Filing Off The Serial Numbers

Fanfiction is a legal gray area. I think we all know that by now. And yet there have been mega-bestsellers that started out as fanfic- think, Fifty Shades of Grey. Jane Austen fanfic (JAFF) is also enormously popular. So, how does one write fanfic and not get sued into oblivion?

This is not formal legal advice. I’m not a lawyer, and this is not a consult. This is just stuff I picked up along the way, doing research because I wanted to be able to write Pride & Prejudice fanfiction without landing myself in court. And I have another unrelated story on deck, that will be published under a pen name (One of the OCs is a little too close to ‘me’ for comfort; she was originally a writing exercise, then became a full-fledged character and wandered into the story. Now I can’t get her to leave).

The first way to write fanfic and not get sued is simple. Write it and keep it to yourself. No one cares what you scribble down in a notebook or type up on your laptop. Thank goodness.

Another way to write fanfic is to publish it only on one of the designated fanfiction hosting sites- Fanfiction.net is the most popular. You can also host it on a livejournal-esque platform or a blog. But even this comes with pitfalls. Some authors are very possessive of their worlds, and don’t want anyone else playing in them. You’re unlikely to get sued right off the bat if you fall afoul of one of these authors, but you will get a cease-and-desist notice. And if you do get one, for heaven’s sake, respect the author’s wishes and take down the fanfic. It’s not worth the fight. They own the world; they will probably win the subsequent suit, even if you’re not making money off of your fanfic.

But what if you desperately want to publish a fanfic and make money off of it? Well, your first option is to pick a world that’s out of copyright. This is part of the reason Jane Austen fanfic has become so popular in recent years- the copyright has expired and anyone can play in that sandbox. Just make sure to do your research. Copyright laws vary by location, and change occasionally. If there’s any doubt, leave it in the notebook or on the private computer for a few more years. Bequeath it to your kids if you must.

Or you can break out the editing brain and file off those serial numbers. Fifty Shades of Grey started out as a Twilight fanfic, and now the author is a millionaire. It can be done.

Very carefully. Your one advantage is that most fiction is derived from previous fiction, in one way or another. There are a limited number of basic plots and standard tropes that get recombined to produce most stories, original and not. So no one’s likely to notice if the love interest is a fiery red-head, or the hero defeats the villain by sneaking into the castle through the dungeons. It’s been done so many times that most readers won’t connect any one particular incident to the source material. They will, however, connect a string of evidence if there is one. So:

Do not, under any circumstances, keep the characters’ names the same. That’s the most obvious sign of fanfic in existence. Similarly, if a character has a particular catch-phrase, tagline, or distinguishing feature, get rid of it or alter it beyond recognition. No matter how cool you think it is.

If there’s any kind of made-up language in the source material, don’t use it. That belongs to whoever owns the world, which is not you.

If there are unique- or even merely rare- plot points, alter them or leave them out. The hero using a particular trap to foil the villain, a ‘meet-cute’ scene between love interests that you’ve never seen anywhere else, etc. Change it, somehow.

Basically, your fanfic should not be recognizable as fanfic. That’s the sort of detail that comes out only in author interviews, or if you happen to mention it to a beta reader, so they can be on the lookout for ‘tells’. Remember to keep some of your beta readers in the dark; you’ll get better and more wide-ranging feedback if only some of them know that origins of the story.

Filing off serial numbers requires you to be grounded in reality, pop culture, and the fandom of that particular world. How else will you know what to avoid? So if you’re going to write and publish fanfic, you need to do some research. Read all the meta data associated with the work, fan theories, author interviews, etc. It can be done, but you have to be careful, lest you find yourself hauled up in front of a judge for the offense of playing in the wrong sandbox. Even if it is a really cool sandbox.

137 comments

  1. Time traveler? [huge list of possible inspirations] Time traveling delivery driver? [most of huge list just eliminated] Time traveling delivery driver who is a were-jaguar? [Ain’t got nothin’ in the box anymore] OK, so if you look at the entire series you can see two main source inspirations, one pretty well known, the other known to anime and manga fans – maybe. But all the pieces together are sooooo mixed and muddled that the risk of an infringement suit is pretty low.

  2. I did this with my YA series of short adventures, Lone Star Sons and Lone Star Glory: it’s loosely (very loosely) based on and inspired by the Lone Ranger series, but I changed everything about it save the basic plot – very young Texas Ranger surviving a massacre and teaming up with an Indian scout to solve mysteries. Racked it back 40 years to an independent Texas, lost the mask, the silver bullets, the white horse, changed all the names, just about all the personal characteristics of the two heroes … and had fun with it.

      1. Simple.

        The Lone Ranger was also hunting Werewolves. 😉

        Seriously, I read a horror comic a few years back where the young Main Character was rescued from Werewolves by a Masked Man and his Indian Companion. 😀

          1. my answer is that he wasnt ‘also’ hunting werewolves, that it was a werewolf pack that ambushed his unit.

  3. Another way to write fanfic is to publish it only on one of the designated fanfiction hosting sites- Fanfiction.net is the most popular.

    Archive Of Our Own (AO3) may have passed it by now. That one has a not for profit that protects the ability to do fan fic or filking, organization for transformative works. I have no idea if their choices are any good, they don’t seem to spend much on legal fees, mostly on website costs.

    1. Dunno about that, though when I do fanfic I post at both AO3 and fanfic.net these days. I will say that although I have found some truly excellent fic on AO3, it sure seems like you have to wade through a LOT more porn-y fic than you do at fanfiction.net, heh. But that’s probably just an extenstion of 98% of fanfiction out there is dreadful, and you gotta sift through it to find the good stuff. (TV tropes has proven to be a pretty good source for fic recommendations…)

      I find I still prefer the original fanfic.net, but that could be because it was my first ‘actual’ fanfiction site after the old force-dot-net fanfic boards. 😀

  4. If there are unique- or even merely rare- plot points, alter them or leave them out. The hero using a particular trap to foil the villain, a ‘meet-cute’ scene between love interests that you’ve never seen anywhere else, etc. Change it, somehow.

    This can be a good writing exercise– or even just mental exercise.

    Figure out what in a thing makes it awesome. Fix the stuff that bugs you. (that’s what half of fan fic is written for, isn’t it? Even if that bugging is only “we never got to see….”)

    One of the really good things about fanfic is that you get writing practice for keeping stuff in character, and a large, not-going-to-spare-your-feelings review board. (of dubious quality, but if they all note the exact same problem with Spock sounding like a valley girl, it’s probably there)

    1. Fixing stuff, filling in the bits we’d like to have seen, and expanding the story after the ‘end.’

      A couple of the best fanfics I’ve ever read are “telling more” with a bit of alternate-universe (one was a different choice for Eowyn where she went to the East and she, Legolas, and Gimli ended up routing a nest of very nasty dark things. It’s kind of amazing.) Or where Pippin travels to very, VERY far East of Middle Earth and recovers one of the last silmarils (well, not so much “recover” as “aid in getting it removed from the mortal world so it stops driving people bananas”).

