The saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery does not apply when it comes to writing books. Reading the best children’s authors and learning from their expertise is one thing, rewriting their books (with suitably changed names etc.) and passing them off as your own is not flattery, it is plagiarism.
However, that is not to say you cannot find inspiration from another author’s work. There are no truly new or original ideas when it comes to book themes, but what you do with the idea is what makes your writing unique.
Since the Harry Potter series took the children’s literature world by storm publishers have been inundated with pale imitations of J.K. Rowling’s brilliant take on what was not an original idea. Child wizards and witches have appeared in many books over the years, it’s how she dealt with the theme that made her books stand out from the rest.
Tip 18 – avoiding imitation and/or how to make an old idea feel fresh and new
- Choose subjects you like and then read several authors from the genre. If you are reading a variety of writing styles you will be less likely to subconsciously copy one of them.
- Decide on a theme and write an outline, then try adding in elements from other genres. For example, if you enjoy reading and writing about magic, why not set your wizards and witches in the future, or on another planet?
- Take an existing idea and turn it on its head. Make one of the ugly sisters the nice, kind person in a fairy story and the Cinderella character someone who appears to be a good person, but is evil on the inside, and is taking on the Cinders persona for her own wicked reasons.
- Write your outline and then look at all the ways in which it reminds you of another book you have read, then work to change and/or remove those elements.
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