Creating Your Original Character (OC)

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Creating Your Original Character (OC)

Post by Dazo on Tue Jun 16, 2015 6:31 pm

Creating Your Original Character (OC)

What makes a OC?

Is this OC believable? Is it Well-Flushed out? Does it stand out from the crowd? Would you want to meet it in real life?

What's in a Name
Is the name interesting and believable at the same time? Is it used, just not too often?
Good Examples: Mira, Rai, Callum
Bad Examples: "Jasper Thoth Lucifer Viridion von Theria el Ronte e Yoke", "Bob"

Clothing Makes the OC
Now its appearance. This is up to you, but be realistic. Robotic limbs would not make sense in a fantasy/non-scifi context. Eyepatches should have a good reason for being there. Long black coats with multiple layers makes no sense in a hot environment.
However the OC does not need to look special to be special. The best Ocs are those that look just like the average person, but have strong personalities and unique personality quirks.

OC Traits
This makes it or breaks it. The difference between a good OC and a bad OC. Is the OC's personality Unique? Does it go with his/her common profession? Does it make your OC standout? You can if you want give him a speech disorder to impede his communication of deductions.

Good Examples: "Has aspirations to be a florist"
Bad Examples: "Lazy" "Sarcastic" "Smart"

"This Isn't Even My Full Power!"
OCs having powers of abilities of some sort are common within most universes. Be it intelligence, strength, magic, or martial arts expertise, abilities are good; they add more opportunities for character development. That said, don't go overboard with them. It's one thing to be a "court magus with command of powerful magic", it's another thing entirely to be a "world-class enchanter with various demon summons at your beck and call, who can still defeat any opponent in swordplay, is a master of 24 weapons, has 15 PhDs, knows 13 languages, plays chess and makes amazing coffee." Balance out your OC's abilities with weaknesses. Your OC knows 15 martial arts? Ok, make it an idiot who doesn't know when to use what move and makes things worse before making them better. Your OC is an all-powerful mage? Okay, make it extremely squishy with long cast times and cooldowns. Your character is basically a living god? Ok, make it lose his divinity when in the presence of something interesting, like Sawada Tsuna™.

The Mary Sue
Okay, so you have a character. What? She's called Xyron Eridanir Feriroseka? Ummm... Ok, strange name. What? She has telepathy/pyrokinesis/telekinesis/electrokinesis/Molecular Control/Time powers/Space powers/Teleportation/All of the above? Oh, no. She wears a fluffy pink trenchcoat with violent streaks of red across it, has (totally natural) hair that flows in 17 different colours with various highlights, wears ankle-length skirts that she is still totally able to move about quickly in, and wears a cape? She has demon/vampire/warlock/angel/divine/holy one blood AND is the chosen one? She knows 14 different fighting style and can phase in and out of existence? She has an IQ of 9001, is the best chef in the world, can play all instruments (at the same time) and is the world's leading expert on everything from Alchemy to Zoology?

This is a Mary Sue. A very Unliked OC archetype. Why? Shes too perfect. Theres a reason that there is a rule against this OC archetype. A Mary Sue is unbelievable, has no room to grow/develop, and tends to have terrible characterisation. Lets not mention that shes basicly Chuck Noris when it comes to solving conflicts. "Oh let me just turn around and BOOM! Problem solved."

Self-inserts aren't a bad thing. Its good for an OC to be somewhat like yourself. after all, how can you write a convincing OC if you don't have the same mindset, at some level, as that OC? However, Self-inserts come in two forms. The first, is the benign, authorly self-insert, where your character contains some elements of yourself as an individual. We like this. This is good. This is the self-insert that makes your OC awesome. Then there's the dreaded "Wish fulfillment" self-insert. The Wish-fulfillment self-insert is when you take a part of yourself and insert it into a character...then proceed to add in all the things that you wish you could be, all the powers you wish you could have. This is how a Mary Sue is born. Kill it with fire. Get it out of here. This is evil and bad.

The Mary Sue is a character you want to avoid at all costs, no matter what. Below I'll share a few tips to avoid making a Mary Sue.