      (Yeah, I really like me some GOOD Lord of the Rings fanfiction 😀 )

      1. I always wanted to see Rhun. I wouldn’t have minded seeing the Grey Mountains either, or for that matter, heard some of the tales of the Necromancer that apparently even the hobbits knew.

        1. Oooh, there is a truly excellent fic out there, called the Shadow of Angmar. It is–and stay with me here–a Harry Potter/LOTR crossover. But holy cow is it NOT what you might expect!

          Basic premise: the Nine try to summon Morgoth from beyond death, and ended up with the “Master of Death” instead–namely, one Harry Potter. The Witch King is NOT pleased, and Harry spends a year being tortured in the pits of Angmar before Earnur and the Elves destroy Angmar and force the Witch King to flee. (The story starts with them finding this shattered, wrecked man in the dungeons–that man is Harry.)

          And Harry spends many years in the eastern lands, including and especially among the dwarves of the Grey Mountains. He spends the first part of the story–and so far it is quite long, and since it begins at the fall of Angmar and is planned to go through the War of the Ring, it’s gonna get even longer–looking for a way to heal himself and hopefully find a way home, and at that time Saruman is working with the eastern dwarf clans, and since he’s the first “wizard” Harry hears about, he goes looking for him. And therefore Harry himself spends quite a long while with the eastern dwarves (to the point that many long years later, most of the dwarf clans respect him–and the deeds he’s done on his own and together with dwarves–enough to listen to his advice about going to war and purging Gundabad of the orcs that conquered it.)

          In among there, though, is a lot to do with the nomadic tribes of Rhun (and the proto-Rohirrim), whom Harry also spends time with/assists here and there and who assist him. One of the best things about the story is how the writer has taken the fragments left by Tolkien, mixed them up with the clear historical basis of those cultures, and given us some very interesting explorations of lands not seen much at all in Tolkien’s writings.

          It’s clear the writer has read not just the Silmarillion, but probably all those other books that the Silmarillion was condensed from–it’s clear that they’ve really got a good grasp on the Big History of Middle Earth, and are figuring out interesting and logical ways it would shift and change with the presence of a (wandless, for a long time) wizard from Earth who isn’t like the Middle Earth wizards, but who isn’t like mortal men either, and whose magic is utterly different to that of the elves and wizards, and the foul sorcery of Angmar. There’s some basic grammatical/spelling issues (not bad, quite minor) early on, but the story is so good that if they continued I’ve barely noticed them–and I am *extremely* picky about grammar/spelling. 😀

            1. Link is just above 🙂 It really is very cool. I’m very impressed with the writer. (And although it has occasionally gone on longish hiatus, the writer has said more than once that they DO have it all plotted out, it’s just finding the time to write it up. And do the research, heh.)

        2. Also, I’d love to see a tale of the squad that the Shire-folk sent to the defense of Fornost before it fell to Angmar, too…

          (Okay, granted. Dennis L. McKiernan did it in the Iron Tower trilogy–which also had a LOT ripped straight out of the LOTR trilogy. But apparently, it was an audition of sorts for a sequel to LOTR that the publishing house was looking to get written–which never happened. But although I kind of liked the Iron Tower trilogy back when I first read it at the age of 12 or so, I found it a bit too much on the dramatic language front later when I attempted a reread as an adult. Also, the wholesale plot points from LOTR annoyed me.)

          1. I was annoyed by the preaching, personally. And the language, but not as much as the preaching. “Elves are cool! We’d still have elves if we hadn’t industrialized and polluted and other Icky Things!”

    2. There is truly an art to paring all the way down to the pure awesome and not the superfluous. Especially since it is superfluous only in the sense it’s not needed for the awesome, not the story, and you will have to add your own.

  5. Fate is a Japanese property with a lot of potential for fanfic, and for crossover. I’ve seen a couple of ‘serial numbers filed off’ things likely inspired by Fate.

    One, Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village has a minor character that looks like a serial numbers filed off version of Shirou Emiya. Disease instead of swords, but the character is fundamentally similar. There’s a more major character, Mai Hishigami, who could possibly have been inspired by another Nasu character, Aoko Aozaki, but Mai feels very different from Aoko.

    Secondly “the magic in this other world is too far behind” both uses a fairly similar worldbuilding for the Earth native magic tradition, has an MC with a similar relationship to his father that Shirou Emiya has to Kiritsugu Emiya, first volume girl is clearly inspired by Rin Tosaka, and second volume girl by Sakura Matou. Note, the bit similar to Sakura is one where Fate’s roots as a pornographic video game show.

    1. There’s also an argument that Mai is Touko Aozaki, and Aoko is Enbi Hishigami in some way, but they really feel more like original characters. Intellectual Village does not appear to have a licensed translation on Amazon, and is basically one of the side projects of the Index guy.

  6. I’ve got one that I’m working on right now. A lot of the issues you mentioned don’t apply: all characters are either original or so vaguely described in the source material that they might as well be, and the setting has undergone such major changes that it’s almost unrecognizable. However, the story does depend on one of the central conceits of the source material–the idea of trapping souls in some kind of stone and later summoning those trapped souls to use as weapons–and I don’t know if that part is going to make it too close to publish.

    1. What is the source material? Blade Dance? A Megaten/Pokemon inspired video game series, like Youkai Watch or something? Soul Eater?

    2. tried to read one sorta like that and seen one other, so there are others out there, but the first I stopped reading a few chapters in as the lead became so unlikable as to be uninteresting (you don’t love to hate, you just walk away in disgust), the other the first chapter sample was not worth finishing to me due to poor writing and looking to be too predictable.

    3. Okay, there are enough possibilities for the fandom here that I’m convinced that that part at least isn’t going to cause me problems. (If anyone’s curious, it’s Final Fantasy X). Now if I can just get over the other seemingly insurmountable hurdle for that story…

      1. Square isn’t really in the novel business. If you aren’t using any of the PCs for your main characters, and you’ve changed the setting, you aren’t going to get noticed by anyone who can get their lawyers to send a cease and desist.

        You would have to make it bigger than all of the other FFX media tie ins to get Square to begin to care, if you don’t advertise the connection. You aren’t going to make it that big purely on strength of FFX nostalgia, to get that big you would need to do a lot of excellent work on making it work as an original story.

        Okay, Square and Disney collaborate on Kingdom Hearts, and Disney is fairly lawyer happy. The amount of FFX content in KH does not make a good business case for Disney to be out trawling for your idea.

