The Original Character Debate in Fanfiction

I seriously do not see what the whole beef is. I know it’s because most ficcers who write OCs write shitty ones that turn into Mary Sues, and a lot of them are glamorized author insertions. That’s called BAD WRITING and it can happen in original fic too (Jane Auel, I’m lookin’ dead at YOU!). Usually, when the bad writing happens, there’s a lot of OOC going on all around. Suddenly, uber-competent canon characters are blubbering idiots while Mary saves the day and their asses. The babe magnets in canon suddenly change their whoring ways and become utterly devoted and faithful to Mary. Basically all sorts of bullshiggity goes on.

But mostly it comes from not thinking of characters as PEOPLE and not just puppets to push around on a paper or computer screen. An individual will do certain things and not do others or do things a certain way and not another way because of that individual’s makeup. An individual with a very strong code of ethics will find it very hard to violate them. Someone with loose morals will probably just go for expediency and damn the means. If you’re going to have them do otherwise, then you’ve got to set it up in the story to show WHY they’d act OOC. You can’t have a character be a mewling coward the whole story and then suddenly whoop a squadron of space troopers without showing me the transition from personality A to B.

I admit, I am biased because I write fic with OCs paired with canon characters. From the folks who’ve read them, I’ve had overall positive reviews. But then, my characters are not about to save the Enterprise or rescue the crew. Yes, I focus on the OC a lot because they are the one of the main characters of my stories.

But I also try to think them through. I ask myself questions (a lot of them) and try to answer them in the story. The main question is why would my OC and the canon character have anything to do with each other in the first place? What do they see in one another that leads them eventually to romance (because for anyone who’s ever been in a LTR, being physically attractive will get a foot in the door, but won’t guarantee a long haul and being uber perfect can be grating eventually to us mere faulty mortals)? Now the overall reason is simply because I am the author and I want them to. But within the story, inside those character’s heads, I have to answer that question and show that answer in my narrative.

But the thing in fanfic is really to each his own. If you abhor fic with OCs much less OCs that are main characters in said fic, then don’t read them (and I will continue to indicate I’m using an OC in the info section preceding my fic. Hell, I also warn for interracial pairings just in case someone has issue with that as well–and judging how my fandom reacted to Spock/Uhura, I think I’m totes justified in that apprehension). But this constant rehashing and campaigning against “teh eevulz of OCs” has gotten past tiresome.

10 thoughts on “The Original Character Debate in Fanfiction

  1. What I think is pretty strange is that the outright hatred of original characters in fan fiction is particularly intense when said character is female or of color. Particularly if that means pairing them up with a favorite male character.

    If you think it’s bad in Trek, take your ass to Tolkien fandom to see what I mean. Seriously, people would rather have Legolas being topped by Aragorn than to have Legolas fall in love with (gasp!) an OFC – no matter how closely the author hews to canon. Nothing against slash, but there’s something disturbingly weird about the element of misogyny involved in the way gay male relationships are portrayed. And the fact that most of the people writing this are straight women is pretty fucked up.

    BTW, when it comes to fanfic, every male character is potentially gay, but lesbians don’t exist.

  2. RVCBard,

    You’re right on about your observations of misogyny regarding OCs. I can “understand” the antipathy towards characters of color, especially female characters of color, since mostly White women are writing these fics. But the loathing of any female character is a bit baffling.

    Well, maybe not. Maybe it’s the idea of another woman, however fictional, coming between then and their adored male canon character is what’s grating. It’s somehow easier for them to take another MALE character getting with their leading man. After all, how are they, as women, expected to compete?

    I also wonder that whenever a female OC is written she is either a blue-eyed blond or a green-eyed redhead. There aren’t even any BRUNETTES or brown-eyed White women as main OCs. And I’m sure the majority of these ficcers are not Aryan or Celtic goddesses. Seems to me, they want to convey the image of utter, uber Whiteness and therefore ultimate desirability of these female characters.

    Just more evidence about how PoC need to write and produce our own narratives.

    • I also wonder that whenever a female OC is written she is either a blue-eyed blond or a green-eyed redhead. There aren’t even any BRUNETTES or brown-eyed White women as main OCs.

      I’ve always considered that super fucked up. I could understand the idea of an OFC being an idealized version of the author, but idealized to the point of not even resembling them just struck me as . . . odd.

      Besides, maybe there’s something wrong with my fantasy life, but if I were to do a self-insert OFC, my fictional SO would like me as I really am IRL. I’m more turned on by changing the norm so that it includes me rather than changing myself to fit the norm.

      *shrug*

      But I’m weird.

    • @Witchsistah

      “It’s somehow easier for them to take another MALE character getting with their leading man. After all, how are they, as women, expected to compete?”

      I’ve heard women express that very sentiment.

      “Maybe it’s the idea of another woman, however fictional, coming between then and their adored male canon character is what’s grating. ”

      See I think this is why white female fans flip their shit over interracial pairings. Because it’s much harder to have an audience insert with a pretend boyfriend if the love interest is a woman of color, hence the backlash and Racefail with Uhura and Dr. Martha Jones from Doctor Who.

  3. Besides, maybe there’s something wrong with my fantasy life, but if I were to do a self-insert OFC, my fictional SO would like me as I really am IRL. I’m more turned on by changing the norm so that it includes me rather than changing myself to fit the norm.

    Same here. That’s why you probably won’t find any 5’8″, D-cupped, karate-kickin’, blue-veined, “good hurr,” green/hazel/amber-eyed OCs in my fics.

  4. *casts Raise Dead spell on the thread*

    Somehow, I find this post echoing a lot of what’s going on here. The way comic book fandom treats Cassandra Cain feels (at least to me) very similar to how OFCs are treated in fanfic. Although Cass Cain is a canon character, it’s interesting how she’s automatically marked as Other (or rather, Not Exactly Canon Because – Look At Her!).

    • Pretty much. People (fans and some writers alike) resent the fact that the woman of color is actually superior to the white members of the Bat family (including Bruce) in any respect.

  5. OFCs seem to be thought of as a virus on many fanfiction sites. Yet, every male character is suddenly paired with their male nemesis or male best friend for ‘hot smex111!’. Really?

    If the OC is well-written, has believable flaws, and good character development…then, sure have at it.

    Contrary to popular belief, there are some well written canon characterxoc fics out on the net. People just have to LOOK for them. God forbid, they stumble across a good fanfic with their favorite male character being paired with a female OC.

    This hatred of original characters (any character period) is getting out of control. Characters (canon) are fun to read and write about. However, at the end of the day they are not real. Just paper and ink that the author/illustrator crafted life into to make them relatable and make us want to feel for them.

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