Monday, December 29, 2014

Prodigious Savant and Steal This Book (or at least the plot)

Prodigious Savant coverHope everyone had a wonderful holiday break. Thanks so much for dropping by today as I have a ‘new-to-me’ author I’d like to introduce to you.

Author J.J. White has a most intriguing novel, PRODIGIOUS SAVANT. I’ll give you a brief description of the book and then J.J. has an interesting topic to share with us.

According to Dr. Darold A. Treffert of the University of Wisconsin, there are fewer than one hundred reported cases of prodigious savants in the world. Those few who possess the savant syndrome all have an island of brilliance that allows them to excel in some remarkable talent. Unfortunately, they all share various developmental disabilities.
        Burlington, Vermont, 1962. Seventeen-year-old Gavin Weaver survives a dreadful explosion, six hours of brain surgery, and thirty days in a coma, to awake possessing not just one savant talent, but several, including art, music, mathematics, and memory, and all without suffering any of the usual mental disabilities associated with head trauma.
        The odds are slim Gavin will survive both the internal and external conflicts that keep him from the one thing he wants most, the girl he’s loved since childhood.

Now join me in giving J.J. a warm welcome to Thoughts in Progress. Welcome, J.J.

Steal This Book…..(or at least the plot)

In 1970, Abby Hoffman, the radical champion of the counterculture zeitgeist, couldn’t get his book published until he changed the title of it to, Steal This Book. The clever ploy paid off, with over a quarter million books sold and God knows how many stolen. 

With the tsunami of traditionally published and self-published books flooding the market, it might be wise to steal Mr. Hoffman's title to get your book to stand out from the crowd. This is perfectly legal, since titles aren’t copyrighted, but it would be unethical all the same. Still, I imagine the sales of your book would improve if you changed the title to say, The Godfather or Gone With The Wind.

But if you don't want to steal a title, then the next best thing is to steal a plot. Still perfectly legal, as long as you don't plagiarize entire sections of the book. I recently had a friend accuse me of stealing the plot of Stephen King's book, The Dead Zone, and incorporating it into my psychological thriller, Prodigious Savant. I had never read The Dead Zone so I was surprised and disappointed when the description was nearly identical to mine, with a boy waking from a coma in possession of extraordinary powers. It's like they say, every book has already been written. 

There are many examples of authors stealing plots from other authors. The first time I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I thought to myself, where have I read this before? Then it occurred to me the plot was identical to Orson Scott Card's, Ender’s Game, except the milieu was in a medieval school instead of a spaceship. Rowling denies it, of course. Some other examples: Barbara Cartland’s, The Knave of Hearts, is nearly identical to Georgette Heyer’s, These Old Shades, and Dan Brown was accused of copying the plot of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh’s, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, for his novel, The Da Vinci Code. Many novelists will admit to plot stealing and heartily endorse others to do the same. After all, West Side Story is nothing but Romeo and Juliet with music.
I'm working on a novel now where my protagonist endeavors to save a German girl in Berlin that he left to the mercy of the Soviets at the end of World War II. It's basically a rehash of the plot of Don Quixote.

So go ahead and steal other authors’ plots, steal the pace of their writing, steal their characters, and by all means, steal their settings. Do that and write any way you want, about anything you want, as long as you do it beautifully. And if you want to steal my book, you’ll have to do it electronically, since it's only available online. But if you do steal it, at least write a review.

JJ, thanks for joining us today and sharing this look at stealing involving stories. I can find bits and pieces of others books in various stories I read. It is interesting how some stories are reworked.

Now for a bit of background on J.J.

J.J. White has penned five novels and over two hundred short stories. He has had articles and stories published in several anthologies and magazines including, Wordsmith, The Homestead Review, The Seven Hills Review and The Grey Sparrow Journal. His story, The Nine Hole League, will soon be published in the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Volume 14. He has won awards and honors from the Alabama Writers Conclave, Writers-Editors International, Maryland Writers Association, The Royal Palm Literary Awards, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Writer’s Digest. 

J.J. was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his short piece in The Grey Sparrow Journal. He enjoys writing, surfing, golf and tennis. He lives in Merritt Island, Florida with his understanding wife, editor, and typist, Pamela.

For more on J.J. and his writing, visit his website and blog and connect with him on Facebook, Prodigious Savant on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Thanks again for stopping by today. How is the weather in your area? Have you read a book that had a familiar plot to it?


  1. Thank you for introducing JJ White. Prodigous Savant sounds fascinating - I am always intrigued with the possibilities (usually closed) held within our minds.
    Familiar plots? Oh yes, but as long as the take is different and the characters I am perfectly comfortable with it...

  2. I like your wit, JJ!
    Some people told me my first book reminded them of Ender's Game, which I'd never read. (And after reading, I realized they aren't really that similar.)
    Every story has elements of other stories. It's all in how we put them together.

  3. There are only so many plots. Might as well steal a good one. I always said someone needs to steal the title and cover from Amazon of "Image Not Available." They'd sell millions.

  4. Mason - Thanks for introducing us to JJ White and to Prodigious Savant. What a fascinating concept for a book!

  5. I think all stories are variations of others. Look how many use the plots of fairy tales as a formula.
    Great interview, thanks for sharing.

  6. I like Diane's comment that you "might as well steal a good one." Interesting thoughts, JJ. Sounds like a good book. Nice interview.

  7. J.J., thanks again for visiting with us. I enjoyed your take on selecting plots. Wishing you much success.

    Hi all, thanks for stopping by!

    1. Thank you, Mason. I certainly appreciate you letting me guest post on your site. J.J.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.