Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Writer's Virtue is a Choice

Virtue: a characteristic of a person which supports individual moral excellence and collective well-being.

Doesn't that sound like an admirable trait?

We may be born with  moral excellence and collective well-being, but as we grow and mature virtue is challenged on a daily basis.

We work on virtue every single day of our lives. It's tested as we meet one obstacle after another. The choices we make reflect on our moral excellence and collective well-being.

Looking at virtue through the lens of a writer, we operate from the position of choice and responsibility. We make a choice about what we write, and we are responsible for that choice.

Case in point, I'm sure you've heard in the news lately about the woman who was a trusted member of a romance writers group who seemed to be very successful, having had several of her stories published. Many of her friends had her read their work and help them. Little did they know that she had built her success on the hard work of others. She had copied other writers books and used them as her own. I feel bad for the writers whose work she plagiarized, but I also feel sorry for her. She crossed the unwritten moral codes of being a writer: never plagiarize and always give credit where credit is due. The choices she made tarnished her virtue. 

The writer who truly has virtue and is successful does it the hard way. They study their craft, read everything they can, and write, write, write.

Do you think that writer will ever regain her virtue? Or can she? What would you do if you found out someone plagiarized one of your stories?   



  1. I know of some people who plagiarized early in their careers—online fanfiction, so not even "published" works—and the people who loved her material felt very betrayed by that. She's now traditionally published in original fiction, but those people are still very critical of her.

    This discussion makes me think of the word "integrity" which comes from the same Latin root as "integer," whole number. Integrity must be WHOLE or it isn't integrity at all.

    (Of course, there's always repentance and forgiveness, so there's that!)

  2. Jordan,
    You're right. This does have a great deal to do with integrity. I think values spill over and support each other. I started the year off with diligence. If we're diligent our faith is strengthened as is our virtue. Isn't it interesting how values depend on each other?

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. And, of course, there is repentance and forgiveness. I hope the writer who plagiarized does just that and then gets back to writing the way it should be done. :)

  3. Kathi, thanks for sharing today on Virtue.
    Our world today is so far from the roots it came from I believe and there are too many people willing to compromise on how a person should live their life.
    I had not heard that before about woman stealing others work, seems about as low as you can get-sure hope in time she has found the virtue that was deep in her soul and brought it to the top again. How can we live when we arent even true to ourselves or others...

    Paula O

  4. Paula,
    I think sometimes people want something so badly that they lose themselves. That poor woman didn't trust herself or her talent to achieve the success she desired. Unfortunately, she's now damaged her reputation. It will be a long road back, but if she sincerely repents and is forgiven, she'll find her way. At least I hope so.

    It's so important to never lose sight of what is truly important in life. A person's honor and virtue are truly priceless.

  5. speaking of morals and virtue in books, I always have, and always will have, a huge issue with writers who take no responsibility, the moral one, for what they write, especially the YA writers who fill kids and teens with immoral rubbish.

    When it comes to the main topic of your post today, Kathi, I know quite a few people who have no problem stealing people's ideas. Actually there are a number of sites out there made solely on posts copies and pasted straight from HOLLYWOOD SPY :) with no changes, and with no links off course. Quite a crazy thing.

  6. Dezmond,
    Kids and teens are so vulnerable too. I think some writers believe they are showing how life really is for teens, but I'd like to think writers need to set a higher bar. Sure they have to identify with their readers, but they also have a responsibility to help those readers aspire to become better people.

    I think there is a code of ethics among good bloggers. It's the bad apples that cause all the problems. Cutting and pasting another blog without giving credit or linking is just plain wrong. Our problem is weeding out those who cheat. Your blog is wonderful. I love finding out what is new and breaking when it comes to films and TV. You do a great job! Don't let the cheaters discourage you.



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