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Playing with other writer’s characters

Confession: I like to play with characters I have seen or read. Give me a good book, movie, or TV series, especially one with romance involved, and I’ve played with the characters. Most involve figuring out what happens next. Where their lives go after the book ends, the credits roll, the episode stops.

This doesn’t feel normal. I feel bad for playing with other writer’s characters. Is this akin to eyeing my best friend’s husband? If it is then I have committed worse deeds in my youth: fan fiction. My younger years had me writing, and posting on the Internet some fan fiction. This was prior to setting out to write my own work. Before I honed my craft. I shudder when I try and re-read them, and not because I’m using characters not created by myself.

This past week I read a book that left me less then satisfied. Since then I have been rewriting the ending. Deciding how I would have ended the novel should it have been my work. The characters were good, or good enough that I was invested. I want the better pay off. Since I spend a decent amount of time in fictional La-La Land, might as well get a better pay off for myself.

It’s making me feel crazy. And guilty. Should I be playing with someone else’s work? Even if it’s just for myself and not an audience, for my fan fiction days are over. This nagging in my stomach tells me I should leave these characters alone.

Time to push myself back into my own novel. Rewrite my own characters. Find some scrap of their future left to be tackled. I might need new characters to play with. Problem being that creating a character is the hardest part of starting a novel for me. I enjoy playing with characters already established.

Fellow writers, tell me if this is normal. Or if I am one step closer to the crazy house.

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