Character Permissions Guide
This page contains a short--and hopefully enlightening guide--on when and how you should gain permission from Another Player when writing fanfic and other stories based on this or any other shared environment. If you're in doubt which category below applies, it is always best to talk to the player before writing or when realizing one of their characters is involved.
Also remember that if you've let us know you're writing it, we want to see the results!
Mentions and Cameos
Since these types of character uses often occur without much planning, it's a good idea to simply notify the player at the time of occurrence. While most players (at least at our site) may give blanket permissions for this type of thing, it's still always best to let them know. This appearance is a one-time deal, whether a short story or novel-length work.
"Hey, I'm working on [this story] and your character [name] is mentioned/appears briefly. Are you comfortable with that?"
Mention: "Hey, did you get to ask Matsuo about that old bit of pottery you found at the dig?"
Brief Appearance: Matsuo shows up to examine the pottery. (1 paragraph through 1--2 pages.)
This is a character that appears throughout a story as a minor or supporting character. Do speak to the player, and give them an idea of what the story's about, and how their character fits in. See if they have any questions, concerns, or restrictions.
"I'm writing [story] in which your character [name] appears a few times as a supporting character. The main plot is [plot], and your character fits in with [skill, friend group, etc.] Is this okay with you, and if so, do you have any questions about it?
Minor character: Matsuo is constantly spoken of or said to have been called/spoken to for information even if these scenes don't appear in the actual narrative. He may appear once or twice.
Support character: Matsuo examines the pottery, and in later scenes provides more information, participates in a short dig with the group, or is found to have gone off by himself after examining the pottery and now needs help or rescuing which will appear in the narrative.
Major Characters in FanFic
Your character and another player's character begin a romance, and you are writing the story, as well. Let the other player know you are doing this, and see if they have any concerns. If they're also into the project, they may have helpful ideas or even write some of it themselves.
This may also apply to group stories, where a particular group of characters embarks on a quest or adventure, and many players may become involved in the planning, writing, and giving of input.
Always discuss, up front, any changes to a player's character you may need for a specific story, or less visible parts of their personality will be explored.
With this type of writing, it is best to:
(a) Ask questions about what so-and-so will do when asked a specific question or in certain circumstances. This is especially helpful when you're not quite sure on IC/OOC yet. Large decisions especially should be made by both/all players for events happening out of play.
(b) Provide the other player(s) with the draft of each installment for their input before finalization. Do incorporate their ideas and directions, and any specific lines they give you for their character with minor editing if necessary.
Works in a World You Created/Possible Publication
Some of us have created our own worlds which we've brought into the box, and others have added characters to our worlds as they've joined the multiverse. In some cases, they may help shape sections of our canon and become part of it, enriching stories in a way we hadn't originally imagined. This can be a wonderful thing, but also requires great care if you want to make the leap from fanfic stories to canon.
Do not do this lightly, and be very careful that what you're doing is approved and any publication done legally.
Steps to Take
1. Once you've decided you want to include a character, and before writing a single word, have a conversation with that player. Make sure that they understand what your canon is, and what you intend to do with it. If there's even the remotest possibility of publication for ANY stories in the canon, you must say so. Be patient in answering any questions and providing information they may need to make the decision. Anything you may foresee in the character's nature which will change, also needs to be said now. Be clear about any changes that are dealbreakers for you or for the player--you don't want to get halfway through a story and then need to re-imagine your canon.
2. So, the player has given permission, and you've come to an understanding. You begin writing. Try to keep the player abreast of anything that you discover while writing: "Actually, I needed to make Guyver more dominant than you generally play him, because the story works much better. It shows up most in his relationship with Eiry as they get to know one another and what works for them as a couple. Here's an example." Stand up for what you're story needs, but also be sensitive to the player's direction.
3. Again, share things with the player or ask for help if needed. Provide sections for feedback, etc.
4. If it comes to publication, make sure you know what is legally required to publish using another's characters. Ensure that any needed permissions lines are given and include it in your acknowledgments. Give the player a chance to read the entire story before publication.