Finding a Rhyme and a Reason

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“Good writers borrow, great writers steal.”

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Now, when I think of this quote, I am always reminded of one of my favorite films, “Finding Forrester” (2000) written by Mike Rich. Under the tutelage of a proclaimed reclusive writer, William Forrester, young Jamal Wallace struggles to find his own voice as an author while resolving his issues of self-identity. When he uses some of Forrester’s words in a paper to be submitted for competition, albeit with Forrester’s permission, it almost results in Jamal being outsed from a prestigious school. Although one is never encouraged to plagiarize another’s work, there is value in embracing inspiration from those who have traveled a familiar path.

Last week author Stephanie Perry Moore and her husband Derrick Moore visited Brown Middle School and spoke very candidly about her middle school years, the challenges she faced when publishing her first novel, and books that they have co-authored. What did you find memorable about her talk? What might you “steal” from her experience to help you become a better student and writer?

Reminder: November is National Novel Writing Month!

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48 Comments to

““Good writers borrow, great writers steal.””

  1. October 31st, 2012 at 9:06 AM      Reply shenelle Says:

    Mrs. Moore came to our school and talked to us about the kinds of books she writes and how long it take her to write the book. She wrote some book that I like to read, and I didn’t know one of my favorite authors would be visiting my school. I think she does a great thing with writing books.

    I think this means that when you write something and somebody uses your ideas. But some time copying some ideas from somebody work can be a good thing because you can get some ideas from that person you get more influence about writing.

  2. October 31st, 2012 at 9:12 AM      Reply shanya Says:

    I think what that means is that good writers take ideas from great writers and great writers take what somebody else has and change it.That what i think that our starter means.

  3. October 31st, 2012 at 9:15 AM      Reply Madyson Garrett Says:

    “Good writers borrow, great writers steal”. What do you think this mean?

    What I think it means is that good writer sometimes using other peoples writing for ideas in he/she article. I also think that great writers steal means that people that are fantastic writers take other peoples idea for he/she article.

  4. October 31st, 2012 at 9:15 AM      Reply Rickayla Says:

    What I think the starter means that good writers might write good books that people would love to read. Some great writers might want to steal what a good write has done. Some great writers might take a good writers work and change it around.

  5. October 31st, 2012 at 9:17 AM      Reply Madyson Garrett Says:

    “Good writers borrow, great writers steal”. What do you think this mean?

    What I think it means is that good writer sometimes use other peoples writing for ideas in he/she article. I also think that great writers steal means that people that are fantastic writers take other peoples idea for he/she article.

  6. October 31st, 2012 at 9:17 AM      Reply Annecia Says:

    I think it means a good writer uses somebody other ideas and switch it around , but a great writer just uses it and rewrite better things .

    • November 8th, 2012 at 5:39 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      Annecia, I believe your ideas are comparable to your peers who argue that great writers are able to “invent” something of their own from the inspiration of others.

      What might we do to curtail the number of typos in our comments?

  7. October 31st, 2012 at 9:23 AM      Reply Kayla Paige Says:

    I think that the quote “Good writers borrow, and great writers steal means good writers borrow ideas from people and great witers steal ideas to make their own story better by using their creativity , origionality , and pearsonality.

    • November 8th, 2012 at 5:35 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      Intriguing, Kayla! Thanks for the comment.

      Do you recall what I recommended we do before posting to check our spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure?

  8. October 31st, 2012 at 9:25 AM      Reply Ruqiya Davis Says:

    “Good writers borrow, Great writers steal.” What do you think this means?
    I think that most great writers steal ideas from people but, put it in their own words so it won’t seem like they are plagiarizing.

  9. October 31st, 2012 at 9:31 AM      Reply Nadia im in there Says:

    “Good writers and Great writers steal”
    I think the quae good writers borrow and Great writers steal means that good writers means that they just write really good, and great writers mean that they take the writing from the good writers and change it make it better and great. You might not even know because it will be great.

    • November 8th, 2012 at 5:32 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      Nadia, I believe you have a general understanding of the quote. In fact, I think you demonstrate a lot of insight. However, is it possible that you could reword your ideas to reflect your understanding of well-written sentences?

  10. October 31st, 2012 at 9:32 AM      Reply Danielle Richardson Says:

    I think it means that good writers take some words and kind of twist them around and try to make them their own, and try to give credit to who they “borrowed”, from so it won’t seem like their trying to steal other writers work. Great writers take the things they have heard and were inspired from and use them in their writings. It’s not that they plagiarize, but they use what they have heard and make it into what they want.

  11. October 31st, 2012 at 9:35 AM      Reply Mya Says:

    “Good Writers Borrow, Great Writers Steal”

    I think That Good writers borrow ideas and use inspiration. Great writers Steal ideas by putting them in their own words and use much greater writing.

    • November 8th, 2012 at 5:18 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      Mya, I am trying to see the distinction you are trying to establish. Help me.

      I am also wondering why you capitalized some of the letters in the post as well.

  12. October 31st, 2012 at 9:36 AM      Reply Kayla Thomas Says:

    I think it means good writers only take little things from the author’s they admire. While great writer become so drunk with power they steal the greatest ideas, and twist around the ideas, quotas, and etc. From the author who already thought of it.

    • November 8th, 2012 at 5:16 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      Wow! What imagery – “drunk with power they steal the greatest ideas”. Kayla, is this twisting plagiarism?

      Also, could you review the format of your sentences?

  13. October 31st, 2012 at 9:41 AM      Reply keanna Says:

    This mean that a writer can write well. But they take the smart writer well idea and write and use it in there on word.

  14. October 31st, 2012 at 9:41 AM      Reply madisen Says:

    I think this means that good writers use the ideas that other people have and great writers restate in different words what a writer has already stated.

