Saitochan

OCs... what do you think of them?

OCs... what do you think of them?  

77 members have voted

  1. 1. When you write a story with an OC, you prefer it to...

    • Be the main character
      32
    • Have a major role in the story, even if it eclipses the main character sometimes
      34
    • Have a minor or supporting role with few appearances
      31
    • What's an OC?
      0
  2. 2. As for developing the OC in question, How deep do you go on his/her background (assuming this OC isn't the main character of the story)

    • You tell the character's whole life story (even if its NOT the main character)
      5
    • You go into details, but still keep readers in the dark about some things
      47
    • You describe him/her well, but still keep readers in the dark about most things
      32
    • You keep the OC surrounded in mystery (so you don't need to put too much thought into his background)
      7
    • Other
      8


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Since i write quite a bit of original fiction, I use them a lot and am well acquainted with making them ( I came into fan fiction backasswards by starting with originals then moving to fan fiction). However, i do occasionally come up with an OC for some of my stuff.

Mostly, though, my OC's tend to be animals (Daoi in Kryptonite (a bird youkai) and Karasshu in Supreme Conquest (a dog) are examples of those). They add something to the story but aren't a major character that takes over the plot line or are a self insert. Along with that, there are minor characters i create here and there that play bit parts in the story, again, just to add flavor to the thing. Though, currently, i have one in my newest story, Fallen Angel, that is the main 'bad guy' in the whole story. The red-eyed man is an OC but in a post canon setting (since this is a WIP I'm not going to give any more away than that).

In the context of working with canon characters in a mostly canon setting, OC's are difficult to create and deal with. It's hard for them to not end up the Master of the Universe as i refer to them and it takes walking a fine line to not get them there that even seasoned writers have issues with. They also have a very bad rap because of the amount of self-inserts and Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters out there. Though, i done right and well, they add a dimension to the story that other things can't accomplish.

However, i'm not the biggest fan of stories where the OC is one of the main characters. This has nothing to do with how well written a story is or how good the plot is, more to my taste. If i read, for example, a Harry Potter story, i want the main characters to be from the canon, not an OC. Those are beings that i am familiar with and don't have to get to know. Minor characters or ones that don't take on a lead role i can deal with. To me, this is just a preference is all, nothing more. It's not a commentary on those that write such things or the stories themselves. That may be the prevailing thought on the whole thing with others as well. Though, honestly, the amount of Mary Sue/Gary Stu and self inserts out there have injured the perception of OCs, that is fairly obvious i think. They are, sadly, the dominate force in OC characters and give well thought out, original beings a hard time.

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When I'm trolling AFF and I come across anything in the summary that looks even remotely similar to "canon x OC" as the main pairing I automatically assume that the writer of the fic has elected to Mary Sue herself into the canonverse. Oh Lord, spare us! Then I check to see how many reviews there are, and I am NEVER surprised when there's a big fat honking goose-egg there.

See, here's the thing: it isn't as though I can read a fic with a Mary Sue OC and pretend that character is me if the character was fashioned after the writer (or anyone the writer knows, for that matter). If she had written a fic with a "canon x canon" main pairing using characters that she most identified with and then made them OOC, that's one thing; I'll read the fic and never know the difference. But I will never be able to relate to an OC in a "canon x OC" main pairing fanfic (unless I know the writer well, which I don't 99% of the time). They are not part of the canonverse. And frankly, if a writer needs to insert herself as a character into a fic then why doesn't she write an original fic? To me, inserting herself into someone else's canonverse is an indication of a distinct and utterly disappointing lack of imagination.

Writing a Mary Sue OC into canonverse in a fanfic is fine with me. Publishing it, however, is another matter. Publishing it and then expecting the same feedback that a writer receives from a fic with a "canon x canon" main pairing? Come on, give me a break...

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When I'm trolling AFF and I come across anything in the summary that looks even remotely similar to "canon x OC" as the main pairing I automatically assume that the writer of the fic has elected to Mary Sue herself into the canonverse. Oh Lord, spare us! Then I check to see how many reviews there are, and I am NEVER surprised when there's a big fat honking goose-egg there.

