In writing, as in life, ride your own race

Mr6 and I had a chat about plagiarism in the car today. I’m not sure if this rates as a Big Chat but, like all car chats, it had a certain intensity. There’s something about being one-on-one in a car, neither party able to look at the other (as occurs when one of you is driving and one is strapped firmly into a booster seat behind the driver’s seat) that allows for a focus you don’t often get with children.

He was telling me about the latest development in the book he is currently writing. And when I say writing, I mean laboriously printing in a Moleskine cahier (what can I say? Good enough for Hemingway…) and then transferring to computer and then transferring onto the USB stick (of which he is ludicriously proud). Quite why these three steps must be undertaken for each page is a good question, but the six-year-old mind works in mysterious ways.

Anyway, he’s up to page four of what, until today, has been the 7th instalment in the Star Wars saga. A true sequel, from what I can gather, as it continues on from the end of Return of the Jedi. He’s not entirely what he will do about the villain role, given that Darth Vader was last seen on a cloud being Anakin Skywalker again, but assures me this is a minor plot point.

It all went by the wayside today, anyway, as he revealed that the next chapter in the book will be a Zac Power story. Zac is his current love and he takes his Spy Wallet, complete with Spy Card (off the website), SpyPad (a crossword solver) and other spy paraphernalia with him wherever he goes.

“What does Zac Power have to do with Star Wars?” I asked, naively, whilst navigating a right hand turn.

“Nothing,” he said. “It’s a new book. I saw in the back of my Mega Missions book that new ones were coming out, so I thought I’d write one.”

“Are you going to have it published?”

“What’s published?”

I explained that while a writer wrote the book, and got rejected, a publisher printed it and made sure it got into bookshops so we could buy it.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll send it off and get it published.”

“Well, you’ll need to come up with your own idea then,” I said, pulling up out the front of guitar lessons, early for once.

“What do you mean? Star Wars Number 7 is my own idea.”

“Yes, but the other six Star Wars ideas were someone else’s. If you copy them, and use all their characters, that’s plagiarism, and that’s against the law. Publishers want you to have new characters in new stories. It’s called being original.”

He thought about that for a while. Then sighed. “But that’s really hard.”

Yes. Yes, it is.