notes on an OC...

UPDATED: Thursday, February 14, 2008 06:49
VIEWED: 4248
PAGE 1 of 1

Monday, February 4, 2008 2:39 AM


my current fic 'Spiritual' was originally written as direct sequel to Those Left Behind (which i love dearly, warts an' all) and was inspired by threads here associated with both it and the episode Safe.

BUT it didn't work - the newer version has my OC Shepherd Face and he absorbs material originally destined for Book and Zoe (though Face is, i hope a very different character to either).
Now it works - and i've had an opportunity to flesh the character out somewhat.

But... do readers care? By which i mean - an OC is OC is an OC - it sure aint canon.

How to writers and readers view the use of an OC i fics - when do they work, become intereesting or essential?

is it possible to care about them as much as one f the Serenity crew???

when do writers decide an OC is needed?


Monday, February 4, 2008 2:54 AM


I generally do not like OC's. But that preference came about after reading a lot of bad OC's and not just a general dislike of original characters. (now aint this paragraph all contradictory?)

An OC needs to be well defined - because we have not seen it on tv, it needs more description. It must also not crimp on the rest of the crew - make them act like they wouldn't. A lot of authors in trying to get definition seem try to make them do too much.

"Solomon Face" is a likeable character.


Thursday, February 7, 2008 4:21 AM


Difficult subject. :)

It is definitely possible to write great OC's. Mal4Prez, for one, writes them excellently. Also, a writers who did the series "Antebellum" which is in the archives here. Excellent OCs!

Many, though, are not very good.

While I'm entirely negatively prejudiced to OC's that start out as main characters right away, I am hugely, intensely, madly fond of those that work their way into importance without hogging the space. Those I end up wanting to know more about.

The key is, I think, in what the OC is about.

If it's stealing soace from another character, you're going to lose some points. Don't out-Kaylee Kaylee, out-Zoe Zoe or out-Jayne Jayne. Don't make the OC change their relationships or personalities, either. Basically, no Mary-Sues.

Once you're past that hurdle, it really depends on how compelling the OC's own story is. Just like writing original fiction, really.

Mal4prez hypnotyzed me with the tragic - though not innocently victimized - tale of Ray in "Easy Tickets". He had real flaws - not pretend flaws - that ruined all the good intentions he may have had. That'd be a compelling story even if it wasn't structured into the bigger Firefly plot.

I figure, if you OC can stand on their own, he's good to appear in fanfiction, too.


Thursday, February 7, 2008 7:52 AM


Wow. Such glowing nice things from AR, I feel I must post something LOL!

Hmm. Um... OK, gonna get metaphorical. Pardon me in advance. My take with OCs in fic is the same as my take on meeting new people in RL. I hardly ever jump into new relationships instantly, I need time to see people in action so I can get a handle on who they are. I like to see them interacting with my well-known friends - that way I can be sure to have my friends around me while I get to know the newbie, and I'll be having a good time no matter what. And I certainly don't want to feel that my friends are abandoning me or changing for someone I don't know well; this will only make me dislike the newbie. (Uh... in the metaphor, my friends are the BDHs, of course!)

So, I guess the reason I don't generally like OCs is that they're so often shoved in my face before I've gotten to know them. I'm left wondering why I'm supposed to be so interested in this character - especially if the OC is the center of the plot and every damned BDH is in love with or envious of them. Oh, the dreaded Mary Sue...

Anyhow, I just try to take it slow with OCs. (Sometimes, I fail LOL!) I love how Saffron was introduced. She was really a dull and somewhat annoying (to me) side character at first, then was gradually revealed. She didn't show up and instantly join the crew full time. She was added in little bits, letting me see different sides of her here and there, with full episodes of all BDH in between so I was still grounded in the characters I know I like.

One other thing I've talked about with other writers - it's soooo useful to have a full back story written for the OC. Whether it's used in the fic or not. Knowing your character inside and out ensures that they have some cohesiveness in how they react to things. I've heard that JK Rowling has this for every damned character in HP. You can tell!

