My understanding (and I could be wrong) is that CC never acknowledged and, I believe, encouraged the belief that everything she wrote was hers and hers alone.

I loved rahirah's comment (in her lj) - 'were these people raised by wolves?'
fishsanwitt From: fishsanwitt Date: August 10th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also wanted to add, 'Congratulations' :)
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: August 13th, 2006 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
ayinhara From: ayinhara Date: August 10th, 2006 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations on the nominations.

As for the kerfuffle about CC and whether any of that applies to your fic, I would have to read her fic to even have a firm idea about why the brouhaha. I have heard it mentioned that she inserts pop references into an AU where they have been specifically omitted as opposed to the Whedonverse. If that is the issue, why the fuss? If all her plots and characters are essentially lifted from other sources with little or no original material, that is another and more serious issue. As for your work, some of it is clearly and deliberately humorous, where the use of referenced material ought to be obvious to all but those raised by wolves.
weird_cowgirl From: weird_cowgirl Date: August 10th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cassie Claire's fic was the first I ever read- that was at least 5 years ago. All I can remember for sure from the fic is quotes that I later recognized in Buffy, Blackadder, and other sources. It's one thing to follow the example set by canon (i.e. in Buffy- if you don't reference pop culture, where are you?), it's another to steal lines all over the place that don't really fit. Harry Potter is low on intentional pop culture references, possibly because the three main protagonists (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) are restricted from pop culture. (I'm assuming on Hermione's access to TV, but she never struck me as someone who'd watch TV besides maybe Time Team or something really educational.)

You're not a plagiarist- what I remember about you is that you're funny, and you make silly puns. You fully acknowledge your sources and you almost never totally destroy characterization just to throw in a stolen line.

You win totally for writing way better than Cassie. She got famous for writing OOC (leatherpants!Draco, the Very Secret Diaries)- everyone likes you for writing the characters right, even in intentional AU.Your South American headhunter Spike is more in IC than her allegedly in-character Draco.

(Also, I seem to remember her hitching up Sirius Black and Narcissa Malfoy. Even before I knew I was a vehement Sirius/Remus 'shipper- and before the canon showed just how closely those two are related- this always rubbed me the wrong way. You make any pairing seem fine.)
arclevel From: arclevel Date: August 10th, 2006 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
The big problem, as frequently mentioned, was the Pamela Dean sections that were practically cut-and-pasted, but there was also the point of taking credit where it wasn't due. Cassie acknowledged (generally vaguely and perhaps not until much later) that she used lots of pop-culture references and dialogue quotes, but she still essentially took credit when people praised her for them. They were allegedly there *as* quotes to be spotted and attributed (which is what I see you and most BtVS authors doing), but she was perfectly happy for people to see them as great examples of her shining wit.

I read two and a half books of her trilogy a couple years before I ever watched Buffy, and only remembered a few parts clearly by then. However, I was on the boards for the main archive it was on (at the time, essentially the main HP fic archive) around the time I read it. At one point, there was a discussion -- I'm maybe 95% sure it was on that site -- where someone was looking for a "famous" bit from a fic, something that *everyone* in the HP fandom would recognize. The main nominee, seconded, thirded, and forty-seventhed, was a particular scene from Draco Sinister (book 2) that I remembered and reread because it came up. In it, the characters are sitting down to breakfast, discussing Draco's possible guilt over something when, unbeknownst to them, Draco is coming in to join them. Ron's dialogue is something like, "he's a vicious, cold-blooded -- piece of toast?" An obvious take on Willow and Oz in "Beauty and the Beasts". But as at least a couple dozen people were in this thread, talking about great fic scenes and this one in particular, talking about how it was one of the funniest things they'd ever read, absolutely nobody mentioned (or apparently knew of) the fact that Cassie *hadn't written it*. I'm sure of this, because when I saw that episode nearly two years later, my jaw dropped in shock. I don't know for certain if Cassie knew about that thread, but she couldn't have not known that people loved that scene, and apparently she never found any problem with not filling them in on the reference.

Aside from the more legally concerning issues of lifted, not quoted or alluded, material, that's not on. And it's entirely different from your extensive use of quotes for puns, characterizations, or blatant homages. I don't get them all, but I can almost always *recognize* them. And I can't imagine that, had I reviewed to say how funny you were for writing one of those lines, you wouldn't have let me know where it came from. You don't need to worry about any of the "charges" being leveled on her.

And, of course, congratulations. :-)
diachrony From: diachrony Date: August 10th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read the entire piece on CC and plagiarism.

References & allusion are not the same as plagiarism. What CC did was lift entire passages and paragraphs, huge chunks of text, directly from other authors' works, with very minimal changes, and present it as her own.

And apparently Heidi did this also.

When it comes to the pop references & quotes, they were highly out of place and OOC for the Potterverse but not the same as plagiarism. They're bad fic writing and highly self-indulgent, but not plagiarism.

There's really NO question as to the plagiarism. The extent of it is perfectly appalling and makes me very glad I've never been interested in HP fanfiction or involved in any way in that fandom.

And to echo others here ... you should not worry!
shadowscast From: shadowscast Date: August 10th, 2006 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congrats on the nominations! You rock!

As for the whole plagiarism/CC thing, I haven't followed the wank and stay far, far away from HP fandom, but I can assure you that the pop-culture references and quotes that pepper your work have never struck me as being the least bit like plagiarism!
julia_here From: julia_here Date: August 10th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Between the two people I've actually met face to face (makd and weird_cowgirl, I've little left to say. You stay well within the parameters of fair use, as far as I can say: parody, satire, and allusion, yes' frank plagiarism, no. No-one is every going to be able to put one of your stories in one column and a published source next to it and bold big chunks of close paraphrase and actual quotation.

