Good writers borrow. Great writers steal. -T.S. Eliot *
This is great writing advice, but many people are wary about following it because they misunderstand what the terms “borrowing” and “stealing” mean in this context.
I’m here to clarify.
Borrowing is using something of someone else’s. Stealing is making something your own.
This advice means two things:
1. Don’t be afraid of reusing elements from books you love.
I’ve spoken before about stealing in How to Steal: Know Your Tropes. When you see story elements** in a book you love, don’t think that they’re now off-limits to you forever. Just because you love The Great Gatsby and it’s set in 1920s New York doesn’t mean that you can now never write a story set in 1920s New York. Just because you love I Capture the Castle and it’s written as the protagonist’s journal, doesn’t mean you can never write a novel that takes the form of the protagonist’s journal. Just because Scooby-Doo… you get my point by now, don’t you?
Take note of what you love in other stories.*** Remember those elements–the plot twists, character arcs, tropes, settings, etc.–and then use them to write a story full of things you love.
2. Make the things you steal your own.
Borrowing, in this definition, would be writing about a 1920s bootlegger in love with the girl across the way, trying desperately to impress her with his wealth. You’re stealing from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby… and making it no less F. Scott Fitzgerald’sstory.
This example steals too much from one place. It’s too timid in it’s approach. it’s too afraid to take anything from the story, so it keeps everything the same. Anything that tries to be like Gatsby,butbetter is destined to fail. (Maybe a little like Gatsby himself. Just throw a bigger party, old sport! That’ll do the trick!)
The key to stealing is stealing from multiple things at once until it looks like your very own thing. Stealing is writing a novel about a gang of mystery solving teenagers in 1920s New York, told in the form of a journal the group takes turns writing in. (Because we’re going to add a splash of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants here.)
Stealing is saying: these story elements are mine now and I’m going to use them the way I like, combined with my interests. And you know what? By stealing bits and pieces from all of the things you love, you’re creating something unique and new and wonderful.
So go out there. And steal. Never borrow.
*This is commonly attributed to him at least. The internet tells me he definitely said something close to it.
**Obviously, this doesn’t apply to the words themselves. Never steal somebody else’s words. Basicallyeverything else is up for grabs, though.
***You’re not limited to stealing from books. Steal from movies. From TV shows. From plays. From epic poetry. From that anecdote your neighbor told you last week.
There’s a powerful connection between characters and the fans who love them.
Anyone who scribbled Harry Potter fanfiction or dissected the latest teen drama with their friends knows. And the line between actor and character is often completely muddled for viewers that live far beyond the realities of Hollywood.
But what if those same fans were stuck on a road trip with the object of their obsessions? That’s the idea behind the most recent book from Glee star and bestselling author Chris Colfer, Stranger than Fanfiction.
Colfer is best known in the literary world for his popular middle grade series The Land of Stories. In his latest novel, Colfer explores the world of television fandom and the trials and tribulations of teenagers on the brink of major life changes.
Stranger than Fanfiction follows four best friends who’ve bonded over nearly a decade of watching their favorite sci-fi show. As the group embarks on an end-of-high-school road trip, they impulsively invite the star of said show. When he actually shows up to join them, all five begin a journey full of misadventures, mayhem, and secrets revealed.
In a special episode of the MashReads Podcast, MashReads spoke to Colfer about his return to YA and the inspirations behind the story, from both sides of passionate fandoms.
Then, as always, we close the show with recommendations. Colfer recommends:
The Demonologist by Gerald Bittle, which explores the career of the famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren in a documentary fashion. “The facts are scary enough by themselves,” said Colfer.
Intimacy Idiot by Isaac Oliver, a collections of essays and stories about finding love and intimacy in New York. To Colfer, “It’s the gay man’s manifesto, in a way.”
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, the first memoir by the late actress, based on her one-woman show. It’s also one of Colfer’s all-time favorite books. “Parts of that book I felt she wrote just for me”
Sage-ing While Age-ing by Shirley MacLaine, a book that is part memoir and part life advice from the actress. “It’s just fantastic.”
request: can you write an archie x reader where the reader think he’s cheating on her with veronica? she’s a part of betty and the gang, known all ofthem for her whole life, and liked ronnie at first but when she starts thinking arch is cheating on her with ronnie she starts bitching around and gets sad
requested by: anonymous
A/N: Hi, my love. I adore this imagine, so please give me some feedback! The ending is quite cliché and I am so sorry about that (not). I hope you all enjoy this angsty mess. lol love ya, xx aubree
Two Years. That’s how long Y/N Y/L/N and Archie Andrews have been together. They loved each other immensely and would do absolutely anything for each other. At least they did. When Veronica Lodge showed up in Riverdale, everything changed.
Jesse St. James lives his life thinking everything is owed to him, so when his distorted plan to lend a big role in his first Broadway production fails, and the role goes to someone who’s definitely less experienced than Jesse, he enacts plan B: hiring an hitman in order to have his competition blown away before the opening night. Kurt Hummel finds himself in a coffee shop with a cute guy after he received the most unexpected and beautiful role of his short career. He’s happy because finally life is giving him a chance at everything he wanted from New York: success, and (maybe, hopefully) love. These two stories have a particular element in common: the hitman, and the guy Kurt is having coffee with, Blaine Anderson.
i am forever falling in love with the utterly unattainable: people who will never acknowledge my existence, cities that will never embrace me with gentle arms, things and ideas and possibilities that are so ludicrous they may as well be considered fairy tales. upon realizing the avaricious desires of my heart, i can come only to one conclusion: i am eternally doomed to live a life just on the cusp of fantasticality. i am destined to stare out windows and dream incessantly, to have a plethora of wishes that will never be fulfilled. i will evermore have the light of unreachable stars dancing in my eyes and the beats of songs i cannot write pulsing in my fingertips. there is no hope for me; i am but an elusive dreamer, and i am afraid that that is all i will ever be.
I used to spend my 3 a.m.’s alone in my room, afraid and crying and begging for something to happen. For something to change. I used to stay up reading stories and watching the same movies to get lost in another world and forget that I will never be as strong as I’d like to be. To forget that these beautiful places and souls and hearts can only exist in fiction.
But then I met you.
Now, my 3 a.m.’s are spent lightly running down the stairs with headphones in so that I don’t wake my family with my laughter. They’re spent showing each other our favorite songs and talking about what we love and hate about the future and the past and everything in between. My eyes are sleepy, but my heart is wide awake. And although I have to wake up in a little while and I should probably get some rest, I’d much rather be with you, our quiet voices whispering like candles in the dark.
In a world so full of people scrambling to achieve practical goals within their logical careers in their lives that make complete and total sense, be a person who reaches no lower than the moon, doing something that makes you want to wake up with the sun and only sleep when you’re dead. Don’t let your dreams become casualties. Don’t let the world be the killer.