Male versus Female
I agree with pretty much everything Madame said, the only thing that kind of stuck out at me were the ratios. I've never really seen it put in this manner but now that you have it really makes sense. I wouldn't go as far to say you have to have 3 good traits for every flaw, because real people aren't like that. I think (like others have said) that when authors are writing an OC for the first time they tend to look inside themselves and since we don't usually recognize our own flaws we incorporate our good traits and throw in a random flaw or two just to "balance things out", when humans aren't really "balanced".
Originally Posted by Madame Marauder
In my opinion it's easier to write Females, because I'm a female and know how girls think. But I've never tried writing and OMC.
Originally Posted by mooncalf
I can see where mooncalf is coming from. Guys don't talk about their emotions, but if you're writing a Romance fic (which revolve around emotions) then eventually the author is going to have to deal with the fact that the guy is giong to have to tell the girl he likes how he feels. Emotional turmoil is a beast to write, and I feel safe writing a girl's emotional turmoil since I can relate.
Male versus Female
I think apollo13 is has hit on one of (if not the) major reasons. I don’t know about all fan fiction, but at least in the Harry Potter flavor, there seems to be a significant imbalance in the number of females versus the number of males. That would explain the why we see more female OCs. This inevitably leads to more Mary Sue characters.
I believe that females are more likely to create a female OC, and vice versa. The reason is the author can relate certain feelings and reactions from personal experience. That doesn’t mean that I would never create a female OC. But if I did, not being female, it might be a little harder for me to pull off (or describe) certain things. I might need to ask some one female to give me some insight of how to write certain things. If I stick to writing a male, and need to predict how he might react given a certain situation, I can probably draw on my own experiences a little easier.
Following this logic, I think it is easier for a male writer to explain how his male OC would establish a relationship with a female canon character, especially if the story is being written from the male OC’s point of view. For example, if I write a male OC and plan to have him have a relationship with Hermione, I have some background to draw on what’s going through my mind, what emotions I have, what … tactics … I might employ to get a female’s attention. I can draw on all that for my story.
Finally, I do firmly believe that a great deal of OCs, regardless of sex, have personality traits that can be traced directly back to the author. I don’t mean to say I think OCs are all mirror images of their authors. But, I think if you were able to perform some kind of scientific study of OCs and their authors, you’d be able to see some definite similarites.
Male versus Female
Okay, I'm going to attempt to explain the ratios.
Originally Posted by butterflykisses
What I meant was, when an author is writing their first OC, they should try to maintain some semblence of equillibrium, as not to create a complete "Mary Sue" or "Gary Stu". The balance is to show that your character has both good and bad traits. It doesn't need to remain balanced forever. The good can outweigh the bad or vice versa, depending on what the story calls for. I was just pointing out that authors (especially those new to creating OCs) need to understand that both good and bad make up a reallistic human being.
Speaking of reallistic vs non-reallistic, why are there so many "missing" OFC created? Like, Dumbledore's granddaugther or Harry's sister or Voldemort's cousin? It seems that there are more females than males created. Like, you never hear about Harry's twin brother or Dumbledore's grandson or Voldemort's son. It's always daughter, sister, granddaugther. Is it female authors living out their fantasies or what?
Male versus Female
One reason I personally think that female OCs are so prevalent is because of how the readers view the female and male canon characters. There are a lot of romances and stories that pair Hermione and Ginny with many of the male canon characters. Why? This is because we, as readers, enjoy Jo's male characters. Also, for the female writers, on some level, we probably are or have been a fan girl at some point of time. So, as writers, we place the female characters in in Jo's world either with an OC or with one of the existing female characters in the series.
Also, because Harry is a male, he might interact more with the male characters in the series. Hence, we see more of the male characters, and they are further developed to us as readers. If the book were told from Hermione's perspective, or if it was the girl that lived, we might find that the female characters would be better developed in the HP series. However, because the male characters are better developed, we tend to use them more in our fics. Hence, we tend to have the tendacy to create female OCs.
However, as a writer, I have created my fair share of OCs. Yes, I have a couple female OCs, but I've also created several male OCs. For me, it depends on the roll that the OC plays in the fic. Maybe it also depends what genre you are writing whether or not you decide to include an OC. Romances, at least to me, tend to have the highest concentration of OCs. However, as noted in the original post, there are OCs spanning every genre of fanfic.
Male versus Female
Very interesting discussion. Very very.
