chapter  8
20 Pages

Stealing stories

Perhaps it’s a good job no one had invented intellectual copyright when Shakespeare wrote King Lear, since underlying all that word wizardry you can still spot the elements of a universal folk tale plot. Or maybe someone should have been standing before all the anonymous oral tellers of legends and myths, wagging a warning finger and telling them not to help themselves to what clearly was not theirs to take. Perhaps, but not many people would really think so. Stealing stories sounds wrong. After all, are we not supposed to try to be original, to come up with new ideas, new angles, new ways of interesting and engaging readers and listeners in story magic? Yet all story makers and tellers do it all the time – and indeed need to do it. And we all do it too, because it’s another of those talents we have naturally, the marvellous ability to copy and then make free with what we’ve copied.