        The ethical academic’s instinct is to credit the source of their ideas. Wrong attitude for sorting out how well a job of filing off serial numbers is done, and whether a given story implementation will get you in trouble if it is sold.

        Right attitude might be: Get ready to compare the goal that is the reason for your fanfic project, and the goal of the original work. Find ten details of what you are ripping off of the original work, and write down the reason why each works that way in the original, and why they do or do not make sense in your fanfic. For each original details, come up with five plausible alternate details that make sense for your fanfic. Maybe all the original details make sense for your fanfic. But maybe the exercise shows you what you can change, or an alternative so awesome that you must change.

        That said, I have an entirely different problem. I don’t often find myself working from a single original work, I most often am trying to jam more than two things together. So, whether I am doing a filed off ‘original’, or an actual original or an outright fanfic, I need to figure out a plot that works for the project. I am not good at solving that problem, and my lack of understanding of character tends to make that much worse.

    4. I’ve always had a problem with that “trapping the soul” theme. It doesn’t fit well with the notion of a beneficent deity, know what I mean? You get stuck in a rock forever, no hope of release? It doesn’t seem reasonable.

      They do it in the comics and such with magic swords, but I’ve never been a fan. If the stone is an instrument of divine retribution, that would be interesting. It only kills the unrepentant, people that are going to Hell when they die. Then you have this wizard going around on clean-up duty, dusting away all the assholes who make life hard for everybody.

      Trapping minds could work too. A a stone could record it for later use, maybe as a mind for a golem. And the recording process could be fatal, so that works as a weapon.

      1. As I recall there was a really excellent second-season Babylon 5 episode that dealt with that concept. You had one alien culture that was utterly convinced that they were SAVING the souls they trapped (in crystal), which utterly horrified another race because they believed souls are reborn, and trapping them prevented it. Those humans who believed in a deity and/or souls were fairly horrified too, and it even made ones who weren’t much for believing rather uncomfortable (especially as the example soul-hunter had progressed to killing his subjects to make SURE he got their ‘souls.’) Other groups were of the opinion both sides were weirdos, and needed to keep their business out of theirs, heh. It’s been awhile since I saw the ep, but I want to say there was even a little bit of debate from human characters as to if it was REALLY a soul, or maybe it was a recording of the personality instead? But in the end, it was never answered clearly one way or the other, but it sure made you think about it.

        1. In the fifth season of B5, they had that species return to B5.

          Apparently, they did capture “souls” and some of the souls weren’t happy about it. 😀

        2. It’s always good to think about these things, and if I recall the reason the Minbari stopped attacking Earth in B5 was because they were missing souls, which were showing up reborn as Humans. Pretty good as an alien motivation.

          I’m thinking more of the Phillip Pullman type thing, where souls are made out of “stuff” and you can literally steal them and use the stuff to do something else. Or Charles Stross who has some other repellent notion I can’t remember in his Library series. Avant-garde atheism in place of thought.

          I don’t mind if somebody has a different idea than me. I do mind if its a sales job masquerading as a story. “Of course there are no souls, you IDIOT!” is not a fun story to read.

            1. Chocolate rabbit! Yay! ~:D

              Pullman has this concept in his Golden Compass series that souls are made of “Dust” and if you collect it you can power a ship or a weapon. So he has soulless children wandering around still alive. Totally a child-friendly series, right? I found it repellent atheist boilerplate, and still do. Also pointless sophistry, because where does the “Dust” come from? Who makes it? Mr. Pullman can K my A.

              Now, as to “powered by a forsaken child” thing, that doesn’t necessarily involve stealing souls per-se. For example, my fourth book has a necromancer. TL/DR, he summons demons and binds them with a human sacrifice. (A messy and disgusting process that is very carefully not described at all. Because ew.) The bigger the demon, the more humans have to die. My bad guy has a 40,000 demon army, he’s been busy -begging- for the ass-kicking he gets. (Spoiler, bad guy does not win.)

              But he can’t touch the souls. He can only kill them, the soul moves on to wherever they go, no matter what. Demons can’t steal souls, or trap them, curse them, tarnish them, cut them, or do anything to them. Because the soul is the divine portion which moves on from our crappy mundane realm and goes back to the divine.

              So that’s more what I meant. ~:D

      2. I’ve always had a problem with that “trapping the soul” theme. It doesn’t fit well with the notion of a beneficent deity, know what I mean? You get stuck in a rock forever, no hope of release? It doesn’t seem reasonable.

        I don’t really think it’s an issue; after all, I like to think our world has a benevolent deity, and He lets His creations get away with some seriously bad stuff. The idea that some evil sorcerer could mess with souls is a step worse, but I tend to think the “forever” in that statement roughly translates to “Until the second coming when He returns and sorts it all out.” (And in my setting, it isn’t necessarily even that. There is a way to break the stones and free the soul, which is what my hero eventually devotes himself to doing).

        1. Kept forgetting to comment– yeah, the trapped souls thing, I can’t see as functionally different from being “trapped” in life.

          I had to head-cannon a “they don’t understand what they’re doing, it’s not REALLY the SOUL that is shattering” solution for the Wargod’s Own soul sword.

          1. “…the trapped souls thing, I can’t see as functionally different from being “trapped” in life.”

            It’s an interesting question. I’m not trying to stick it in a box and say “nobody is allowed to talk about it outside this box”. It is more “is this an esthetic and reasonable thing?”

            Soul, -for the purposes of fiction-, I define as the undying magic part which goes on after death, and presumably is the part getting judged by [deity]. One expects such things to be fair, because we are Westerners and that’s our culture. (Buddhists, Hindus and Taoists don’t think that way, makes an interesting cosmology when you start adding that stuff.)

            Essentially, if you are trapped in life, no matter how ugly it gets you’ll eventually die and be judged by the deity. So there’s a “reasonable” outcome.

            But if they can steal your soul and stick it in a rock, then you can’t “die” and you can’t come before the deity after the crappy life is over.

            The guy with the magic rock is stealing souls from the deity, for one thing. Is deity going to let a human mess with that? Why? Better sprinkle some explainium on there.

            Or the soul gets stuck in the rock and it’s just -missing- from the afterlife. Did nobody know that guy? He didn’t have a mother? No guardian angel? No member of the Divine Hierarchy was responsible for his disposition? Can a guy really go missing from the all-seeing, all-knowing deity? Needs explainium.

            1. Yep. Gotta THINK– same reason I can’t stand time travel stories.

              I simply can’t accept, as a baseline, that doing evil becomes good because it’s time travel.

              Standing there and letting an innocent be killed? When I know about it, and can do something? That would be evil.
              “But my history book says it happened” doesn’t fix it.

