I’m currently on the LondonSWF Talent Campus initiative all weekend with 28 talented campers. Follow hashtag #talentcampus on Twitter for updates and insights! First up from me …

The same … but DIFFERENT!!

Many thanks to The Unplag team again, who’ve provided another fab infographic, this time on the subject of plagiarism.Whilst the infographic is principally concerned with essay writing, I think it has some good points to make for authors and screenwriters, too.


In my experience reading spec screenplays in particular (but also unpublished novels), I’ve found the first circle from the infographic, Unintentional Plagiarism, plus circle 6, Idea Plagiarism, can be HUGE issues for many new writers. Rather than come up with their own stories, these poor souls accidentally recycle stories that have ALREADY been told (without adding anything new to it, with too much emphasis on “the same” from “the same … but different”).

The stories I see retold a lot like this include Dr Who, X Men and X Files, especially as TV pilots. In terms of features, I see Ken Loach-style dramas alot, where a boy living in poverty ruins his life with violence somehow, like in Sweet Sixteen.

Circle 2, Self Plagiarism, is also an issue for screenwriters in particular I’ve found in my years as a competition reader. These writers will submit the SAME work over and over – sometimes half-changed but often exactly the same – for years and years, sometimes to the SAME initiatives! Yet writers must not only have the guts to finish, they must also move on to pastures new in order to evolve. It’s quite literally the only way forwards!

Circle 3, Style and Structure Plagiarism can be an issue for both unpublished authors and unproduced screenwriters too. The former may simply copy the *latest* book of the moment’s style or structure in the hope of getting noticed, whereas the latter will probably copy the likes of Joss Whedon or Aaron Sorkin when it comes to dialogue, or try and copy a non linear structure like Memento. Yet it’s YOUR unique writer’s voice we want, not someone else’s!

So, the moral of THIS story??

Your concept must be 100% rock solid. We might want “the same … but different” but the emphasis MUST be on the DIFFERENT if you want your work to get noticed. This is why it’s a great idea to really road test your concept. Don’t waste months or even years on a concept that’s “misfiring” – make sure it works BEFORE you start the drafting process!

B2W offers a concept checking service, so contact me TODAY!


More Links On Plagiarism:

4 Ways Samey Stories Happen … And 1 Thing You Can Do To Beat Them

Is Your Writing Stuck In A Rut? 7 Ways You’re Sabotaging Yourself … And 1 Realisation That Will Set You Free

Want To Get Noticed? Don’t Write Low Budget Depressing Drama or High Budget Science Fiction/Fantasy Spec Scripts

The Number 1 Submission Mistake Writers Make

Top 10 Writing Misconceptions

4 Reasons Your Concept Counts Above All Else 

7 Steps To Road Testing Your Concept


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