  15. October 31st, 2012 at 9:47 AM      Reply Idaja Oliver Says:

    I think it means that good writers copy the whole thing and give credit to the writer. Great writers may use a few words the same , but they alternate it.

  16. October 31st, 2012 at 9:52 AM      Reply India Says:

    A good writer takes a great writers techniques or skills and change in there own words

    • November 8th, 2012 at 5:00 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      Are you saying that a good writer takes the great writer’s techniques and changes them into their own words?

      What similarities and differences can you find in your post and mine, India? Could my post inspire you to modify some words?

  17. October 31st, 2012 at 9:55 AM      Reply beingmii99 Says:

    I think that the quote means that good writers would get someone’s idea and make it their own, but give them credit. Great writers would get the idea and make it into their own by changing some of it and claiming it as their own idea.

  18. October 31st, 2012 at 9:55 AM      Reply astashiona Says:

    This means that a good writer borrows from a great writer but a great writer steals from a great writer that inspires them and turns it into something better and the reader may not even know the writer took something from another writer.

    • November 8th, 2012 at 4:51 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      So, Astashiona, is it your interpretation that great writers are inspired by the masters they wish to emulate to create something from “the old” that appears brand new? I like that!

  19. October 31st, 2012 at 12:02 PM      Reply Tyona Says:

    I think that this quote means that if a writer just borrows words for an author then they are just average, good writers but if they steal things like sentences then they are great writers.

    What I found memorable from Stephanie Perry Moore’s talk is when she said that she failed a test and was in the lowest classes. At that point, she did what she needed to do.

    If I could “steal” from the experience she had it would be to open up my eyes if I am not doing well in school so I can become a better person and student.

  20. October 31st, 2012 at 12:17 PM      Reply Tameesha Says:

    I think the quote “Good writers borrow, and Great writers steal” mean good writers use other writers ideas to make their story to be as good as the other writers and great writers steal mean they take other people ideas to rephrase what they have to make it brand new. One thing that I find memorable in Stephanie Moore talk is “when she said “I was in7th grade, and I was coasting, so when she got in the lower classes it was time for her to wake up. One thing that I will take is “Instead of coasting you should wake up and pay attention in class so you can go somewhere”.

  21. October 31st, 2012 at 12:21 PM      Reply Tyquasha Says:

    I think this means a good writer is just average because they use words from other books and great writers steal the inspiration and rewrite it and create their own words for their story.

    One thing I found memorable in Stephanie Perry Moore’s talk is when she was not doing the right thing by making D’s in school, she changed her atrocious behavior and published 60 books in her career.

    Stephanie Moore’s talk inspired me to become a better student, do the right thing, listen in class, and stop acting like everything is a joke because life gets harder by the day and it is not the time to do the wrong thing.

  22. October 31st, 2012 at 12:22 PM      Reply brittini Says:

    “Good Writers borrow, Great Writers steal.”
    I think it means when you are good writers you someone else’s words and just put your name on it ,a great writer would use someone else’s words but kind of put it in their own words and sometimes summarize what the novel or book is about. What I find memorable in Stephanie Perry Moore’s talk was that if you do what you are supposed to do you will be a successful person in life .What I might steal from her is that some of us is costing and hoping your dreams are going to come it’s not it’s like someone thinking that if they go to school and do nothing they would get a thousand dollars bet you will not, but you have to learn how to work your way to the top .

    • November 8th, 2012 at 4:41 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      So, is there a difference between using somewhat else’s words and plagiarism? If we really want to use someone else’s words or quote someone, what should we do as respectful writers to honor that person’s creativity?

      Brittini, is it just my imagination, or did you omit some key words in your post? Do you recall what it means to have a run-on sentence? A couple of points are confusing to me. This may be the reason. Let me know what you think after you read it aloud to yourself and a peer.

  23. October 31st, 2012 at 12:22 PM      Reply Tiera Williams Says:

    “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.” I think it means that good writers go and find someone that knows how to write and steals their words. A great writer would take the same thing and make it better by putting great ideas in their own words and writing.

    What I found memorable in Stephanie Perry Moore’s talk was when she told us how bad she was in elementary and middle school, but she stop playing and got her education and became a writer. What I would steal from her experience is to stop playing in school and get an education.

  24. October 31st, 2012 at 4:53 PM      Reply Hannah Williams Says:

    Well, when Stephanie Perry came to our school i wasn’t there that day but i think that “Great Writers” means that if you are writing like little story as a kid now you would be a great writer when you grow up and I think “Great writers steal” means that people who thinks that other people are great writers when their not they hear someone say a good thing and they go repeat it.

    • November 8th, 2012 at 4:33 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      Hannah, I am somewhat confused. Perhaps if you read your comment aloud, you will be able to figure out why I’m having such a difficult time comprehending what you are trying to convey.

  25. November 7th, 2012 at 4:34 PM      Reply Madyson Garrett Says:

    When Mrs.Moore came she talked about how great it is to be an arthuor and write stories. What I found memorable is that she said some great things about what she did in life. what I might steal is that when she said that she was acting a fool in the 7th grade tha when she got in high school she was in the mental class and her friends wasn’t laugh with her they were laughing at her.

    • November 8th, 2012 at 4:31 PM      Reply Ms. Hayes Says:

      Madyson, I believe that Mrs. Moore would be honored to see how attentive you were during her talk with the seventh grade female academy.

      Will you please review your post and tell me if there are any changes that you should consider making to enhance the reading experience for your reader?

  26. November 7th, 2012 at 4:52 PM      Reply Tahmirackle Langston Says:

    I think it means that when you listen to someone else speak that is good and you copy them that is very good. I say this because you can learn from what the speaker said and be a better speaker than what you think you are and you can put your mind to the test. And when you grow up you will know how to speak to someone very good.

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