              Best patch I’ve seen is the one where “if you try to change stuff, it just doesn’t work, and we don’t know why.”

              1. Nod, I read one fantasy book where the hero found himself in the past of his world where he Provoked And Prolonged a magic war because He Knew It Had Happened That Way. 😡

                Oh, he also discovered a way to fuel his magic with “nucular” power and he was the only one with the secret thus he became the All-Powerful Immortal Ruler of his world when he returned to his time.

                And of course, he could be trusted with this Power. 😈

                1. One of the odder time travel stories I’ve followed (haven’t checked if there’s a new chapter) is Nobunaga no Chef where a 21st century Japanese man who works as a chef finds himself in Sengoku-Era Japan. Then later he discovers he’s not the only one…

                2. Ugh. That doesn’t sound like a book about a hero, but about a freakin’ VILLAIN. (Not the one about the Japanese chef-guy, the other one)

              2. The only “explanation” for time travel that ever worked for me and didn’t annoy me (and mind you, I’m a Doctor Who fan, but it ANNOYS ME) was in the Dark Is Rising sequence. In that, those who are of the Light (the Old Ones) and those who are of the Dark can move pretty much anywhere they like in time–but it is then as if they have always been in that time, and so anything they do…is already part of the timeline/history. It gets a bit iffier if mortals are moved around in time, and the few times it’s done it is either for one, single task on a single night (and again, that mortal is considered to be “part” of the timeline) or, in the case of one of the main characters, he hadn’t even been born–it was his pregnant mother who was moved (forward) in time, in order to protect her unborn son. And to her grief, as soon as she had given birth and her child SHE got removed back to her own timeline, but because her son had been born in the current time, it was no issue.

                Still doesn’t 100% work, but it was one of the better approaches I’ve seen.

                1. In theory, the “multiverse” thing should work– you’re just aware of a different universe where it went differently– but it’s not satisfying.

                  Probably because it means everything is worthless, because there is no choice. It all happens.

                  1. “All The Myriad Ways” by Larry Niven.

                    On a world where cross-universe trade exists and the general public knows that things happened differently in alternate histories, a detective is working on cases involving suicides done for no apparent reasons.

                    For example, one suicide involved a rich man faced major bankruptcy but a lucky win gambling saved him.

                    The other suicides has similar stories.

                    The detective finally realized that all of the suicides were because they realized that “nothing mattered” because in other histories they would have failed/been killed if chance had worked differently.

                    The ending was a nasty one as we see “several endings” for the story once the detective realized this. Some involved the suicide of the detective.

                    That’s one Niven short story that I won’t reread. 😦

                  2. Yeah. There’s a reason why many stories that claim that skip over the implications.

                2. Yes. It’s not like, just because there is the time before and the time after your visit in your personal time line, there was a past moment “before” you visited and then “after.”

            2. But if they can steal your soul and stick it in a rock, then you can’t “die” and you can’t come before the deity after the crappy life is over.

              Oh, you can, it’ll just take a lot, lot, LOT longer.

              Even rocks aren’t forever.

              1. Okay, that’s a good reason. [Deity] is willing to wait 40 million years for your rock to be destroyed by a subduction zone, and that fate satisfies [fairness] condition as set in that universe.

                Next question, what did that guy do to deserve 40 megayears trapped in a rock?

                  1. Exactly. Victim guy must have been begging for it, otherwise why is deity raining down on him?

                    It’s a book, right? It isn’t Real Life(tm) where nothing makes any sense.

                    This is one of those things that make it impossible to read most things published in the last 10 years. I have these questions. ~:D

                    1. SLAPP* on that one; why on earth would the only people who have any ability to choose or be responsible be the main characters or victims?

                      Which is why a lot of the modern stuff bugs me, although it’s far from missing in the older stuff, too. That is how a lot of people experience the world, without even a psychological gesture towards other people having the same incredible amount of stuff going on, just not visible unless you’re behind their eyes….

                      Time-wise, though, you’re looking at more like thousands of years, top end, before the stone cracks and the soul is released; then there’s the issue of the eternity being outside of time, so the difference between five minutes and five millennia is not that big.

                      There’s probably a great deal of philosophy on this already, I know I got the headache part of trying to picture time as an extra dimension and getting a sense of proportion that way.

                      *Sounds Like A Personal Problem; a cross between de gustibus and not my monkeys.

                  2. For some reason, this comment reminded me of a Forgotten Realms short story about a magic sentient sword that once took in the lives of those it cuts (it’s implied that it ate the life force of the people it killed) and a paladin who was charged with recovering the sword and destroying it. Said sword was in the care of a hermit monk sort, who had died of old age while in his cave. When the paladin gets there, the sword is on the altar and the paladin assumes that the sword killed the hermit, but the sword, sentient, protests that he didn’t, the old hermit died of old age and illness, and that the sword was no longer Lifetaker, but LifeGiver and it had turned over a new leaf and would no longer take lives, thanks to being converted by the monk. The paladin scoffs at this, thinking it is nothing more than the trick of an evil weapon.

                    As the journey progresses the paladin uses the sword to clear the path through some underbrush to the sword’s distress – even plants are instantly killed by it’s edge. The paladin is also attacked at some point, and injured in the process, and the sword shows off its’ secondary ability – to use the lives stored up in it’s blade to heal the wounds of the bearer, and the sword did so because it couldn’t stand the paladin’s pain – partly because it reminded it of the days when another’s pain and suffering ‘whet it’s appetite.’ It reveals that it didn’t have that much life force stored up, having used quite a lot over the years to heal the various injuries an old man living by himself out in the wildnerness could be prone to. The paladin is surprised to find his convictions challenged by the sword’s determination to not take more lives, and so ties the sword up in it’s scabbard as requested. He also starts believing the sword a little and is less hostile toward it.

                    Soon after they paladin is beset again by Random Encounter Monsters, this time swarmed. The sword uses up the last of it’s stored life force to heal a crippling injury but the paladin is later dealt a more severe blow, and iirc blames the sword for the swarm of mobs as he tries to escape. The sword says it doesn’t have any more lives to give.

                    Suddenly the paladin finds all his wounds healed and frantically rushes out of the cave, exultantly cheering that they’d gotten away… only to be met by silence.

                    Turns out the sword had one last life to give.

                    And since then, the paladin would make a yearly pilgrimage to the god the sword had dedicated itself to to pray for a lost friend.

      3. Now I imagine a “reincarnation” interview…

        “Alright, Dakota, you do qualify for Heaven… eventually. You can spend a fair bit of time in Purgatory to get there, or a shorter time in Hell – but be warned it will seem longer .. yes, Hell is escapable, if we wish – and there is another option. Seems someone wants to bind a soul to a ****. If you’re up for that – and have good judgement about when the **** should **** to whom, we’ll count that as time served. The **** will be destroyed (we’ll see to that) in ** years. What say you?”

