It could be the style, it could be the subject matter, it could be something that couldn’t be really identified, or it could be all of these things and more in somebody else’s writing that inspires a writer. One that is at his beginnings or another that has already established himself. This inspiration could take you to new writing paths, you can make it a tribute to the inspiring writer or his writings, or it could be plain and simple copying. Or even these days ever ‘popular’ copy/paste.
The line between those could be particularly thin. With visual arts, unless you are copying everything, it is usually considered as an inspiration or a tribute. In music, particularly its modern forms, that line is not considered so problematic — what with all the different song interpretations tribute albums, artists re-doing complete albums of others, or all the samples being used. Actually, it is considered as an art form in itself.
With writing, it is a completely different artistic beast. Being inspired by somebody else’s writing can be heavily scrutinised, what with all the plagiarism checkers who control the word sequences. You can come up with one on your own and it turns out that somebody has already done it before or you can be transformed into a ‘spinner’ since you came up with exactly the same idea but you came up with a slight (or not so slight) wording?
With all those grey areas of being inspired, paying tribute or quoting, there’s always that honest, simple thing of giving credit where its due. You can simply just let your readers guess what the inspiration was, whom you’re paying tribute to, or where the quote is coming from.
Actually, it has less to do with copyrights and acknowledgements and more with your personal clear conscience. In visual arts you may guess, musicians say which song they’re interpreting and who wrote it. The fact that it is more complicated with writing makes crediting a must.
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