The fine line between an homage and copying an idea
Formula for an effective homage
Thanks to Keith Sawyer over at the Creativity and Inspiration blog who chased down this quote from T.S. Eliot:
“Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal”
In other words, Good writers borrow, great writers steal.
This is one of those fine-line, grey area parts of writing I find, especially when you are writing a series that spins off from another author’s work – in my case the great Arthur Conan Doyle.
So, when I decided it was time in Book 7 for Portia Adams to have a slightly more prominent client, I remembered of course The Adventure of the Illustrious Client from the original canon.
I reread it today because the only part of the story I was planning to emulate was Portia taking on a case with someone ‘illustrious,’ not the premise for the mystery or the solution of the crime — in fact I want to head in an opposite direction from that.
Holmes is hired in the Illustrious Client to convince young Violet not to marry a murderous Baron (who has not been successfully linked to his previous crimes) which he does with the help of the Baron’s former lover.
No problem, I’m planning for Book 7 to be about a client who is blackmailed for political information.
Hopefully, this formula (see image above) I just came up with holds true:
The original idea (an illustrious client) + my respect for Conan Doyle’s work + a new take (blackmail) = an effective homage.
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