The use of Original Characters

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The use of Original Characters

Post by Colonel Marksman on Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:30 pm

You might be wondering, "What do you know about the subject?" I will tell you that for the past five years I have written over 150,000 words of fan fiction, successful more often than not.

Original characters (OC's) are characters that are of your own creation, that you are inserting into a fan fiction story. Usually, OC's are characters that interact with the main cast as a hero/heroine. OC's are, in my opinion, harder to portray than the canon characters themselves.

Too often I see an OC who is a "Mary Sue" or "Marty Stu". These characters are superior in nature, unchallenged, and very unbelievable. A good example would be trying to make a superhero you call "The Untouchable" or something. The plot is that he wants to join the Justice League, but the League doesn't trust him. So when the big bad guy(s) get a hold of the whole Justice League team, Untouchable single-handedly saves them all the Justice League heroes without a scratch. Superman then grants Untouchable the position of leader of the League.
good grief

You have to remember that, while you might have a very strong desire to make that perfect assassin, agent, office worker that stands up to that boss, student who outsmarts the teacher, or what have you, there are fans of the canon characters for a reason.

Making good original characters is the same for making good characters, with a few extra rules.

1. The original character must not "overpower" with the main cast. I don't care how much you like him/her/it. People will not like seeing their beloved characters overtaken by this invader. The characters may be challenging, but never overpowering.

2. Original characters must be acceptable for the story that you are writing. Think about yourself as a script writer or the original author and try to imagine how they would incorporate your character. They have to be fitting in the right setting and the right time.

3. If your OC's must be better than canon characters, you must have a good excuse and make sure you "return things to normal". Make the canon characters look like the good victims. Always include some weakness or balance to your character.

4. OC's are great antagonists, and can easily be incorporated as that one character the others really don't like.

5. These characters of yours must [b]never[/b] interfere with relationships between other characters. If two characters form a rough romantic couple, don't make a character to make a perfect suitor for either of them! If you do, again, "return things to normal". Also, be sure you let your readers know that these aren't permanent with hints within the story.

6. Avoid "like" characters. This isn't very common, but I have seen it. It's when your character is too much like another canon character. You will create a tense read with an atmosphere of "this story isn't big enough for the two of us".

7. Making interesting OC's is more difficult than making ones that are acceptable. Always leave bread crumbs for your readers to follow that make them believable and fitting for their part. One particular one I had in mind was an assassin that was going to be tested for hire by the Italian government (or be killed). His ability to improvise and keep vigilance allowed him to overcome the challenges set by the assassins (who were cyborg children trained to kill). While some parts were difficult to swallow, the author described his OC's mind, explaining his past training and experiences that made him superb. Such things like stalking successfully, coming under attack from behind in a past experience, etc.

8. Always, always, always, keep your OC in line with the genre of the canon story!


There you have it. My two cents on making original characters, do's and don't's.

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Re: The use of Original Characters

Post by Garmar on Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:57 pm

I moved this to the Character Development section. The Fan Fiction area is for fictional stories based on published works.

Garmar

Edit: I made a clarification edit in the Posting Guidelines.

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Re: The use of Original Characters

Post by Churnok on Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:52 pm

Can you clarify point number 8 in your list? What would be an example of an OC that followed this guideline? What would be an example of one that did not?
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