Yesterday, I submitted a story to Shock Totem and learned that a writer named Richard Ridyard had done the same. Both stories were of the contemporary horror genre, owing much to Stephen King in theme and content. The difference is mine was an original work.

Mr. Ridyard’s was a plagiarized version of King’s “The Boogeyman.”

Come to find out, Ridyard has been plagiarizing for a while now, and his work has appeared in multiple online magazines. The editors have removed his stories from their sites since the news came out, and rightly so. Regardless, the fact remains that Ridyard was able to become a published writer by stealing work from other authors and presenting it as his own.

How could he think he’d get away with it? Last year, one of my 8th graders tried a similar stunt; but when she read “her” story to the class, it didn’t sound like her writing style. I googled the title and, sure enough, there it was: “Stealing Mark Twain,” from Girl’s Life magazine. She earned a zero grade. So did Richard Ridyard. From now on, he’ll have to use a pseudonym if he plans to submit work again.

I’m glad he was caught. I hate plagiarism with a passion. But I can’t help wondering. For someone to brazenly copy from Stephen King (and H.P. Lovecraft, reportedly) and think no editor would notice—could it have been a test? Some kind of social experiment? What if Richard Ridyard was already a pseudonym used by someone with insatiable curiosity who wondered how far a plagiarist could possibly go before getting caught? Something worth pondering.

But I guess I’ve been going about things the wrong way. Apparently, in order to get published, I just need to copy the greats. Go thou and do likewise?

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