See, here's the thing: it isn't as though I can read a fic with a Mary Sue OC and pretend that character is me if the character was fashioned after the writer (or anyone the writer knows, for that matter). If she had written a fic with a "canon x canon" main pairing using characters that she most identified with and then made them OOC, that's one thing; I'll read the fic and never know the difference. But I will never be able to relate to an OC in a "canon x OC" main pairing fanfic (unless I know the writer well, which I don't 99% of the time). They are not part of the canonverse. And frankly, if a writer needs to insert herself as a character into a fic then why doesn't she write an original fic? To me, inserting herself into someone else's canonverse is an indication of a distinct and utterly disappointing lack of imagination.

Writing a Mary Sue OC into canonverse in a fanfic is fine with me. Publishing it, however, is another matter. Publishing it and then expecting the same feedback that a writer receives from a fic with a "canon x canon" main pairing? Come on, give me a break...

I write a great many OC's in my fics and have NEVER written a Mary Sue. To make such a generalization is not only ignorant but offensive. There are many good writers out there looking for an audience and fanfiction is one way they find them. In the fandom in which I write, there is a dearth of female characters of a certain age. There is little choice but to bring in an OC, otherwise a writer ends up producing nothing but Lolita stories or post end of series stories. Sometimes those don't work.

As for the low number of reviews, maybe the number is low because too many people view fanfics like you do, and disregard OC stories without giving them a chance. I'm not trying to be offensive, just pointing out the error in your logic.

My rule for OC's is there has to be a reason for them to be in the plot. They can't just suddenly show up and be accepted by all and sundry because the writer wants them to.

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Guest Naga-Lord

So far I've only come a cross two OC's that I love, and only a few more that I like. To me, it seems authors have the risk of loving their own creations more than the canon figures. At least, that is how it seems in the stories I've read. But i also think that the people who write bad OC's are the same people who write the canon people out of character. That really doesn't give me much to like, lol. in general, if the author is any good at what she/he's doing, they will make the OC's likeable too. I come for the canon people, so I do think the focus should be on them, but sometimes, since you are making someone else's base fit with your story, you need to do things to flesh it out.

Am I blabbering? I might just be. I'll stop ^^

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I always use Ocs for fanfics and originals. So it's all depends on the story. Sometimes when I do their profile first, I don't do the past part until I know what story they are going to be in.

But for my fanfics, I use my ocs that I know a lot of and mostly already have their profile, past and all since I use them for role-plays with a close friend.

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For me, it depends on the kind of fanfic it is.

One-shots and drabbles generally are canon-character centric. This does not exclude them from having OCs completely, but I usually use them only if there is a need for them. As in, we know a person must have existed but we don't know anything about them, or for the sake of the one-shot must assume there has been such a character even if canon's logic alone does not necessarily dictate that. With that I mean, logic dictates that if we have a canon character that has been born, they must have (had) parents, even if canon does not tell us anything about them. Or that if character is a teacher, they must have had students.

On the other hand, if I want to write a one-shot about a canon-character angsting about, say, the death of their pet rabbit, and remembering how they bought it at a pet shop, how they used to pet it, etc. the one-shot's logic dictates there must have been an employee at that pet shop that said character met. Canon's logic does not dictate such a thing unless canon explicitly tells us that a. canon character had/has a pet rabbit and b. character bought that rabbit themselves/was there when it was bought.

Multi-chapter story depends on the time-period and the plot. If it's set in pre-story times, chances are we know the names of a few people from then and the personality of even fewer. Which means OCs are basically unavoidable in most cases. Same if it's set after the story's end, or in un(der)developed/"glossed-over" parts of the story, which happens when there are time-jumps, etc.

Otherwise, it comes down to the plot. The further you deviate from canon, the more likely it is that there is need for OCs. In such cases, the OCs are in my case never the main-character of the story, but they can play an important role. Say, a character turns down a job they accepted in canon and did something else, that means one will have to deal with different characters. Some may be canon (especially if the different job is also established in canon, possibly even with the character debating which of the two jobs to choose, but just picked the other one in one's fanfic than in canon) but others will not be, especially if it's a job where a character has to interact with not just colleagues and their boss, but customers as well. There are thousands of examples like that possible, and that's when still dealing with fanfiction that's mostly character-centric and where the OCs' existence is dictated by in-story logic. (Can't be born without parents, can't teach without students, can't sell clothes without customers, etc.)

