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On the subject of gifts; best practices for authors?


New Member
Hi everyone. I've begun writing stories for people recently and an interesting problem has come up with regards to people gifting their friends a story involving their characters.

I'm happy to write stories involving other people's characters, if I have that person's permission to do so. But what if the requester wants to surprise their friend with a gift story they didn't see coming? Obviously, there is no way around the issue of obtaining permission, so the question then becomes: how best do we, the author, acquire said permission?

I'm new to this, so I'm wondering, what do other people do? Currently I'm asking that all people involved in a request should contact me with their expressed permission to use their characters, but this does somewhat ruin the surprise. Another method might be to obtain a screenshot of the requester and their friend discussing the matter together, but that opens up a whole new can of worms with regards to privacy and again, it's not really "giving permission" if they just mention offhand, theoretically, that they wouldn't mind it.

Pretty sure I'm already going about this the best way possible, but I wanted to hear from more veteran story commissioners your thoughts on the matter. Thanks!


Well-Known Member
My quick and messy method tends to be asking for links to similar work that's been done with both characters, and public indications that the two are friends. It's not a guarantee, but it at least gives a good indication - good enough that it should suffice in the vast majority of cases. You still have to be willing to accept the risk that the recipient disapproves, but you will have minimized that risk as much as is really reasonably possible without ruining the surprise.

It's basically up to you how much of that uncertainty you're willing to deal with - if you're not comfortable with less than explicit permission, just decline the request on that basis.