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Veronica Mars Fanfic Resource Journal
Articles on Writing
Original Characters in Fanfiction 
12th-Aug-2005 12:17 am
OC - by Lizzy
by herowlness


What are Original Characters?
Original Characters, sometimes referred to as OC's, are those that come completely from the imagination of the author. They cannot be found in any other published or broadcast work. For example, if a character from, say, Angel were written into a Veronica Mars fanfic, that would not be an original character, as that character was not created by the author.

Why write Original Characters?
While the major characters on a given show (especially one like Veronica Mars) should be interesting enough to cause the plot bunnies to multiply like crazy, OC's can allow for different sides of these characters to be explored.

For example, if an OC quickly becomes Veronica's new friend, how will those close to her (Wallace, Weevil, etc.) react? What if Trina's mother comes back to Neptune and tries to mother Logan? Using original characters opens up avenues that might not have been available to you, as an author, before.

Additionally, it's a great writing exercise for authors to create original characters. Everything about them comes from the author's imagination – their personality, appearance, mannerisms, background, and more. After all, there's nothing in canon about these original characters. (That would be why they are called original characters, of course.)

While fanfiction is largely about borrowing characters and situations from the original creators and adapting them into something completely different, using an OCs allows authors to test their limits and stretch their creative writing muscles. Plus, if you've ever dreamed of being published, using original characters in your pieces is a good stepping stone onto that path.

How can I write a good Original Character?
If you're writing a longer piece and/or one that involves an OC as a major character, you will probably want to do some character mapping before you get started. The better that you know the character you're creating, the better you will be able to write said character.

If you're only writing a short one-shot, it might not be necessary to write out tons of information about your original character ahead of time. However, it's usually helpful to have a ready resource about your OC (largely what you've written about them thus far), so you don't contradict yourself later on in the piece. After all, you probably don't want to go searching through your story trying to remember what color her eyes were!

What should I all map out for my Original Character?
Really, you can "map out" whatever you feel is essential for your piece. However, what follows is a brief list of some details you might find helpful.

Name - first, middle, last, any nicknames
Age or date of birth
Appearance - How would you describe them? Include hair and eye color, skin tone, height and weight, and any other descriptive words you think you might find helpful here. Sometimes it's useful to use a real life person as a model of sorts. I wouldn't recommend using someone overly well-known (for example, fashioning a new character after Jason Dohring probably isn't the best idea), but even if you don't tell anyone who your OC looks like, it could be a handy reference. Good online photo resources include the Actor Archives, the Actress Archives, atPictures.com, Celebs Central, Perfect People, and Scantastic - along with many others.
Family and Friends - Include the names of their close family members, as well as their friends.
Class - In VM this one is especially important. Is your character an 09'er or a jock or a nerd or a biker? What is his/her relationship like with the other main characters in fandom (or at least in your fanfic)?
Strengths and Weaknesses - This one seems somewhat obvious, but you really need to be sure that your OC isn't absolutely perfect. Otherwise, you're likely to end up with a Mary Sue or a Gary Stu on your hands. (See here for more information about Mary Sue and Gary Stu and how to avoid them.)
Motivation and Dreams - What does your character want? What is it that drives them – at least through your fanfic? Does she want to be the Prom Queen? Does he want to date Meg Manning? Does she want to go to NYU and be a filmmaker?
Backstory - Sometimes this can be the most interesting and important part. What happened to your OC before we meet them in your fanfic? What happened to make them who they are. Little details about life growing up can certainly affect characters themselves. Just look at the impact Logan's childhood abuse had on him and his character!

And, certainly, you can find more important points to add yourself, as needed to fit your story. Elaborate on whichever ones strike you for your own original character – and with time, you'll likely learn which ones are most helpful to you, as a writer.

-coming soon!
25th-Nov-2005 08:41 am (UTC)
if an OC quickly becomes Veronica's new friend

Wouldn't that be called a Mary Sue? ;) (Especially since Veronica isn't befriended easily.)

Over all. Good post. I'm not sure if you pointed that out in your "about Mary Sue" post but I think you could have mentioned it here a little more: As far as name, appearance and friends goes -- keep it realistic.

Something else I wanted to suggest, maybe it's a good idea to think about people you know from real life or characters from other TV shows/movies when creating an OC. Thinking about their strengths/weaknesses and how they'd behave/(re-)act in certain situations usually helps a lot with your OC's characterisation/keeps you from creating a Mary Sue.

Just a thought. :)
13th-Dec-2005 09:20 pm (UTC)
Good call - I really should edit in a link to the Mary Sue article. After all, I have a link there, pointing here. =)

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