Sometimes, OCs are necessary not because the story's logic dictates they should exist, but because you need a character to fill a role and all of the existing canon characters are for various reasons unable to fill that role. (Couple of possible reasons: wrong personality, wrong morals, wrong personal circumstances, wrong gender, wrong age, wrong appearance, race, religion, culture, nationality, etc. Yes, several of these may seem shallow or even prejudiced, but they can nonetheless be valid reasons why specific characters cannot fit a role. If for whatever reason you need a neo-nazi, that would exclude people of jewish faith, people of colour, etc. If you need a teacher at a male-only school, that would exclude females, newborns, children, teenagers, animals, aliens, prisoners, etc.)

At that point, you have a limited number of choices - slightly change a canon character (preferably while giving enough in-story reasoning that their behaviour makes sense, even if it would be OOC for their canon counterpart to do such a thing), bend a canon character so out of shape that it's an OC-pretending-to-be-canon, or add in an OC. Depending on the reasoning why certain characters won't fit, the former may not even be an option. The second option is hard to do in a way that won't infuriate anyone who has a passing familiarity with the canon character.

TL;DR: OCs are okay where OCs are for various reasons either needed or preferable to other options.

Edited by SillySilenia

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In writing fan fiction, I think O.C. characters should exist. They are the ones to annoy, push the cannon characters to act, or to aide them in their endeavors. Give only enough history to make the characters dynamic, and Never Ever eclipse the cannons. O.C. has a purpose and a well written one can do necessary jobs like the hotel clerk example. However, there are fan fiction readers that are too lazy (or perhaps dim?) to give a valid review if there is a problem with character development. Those make me laugh because most folks that review after the Mary Sue ranting individual tend to say I don't see a Mary Sue in your character, although there is something off. Those I can fix, and always do.

Now to tackle Mary Sue/Gary Stu: I've seen way too many stories listed under specific anime like Initial D that rarely even mention a single cannon character at various sites. Or worse, the O.C. comes to Japan and demolishes Initial D and goes on to Conquer All of Japan's Mountain Pass racing scene like a god. Those anger me royally because they're my definition of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Those writers are posting out of a desire to get an ego trip for their insignificant, miserable little self absorbed lives. Those are writers who are not truly interested in the actual Anime or Manga they managed to mangle for their ego kicks. Mot of them are also age 16 or even younger I figure.

Stories that don't have the anime's cannons as the focal need to be tagged as an original. An Original should not be listed under a cannon Anime series. Sadly, most fan fiction sites don't seem to have original story settings for originals with " this is an original inspired by watching Initial D" genre headers in example. I think that is one reason people abuse an anime/manga/movie/video game name in fan fiction sites. They do not feel they have any other place to go to vent their creativity so annoy the real fans of a given show/game/series.

Sure it is fun to write about genuine automotive mechanics and fast driving, which is why I tackled Initial D. However, when you can't find an actual Initial D specific fan fiction of any variety as a rule because of a plethora of knock offs, it is very frustrating to be a fan of the show.

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Just strictly from the perspective of a moderator, as far as what constitutes Original fiction, if it's inspired by Initial D, or set in Initial D's 'verse, or uses plots or devices clearly recognizable as belonging to Initial D, it's an Initial D AU and not Original fiction. This applies even if there isn't a single canon character from Initial D present in the story.

Edited by BronxWench

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Just strictly from the perspective of a moderator, as far as what constitutes Original fiction, if it's inspired by Initial D, or set in Initial D's 'verse, or uses plots or devices clearly recognizable as belonging to Initial D, it's an Initial D AU and not Original fiction. This applies even if there isn't a single canon character from Initial D present in the story.

I concede that very well defined point gladly. I have even read a couple AU tagged fics, and found them interesting. Those were kind enough to have the AU tag so I was not expecting Initial D specific Cannons.

However, the lack of A.U. tagging is a problem I have personally encountered with many Initial D "inspired" knock off fics. Some writers make it sound in summary as if you will see the cannons, then never show the cannons in the story. Those are the offenders I was referring to specifically. Au tags would clear up much of my consternation with several fan fiction sites I have visited/ written for in my on and off again fan fiction hobby. However, too many writers do not add that little AU tag so I can avoid irritation because of my expectation of seeing a cannon or two that never arrive.

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Trust me, I know the frustration! We do try to ensure that stories are tagged properly here, but as is to be expected, we are not going to be familiar with canon for every fandom. We're a small team, actually, given the size of this archive. You can always let us know of a mistagged story, and we can look into it and get it corrected to avoid future frustration.

