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.

Author: Angela Misri

Novelist, Digital Strategist & Journalist

5 thoughts on “The fine line between an homage and copying an idea”

  1. you know, it reminds me of “Alice in Wonderland”, almost; we know the story, and all you really need to do is take the name “Alice”, add some fantastic element to the story, and it’s homange. Funny how that works.

      1. no, but I did see that miniseries Alice. interesting take on Alice in Wonderland, but I find it a little hard to believe. hey, ever had any ideas for stories involving Alice?

      2. Oh sure, the first time I read it I remember thinking that it was like Narnia in that you could send different people through the rabbit hole and write different stories for each…. how about you?

  2. i’m starting a new comment because i can’t comment on your last comment for some reason (i blame the computer i’m using). yes, i do have an idea for a novel that’s a homage of Alice in Wonderland, involving a puzzle hunt and the Jabberwocky as the villain. I think it’s a good story, but we’ll see if I ever get around to writing it (first I got to get Reborn City out there).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s