You ain't Jaden, so you ain't absolutely flawless.
This is the easiest. Make your character have some flaws. Some of this is mostly explained in "This isn't even my full power" so refer back to that.

But don't make it useless, being useless isn't good either. You want to achieve balance. The number of Pros of your OC should roughly equal the amount of Cons in your OC - - for every area in which one is amazingly gifted, there must be another significant area in which one is amazingly lacking. For every good thing about the person (strong-willed, creative, funny, etc.) there must be a negative trait (narcissistic, defeatist, pessimistic, dull, has bad luck, etc.). Only then can your character appear more human and believable.

Extremism shall not pass
Notice how the Mary Sue is taken to an extreme. If they're not peppy, excitable and practically oozing sunshine and rainbows and good morality all the time, they're probably dark, angsty, irredeemably amoral/immoral and extremely evil. That is bad. To quote Oscar Wilde, "I don't think now that people can be divided into the good and the bad as though they were two separate races or creations." Evil characters are good in their own way. Good characters are evil in their own way. You create these traits to prevent your character from being one-sided. For example, if you decide to make an evil character, give it some good points, like having a soft spot for kittens. Or being an active philanthropist. Similarly, if you decide to make a good-aligned character, give it some evil elements, like a sadistic streak, or selfishness.

Sob stories Make Me Cri
Another thing to note when doing a Sue test is the angst. Sues traditionally serve as a palette upon which the author can project his/her angst. That's the reason why most Sues (even those who are incredibly hyper and peppy) tend to have extremely tragic, normally ludicrous backstories. Like being abandoned at the age of 3 weeks, found, brought up and abandoned again at the age of 2, entered an orphanage, was bullied, was starved, was abused in all sorts of ways, ran away at the age of 9, lived on the streets, made a friend who happened to be living on the run despite her young age, then saw that friend die in a scene which typically involves guns, cars, helicopters, electric wires and various top-secret government agencies.

Yeah...Angst is good, backstories are good, but there's a limit, and sure ain't the sky. Hell it shouldn't even be the roof. Your backstory should be believable. Your angst should be believable. Do not angst for the sake of having a "dark and mysterious" OC. Do not angst for the sake of angst. If you want a tragic backstory, fine. Moderate it. Show its visible effects on the character. Keep it within the realms of plausibility and belief.

Look @ This Cool, OP Duel Spirit I Have!
Here are some pretty popular things Mary Sues can do in some fandoms.

  • Having a Duel Spirit (Yu-Gi-Oh)
  • Talking to Pokemon (Pokemon)
  • Random Psychological Ailment (EVERYTHING)
  • Three or more Servants (Fate/Stay Night)
  • Parseltongue (Harry Potter)

Lets address the third one, I'm sure the first one is very common to happen in most academies, actually its very similar to the 2nd one, so lets address this as well. When it comes to talking to Pokemon, or a Duel Spirit. There is basically almost no possible way for a character to have this ability without becoming a Sue. Using the example of Pokemon Black and White, N got away with it because he's also a naive, secluded, self-deluded, idealistic, sheltered, ignorant child - a plethora of faults to help compensate for this ability - and the effect on his character is highly visible. A trainer, willingly engaging in battles, keeping Pokemon in Pokeballs, having the ability to speak to Pokemon? Definitely not the same level of visible impact, and therefore, not welcome.

As for the third his is an issue for most fandoms. A lot of people enjoy making their OCs have some sort of psychological condition, under the illusion that it makes the OC more interesting. The thing is, such conditions have a trigger. And if you want a psychological problem on your OC, you must be prepared to justify it in his/her backstory. For example, Multiple Personality Disorder normally occurs as a result of repression of some sort, either internal or external. An inferiority complex is derived from external influences shaping one's view of life and society. A character who has one of these ailments for not apparent reason is, without doubt, a Sue.

I learned this in my daily theatre classes. GOTE Stands for

  • Goals: What does your character want?
  • Obstacles: What is stopping your character from achieving their goal?
  • Tactics: How does your character plan to get around this obstacle?
  • Expectations: What does your character expect to happen once you have achieve/gotten your goal.

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