Or, in a humorous quote from another mastery: when you steal from one person, it's plagiarism; when you steal from everybody, its research.

Julia, needing to google for who said that first; I suspect Mr. Clemens, as usual
julia_here From: julia_here Date: August 10th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
So far Wilson Mizner is leading the citations as the author of that phrase, followed closely by anon.

Julia, whose typing skills are suffering from the assault of something dead in the ductwork
confusedkayt From: confusedkayt Date: August 10th, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
So, I used to be (and still sort of am) in Harry Potter fandom, and still find Cassandra Claire's work to be a stitch, partially because it's chock full of references to Buffy, etc. I am sorry to hear about this whole paragraph-lifted thing, but her 1000+ page opus is still pretty fun, and I worry only about the paragraphs-long lift rather than the allusions right and left. After all, if you footnote everything, all it is is a game of seek-and-find and not a fun in-joke.

In any case, I think your writing operates on another level entirely. It ahs the wink already built in, and an alert reader winks right back. I personally think both of you are in safe territory, but if there was even a question, you are much safer. :)

Oh, and double-extra congratulations on the nomination!
From: averageshmoe Date: August 10th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lifting another author's work, changing names and locales then presenting it as your own is plagiarism.

Using popular culture in a story is not.

Sometimes this is a difficult debate to be in, people's emotions can effect how they approach the subject. Robert E. Howard of Conan the Barbarian fame regularly recycled his plots from one character to another. Is this self-plagiarism, laziness or the recognition of an effective means of writing a story that someone will read. I raised the question to some of his fans and got an earful of response right back at me.

The fact that some of them had previously bitched about other authors doing the same was not acknowledged.

In the comic book field the artist/writer Wally Wood was known for keeping huge files of drawing that he would regularly either crib or literally trace over. He became the 'Milton Berle' of comics, using what a lot of other people created for his own benefit. Yet nobody ever called him on it and to his fans he remains a tragic figure destroyed by the comic book industry rather than by his own personality and alcoholism.

I guess my point with this whole debate is that it will eventually devolve into an opportunity for those who dislike a certain author to sling whatever mud they chose to in their direction. I remember the Ranma 1/2 fan fiction war over who was the best match for the main character. Some people even resorted to hacking sites preferring the other character or sending virus laden e-mails to opposing camps.

In the end the result was pretty much the vacating of the field by a host of the more interesting writers.

It would be tragic if something like that happened again.

pgavigan . . . thinking of the old theater saying, "It's my idea, I stole it first."
cbtreks From: cbtreks Date: August 11th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations on the nominations! (Not much to add to the other matter, except to say "me too" to what almost everyone else here has said.)
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: August 13th, 2006 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
enigmaticblues From: enigmaticblues Date: August 11th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you need to worry. Using pop culture references is like comparing a heroine to Jane Eyre or Elizabeth Bennett and expecting people to know what you're talking about. It's when you take whole segments from other folks' works and don't credit that there's a major problem.
bedawyn From: bedawyn Date: August 11th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Skipping most of the discussion above, because my brain is dead from job-hunting and I don't have time to fuss over kerfuffles, but I just wanted to add another vote to say you're fine with your use of quotes. Cassie Claire went over the line with them in a way I've never seen you do.

I've read the Draco Trilogy and I like it well enough. I can't speak to the exact liftage of passages because I never recognized any and don't care enough to research it. But her use of quotes does bother me. It's not that there's anything wrong with pop culture references. As you say, there's a point where we're not taking credit for things because we expect everyone to recognize what we're quoting. And I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, because I think she may have started writing with that mindset. But there was a time when Cassie Claire was hugely popular and zillions of people were reading her stories, and they were zillions of newbie fans who weren't well-versed in the various canons of fandom, and I was finding Blake's Seven quotes and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that most of her readers had never heard of Blake's Seven, much less knowing it well enough to recognize the unidentified quote.

Plus, she simply overused the technique. It's one thing to chuckle at a BtVS quote in a HP story, it's another to be regularly thrown out of the HP story because you're constantly being reminded of how wonderful and clever BtVS is and maybe you should just go read a Spike story instead since he has more in common with fanon!Draco than canon!Draco does anyway. That's just bad writing. And when there's at least one quote in every single chapter and sometimes several per chapter, and they're not pop culture references that the characters might realistically make (because they're wizards and haven't seen Buffy or B7 themselves) but inserted as the characters' own dialogue, that's not writing at all. It's just framing the quotes.

And the third element is ... she's a mediocre writer, on her own. Not a bad writer, no, but there are plenty of better writers out there. The really clever parts of her stories tended to turn out to be borrowed quotes. So when you see her getting the vast amounts of acclaim she was getting, it's pretty hard not to think she was getting the credit for quotes that all the newbie fans didn't recognize as not really hers.

All of which other people have probably already said above, but gah... must go to bed. Must not be distracted by kerfuffles if I wish to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for writing cover letters in the morning.

Am delighted to see Pandora's Boxer reappear; if I remember correctly, that was the first of your stories to catch my attention. And I'm eagerly awaiting the time when I can relax and catch up on Tabula Avatar, and maybe Life Resumed will even be done by then? I can hope. Or maybe not -- come to think of it, since I doubt you'll finish it within the next week, I most assuredly hope I find a job before you finish! But I'm looking forward to it whenever it is. :-)
ozma914 From: ozma914 Date: August 12th, 2006 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Pop culture references have a long, storied, and accepted history in all sorts of TV shows and movies, and books. It's nothing at all like the incident you mentioned, and you have no reason to feel guilty or change the way you're doing things.

Besides, I do it, too. I'll bet most of us do.

Congrats on the nomination!
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