Recently I’ve found a number of writers on the web asking how they can publish a story they finished in the fanfiction genre. Fanfiction includes stories based on already established characters, places, and plots from movies, books, comics, and video games. The problem with trying to publish in fanfiction boils down to copyright. In an already established world, elements of the genre are copyrighted by the original creator. This means Star Wars is owned by George Lucus, and Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling.
I myself faced plagerism of a story a few years back. Oddly enough, it was “Challenges”, one of my Morrowind Fanfics. Someone simply cut and paste in a message thread and claimed he wrote the 150,000 word piece, and wanted to submit the story to the creators of Morrowind (Bethesda) to publish. Bethesda already announced some time before they will not publish fanfiction. A moderator on the message board contacted me and asked me if I had give this guy permission to keep the story as his own.
I was, at first, flattered that someone thought the story good enough to steal, but then it settled in my brain that ‘Hey, someone stole my story!”. Reading the threads he posted on, trying to spin off my writing as his, proved infuriating. People were complimenting him, telling him what a great writer he was. All the accolade were meant for my skill, my effort, and even what I created. He was banned from the message boards, and the story pulled from the thread.
From this experience, I gained more regard for those who originally create a world and characters. I gained gratitude to those willing to allow for fanfiction because not all mediums do, and respect for those who ask writers to stick to their own work. J.K. Rowling allows and even encourages fanfiction, while Anne Rice of the Vampire novels will threaten litigation against you if you try.
“But I’ve seen books on Star Wars, Star Trek, and even Dungeon and Dragons! Aren’t they fanfiction?” Yes they are, but the difference being the publisher asked already established writers to write in the medium for them. This means you, as a writer, will need to build your name first before writing in this genre professionally. Also bear in mind that fanfiction is copyrighted already by someone else.
Some might argue that its cheating to write in another creator’s realm. I’ve found a number of authors who actually write better than the original. I also find its a fun genre to write in and can offer a number of challenges to either enhance or otherwise improve the selected fandom. In fact, the very reason why J.K. Rowling supports fanfiction of her work is because it ‘gets kids to write’. I agree. For practice and honing writing skills, why not pick something you can enjoy?
Overall, however, you will need to write something original to publish as your own.
For fanfiction, see:
Fanfiction.net one of the largest fanfiction sites that categorizes by title and fandom.
Fanfiction Directory – somewhat limited in choices, but carries a number of fanfiction you may not find elsewhere.
Dragon Library – Includes a number of Forgotten Realm fanfiction. I highly recommend Spider Bite and Initiation. The author truly captured the world of the Drow and developed a wonderful story based on R.A. Salvatore’s world.
Forgotten Realm Fanfiction includes stories based on the games and RPG game sources.
Harry Potter Fanfiction has thousands of fanfics of the Harry Potter world.
Lord of the Rings Fanfiction delves into the realm of Lord of the Rings.
Star Wars Fanfiction at The Force
Star Trek Fanfiction includes stories broken down by Star Trek TV series