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Thread: Discussions - Part One

  1. #1

    Discussions - Part One

    Ever notice the number of threads on Original Characters compared to the number of threads about Canon Characters? At the moment, it's at an all time high -- Severus, Sirius, Harry, Tonks, Tom Riddle and Ron have all been addressed lately.

    However, there are times when we have a couple dozen original character threads and maybe one or two canon character discussions. And if you scan through the stories on MNFF, a good chunk of them focus on original characters.

    When you think about it, it's strange. Because this is fan-fiction; we're here to write about the Potterverse and the Harry Potter characters. So why the strong supply of original characters? Are original characters just a fad? Something that everyone wants to have, because everyone else has one?

    How do you feel about OC's? What do you think is a good reason to have one, and when do you think an author is just hopping on the bandwagon? Is it about a plot that none of the canon characters can fit? Or is it about inventing a new love interest for Harry because the available ones in canon aren't satisfactory? Are there too many OC's? Does it defeat the purpose of fan-fiction? Are some OC's wasted on fan-fiction, when they could have their own original story?

    Sound off

  2. #2
    Part of it may be that some of the cannon characters are difficult to write and keep them in character. Another factor may be that it adds to a plot to see the events unfold from a new perspective. Also some plotlines require original characters to make them more believable.

    “Does it defeat the purpose of fan-fiction?” If you the story did not contain one single cannon character; minor or major, I would begin to wonder. But really it’s about borrowing Harry’s world and adding a plot to it that JKR didn’t want to use and expanding the world in little ways.

    “Are some OC's wasted on fan-fiction, when they could have their own original story?” For some it is very high possibility, but as I realized after writing a few original stories, it is much easier to borrow a pre-made world and history than it is to create one. Of course at the same time, that pre-made world and history can throw numerous money wrenches into a plot and/or setting.

    Variety is our friend. Reading about the same characters story after story can get old in a hurry. I think that is why the OC’s have become popular.

  3. #3
    As I stated in another thread I love creating OC's. It's because of my personality, since I was very small one of my hobbies has been to create characters in my mind (Yes, I was a lonely kid *sniff*)

    I think that you really challenge yourself as a writer when you create an original character, that is of course if you do it the right way. That means creating not only personalities, but a past for this person, their family, their background and a lot of other things. The more you create the character the more he/she becomes real and stays in the mind of readers. One of the biggest compliments I've had as writer was when someone told me they wanted to be best friends with my OC. In that moment I knew I had done it right.

    I think one of the reasons for creating OC's has been the small gap that JKR has left. It's true she has created many characters with very diferent personalities, backgrounds and races, but there is always something more that you can create, how about a South American character? A gay character? There are endless posibilities that we can explore and fanfiction allows us to do that.

    There are also cases when OC's are used for a bad purpouse, for example when an author wants to insert himself/herself in the HP world or the infamous Mary-Sue (let's not go there). In both cases you can see a very familiar pattern in the plots. Harry falls in love with Fantasy and they defeat Voldermort together, blah, blah, blah

    Until now I haven't read or created a single OC where I say he/she should have his/her own story. I think this is because most authors (myself included) create characters thinking of the HP world. They wouldn't be so special if you took them out of that world and insert them somewhere else.

    As a final note, I'm very pro OC and I don't think that it's just a fade. As long as people keep writing, creating plots and sets, Original Characters are going to keep coming.

  4. #4


    Well it's kind of like a challenge. Creating an original character means creating one from scratch. And it's fun to weave their situations with the canon events I guess. I don't know. I just love it though.

    The greatest challenge is making the character believable. Sometimes it turns out to be a Mary Sue. And no matter what at that point, the story just won't work... when I read it at least. Actually, a lot of dark/angsty ones have OCs that do that... that's odd

    I guess one reason why OCs are so popular is because you can put a bit of yourself in them. And so the OC becomes something really special. It's a nice feeling. You suddenly think you've created something that's independent of you. It has a life of its own. And there's a lot of room to make all kinds of characters.

    I wonder how many stories with an OC as a main character there are on MNFF. Anyone care to count?

  5. #5
    the nutty imp
    The problem in following 'all that is canon', you borrow the character, you borrow the world they live in - the only thing that's yours is the plot. That's why it was thought by plenty that: fanfiction was a waste of effort. You rely on the crutch too much and although it's good practice - Writing good fanfiction does not necessarily make you a good story teller. I think most people here has aspirations to becoming a writer and thus the willingness to try and create something of their own.

    The creation of an OC is a step towards improving your skills in creating a story. If an OC is well-received it shows the skills of the writer. It means he/she takes a step towards maybe becoming a writer in terms of being able to create stories, settings, and characters that is all their own.

    I don't think OCs are wasted in fanfictions, it's a stepping stone for the author to practice creating believable characters.