        1. There’s another popular trope that grates. I can easily see Hell being an office with bureaucrats, but Heaven?

          That’s a Chinese cultural notion, that there’s the Heavenly hierarchy, and you have to bribe/flatter the minor functionary to get to your “proper place” or they’ll just dump you someplace and you’ll stay there. Journey to the West is all about Monkey King dealing with the hierarchy.

          To my mind if there’s a “proper place” that you are supposed to be, then all of Heaven and Earth wouldn’t be able to keep you out of it. You’d go there no matter what.

          1. I admit what I did there is the result of a NON-Catholic’s take on the Purgatory concept, mixed with the idea of (quasi)reincarnation. Fwiw, I was raised Lutheran (and lapsed into… well… being largely a-religious, shall we say? Finding your “fire and brimstone” religious teacher’s outright lies [and isn’t lying a sin?] will do that) and there is Earth/Our Universe, Heaven, and Hell. No Limbo, no Purgatory. So a very binary afterlife that way, not the peculiar idea of Heaven has a Waiting Room, and there’s this Other Place, too. And the bureaucracy, I would expect, would technically outside the Pearly Gates, because… well… it’s bureaucracy so it’s part of Purgatory, if not Hell.

            1. In terms of “Real” religion I’m pretty out there, Taoist Presbyterian is the label I invented for it. Basically I have no idea. I’m trying to be good because it seems like a better way to go, right? Other than that I have to wait to find out, just like everybody else.

              But for a -book-, the thing needs to be internally consistent and have a functional logic to it. That’s why the office thing annoys me. Some schlub in an office can make that call? Come on. He needs to get the Big Guy on the phone for that.

          2. I find the Chinese mythology heaven to be really entertaining for stories, etc, but on a personal spiritual level it sounds like a horrifying worldview, heh.

            1. I’ve read a lot of reincarnation isekai that starts with the celestial being/bureaucrat interviewing the main character.

              Sometimes makes me wonder about the hierarchy of the bureaucracy, where the bureaucrats come from, their career paths, what the actual mechanics of the power involved are, etc.

              Convenient as a literary device, but the only reason you might find yourself /needing/ the situation to make rigorous sense is if you are writing Xianxia in a particularly realistic way.

            2. Really, almost ALL theology and almost ALL fiction a very good places to NOT be.

              For all the … issues… the “Judeo-Christian” worldview(s) might have, I must admit they are easily the most livable for almost all cases.

  7. I’d bet, too, that, as with music, it can depend on who you are dealing with. Some might see it as flattery (as long as your work isn’t cut/paste) especially if it is not for money.
    then again, I’ve seen both music and books that are less “file off the numbers” and more like poorly puttying over the numbers and claiming it is yours.
    That works both ways as well. I know some “reactors” and analyzers on Tubes of You get blocked for a certain song by some schmuck who sampled a small portion of the song for a rap recording.
    I sorta recall someone getting a C&D for something by an author they hadn’t even read and maybe vaguely heard of before writing their work. This would be way back like early intertubular days of knowing various authors . . . 2002-3-4-5 or so.

    1. I remember when I first got into writing fanfic, there was a distinct list of authors that had made clear or were otherwise KNOWN to take legal action against ANY sort of fanfic, even if the fic writer intended to make no profit from it. I know Anne Rice was on that list. And so was Anne McCaffrey–although she DID allow some forms of it that followed incredibly, incredibly strict rules (I was part of an online RPG/fic group that did dragonrider stuff for a time in 99-2000 or so.)

      I think Diana Gabaldon is on the list too–though if she isn’t, she’s been vocal recently about how she ‘hates’ fanfiction (ironic, since Outlander is a Doctor Who fanfic with the numbers filed off and no Doctor character–and we know this because she admitted as much, heh).

      Ah, here we go. It’s a wiki that includes ones that DO support it, vs ones that don’t (and reasons why not, some of which are perfectly understandable)

      https://fanlore.org/wiki/Professional_Author_Fanfic_Policies

    2. I have had videos of the kids that got the sound removed because there was a radio playing in the background, which if you turned it up high enough on the original you can JUST BARELY hear. To the point that I didn’t hear the radio at the time.

      The most famous “wait, what?” I heard of was with Rowling, some gal who used the word Muggle first. Which turns out to be an ancient insult anyways…. for a while there was a cottage industry in “accuse famous person of stealing your idea so people actually hear of you.”

      1. Was that the same lady with the Worst Witch books? Or someone else?

        (The Worst Witch ones so far as I can tell boiled down to “My books weren’t as successful, and since they ALSO used magical boarding school clearly Rowling must pay me” nevermind that “boarding school, magical or otherwise” has been a Thing in kids lit for ages. It’s an easy way to remove interfering parents without having EVERYONE be an orphan…)

        I will hand it to Rowling–she’s rather bewildered by the HP fanfic stuff (mostly on the level of “Wait, people are thinking Draco is sexy/misunderstood? He’s a little jerk.”), but she’s letting the writers do what they like. Up to and including a musical, so…

        (And there is some *really* good HP fanfic out there. Also a whole lot of awful fic. So, you know, par for the course for most fandoms.)

        1. Somebody else– there’s like four or five different alignments, which look kind of startling until you consider sources.

          Sec, I know I looked it up when it was mentioned in one of these groups, so I can find it again….

          K, it was the “Larry Potter and his best friend Lily,” who also did a totally different book called “The Legend of Rah and the Muggles,” author was Nancy Kathleen Stouffer.

          Besides having one of the most common male nicknames which is one letter off of a nickname that is so popular almost nobody goes by the original name, the boy in her book wore glasses and had brown hair.

          Clearly stolen.
          *poker face*

          1. I remember the controversy, including seeing a couple of reviews of Stouffer’s stuff when she got in the news. I don’t know if anyone found a copy of “Larry Potter and his best friend Lily,” but the reviews of “Rah and the Muggles” made it pretty evident this was a literary train wreck.

            I’ll admit that the combination of “H/Larry Potter,” “Lily,” and “muggles” all appearing in Rowling in fairly prominent places might make me suspicious that Rowling saw these books and stole the names from them. However, if she did, that’s all she stole, though Stouffer made some impressive attempts to make the similarities seem more than they were (including a few that made it clear she had no idea what “muggles” were in Rowling’s world).

