(image borrowed from the great Stargate site, Gateworld – taken from the fantastic season finale of Stargate SGU)
As I twittered a week or two ago, I fell so in love with Stargate Universe’s season finale, that a not-so-small part of me wanted to write fan-fic about the characters. I’m not going to—obviously, I have no time—but I thought I’d take a moment to touch on the subject of fan-fiction, as a month ago (or so) there seemed to be some controversy on the subject.
It’s no secret that I used to write fan-fiction. Honest-to-God fan-fic in which I borrowed characters that don’t belong to me and wrote short stories about them for reasons that had nothing to do with spite or arrogance—and everything to do with love and appreciation, and a desire to play in the same sandbox as the X-Men, or the Starship Enterprise, or whatever else caught my fancy.
I certainly didn’t try to pawn my stories off as professional, and I wasn’t silly enough to think they mattered—but they were fun, I know others enjoyed them sometimes, and I learned a lot about storytelling. I wouldn’t have been able to write TIGER EYE if I hadn’t cut my teeth on all those other little tales. Better than any fiction-writing course, let me tell you (except for my undergrad class in non-fiction essay writing, which also taught me so much about language and words).
I totally respect authors who don’t want their work touched by fic-writers—I think that fic-writers should respect that, too—but I also think that authors should never demonize those who do write fan-fiction, because trust me, about 90% of those who do…well, it’s because they really love the characters. And that’s something to be appreciated.
So. Here’s my official fanfic policy:
1. I retain and reserve all rights to my work. If you play in my sandbox, I have the right to kick you out of it any time I want. Nothing personal.
2. Having said that, I probably won’t kick you out unless you break the Fanfic Writer’s First Rule, which is: Thou Shalt Not Make Money, Or Causeth Me To Lose Money, Because Of Your Play In My Sandbox. In other words, DO NOT TRY TO SELL YOUR STORY.
3. No offense, but I never want to see your fan-fiction, and I don’t want to know it exists.
Because even though I think it’s a compliment that you might want to play in the universes that I’ve created, I have no interest—for legal, and personal reasons—to read your work. That’s not me being snotty. It’s survival, pure and simple.