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Ethics of reusing prose in your fiction (1 Viewer)

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SiameseDream

Senior Member
Let's say you're thinking of writing a story that you want to submit to various outlets for publication consideration. Let's say also that you have a bunch of stories that you've already self-published as free downloads on an online platform. Let us say a bit more, namely that there is a passage that you really like in one of those previous stories, something you believe would catch the eye of an editor at one of these places you want to submit to. Now, these places don't accept previously published stories (and yes, free ebooks that you put online yourself counts as "previously published"). In your opinion, would it be unethical to take a paragraph or a bit of dialogue and drop it into this new story (assuming, of course, that you could make it fit so that it felt organic)?
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
Let's say you're thinking of writing a story that you want to submit to various outlets for publication consideration. Let's say also that you have a bunch of stories that you've already self-published as free downloads on an online platform. Let us say a bit more, namely that there is a passage that you really like in one of those previous stories, something you believe would catch the eye of an editor at one of these places you want to submit to. Now, these places don't accept previously published stories (and yes, free ebooks that you put online yourself counts as "previously published"). In your opinion, would it be unethical to take a paragraph or a bit of dialogue and drop it into this new story (assuming, of course, that you could make it fit so that it felt organic)?

Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable with it, but I might be okay with reworking it to something a bit different. Also, it might depend how general or how specific the extract is. For example, I remember a simile in a boxing story about a boxer's fist being like a baby's skull - possibly not a full-on simile as it seemed to be using opposites (I imagine there's a name for that) - but I wouldn't be averse to using that construction by naming something else that is fragile if I could think of something appropriate. That way it's inspiration rather than copying.
Also, do bear in mind that there are very robust plagiarism checkers that can be used on the internet and some might find a positive match even when duplication is unintended.
 
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