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SpaceAnJL's Fanfic OC panic

POSTED BY: SPACEANJL
UPDATED: Sunday, August 13, 2006 07:50
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Friday, August 11, 2006 10:47 PM

SPACEANJL


So, I have an OC character, who has now become part of the crew. I think she works within the 'Verse context, but I have a fear of unleashing a Mary-Sue. You have to write what you know to some extent, and I wanted to write someone ordinary, that readers could identify with, but at what point does an OC tip over and become obnoxious?

Any opinions?


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Friday, August 11, 2006 11:23 PM

AGENTROUKA


I haven't read the story in question, but I have a very low Mary-Sue tolerance, so here are some things that tend to make me run for the hills.


She's super-perceptive about crew relationships - and gives advice unasked. Or even is asked. And OC is generally previously unknown to most of the main characters, but a Mary-Sue will start dishing out her opinions ( = the author's opinion) without a single regard for what might be considered realistic respect for other people's business. And the others just accept it and agree!

Or if she doesn't, she'll still be thinking these things ("Mal and Inara will never work out."/"Kaylee is so scared that Simon doesn't like her enough, whata boob."/"Jayne is really cuddly inside.") that generally the viewer knows much better than the characters would. Who is so focused on semi-strangers' relationships? A Mary-Sue.


Other than that, it's a question of relativity and how many things accumulate.
The more truly flawed a character, the more interesting she'll likely become. Most Mary-Sues only have "cool" flaws, such as a bad temper or a tragic past that makes them Traumatized! or they're smart-asses or can't keep their mouths shut when they should...

Few of them have body odor or maybe really don't *care* for the crew and think about their own plot (as opposed to thinking about the crew and their problems) in a complex way, or aren't in some way conventionally attractive (over-weight? Stocky? Statuesque? Disabled? Over 45?). Rarely do they hate uncleanliness on the ship, or take serious and lasting offense at violence, have an on-going, non-funny-quip animosity with a member of the opposite sex, are disliked by the majority of the crew...

Or hell, mere absence from the ship and living elsewhere would be cool. A communication over distance, a less direct involvement, a clearer backstory.

A character that just somehow joins the crew, becomes someone's love interest and is then One Of Them if always going to have a hard time struggling against the cliche, because that's the basic Mary-Sue set-up. To draw a thick line to the image of self-insertion, the character has to earn the spot by being complex, conflicted and interesting in their own right, not just by their observations about the crew or the witty banter.


That help any? :-/

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Friday, August 11, 2006 11:41 PM

SPACEANJL


Aaargh!

I think I've violated most of those rules, then. OC started off as a paying passenger, and she's a smart-mouthed divorcee. She was just heading home, and not intending to have a fling with anything large and scary on the way, though. I wanted to have her react to the crew in a realistic way - she sees River as a damaged young girl, for example.




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Friday, August 11, 2006 11:57 PM

AGENTROUKA


Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:
Aaargh!

I think I've violated most of those rules, then. OC started off as a paying passenger, and she's a smart-mouthed divorcee. She was just heading home, and not intending to have a fling with anything large and scary on the way, though. I wanted to have her react to the crew in a realistic way - she sees River as a damaged young girl, for example.





Honestly, I couldn't judge. I haven't read the story. Everything is relative, and all I mentioned above are just indicators, not fail-safe "laws". A whole large chunk of it all comes down to the tiny details of writing.

I'm sure one of your readers will be better able to help you out.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006 12:01 AM

SPACEANJL


Yeah, but my readers aren't responding to me!

Anyhow, WHY haven't you read it? *Sulks*

Thanks, anyhow. I hate posting threads and finding them trail off without a response.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006 12:05 AM

AGENTROUKA


Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:
Yeah, but my readers aren't responding to me!

Anyhow, WHY haven't you read it? *Sulks*




I've seen you mention in discussions that you don't like Inara's character, and she's my favorite and I'm very sensitive about her characterisation really matching, so I'm playing it safe.


This thread can't be too old, yet. Give your readers some time to recover from a wild Friday night (or whatever) before they reply!

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Saturday, August 12, 2006 12:16 AM

SPACEANJL


Ah. I have difficulty with writing Inara's character - Morena B did a fabulous job of conveying things with expression alone, which is difficult to capture on paper. I did write her in 'Zen and the Art of Mercenary Maintenance' and I hope I caught her there. And I will be having another go at her soon. She's complex, and I want to do her justice if I write her.

I have strong feelings about the way characters should be written, too. There are some characterizations of River that make me turn the fic off immediately. (We won't mention the Raynefic - gak!) And I have OC issues - which make it weird that I wrote one, frankly.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006 11:40 PM

SPACEANJL


Bumpin'. Anyone out there?

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Sunday, August 13, 2006 6:51 AM

SPACEANJL


Bumpin' again.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006 7:37 AM

ARTEMISPRIME


I have been a loyal follower of your Larji series. Like many others, I am reluctant to like an OC for some of the reasons given by others on this thread. But once I got into the story, I realised that you hadn't made some groupie or unreal woman out of Larji. She's had to deal with real 'verse situations and I adore the fact that she's "ordinary", as Inara described her.

Admittedly, it helped tremendously that she fell for Jayne since I am a Jayne fan. That she is an easily identifiable character for me has certainly biased my view of your series. I place myself in the position of Larji :)

Two key criteria for a story, any story, are plot and writing. Though I wonder if sometimes your plots are a little forced (sorry, but I couldn't accept Inara's "betrayal"), your writing style is exceptional. You have a simple style that leaves the reader to really have to imagine the scene, something I find wonderful. You are not bogged down in details, but you throw in these nuggets that just make me smile. For these reasons, I find myself re-reading AG,AP over and over.

As for the Mary-Sue issue, I wonder if this isn't a question of you don't know what to do with Larji now that she's part of the crew. Honestly, I never saw her as a Mary-Sue and I don't expect that you would direct her that way. She's too smart to involve herself in things not of her concern, but will intervene when necessary.

You are correct in saying that a writer has to write what she knows. Go with your instincts on this. Happily ever after doesn't have to mean sweet and goodness forever. There can be drama. For example, how will Larji's folks react to Jayne? What if he truly begins to believe that he's not good enough for her anymore? There is the whole Core vs Rim issue you began in AG,AP. Can Jayne really stay monogomous (sp?) given his lifetime of a different woman at each port? Perhaps Larji is too perfect and we need to see her deal with living in the Black for longer than a couple of months. I mean, she had pretty much everything she needed on Hecate, but as we both know, living on Serenity has meant much sacrifice and doing without.

I suppose that this sounds like I'm telling you what to do. Really, my intention is to give suggestions and to trust yourself. It's worked well enough for you so far. :)

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Sunday, August 13, 2006 7:50 AM

SPACEANJL


Thanks for responding. The Inara situation has a longer span - I will be going back to it - and I rather hoped people would read it as Inara being betrayed in some ways by her culture and attitudes. I'm not done with her or her interactions with the crew. (She didn't betray the crew, after all - she sent Mal away in the only way that would make him take notice, when she realised the other agenda going on.)

As for things to do with the characters - I have a lot of those. And I'm going to bring in a little more of Larji's backstory over time. I figured in a post-Wash crew there has to be a voice for the 'not killing everyone in the room' point of view. I was trying to keep the stories almost like episode arcs, and perhaps that does rush them sometimes.

But thanks for the props. I will keep on keeping on.

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