Guidelines to Writing Spinoffs/Sequels
Please read the following carefully, I reserve the right to change or add anything I want to the following document.
The sudden explosion of spin-offs/sequels has greatly surprised me. I never had to worry about certain issues before, but I realize that I DO have to worry about these now to protect my own work. I additionally have to protect myself from claims of stolen work and ideas... So the following is a set of requirements to get my approval of a fanfic, and also what you get in return for my approval. I can't control what you write, but I can say whether or not I'll approve it... If you don't want approval from the original writer, uh...why're you writing a sequel? =P
I think 99% of fanfiction meet my approval, though maybe not #2 (read below) which is fine for now. I feel most of you write for the love of the original series, my fanfic, and/or for the love of writing. So most of you have nothing to worry about and you'll probably read this, nod your head and think "I know, I wasn't doing that anyway."
Requirements for my Approval/Blessing of a Spin-off/Sequel:
1. There MUST be a note either on the webpage or on the first episode of your fanfic explaining that it is in fact a sequel and the Neo Senshi, Zodiac Senshi, Genesis Queens, Golden Millennium, etc (depending on what you're using) were not your original idea and belong to Janelle J. and that Sailormoon, etc belongs to Takeuchi Naoko. This is for several reasons including the fact you don't want other people accusing you of stealing ideas, and also, well, because you should acknowledge the original sources. The only exception is to people who are currently hosting their fanfics on the forum, but when you post them elsewhere, you must post a disclaimer. If you want, take the S-M.Net disclaimer and change some words around.
2. You eventually have to post it SOMEWHERE, NOT the forum. If you have no space, I suggest fanfiction.net. You don't have to do it now or anything, but you can't use my webspace and bandwidth as a storing facility for your work or fanart UNLESS you are willing to pay me for it.
3. You must recognize my fanfiction is canon and thus you cannot claim "This is what really happened!" If I make changes to my fanfiction later such as to names, places, etc, then you must realize that it is my right to do so at anytime. Its like the Star Wars universe, comic book writers and authors write stuff and its true--until Lucas decides otherwise.
4. You must stick to the original spirit of the story. What this means is you can't just take the original Zodiac Senshi and then completely change all their personalities and backgrounds around because you wanted to. In that case, I suggest writing your own Zodiac story and not trying to pass it off as a sequel or spin-off. This seems like a given, but some people have emailed me some really, really questionable material that makes me wonder if they just want to use the success of the SMMT for their own benefit.
5. While you're certainly allowed to have alternate ideas, you should make sure people know this ahead of time. This means, basically, you can't rewrite history. You can't say, "Well, I really hate the idea that Seishi was the Messiah in the end, so I'm just gunna pretend that never happened." If you want to do that, its fine as long as everything else is different as a result of it. You can't keep everything else as it was, but then leave out or change some vital part just because you don't like it. =P Its a complicated issue, your best guess is to just ask me if you're really unsure about some major change you want to do. But as long as its actually an alternate universe, and not your attempt to rewrite my fanfic to fit your desires, then its fine.
6. Your ideas and names cannot be ABSOLUTELY ridiculous. I'm giving MUCH more leeway than I did to people in the RPG, for the worried. I'll accept names that make me cringe, ideas that make me cringe, but I will draw the line somewhere. I won't think highly of ideas like Sailorbasketball, who launches basketballs from her magic shoes and comes from the planet Enbiei (NBA in Japanese ;P). I won't think fondly of names like Kuraikazenoyamino Utsukushiikonofukaimori. Unless of course, you're PURPOSELY doing that for some sort of parody reason. Basically if it embarasses me, then I won't approve of it. Sorry, but your fanfic spinoffs also represent me. If you wanna be absolutely insane, go write your own fanfic and don't involve me in it.
7. You cannot lift entire scenes from my fanfics, word-for-word and try to pass them off as your own. All scenes, even flashbacks have to be in your own words. Its plagerism otherwise. I know you can't change dialogue and actions sometimes, since you're flashbacking or recounting a scene, but you have to rewrite it in your own hand and style. Besides, its just a bad practice stylistically--this is your chance to rewrite scenes as you'd like, add more description of the setting, if you want. If somehow you insist that you must keep the scene word for word, then you must put a note saying you've done so.
