Inspiration vs Plagiarism Consolidated Discussion

Sharing my research for those that might need clarity or who otherwise care:

1st: An article that has helped me:

2nd: A bit of concise advice by @Gower followed by a great well-known literary theft example provided by @Havenstone:

3rd: Here is advice from @rinari

Finally; there was also the advice given by a teacher of a forum member (can’t find post to attribute to):

  • Paraphrasing:

I hope this information helps others as it helped me.


Another detail if you want to parody a dialogue of a book or a video game etc… As an easter egg funny scene, or simply as a satire. If you want to use some part of that dialogue.

Description characters etc has to be different from the ones of that work. And to be safe say that X content is a dialogue from X work. I did that In my Story Planet Mopper when I included a small scene homage Monkey Island I let clear the game where it came from and the IP owner of it. So is a legal cited material


To add to my earlier point about fanworks and derivative works (I’ve been doing some research on this because I’m angling for book law/copyright law now, yay!), here’s a list of professional authors who explicitly allow fanfiction and fanworks, and professional authors who explicitly ban it:

Professional Author Fanfic Policies

And thanks for putting this together, @Eiwynn, it’s a great resource for all writers and creators on this forum!


Huh, now I’m wondering how copyright works in US, if allowing fan fiction would endanger it (unless I misunderstood something from the statements of the authors).

The article I linked actually answers your question, at least in a non-spefic generalist way… I’d suggest reading it, the copyright section is only a few hundred words long.

Edit: Here is a more indepth dive:

It talked about copyright infringement, right? Maybe I did understand something wrong, but I don’t think that happening does take away the copyright owner’s rights, which… is the feeling I got from the author comments.

non-enforcement of your right can void it … that is why (in the US) you often have huge corporations like EA or Activision going after rededdit users that leak info …and authors trying to stop any fan-fiction… in Europe it is a bit different

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Well, that list sure was interesting.

I know it’s not exactly on topic, but is anyone else struck by how… stuck-up some of the authors banning fanfiction come across in those quotes?

people shouldn’t write fanfiction with my characters because it upsets me

It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes.

I don’t mean to say for a moment that they’re not within their rights to try and discourage people from creating derivative works, but geez, couldn’t they add a little “please” in there? As in, “I would please ask you to respect my wishes on this matter”, or “Please, don’t do that. I would find it upsetting.”


I think many authors–especially those who grew up without the internet and are more traditionalist–are not totally familiar with all the varieties of fanfiction and can see it as a warping of their beloved world and characters because there are (admittedly dated) stereotypes of it getting out of hand, becoming toxic or upsetting… There are also stereotypes/stories of fans who write fanfiction being toxic towards creators themselves, which can inform their worldviews and beget the sterner language. I don’t doubt they have also had to deal with pushy fans who crossed boundaries with impunity, as anyone with work in the public spotlight is going to.

Also: when dealing with legal matters (as these authors believe the issue of copyright/fanfiction to be), the water-tight “stern” language is actually 100% necessary. It can come off as rude or aggressive, but when you start getting into the legal arena and defensibility, “please” and especially “please respect my wishes on this matter” can actually be future detriments (phrased as a request you can choose to ignore) in court, and really harsh-sounding “DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DO THIS” protects the author more than not. It’s definitely abrupt but I think is necessary in their eyes!


Absolutely, you have to use a clear imperative tone to let clear the situation from a legal state point. A political correctness could be twisted, and be alleged by the other lawyer that it was not a imperative mandate and instead was a mere suggestion.

You don’t say : Please please don’t enter in my property sir.


For examples of the extreme compare the attitudes of Eric Flint – an author that has embraced his fandom 100% to J.K. Rawling , an author that I think has rebelled against her fandom.

If there is a need for further Fanfic discussion, perhaps we should open a new thread for that… @rinari – I leave that decision to you, since you are our community expert :two_hearts:


Oh, I do understand the point about it being legal stuff, but in that case I feel a phrasing of “I am not giving permission for X to be done with my work” (which from the list, some authors have chosen, to their credit) is both clear and avoids coming across as unpleasant.

