I’m a thief.
I don’t deny it or even think that it’s wrong. I’ll read someone’s writing, their ideas, their creations and I’ll think, ‘Mine’. And just like that. I steal it. I stash it in my brain until I need it. It could be a scene, a character, a setting, or even a side plot they tossed out there.
I never steal stories. Just parts of them.
I was sitting with a friend the other day, going over some of her writing. She had a few fantastic story set-ups, but didn’t quite know where to go with them. I read them over and gave hera few ideas, just my basic impressions as they came to me. But then, I read one of the openings, something in it just screamed with potential and my brain went ‘Yoink! Mine.’ I even looked at her and said, “I’m stealing this.”
I told her exactly what part of the one character I wanted to steal and how I was going to change and use it to make it mine. She thought about it for a moment and nodded, okay with my theft. I don’t feel bad about this in the least, because as sure as I’m sitting here, someone is going to look at my work and say “Yoink! That’s mine now!”
In this case it took about fifteen minutes before she looked up at me, tapped a finger to a particular paragraph of mine and quoted me. “I’m stealing this.”
Every idea comes from some place: Our childhood, our friends, our adventures, whatever.
You should -never- copy someone. But you can slice off a piece of an idea and make it your own.