Personally, I first must agree with one of MadMar's original points, most whole heartedly. I generally write (at least, my serious stuff) in the era of the Prewetts. I've got pretty extensive plans, and... yeah, most of the canon characters are boys. I mean, just for a start: Molly has two brothers (although it doesn't say anywhere that these were her only siblings... well, I would really think we'd have seen any others.), Arthur has two brothers, and most of the other characters (ie. from the Order and the Death Eaters) aren't given a timeline in canon, although even then most of the Death Eaters we get any description for are men - same for the Order members (although to a slightly lesser extent. After all, there's Emmeline Vance and some of the women from the photograph).
Anyway, the point is: there are many, many men.
Just to be the weird freak/odd one out, I actually have more male characters than female, if you include the super-minor ones. I just find the guys easier to write sometimes, especially because it feels like 'Mary-Sue alarms' aren't likely to go off as much in regards to male characters, because there seem to simply be less of them. So I don't really need to worry if one of them's particularly good looking or is on the Quidditch team, or plays music. At least not as much.
Okay, admittedly, I had two canon boys around which to form social circles, but the point still stands.
I think one of the reasons that perfect characters occur can be because an author tries to make a list of qualities - good points and bad points. But real humans don't really follow lists like that (at least I don't think so), so problems come up. For example, I would find it really difficult to write a list like that about, say, Hermione. I don't want to call her judgemental or overly proud, because it just happens every now and then, and she's constantly changing and growing. There's the element of time to consider, because some people go through changes at various points in their lives.
Then, consider an author trying to develop a character and make their list. Bad points would be 'mean' or 'not empathetic' or 'stupid'. You don't want a character who nobody will like! So then you get flaws like, 'fiery temper', and things like that, which drive characters to Sue-dom, mostly because they often hardly qualify as flaws at all.
Yeah... Obviously, I'm not fond of 'flaw vs. good aspect' lists ><
I mean, if I was to make one for my main OFC at a young age - say eleven? Well, no one would like her. She'd been through quite a bit, her parents (muggles) didn't want a magical child so she ended up in a new home with magical parents. Really, she's just plain terrified of it all but all that comes through as agression. She's horrible to her adoptive parents (who are absolutely lovely people), seems snooty based on the values of her muggle parents who she was raised by until she was nine, is anti-social, judgemental, disrespectful to all things magic, rebellious, rude, and the list goes on. But at a different time in her life, she's probably in danger of being considered a Sue if you make her a list.
So I think that plays a part.
The other thing I wanted to mention is that OC's can become perfect characters, sometimes simply due to how they came into existance. I say 'perfect characters' rather than 'Sues' because... well, I consider a character who is perfectly anything to be a Sue - good, evil, or otherwise.
Like... A lot of the time, people will create an OC because, for example, they want their character to have an enemy. You often get some snooty, horrible Slytherin to be their enemy. I mean, even I (with my ranting and raving) have done that before - they're created to serve a purpose, and might not be developed. No matter which genre.
This becomes very evident, especially when an author wants a love interest for a character, and that's the reason for the OC's existance. If they're the partner of a great character, you'd probably want them to be pretty great themselves, and the character's base from which they are built is that they're the love interest of someone.
Just an idea, but I think it happens, especially in situations like this.
I'm going to stop talking now >< But I really wanted to contribute to this fascinating discussion.
Male versus Female
Although I havn't actully written a story, the only OC's i've ever considered writing about are girls (I'm a girl), and often I have made them perfect by accident. Also, whatever time I think of writing about, unless it's a time where we have almost no information, I find that there are a lot more males than females (like a few people have already said) that J.K.Rowling has created. Most of the Death Eaters that are mentioned are boys, and both the main "baddie" and the main "goodie" are boys. I think that this means quite a lot of the character's have to be boys, so that they can relate well to them eg. Ron has lots of brothers, and I think that this way Harry understands them better than if Ron had had lots of sisters.
Male versus Female
Evie, I think you've said it all. That's exactly what I was going to say. I think there are a lot of females out there (including me) who really like to picture themselves in a fluffy romance with an HP character. Guys tend to lean towards more of the General/Dark Angsty fics. Now, I'm not stereotyping anyone but it's just the way people tend to go. I haven't ever read a fic with an OC guy character because I think the girls are mainly the ones who would put themselves in the story to experience a life they dream about.
I think that female OC's are more common because more girls (I'm not blocking out boys!! There are just more girls in my experiance) write fanfic and the OC is usually what they wish they could be - that's a Mary-Sue. They want to put themseleves into the fic but they know that self insertation is really boring so they put in a character that has all the traits that they would wish to have, plus the ones that they already have, creating a flawless character. Also, people don't usually recognise they're own flaws very well. They don't do this knowingly of course, they do it with out realising because when we read and write fiction we are trying to escape to another time, place or world - to get away from the stress of modern life.
I guess writing is the only way we would be able to be in the Wizarding World and by that, we tend to write Mary-Sue characters which, like Evie said, have a lot of the qualities girls wish they had. Guys, sometimes want to stick to the books rather than bother about who's shipping with who.