            1. Given that the books were simply not that wide spread– especially to the point of a woman in England having seen, and read, both of them– it’s going more into the odd similarities thing. Like that tomb they found that had something like John, brother of Joshua, son of Mary written on it…then someone ran the numbers (because all three of those names are extreme simplifications of the variety of names that would go in the category) and explained the odds were actually pretty good of everybody knowing someone who could be described as “John, brother of Jesus, son of Mary”. Something like one in ten women in the area were named some variant of Miryam. (Ditto “God Saves” and “Gracious God.” John is an especial favorite of mine, since when I first started getting into names I figured out that nearly half of the men I knew were named a variant of it, including some brothers that were unintentionally named John in different languages. Jack, Ivan, Giovanni, Owen, Evan…yeah, the English are nuts.)

            2. Hell, it could even be as innocent a case of “stealing the names” as “Saw the names, thought ‘Huh, that has a nice ring to it’ and then it percolated in the subconscious and popped out years latter as ‘Harry’ and when she groped for his mum’s name ‘Lily’ popped out.”

              Of course, it’s not like Harry, Larry, or Lily aren’t pretty common names, to boot.

              1. And a Lily is like totally not a long standing symbol of purity and Christ-like sacrifice, which contrasts neatly with her sister, also-a-flower-name, which is a nasty habit very common in the UK…..
                😉

                I actually had trouble finding the name of the book because I kept getting obit results for Larry Potter.

                There’s at least three different ones.

          2. *snorts*

            Yeah, like “Potter” isn’t very nearly as common a surname as “Smith” and of course almost NO ONE wears glasses, EVER.

      2. Yeah, newer bands seem to get it and point fans to people who did good analysis or reacted funny etc, or even comment on said vids, and then you get things like Rick Beato getting one pulled for 9 seconds of a Black Sabbath song in a vid saying “These are great and here is why” basically, and all his vids on What Makes This Song Great are put up knowing they will be demonetized and ad revenue goes to the artist, but asses like Don Henley complain they only get $1200 from a million views of a video reaction or Beato like analysis.
        Then there is stuff like yours, where 99% of people are never even going to notice there is anything in the background because some bot identified a string of notes in the background noise. I recall hearing of one pulled because someone drove past with an annoyingly loud radio in their car, and the few moments was enough for the artist/record company to pull their “rights” tricks. Half the time it is fair use, and the other times most are not monetized to begin with, many are both fair and not monetized, but like with cassette recorders and VCRs THEY Know Better than all others.

  8. One of the greatest weaknesses, and greatest strengths, of fanfiction is that another author has done the heavy lifting on building a world and characters. I’ve read authors who are not good at creating worlds – and you can tell as soon as they go off the already-established map – but they’re learning a lot and having fun as they move the characters around. I’ve also read authors who are not good at character’s internal and external motivations, and you can tell because they break the characters and how they would act. But they’re learning, and writing, and if you ignore who the characters are supposed to be, it can be fun.

    It becomes a crutch and a weakness when they make no attempt to further flesh out the weak area – relying on the fans already knowing the world and the people. In some, if you ran a find and replace on all the names, sometimes it’d be very hard to tell what fandom the story is supposed to be set in.

    Filing off the serial numbers is a great exercise, because you get to look at each thing that you think makes the world unique, and go “Why is this here? What would it alter if I took it out entirely? What would it alter if I changed it to this other thing?” The more of that you do, the more you’re working through creation of the world, the magic system, the people, the way they all tie together.

    If he hadn’t said it out loud and proud, how many people would be able to tell that Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera is “The lost Roman legion and pokemon?” By the time he created the world, and the magic system, and the entire ecology of magical critters, and the history… I mean, you can see it if you go looking hard for it, but nobody’s going to pick up the book and go “Ah-hah! This is just…” and he’s most certainly not going to get a cease and desist for it.

    You can copyright words; you can’t copyright ideas.

    Or, for another example of fanfic origins: Lois Bujold, in Shards of Honor. If you read her essays, you can look back, squint, and go “A team of federation science officers on an exploration of an uninhabited world runs into a klingon mutiny… okay, I can see it if I have a map and a guide. But by the time the federation became Beta Colony with its strict ideological conformity masked by a libertine etiquette, and the klingons turned into the Barryarans, with their wormhole collapse isolation interrupted by Cetagandan invasion, and came boiling back out of their star system determined not to be invaded ever again… She’s not ever going to get a cease and desist either.”

    1. Heck, I discovered in one of the harder-to-find Bujold anthologies (Dreamweaver’s Dilemma) that the very first appearance EVER of Cordelia Naismith was…in a Sherlock Holmes fanfic.

      Bujold has always been very vocal about her origins in Star Trek fanfiction, and is one of those authors who has said more than once she’s got no issues with it, so long as no one is trying to claim another writer’s work as their own.

      1. I have Dreamweaver’s Dilemma. The only story I remember was the one with the chipper shredder.

        I should probably go re-read it.

        1. The only one I recall is the Sherlock Holmes one–largely, I think, because I was in the midst of writing my own Holmes fanfic at the time. 😀

      2. Dreamweaver’s Dilemma is still in print from NESFA Press, although only in paperback, not hardcover or ebook. You can order it from the NESFA Press site (or, presumably, your favorite online bookstore) — so it’s easy to get.

        The oldest of Lois’ fanfic I can find is in Spockanalia #2 (April, 1968). Note that she was still just Lois McMaster at the time..

        1. Holy crud, I never heard about that Spockanalia one. That is freaking dawn of time. I knew she was writing back then, but I never heard she sent stuff out to the really early Trek zines.

          There was a point when Bujold wasn’t comfy talking about the fanfic origins, because there was a time when Good Writers Never Wrote Fanfic.

          I still remember that hilarious time when the ST book editor descended upon the X-files fanfic Usenet group, announced that we were all wasting our time, got shocked to be told that Bujold started in Trek fanfic, apparently considered trying to woo Bujold, and did in fact end up getting Cassie Claire to try (successfully) to come to the pro side.

          Man, that was a long time ago, wasn’t it?

          1. She wasn’t in issue #1, but issue #2 is pretty early, since Spockanalia was the first Trek zine ever.

            And I don’t know why she thought that about fanfic, considering that another contributor in issue 2 was Poul Anderson. Admittedly, not normal fanfic, just a poem parody.

            Devra Langsam had a lot of good contributors for both Spockanalia, and her later Masiform D fanzines (Masiform D was the fanzine she edited after she and Sherna Comerford, her co-editor on Spockanalia, split to each do their own fanzines, although Sherna’s never appeared).

            And it was a long time ago, even if it seems so recent. I wasn’t around for getting the original issues of Spockanalia, but I was helping (collating parties — those issues were big) with the reprint editions and Masiform D.

            1. Star Date, co-edited with Lillian Stewart (Carl). A description of how that started was part of the Lillian Stewart Carl introduction to the Dreamweaver’s Dilemma collection, mentioned upthread.