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Trust me, I know the frustration! We do try to ensure that stories are tagged properly here, but as is to be expected, we are not going to be familiar with canon for every fandom. We're a small team, actually, given the size of this archive. You can always let us know of a mistagged story, and we can look into it and get it corrected to avoid future frustration.

I am so relieved to see that you are on the ball. I have not noticed the problem here yet. There are not many Initial D stories in the archives here at this time. I read almost all the archive in two days. ROFL. When I read I read pretty much everything, even if it is a bit squickish for me. ROFL.

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I write my OC's as a main character, and I try to keep them half in half, half of their background and half out in the open. For Abraham's Daughter, I've mostly put my OC's background in the dark because, as the story progresses,light will be shed on almost all of it (hopefully, unless my brain tells me otherwise).

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Well, I only write originals so OCs are a bit of an inevitability :P

However, I do see their place in fanfiction, having read quite a few of them. I've only really appreciated one til date but I have no doubt there are plenty of well written OCs out there. Contrary to popular belief, not all of them are Mary Sues or thinly veiled author inserts. To be honest, I don't even find that many of those. The hallmark of a good OC is one which, if you had no idea about the canon story, you wouldn't be able to pick out from the rest of the cast.

I tend to encourage OCs because I think they are the most valuable to the growth of a writer. In building a character from scratch, you are not only challenging yourself and pushing your boundaries but you also learn a lot about yourself and your writing.

Ultimately, there is no excuse for skipping character development: not a 'badass loner' attitude nor a super shiny new upgrade every two chapters a la Bleach. Writing OCs is tough, especially when everyone's against you on principle. But writing good ones is an art and if you get it right, your writing will always speak for you. So yeah, fanfiction, originals, whatever, OCs are welcome.

Edited by KassX

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As a gamer, I was going to write a C.O.D. C.O. O.C. with O.C.D but my eyes crossed.

Well put. :2tubs:

I love well-thought-out OCs in original works, and when a fan fiction writer can throw in an OC (or more) without ruining the story and/or the canon characters, I think it's wonderful to read. The problem is that it's truly difficult to create a balanced character for a minor role that shows up more than one very short time. That's where I see most writers mess up--hell, I've caught myself doing it a few times, too.

That said, there are some stories with OCs in fairly major positions, sometimes paired with canon characters, and I can honestly say that I will be happy to read more of them. Or reread, as the case may be.

Edited by Cuzosu

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Well put. :2tubs:

I love well-thought-out OCs in original works, and when a fan fiction writer can throw in an OC (or more) without ruining the story and/or the cannon characters, I think it's wonderful to read. The problem is that it's truly difficult to create a balanced character for a minor role that shows up more than one very short time. That's where I see most writers mess up--hell, I've caught myself doing it a few times, too.

That said, there are some stories with OCs in fairly major positions, sometimes paired with cannon characters, and I can honestly say that I will be happy to read more of them. Or reread, as the case may be.

Basically this. :) I definitely feel what a lot of people are saying for not having OC's eclipse the established characters. I feel that said OC's roles will vary in their involvment depending on their relationshp with the main characters.For example, if they're acting as an unsettling/unfamiliar outside force it could be interesting to see how this affects established group and relationship dynamics, but if this becomes the focus of the story for too long it may be hard for people to continue seeing it as fanfiction. I'll have to keep an eye out for this in my own writings.

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I do both Fan-Fiction and Original Works so I have a lot of OC’s on file.  When it comes to Fan-Fiction, I see my OC’s in the same position and purpose as a supporting actor/actress in a movie.  Each of them has their 'backstory' so to speak which is thoroughly researched and compiled on a bio-sheet that can be anywhere from one to several pages in length, depending on their role in the story.  I try not to create what I call ‘disposable’ characters simply because of the amount of time and effort that goes into creating them just to have them killed off or something.

As far as their ‘backstory’ I reveal only as much and when as necessary to the reader in order to both maintain the continuity of the storyline as well as the canon character(s) they are supporting or to accommodate the drama of a particular scenario being played out.  OC’s play an important role in a lot of Fan-Fiction because they have the ability to contribute certain aspects to the storyline that canon characters cannot, particularly if the writer is to maintain (their concept) of the canon character.

I know there are writers that have canon characters do or say things that I find completely out of character based on my research.  However, even though it is Fan-Fiction, I agree that there is a certain level of creativity that should be allowed. Because in cases where a certain action is not addressed either for or against, I myself have had canon characters do things that the original creator would probably flip out over.

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