Do you mind if I write stories set in your worlds and using your characters?
Actually, nobody ever asks me if this is okay. They just go ahead and do it. But that’s okay. Fan fiction has been around a long time and gives people much pleasure. I like the idea that people may be adding to what I’ve created. I can appreciate that some need to indulge in a little wish fulfillment. (The idea of Black Magician Trilogy slash fiction amuses me no end. Who would get with whom?)
So I’ve found that I don’t mind if people play with my world and characters, but there is a point where it is no longer flattering or amusing. Actually, there are three points:
1. Copyright issues. It should be obvious that I would mind if stories using my characters or worlds were published without my permission. My publishers would mind a lot more than me, so if you’re tempted, imagine their lawyers rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the large sums of money they might extract from you.
2. Please don’t send me your stories or ideas. As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, I don’t want to be influenced by other people’s ideas. If you send me stories, I won’t read them. If your email looks as if it is full of ideas, I won’t read it.
3. Remember, I put many, many years of hard work into creating and developing my world and characters. The story goes where I want it to. The characters do what I want them to. The idea of fan fiction that adds to the story is appealing, but don’t expect me to like changes or distortions, especially ones made out of prejudice or malice. And rewriting an entire series is insulting.
If you are hoping to one day become a professional writer and fanfic is all or most of what you’re writing, then bear this in mind: creating characters and world building is a skill you need to develop. You may learn from mimicking another writer’s style or writing in their world, but the sooner you develop the skills to invent your own the sooner you’ll become good at it, and the sooner you’ll get that publishing contract and I’ll be enjoying reading your original work.