              1. I don’t think she was ever ashamed of it. But there was a lot of BURN THE FANFIC WRITER going on in pro circles at the end of the 1990’s, or at least in younger pro talking to younger fan circles. And there were a lot of the fanfic-hostile pros saying that no fanfic writer could ever become a pro writer or any good, despite all the demonstrable examples otherwise. I think Bujold was justified in being a little low profile with her fanfic flag at that time.

                And then Cassandra Claire and Naomi Novik both made ridiculous amounts of money, not to mention Forty Shades of Gray. And maaaagically some of that hostility went away. At least in public, because the pro editors liked making money.

                1. A lot of that comes from historical reasons.

                  The first generations of fanzines used to be serious SF-related analysis, then got more fan oriented. And they got less serious (and added humor) starting a bit later (particularly with Tucker’s LeZombie). Although the general change over to a larger area of subjects didn’t happen until later, when we started seeing fanzines with a lot more discussion of anything that fans were interested in — particularly with the transitions of the early 1950s (Lee Hoffman’s Quandry, with writings from Walt Willis, and then the fanzines from Irish fandom, such as Slant, edited by Willis). There were fiction pieces there — including the Willis/Shaw “Enchanted Duplicator” — but they were fiction pieces related to fandom.

                  Because the general feeling was that, if general fiction was good enough to read in a fanzine, it was good enough to be sold professionally.

                  And that continued for decades. But then we had Trek fiction (and other media properties — but Star Trek was the biggest source), and that was writing in other people’s intellectual property. And, while the stars/networks originally supported fan fiction in fanzines, it didn’t have a professional outlet (I’m not counting the two New Voyages collections of Trek fan fiction reprints).

                  So, suddenly there was a lot of fiction being produced that was worth reading (and could even be sold, although typically only for enough to cover costs, since the Trek fanzines were being sold, rather than mostly given away the way traditional fanzines were), but which couldn’t be published professionally. So that meant that the idea that fan fiction was low quality because good stuff could be professionally published went away. So you had good fan fiction. And then filing the serial numbers off meant that good writers who came up from the fanwriter ranks could now be professionally published, since it now won’t violate anyone’s IP.

                  And it gives writers a chance to get their first million words of bad writing out of the way. They can learn their craft, and get lots of readers who can provide commentary.

                  So Bujold takes Trek fanfiction, changes its names and setting enough to avoid IP issues, and we have Miles.

          2. Well, fanfic can teach some writing skills. It can also teach some bad habits. Such as inflexibility with your characters and setting.

    2. If he hadn’t said it out loud and proud, how many people would be able to tell that Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera is “The lost Roman legion and pokemon?” By the time he created the world, and the magic system, and the entire ecology of magical critters, and the history… I mean, you can see it if you go looking hard for it, but nobody’s going to pick up the book and go “Ah-hah! This is just…” and he’s most certainly not going to get a cease and desist for it.

      *chuckles* AND he did it because somebody said it couldn’t be done. 😀

      I can’t point fingers too hard for the distantly-inspired-stuff, back when I quit WoW for the last time I got so annoyed at an area full of Old One cultists that I did my first attempt at NaNoWatevertherestis that I tried to re-write it so the setup made sense.
      (For other gamers, it’s the one where you have to kill a bunch of cultists to prove you’re a cultist so you can stop the cult plot. It was almost classic WoW humor, but there was just something…off about it. I still don’t know. It almost felt sadistic, rather than Loony Toons style.)

      Some four years later, that area is a really strange section of an entire world that exists to make standard fantasy tropes work, and the only way folks would guess the inspiration is out of character knowledge– ie, play the odds and list off fantasy IPs until you hit it. (I’m still terrible at it, but it’s fun.)

  9. I am actually very proud of my novel-length fanfic. I worked very hard on it for several years. Okay, no, I won’t ever be able to make money off it, but I’m still proud of it. (It’s won a few fanfic awards–which yeah, amount to bragging rights, but even so.) It’s got it’s own TV Tropes page. I just got contacted by someone who wanted permission to put it in the next digital fanzine “Tales from the Matrix” (it’s a Doctor Who/Firefly crossover). I was very flattered by that request (and am looking forward to getting the issue of it, which is my “payment.”) I still get a happy review from readers every month or two almost a decade after I finished it.

    More to the point it–and my other completed long fanfiction (Star Wars/Sherlock Holmes, yes, I do weird crossovers)–taught me that I CAN finish writing a novel, if I can kick my own butt enough to DO IT.

      1. In case the links don’t go through moderation–

        The Doctor Who/Firefly fic is titled “The Man With No Name” author penname Frostfyre7, and can be found at fanfiction-dot-net

        The Holmes/Star Wars fic is titled “Elementary, My Dear Obi-Wan” and is likewise at fanfic-dot-net 😀

  10. It’s hard when the things that are Really Cool and the things that Must Change are the same things. :/

    I’m trying to figure out the utility of red herrings. Can I keep the Cool Thing if I add some surrounding distraction or misdirect.

    1. Well, you can ask yourself if it’s a good situation for Rule of Cool to apply. If it’s just THAT COOL, you can keep it, and enough people will agree that you should totally keep Cool Thing if it’s THAT COOL, even if it’s otherwise kind of awkward or problematic 😀

    2. I don’t necessarily believe in taking out the Really Cool, as long as you change the rest of the premises. I mean, the Really Cool is the heart of why you want to write this thing, right?

      And if you pull out the other Really Cool things, then it’s not the same universe, as you work through the repercussions. What would the Star Wars Republic be like without jedi and sith, and all the history that flowed from their actions? See: Galaxy’s Edge by Nick Cole and Jason Aspach, often described as “storm troopers in Afghanistan.”

      1. For example. A certain pair of brothers…the brother dynamic is the important part of that interesting co-dependency. So perhaps an extended family (off screen or not) would obscure enough that it wouldn’t be too obvious. Or other siblings who have died. Horribly. Since bereavement is also important.

        1. If the brother dynamic is what you want to explore, well, then, what of the brothers are a pair of coal miners in a fantasy, selling soft lignite to elderly dragons as easier to chew food for being able to flame like the youngsters? Or asteroid miners in a scifi, looking for that one wildcat payoff among all the common rock and ice and ore? Or mechanics for a racing team, trying to find the saboteur while fixing all the evidence so their driver can win, so they can’t prove anything to the authorities?

          Obviously, you can tell I have no idea where you’re pulling the brothers from. But if you change the setting and the problem while keeping their personalities and dynamic… neither will anyone else.

        2. Pretty sure I know which brothers you’re referring too…eyes it in the light of Dorothy’s suggestion, tries to imagine the Winchester boys selling coal to dragons in addition to the whole “what if they had actual extended family OR other siblings who died horribly”

          Sounds awesome. 😀

          (Although I did get very, very tired of the neverending Winchester angst…)

          1. As a fan I have *needs*. Like, giving both Sam and Dean ‘in the waistband” holsters for Christmas so they don’t shoot their bums off.