    As with any character, the OC should be important to the plot. Those 'shudder-worthy' OCs are usually the product of the need for self-insertion. Best OCs are the ones that flow with the plot and changes as the story moves on.

  6. #6
    I actually only created an OC because I was writing a canon!year 6 story. New characters are always waltzing into JKR's world, and I made an effort to add my fair share of elements to Harry Potter as well - just one of these being McKee.

    She only got her own romance on a dare. I only wrote one-shots in order to figure out her motivations for myself.

    I would say that putting an OC in fan fiction is a bit of a crutch. I also think it's excellent experience. I found that when I stepped out of fan fiction, it took a long time for me to really develop non-HP plots and really get a grip on how to develop my own world. However, if you plan on being a serious writer, writing an OC for practice is always a good start.

  7. #7
    Air Elemental
    I do lean towards canon characters more, but I don't have any problem with OCs. Although sometimes they can scream 'SELF INSERTATION!' at you, most of the ones I've come across are well rounded and brilliantly written. I think that if the story asks for it, then there's no reason not to include an OC, especially if s/he helps the plot along.

    I don't see why OCs are wasted in fanfiction. It's good practice to include them in there. Personally I keep my original fic OCs away from my fanfiction, but it's a matter of preferance and practice. If your OC is good enough, then why not take them a step further and give them a tale of their own? After all, the best ideas are often inspired by others!

  8. #8
    How do you feel about OC's?
    I like having the odd OC to write/read about. They can add a new perspective to the story and they give the chance for a writer to make something they can call their own. You can only write a disclaimer saying nothing is yours so many times before feeling kind of sad about it ... >.>

    What do you think is a good reason to have one, and when do you think an author is just hopping on the bandwagon?
    Even though what I said above is true, I still don't think you can just plop an OC into the middle of a fic and expect it to fly off the ground. OC's need to be there for a reason, not just because you want an OC. Because plot is so critical to a story, you have to make sure your OC's add to the plot, otherwise it gets flat and mushy and no one wants to read about them.

    Are there too many OC's?
    I don't really think there can be too many OC's. I mean, obviously there are a lot of them, but because only some actually stick out to picky readers (like myself) as 'real, three dimensional characters', you only really remember a few. I could never forget Alexis Taylors "McKee", because she was real. She wasn't just some random OC in some random fic. On the other hand, I've read about a million OC's that were not that 'real, three dimensional' quality, and I couldn't remember them for the life of me. Basically, you can't have too many OC's in the multitude of fan-fiction because not everyone is going to be remembered. It's not like we're being overwhelmed with a list we need to memorize, engraving every OC's name in stone.

    [/shudders at the idea of memorizing an OC list ...]

    Are some OC's wasted on fan-fiction, when they could have their own original story?
    I don't think they're wasted. If anything, writing them in fan-fiction will help the writer to discover their character and will help them develop them to be ready for an original story.

  9. #9
    I think OC can be good or bad, but it really depends on how the are used and what your story is about. OC are needed to add depth characters in many fics or major characters in fics that we don't know alot of characters, namely Maurderer or Historical Era fics. I don't like reading fics that tell Harry's story, and make their OC central to the plot. I just stopped reading a fic where Harry was introduced to this OC, and since then its been OC this and OC that, and I not just talking about student OCs, there is a couple adult OCs that are done that way, too. So if your writing a Harry during Howgarts fic keep your OCs as minor characters, but anything else as long as they are well written I don't care.

  10. #10
    Everyone obviously has different opinions when it comes to OC's. Personally, I prefer canon characters as my main focus.

    Canon characters are:
    A) easier to write because we already have some background information
    B) I like the familiarity

    However, I've used OC's as minor characters... But, even when they are minor characters, you still have to develop them enough so that they are believable and not just a name and a brief description. You need to know things about them, even if that information never makes it into your story. I cheated in one of my stories. I had the need of 2 characters in one chapter that essentially needed to have the same personality. I made them twins... but no one questioned it.

    There are minor characters which could almost be considered OC's. People like Professors Vector and Sinistra. They are mentioned, but we know very little about them. Most people consider them canon characters, but truly... the author is simply taking a name and profession and building up from there.

    OC's are most definately not wasted on fanfiction. I see fanfiction as an excellent learning place. What better place is there to develop writing skills? Part of learning and writing is developing a character, and not just one that someone else has created for you. Besides, who is to say that one of my minor little OC's won't one-day make it into an original fic (w/o the magic, of course).

    I know that authors use OC's for various reasons. As I've said, mine have all been minor characters, and I develop them to serve a purpose. To fill a role that it's not necessary to give to a canon character. Besides, I think it would seem unnatural if you ONLY ever saw canon characters in fanfiction. Surely there are characters that exist in the background that we've never seen.

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