8. It cannot be called a sequel/spinoff/alternate universe if more than 50% of the characters are your own original ones. A fanfic will not qualify as a spinoff simply because you have 16 of your own characters running around in the world I created. At least half the characters must have SOME relation to my characters (mother of someone, daughter of someone, sister of someone, etc) and they must have more of a role than a cameo. They can be invented, of course. But just like fanfiction and RPGs that use the Sailor Senshi idea, but nothing else related to the story are not really Sailormoon fanfics, neither will a story that uses ideas like the Golden Millennium and the Golden Key, but almost zero of the original characters in the story. In essence, if the story can be read entirely on its own, without ever reading my fanfic or having the need to read it afterwards, then it can't be considered a spinoff/sequel. (This does not apply to latter stories in a trilogy-type set of stories, since presumably, people would read the stories in succession.)
9. You cannot use the terms "Sailormoon Millennia," "Sailormoon Neo," "Sailormoon Zodiac," or "Sailormoon Genesis" in the naming of your fanfiction. I reserve the right to keep these terms for possible future additions to the Trilogy. For example, there is already a great possibility future additional chapters may be written with the title "Sailormoon Millennia Chronicles." The only exception to this rule is if it is part of a compound phrase, such as: "Sailormoon Neo Millennium" or "Sailormoon Neo Zodiac"
For Fanfics that DO meet my approval:
1. I promise to pursue to the same degree of vigilance towards anyone who steals YOUR spin-off ideas as I would to someone who stole my ideas. Afterall, your spin-off is based off my work. Stealing from you, is stealing from me. But ethically speaking, I just hate theft--its just worse when its from me or a friend =P
2. I will advertise your fanfic as an approved spin-off/sequel to my fanfic. That gives you an audience, which is probably what you want.
3. I won't read your fanfics until I finish my own fanfictions. I'm sorry, I'd like to--but this ensures that I didn't steal any ideas from you and it makes sure your ideas don't influence my writing. Its a problem I've struggled with for awhile. Some people have better ideas than me. Sometimes I feel bad for wanting to write what I had planned because I know someone worked hard on a spin-off, but didn't ask me what happened to blahblah and thus made a wrong assumption. I can't let your own work influence mine, so unfortunately I won't be reading anymore spin-offs or stories. You're free to tell me the plot and ask questions about the history or bounce ideas off of me, but I can't read them until I'm done. Sorry. This doesn't mean I won't look at them. I'll glance over episodes, skim stuff to make sure it meets my requirements, I just can't read someone's 34 episode story all the way through.
If it sounds harsh, I'm sorry...but as anyone who knows legal issues knows, you're not legally allowed to even write something using my ideas without my permission. Technically, you're supposed to ask my permission to write a fanfic based off my work and I'm supposed to approve of the work. But very few people have sought my permission or approval, and I've never minded. But I have to draw the line SOMEWHERE. In nine years, I've only told one person they had to change their fanfic despite disliking more than a few (but this fanfic broke every single condition I have and then some.) But I don't want that number to increase. I've never had you guys approve your plots or alternate universes, I even gave you details that should be secret so you can better write your stories. I've always let you guys do whatever you want, even if I didn't like it or even if it went against the entire point of the fanfic. Like I said, most fanfics have already recieved my approval. I just want to make sure that what I want is clearly stated so people can't claim ignorance. Also with rising concerns over plagerism, I have to be very careful.
I would never disapprove of a fanfic simply because I didn't like the plot or the author. Readers can choose for themselves which fanfics are good and which are not. In order to get my disapproval, you'd have to have zero respect for the body of work you're writing about, for me, and for the rest of humanity in general (to come up with ideas like Sailorflashingneonlight of planet Halogen). Disrespecting me and my work means I won't respect or like you very much. But you'll never have to worry, "Well, we're not friends so she won't approve of my fanfic." It just doesn't work that way for me.
I don't think my conditions are so much to ask for, but if you do think it somehow stifles your creativity, well, sorry. I'd suggest reworking your spinoff or sequel and selling it as your own original work then.