            😀

  11. At the other extreme, Lovecraft positively encouraged other authors of whatever level to play in his sandbox. He then freely borrowed from the result; so, fanfic or shared world?

  12. Two of my first three novel-length works that I actually finished were fanfic: one was a Monster Hunter International Fanfic, the other a Dead Six verse fanfic (any ideas as to my favorite author). In both cases, same universe, but different characters and (for the most part) different settings, though in my MHI story Owen & crew did make extended cameos at one point.

    My current WIP is possibly fan-fiction-ish. The idea came from a question/prompt from my soon-to-be-Sister-in-Law: “If you could insert yourself into any classic Disney animated film as an ORIGINAL character, i.e. one not already in the movie, which movie would you choose, who or what would your character be, and why?” (Side note, this was her profile question on the dating app she was using, and my brother’s answer is what convinced her that he warranted further interest).

    Anyway, my eventual answer (had to think about it since I haven’t seen any non-Star Wars Disney movies in YEARS) was “Cinderella: I’d want to be someone of sufficient rank, station, and influence to convince the King, the Prince, the Duke, et. all that no, riding around the kingdom and having random women try this shoe on to try and find this mystery lady is a TERRIBLE idea! This is the 19th Century! We are intelligent people! There has to be a better way of going about this!”

    And then my muse kicked in….

    That said, aside from the setting (fictional 19th Century European kingdom) and the overall plot (which Disney pretty much ripped off wholesale from Charles Perrault) the story has relatively little in common with either Disney film (the 1950 animated version and the 2015 live-action remake), so I very much doubt that The Mouse will come after me. Especially since I’m also drawing a fair bit of inspiration from the Sharpe series (and mostly the TV movie adaptations thereof) as well.

    It’s turning into a Ruritanian Romance crossed with a police procedural, and there’s still magic (though mostly hinted at and in the background until the very end) and the happy ending will still happen (because I’m not a miserable woke asshole), but the characters are going to get there in a more intelligent, “realistic” way and a few are going to go through their own personal hells first, but it will all work out for the best in the end.

    1. I’d want to be someone of sufficient rank, station, and influence to convince the King, the Prince, the Duke, et. all that no, riding around the kingdom and having random women try this shoe on to try and find this mystery lady is a TERRIBLE idea!

      As I recall, the Duke already knew it was a terrible idea and tried to protest but was basically informed by the King that he could take the shoe around the kingdom, or he could just schedule an appointment at the executioner’s block. My guess is that the prince was speaking metaphorically with his, “I’ll only marry the woman whose foot fits this slipper” and would have been furious if they’d brought back the second daughter of a minor baron who happened to have the same foot size as Cinderella.

      1. It is a great excuse to make sure you see every woman in the kingdom, and it’s silly enough that you even have a built in dodge if the shoe fits but it’s not the right girl– “oh, the prince says that the shoe isn’t fitting CORRECTLY.”

      2. It’s been a while, but I believe you are correct.
        IIRC, in one of the God-awful sequels, your scenario is pretty much what happened; Prince took one look at the girl (one of the stepsisters, I think) and said “Nope, sorry, it’s not her.”

        Fortunately for my protagonist, while the King is an Asshole, Large, 1 ea., he’s not The Caligula (as TV Tropes would put it) so he goes along with the new plan…. to a point.

        1. I got the feeling from one of the, ahem, gorier versions of Cinderella–the one where the sisters cut off bits of their feet to make the shoe fit–is that because it was a MAGIC shoe it truly would never have fit anyone BUT Cinderella.

          (And because of the fairy godmother variations, I have a plot bunny going “What if it was a fairy in that true sense of the word–aka, NOT A NICE BEING THAT WILL SCREW YOU OVER and it didn’t work out the way Cinderella thought it would.”)

          1. There are, in fact, Cinderella folk stories where it’s a Rumpelstilskin figure after her first-born.

        2. In some of the folktales, he says it’s not her but the king doesn’t care, he wants the prince MARRIED and MAKING AN HEIR.

    2. Cool!

      One of my short stories was inspired by hearing of the possibility that some new Narnia novels would be commissioned. I doubt anyone could tell which one. (That the notion was based on backstory helps there.)

      1. Why am I thinking that it is “The Lion And The Library”? 😉

      2. …I’m a bit concerned at the idea of “new” Narnia novels. Here’s hoping the publisher respects Lewis’ deeply Christian ideals.

        (And while I’ve got a soft spot for Narnia, I did find several of the books a bit preachy, even as a kid. I gather this was partly Tolkien’s issue with them as well, heh.)

        1. It was a while back, and I haven’t heard anything since. Perhaps it fell through.

          1. Yeah. On the other hand, Netflix *has* put out some truly stellar series. (Witcher wasn’t really my cup of tea, but what I did see of it was well done, if a bit too “we wanna be the next game of thrones!” for my tastes) I usually point to Stranger Things.

            Really, it depends on the actual STUDIO doing the series. Netflix is just the company that agrees to distribute it under their umbrella.

  13. A lot of times the reader can tell what’s going on. But the point is to make it plausibly deniable and able to stand on its own, not to magically deprive the reader of the ability to suddenly realize why something sounds familiar.

    Admittedly, it’s annoying not to be able to figure out why something sounds familiar. I mean, I knew exactly what was going on with at least one of the cat and dragon inspirations, but I couldn’t remember exactly. I felt much better when I finally did.

    Anyway, everybody rips off everybody. It’s doing something original with it that counts.

    1. I was doing my motherly duty and reading the first Wings of Fire book, and I can’t even point to what it was that smacked me over the nose, but suddenly I realized it was How To Train Your Dragon from the POV of the dragons.

      Which is freaking brilliant as a plot-seed, even if I am not a fan.

    2. I had…issues with the Eragon series because the author didn’t do a good enough job of hiding where he’d ripped the ideas from, and wasn’t original at all with what he did with those ideas. I did give him something of a pass on that–and some other issues–in the first book, because he was only 17 when he wrote it. But it didn’t get any better (got worse, in my opinion) in the second book, so I gave up.

      1. I believe that reading Eragon is when I decided that *any* wood elves that I had ever were going to be obligate carnivores. Maybe all elves, even.

        1. After too much reading of Tolkien before writing, I devised a rule in my mid-teens, when I figured out my problem.

          “Is this elf NECESSARY?”

          Amazing how few of them prove to be necessary.

          1. That, right there, was why I was totally okay with them cutting the elf-encounter and the shire, and cutting out Glorfindel entirely. Arwen was necessary. Glorfindel–although very cool–was not.

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