1. Racktash
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    Racktash New Member

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    Using characters that I've used before online

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Racktash, Apr 13, 2012.

    If I reused characters, that I had previously used in works published online, in a story, would most publishers have an objection to this? I'm not planning to have anything published any time soon, but I was just curious.
     
  2. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    You shouldn't really post any character names, especially not if you want to use them in the future. I have become very aware of that lately. If I ever make a character online, I take it for granted that I cannot use it in the future.
    When I'm mentioning my characters here, I never use their real names. I don't want to get into trouble with future publishers.

    But I don't really know how strict it is. If you use weird sounding names, you shouldn't post them online. They might accuse you of stealing the name from someone else. But...... I don't really know. I am just being overly careful.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    rackdash...
    published how/where online?... anyway, if all you're going to use in a new work is the names, it's perfectly okay to do so... you created them, so can do whatever you want with them...

    sorry, but i see no sense in that... i don't know where you got the idea that you can't do that... if they're your own creation, it's not a problem... you're certainly not going to sue yourself for plagiarism, are you?...

    and character names aren't covered by copyright, anyway... they can be trademark protected, but you're not going to do that either and then sue yourself for using them, are you?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The only way it hurts you is if your online characters come across as shallow or childish, and therefore make it seem you are unable to let go of poor habits.

    That wouldn't be a completely rational stance, because everyone starts out as an amateur. Just because a character appears online as a crude sketch does not mean that character cannot be fully dimensional in a novel.

    Still, impressions matter. Sometimes it's best to separate oneself from the past.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Names aren't copyright protected. I mean, just look at how many people use the name "Jack" in their novels, and they can't all sue each other, can they, because their character had the same name? My novel's villain is Shadow Walker - and one of the users on this forum has the username Shadow Walker. Names just repeat. There's nothing much to it really.

    As for the actual character himself, the personality etc etc - OP, are you asking if by publishing the same character online you would damage the whole concept with "first publishing rights" and thereby affect your chances of getting published traditionally in the future? But if the stories are different, only about the same character, I don't see how it could damage anything. In fact, if you already have a fan base for a certain character, and then you go and write a brand new adventure in a novel for the same character, surely it's only gonna UP your chances of getting published, because a publisher would be able to see that there's already a following and thus, easier to sell/higher chance of success?
     
  6. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    What if you can't prove that it was you? What if you have forgotten the username and password to the place where you posted it, and you can only say "it was me"? If the character's name is "Sarah Watson", I see no problem with it, but what if the character's name is "Polymyra Tarkapia". What if you have written about Polymyra Tarkapia when you were a not-so-experienced writer, and what is online looks like nothing but a written disaster? What if you have used Polymyra Tarkapia as a character in an RPG?
    Would the publishers still take you seriously? Is the world less prejudiced than I thought? :)
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Character names aren't covered under copyright.
    Character names aren't covered under copyright.

    Now if the name has been trademarked, someone went to a lot of expense to steal a name - why? Trademark, unlike copyright, isn't automatic. It is expensive, because it requires searches and other lawyer time.

    In any case, why not create a new character? Characters are the heart and soul of writing.

    But remember this, if nothing else. Character names aren't covered under copyright.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    NONE of that MATTERS!

    read what i said, that cog has confirmed...

    and even if your fears were justified [which they are NOT], publishers aren't going to be searching the internet to see if a character name has been used before, anyway... why would they?

    plus, it has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone or 'the world' being 'prejudiced'...
     
  9. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    I'm glad to hear that, Mammamaia! :)
    The reason why I thought that the publishers might look for the name online is that employers try to find all kind of info online about the job appliers.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you're going to worry about anything, worry about your social media pages. If your facebook page is full of angry rants and personal attacks, publishers (also employers, school admission offices, etc) are going to think twice about entering a professional relationship with you.

    Keep you public presence clean. That will affect far more than your chances of selling a manuscript.
     
  11. Drusilla
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    Drusilla Active Member

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    I don't have facebook. I used to, but it was so boring that I rarely wrote anything on it. Now, I choose not to have FB and I don't miss it a second. :)
    But thanks for the advice anyway!
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    they probably do, but getting a publisher for your book is nothing like applying for a job... publishers aren't hiring a writer, they only care if you have a marketable book they can publish... and a weird or overused character's name can be changed, if they don't think it'll work well for the readers...
     
  13. Racktash
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    Racktash New Member

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    Thanks for the information, everyone. In reply to your question, mammamaia, I uploaded a few stories onto my personal website (which doesn't have a large amount of visitors anyway, I just wanted to be sure).
     
  14. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I use characters I created for short stories, in writing exercises, I use them as history of the character. The book they're in is totally different then the short stories I write, but the same character just younger.
    The only way it would cause problems would be to use the characters in the same story your trying to get published.
    Why buy something when you can get t free?
    Or if entering a contest, using the same basic story and characters that are published somewhere online, when the rules say original and unpublished.

    Cogito: If written a while back and the character improves as they are used, would this still be a problem if they seemed shallow in the beginning? Because I did use some characters in a writing challenge just for that reason, to improve writing and building the character.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    doesn't matter how few see it... if you intend to submit those stories to magazines or literary journals any time in the future, delete them from the website... they may still be 'out there' thanks to google crawls and archiving, but at least get them off the site...
     

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