Accidents Happen, Right?

It seems like more of these author/plagiarism stories are becoming more common. Most recently a 19-year-old author, Kaavya Viswanathan, was accused of borrowing passages from another author, Megan McCafferty. Viswanathan's response? It was an accident. "While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words." Viswanathan said. "I am a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious. My publisher and I plan to revise my novel for future printings to eliminate any inappropriate similarities."

You can read examples of similarities from Viswanathan's book and McCafferty's novels here.

I cringed when reading the examples uncovered by The Harvard Crimson. Some of passages them are pretty much verbatim. I think there are too many passages and similarities between Viswanathan's passages and McCafferty's books to believe they were unintentional.

Writing is hard. Being able to string words, sentences and dialogue together can be very difficult. Writing a book-length manuscript was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But I don't understand the temptation to borrow passages verbatim from another writer. What happened to honesty and integrity?


On a side note, Michelle, if you're reading this, you might want to check out this essay called Earth Camp.