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Yes, I’ll refer anyone who wants to continue the fanfiction discussion to this earlier thread and add my earlier link there as well:

Fan Games and Fan Fiction

On the topic of inspiration vs. plagiarism, I’d just like to add: I think it’s good for all writers to keep in mind that there are virtually no stories that haven’t been done or written before. Especially when we start taking into account ideas of Jungian archetypes or the hero’s journey (Star Wars, Eragon), which posit that all human narratives boil down to the same subconscious themes and tropes… there are whole books out there written about how there are only 7 types of stories (or whatever number the author picks).

Don’t stress too much about writing a 100% original, never-been-done game or book, and don’t freak out if the first name of your main character shares the name of another (Harry is okay, just not Harry Potter). All writers start off drawing inspiration from other writers they love and admire, and cobble together worlds from bits and pieces of other worlds they liked first. Just don’t plagiarize!

And with that, here’s a useful article I found about plagiarizing fiction and related myths!


Not sure if my input is really needed here, but I’ll throw in my two cents anyways. The longer bit is in the summary below.


I long time ago I read Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, which actually does briefly touch on the value of fanfiction in the book (although it doesn’t use that name). The gist of the book is essentially: the best way to avoid plagiarism is to take inspiration from several sources. Instead of relying on one story/idea to inspire you, take many. The devil’s in the details and your voice should bring your work further away from any inspired works. And obviously, don’t steal lines/characters.

The final thing I have to say is- don’t worry too much if your first draft feels uncomfortably similar to a work you enjoy. It’s something to be aware of and address, for sure, but as you change things and re-write your work, you might find your work becoming less like your inspiration.

These, of course, are just my own thoughts and I apologize if they’ve been repeated before. :slightly_smiling_face:

A post was merged into an existing topic: Fan Games and Fanfiction

The point @Eiwynn brings up about waiting to draw inspiration until after you’ve finished reading is a huuuuge thing, so thank you for bringing that up! I found myself writing dialogue in my story to the same tune as The Witcher, since I had just finished an episode before writing. It can be extremely unintentional to sound exactly like what media you are receiving when writing, but it something to pay close attention to, even if it’s subconscious. This is a really good thread for authors, appreciate it being made!


So I’ve been working on a superhero game for a couple months now and I have also taken a liking to checking out the other supehero CoGs and HGs. However, I am a bit worried that my story is beginning to look like a rip-off of other stories.

In my story, it details a world where a hierarchy of superhero powers is present, leading to those with mediocre and harmful power being discriminated against by those with more powerful abilities.

I am worried that this concept is ripping off Heroes Rise and The Hero Project.

My second worry deals with my characters. One of my characters has the ability to cast a force field, but it only covers their body whenever they hold their breathe, making them invulnerable. Another character has the ability to telekinetically control their hair, but it is limited by their actual hair length.

At first, I thought these were sound ideas since they changed the roles the powers used to serve. The force field character is now a lot more aggressive than most force field characters and the hair control character now uses their powers for hand-to-hand combat than it’s standard long-ranged melee attack role.

However, I feel as though these characters feel way too similar to Stoic and Tress from Community College Hero (not to mention the story concept’s emphasis on power levels similar to the ones found in CCH)

Have there every been similar situations between others like this? Was it okay? Should I rework certain aspects of my story?


@MonkeyLottery – I believe if you read this thread, it will be a good start.

Once you do this, and if you still have concerns, perhaps the next step is to write a prototype of your story and then judge if it is inspiration or plagiarism.

If at that point you still have questions or concerns, I’d consider talking directly to some of the authors that write superhero stuff… @Eric_Moser, perhaps @adrao … Sergei, doesn’t communicate directly here but I believe he has both a Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The demo you write will be the true test; once you release that in the wild, here, listen to the feedback.


I appreciate the response and I will read up on this thread. Thanks!