I hope nobody was offended by me saying this, I was just saying what I thought in my opinion.
Male versus Female
I have noticed that when people write out new characters, they put in a lot of themselves, or what they see themselves to be.
For instance, in chapter 4 of my story, I put in a new character, a first year, Cara Johnson. Not only does this character have a similar name to me, but Cara is me. I have way too much attitude, and I confront everyone with my opinions, and can be rather secretive with little ideas.
Even if you try not to do this, it happens automatically, a canon character, usually one you relate to more, does something a bit OOC, something you would do.
It is a natural thing, and you have no idea that you have done it, until you give a close look, but then you like the character so much, because it seems to be like you.
I have noticed that Mary Sues seem to be pretty and clever all the time, no offence people, but this is because girls can be a tad vain, and they CAN look down at others, and think that those others are inferiour. I am not trying to insult people, I just know human nature.
In my opinion, both genders are the same difficulty to write, as each have their different quirks. Many boys try not to write girls, and many girls try not to write boys. But once they try, it becomes easier.
I am so sorry if I insulted anyone, but I feel that it is true, though maybe not for you. Sorry.
Male versus Female
For me, it's always been far easier to write a convincable male character than a girl. Girls in fanfiction generally (from my experience) come off as whiny, perfect, bratty, and many number of unpleasant adjectives ending with a -y. I don't like OFCs, and generally avoid reading about them. If Harry Potter was about a girl, I probably would never have read it, and I am a girl myself.
It's easier to write boys because they're emotions are far less difficult to convey, and you can convey them without giving the reader a feeling of digust. There's more description in writing girls, which makes it cheasy. Boys are simpler, and as it's been said before, not as likely to send off any Gary-Stu alerts.
Besides that, girl characters annoy me. The only exception to this are Lily, Hermione, Parvati, Lavender, Pansy, and the other girls JKR has created. In fiction I would never read a story about just the one, but as side characters they are interesting and make the story more realistic. Missing characters, "Harry's sister", Slytherins who would have been better-suited for Hufflepuff, All-powerful girls, girls who date OCs, and basically any form of Mary-Sue out there, no matter how small, disgust me. I don't like them, and I won't read about them. If a girl is Harry's twin sister, the story immediately repulses me, and I move on. Harry's twin brother might be a bit more interesting, if well written, and I will probably pop in to have a look, so the boy story gets a better chance than the one with the OFC.
January Discussion: Book Seven Characterization
It is very hard to predict how every character will react in Deathly Hallows.
I think from the very beginning it will be emotionally intense for everyone. From the start, we’ll see Harry visiting his parents’ graves. I think this will really make Harry see what he missed all those years and what could have been. But also, I think this could help him, maybe by giving him strength and determination to go on and defeat Voldemort. He would realize how much Voldemort has actually taken from him, and how much he could take from everyone else.
Another emotional event will be Bill and Fleur’s wedding. I think this will mainly affect Molly. She is very protective and attached to all of her children. I think seeing Bill hurt really brought this out in her. Watching Bill at his wedding will really make her see that she is, in a sense, losing her children. They are not only growing up, but they are moving on to helping with very dangerous tasks. It is very unlikely every Weasley will survive the outcome of the war. When Molly comes to realize this, it will be very hard on her.
As the book progresses, the younger characters will grow up a lot. They’ll be pushed to take everything they’ve learned further, while learning about themselves along the way. I think we will see them grow into young adults. They will have to rely on each other a lot, which could really bring them closer. They’ll have to stay strong together and really rely on each other for the support they need to get through the war. But at the same time, they will end up having to start their own lives by the end of the book, and they most likely won’t be quite as close as they get older. I do see them all remaining friends, though.
As for the characters on the darker side, I think they will also be affected in some of the same ways as the ‘light side’ characters and different ways as well. They will have to face up to the choices they have made in the past. I do think their fate is worse than the ‘good’ characters’ in lots of ways. I know Ron x Hermione mentioned suicide, and I could see a character like Draco Malfoy resorting to that, as sad as it is. To me it always seemed like Draco was sort of fascinated by the lives of Death Eaters and wanted to be like them, but it turned out to be a lot more pressuring than he expected.
Moving on from the war is going to be very hard and depressing, of course. Any character will have a tough time coping with the loss of a loved one. However, I think they are all strong enough to overcome it, especially Harry. He seems much more knowledgeable since the end of HBP, and I think he knows he will see his friends (not necessarily Hermione and Ron) dying at some point. He’ll build up mental strength as he completes his quest for the Horcruxes and hopefully goes on to defeat Voldemort.