Writer and former Wattpad Star Brandy Davis has garnered criticism for her book Write Me Off and its uncanny similarities to bestselling author Elle Kennedy's Off Campus series. Today, we're breaking down the details.
Who are Brandy Davis and Elle Kennedy?
Author Brandy Davis, known to her Wattpad fans as "brandywrites", is a former Wattpad writer. Her book, Write Me Off, had over 6-million reads on the platform. She was formerly a part of the Wattpad Stars program but, following accusations of bullying, racism, and other inappropriate behavior, was removed.
Elle Kennedy is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author with dozens of titles to her name, both self- and traditionally published.
Brandy's Write Me Off vs. Elle's The Deal
Following the controversy, readers have been quick to point out that Brandy's stories bore a striking resemblance to those by New York Times Bestselling romance author Elle Kennedy. Many of the original Goodreads reviews of Brandy's novel, Write Me Off, mention a clear relationship between the two writers.
One reviewer mentioned "uncanny similarities to Elle Kennedy’s series", while another said the book was "stylistically...pretty identical to EK's books."
"LITERALLY a copy of the Off Campus series. Each of the characters have something similar to one of Elle Kennedy’s characters."
The original Goodreads listing for the book has since been removed from the site and replaced with a new listing, but many of the new reviews seem to have the same critique.
"This book is nothing but a ripoff Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus series (basketball edition)."
This series is so similar to the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy. I think that the author of this book just compiled a bunch of ideas from the Off-Campus series, other Wattpad books, and some of her own ideas to write this book.
Reviewers have pointed out multiple similarities between the books, some of which are summarized here:
Lead characters Abby (Write Me Off) and Garret (The Deal) both have a particular holiday that is emotionally difficult because of associations with their father
Abby (Write Me Off) and Garret (The Deal) both have abusive childhoods, while their love interests have two loving parents
Both female leads kiss another man before realizing their feelings for the male lead
In both books, one lead tutors the other before they start to date
Abby (Write Me Off) and Garret (The Deal) are both discouraged by parental figures from being in their relationships
A Twitter user said, "I read Write Me Off before I read The Deal by Elle Kennedy. And it was horrible how many times I could say 'that’s in Brandy's book' when this book had been published much longer before Brandy wrote hers."
In response to a video about Elle Kennedy's books, another commenter said: "Write me off by BrandyWrites has very similar vibes, it’s a college sports romance, basketball being the main sport, and the series has like 3 books and each follows a different player of the team."
Still, other reviewers have defended Brandy, saying that the similarities are minor or not an issue to them.
Pretty much just off-brand Elle Kennedy but basketball version. Still liked it though and want to read the rest.
I know she's a big fan of Elle Kennedy and has always said she drew loads of inspo from her - which is obvious in her books. BUT it is still quite different and i believe everyone should still give it a read.
Yes its almost the same story as Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus series, [but] this one is basketball and also a good story to binge-read.
Brandywrites's Complicated Relationship with Elle Kennedy
Brandy once identified as a fan of Elle Kennedy's work, but has since taken to Twitter to express negative views of Kennedy's The Deal from her Off Campus series. It's possible that this was an attempt to separate herself from the series and discourage further comparisons.
A History of Plagiarism Accusations
What some critics have found particularly egregious in this case is Brandy's known history of accusing others of plagiarism. Multiple Wattpad users reported that she used her influence to pressure other writers into substantially changing or taking down their own stories. Twitter users mentioned that she, at times, encouraged her followers to report stories that bore similarities to her own.
Similar is Not Necessarily the Same
While substantial similarities between stories may qualify as plagiarism, that alone isn't necessarily breaking any law. Plotlines and characters are generally not subject to copyright, so even if BrandyWrites copied storylines and other ideas directly from Elle Kennedy, she may be within her legal rights to do so.
Much of our modern storytelling culture is built on derivative content. Many beloved stories, including fanfiction, feature the borrowing of ideas and characters but are still considered original works. So, even if we acknowledge that these commonalities exist, it's up to the individual to decide if BrandyWrites has done something wrong.
Have you read either story? Share your opinions in the comments...