How To Use Other Writers As Inspiration For Your Book

By on September 8, 2017
How To Use Other Writers As Inspiration For Your Book - Writer's

Every good writer knows that reading is the key to writing a good book. Finding inspiration from other writers is natural and a fantastic part of the writing process. In fact, it’s what inspires many of us to try our hand at writing our own books in the first place.

From heart-wrenching romances to epic adventures, any book that you read is likely to have been inspired by another writer. That’s not to say that all stories are simply copies of others, but that even the greatest writers of our time will happily tell you that some of their ideas and inspiration came from reading other people’s work.

People have been telling stories since the dawn of time, so it’s no wonder that many contemporary books are derivatives of a story that came before them.

Of course, there is a line. And it’s essential that writers understand where that line is and make sure they don’t cross it. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to ripping off ideas from another writer's work, you are more likely to find them disgruntled and possibly ready to take action against you if you are lazy about how you use other writer’s ideas.

So how do you use other writers as inspiration for your book without being criticised or creating the possibility of a lawsuit looming down your neck? No respected writer wants to be accused of simply stealing the ideas from another, so making sure that you get the balance right is important.

Here’s how you do it

Read widely

The more widely you read, the more likely you are to be inspired by a range of writers; therefore it will be less tempting and harder to ‘accidentally’ steal another writer's ideas or just copy their writing style.

Never copy word for word

Never lift someone else’s words and try to pass them off as your own. You will get caught, and your reputation as a writer will be destroyed too.

Think carefully about where your ideas came from

Sometimes we might think we’ve had an original idea, but when we examine where it came from, and we suddenly realise it’s because we read so-and-so. Always try to understand how and why you have thought of a particular story and make sure you aren’t just directly stealing it from someone else.

Always give your ideas a unique twist

As we’ve said before, it is OK to be inspired by other stories you’ve read, but don’t make yours exactly the same. Use bits of that story to inform your own, give yours a unique twist, and a different perspective to ensure it doesn’t feel to same-y to your readers.

Write in your own unique voice

Finding your writing voice is so important, and doing so will make your writing always feel authentically your own.

Be happy to credit other authors for inspiring you

If there is a reason why you want to lift ideas from another story, be sure not to try and deny all knowledge of doing so. Saying you were inspired by such and such a writer can make all the difference. If you are open and honest about it, people are far more likely to respect that.

Ask them if it’s OK

Of course, a more direct approach is to contact the author in question explain that you loved their work and tell them about your ideas - ask them if they are happy with your writing and see what they say.

Don’t ‘jump on the bandwagon.’

Sometimes there is a craze for new sorts of writing where one book will become a bestseller such as Harry Potter or 50 Shades of Grey, and suddenly hundreds of poor imitations spring up into existence. Don’t write a story just for the sake of it. Write it because it’s the story you’ve always been dying to share with the world.

Stay true to yourself and the story you are trying to tell

If you have a story that is burning inside you, it’s your story to tell - try always to stay true to that - you’ll know if you’re not. Writing something that you know is unique yours is a wonderful feeling, and far superior to simply trying to imitate something someone else has written already.

We know that every story has been inspired in one way or another, by a story that has come before it - and that’s OK. By using the tips above you will be telling your story, in your way, and that’s what good, original writing is all about.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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