Sorry, Wytchcroft - I haven't read much about your Shepherd Face. But I worry a bit if he's taking over parts from Zoe and Book, especially if this happens early in the fic. You might be rushing it. As a reader, I'd want solid footing on who this person is and how he differs from Shepherd Book before I could invest in him emotionally.

But then, I am very very choosy. Overly judgmental and serious too.

hmm-burble-blah, blah-blah-blah, take a left


Friday, February 8, 2008 12:11 AM


thank you for these very considered and helpful replies!:)


Friday, February 8, 2008 3:21 AM


Hey, the 'verse needs OC's. Otherwise, it's a pretty big place to have half a hundred folk floating in it. Sooner or later, you'll run into someone you owe money too.

I hold my hands up to accusations of Mary-Suedom about my OC, but I started writing it as a purely personal exercise, and just inflicted it on folks out of malice. But I hold with the idea that an OC should stand as a character - that you could imagine their lives going on if they never even met or heard of any of the BDH's.


Friday, February 8, 2008 3:48 AM


Welcome back SpaceANJL - thought you were MIA after posting the first piece to your fic.


But I hold with the idea that an OC should stand as a character - that you could imagine their lives going on if they never even met or heard of any of the BDH's.

That thing there probably makes all the (or atleast some) difference.

After all even Joss would have had to introduce new characters if the show continued.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:58 AM


I very much resist most OC's. Even though I've read some really kick ass ones, they are so few and far between that I almost always groan and roll my eyes whenever something I'm reading has an OC introduced.

I hate to write them, and I really don't like to read about them. But that's because most of the authors don't 1. make me care about them enough to want to keep reading and 2. almost ALWAYS have them falling in love with one of the main characters. Usually not believable and always turns me completely off to the story and any future work by that author.

That's just me. I'm picky. Lots of people love OC's.

"A government is a body of people usually notably ungoverned."


Tuesday, February 12, 2008 3:28 PM


I am shamelessly in favor of OCs if they're well written.
There's only so many times the crew can have the same interactions with each other. If you don't introduce someone new (Badger was once a new face, remember) you'll run out of plots.
New people keep it fresh and allow the crew to change and grow in a plausible manner. You don't expect a character to change completely within a paragraph of meeting someone new, that's completely silly, but they can eventually learn to think in new ways from continued association with others.
So long as you stay "true" to the 'verse as Joss and company envisioned it I think there's plenty of room for exploration and play. Just because we're writing our own daydreams out and posting them doesn't mean we're trying to establish new "canon".
I'm actually having a little fun slipping in cameos from personae of people I know in the 76th Independent Battalion (think 501st, but waay cooler than stormtroopers) just for giggles. The 76th was mentioned briefly in some cut footage by Zoe. Someone took that and ran with it and they've got plenty of leeway to play in. Now I'm taking people's backstory from *there* and transferring it into my fics *here* to help percolate the plot along. It's a wonderfully convenient tool for a catalyst, and it's fun to see if I can tie in the other "reality", or "unreality", or whatever you want to call it.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008 5:27 PM


It's delisciously ironic.

Here I was taking the hour long drive from school to my place thinking about my next fic in my new series and all about OCs because of the storyline. And how I hated how I handled OCs in my last series but how I wouldn't mind taking a few and making them less Mary-Sueish to make a cameo in my new 'verse. Then I come in here and voila! OC thread.

Let's face it, fanfic of this ilk needs OCs. Firefly was cut too short for Joss & Co. to give us a ton of secondary characters to bring in and use for plots and the sort. Which means unless you want the crew to sort of ride the same circut and interact with the same people, you're going to have to create OCs. (How many times can Saffron, Badger, Atherton, Niska and/or a SuperEvil!Gabriel Tam come in and stir up trouble?) Some are done really well and I love it, some just.... aren't. The ones that aren't can really pull you away from a story.

I fully accept the fact that I handled some OCs in my first attempt at Firefly fic wrong. Which sucks, but you have to use that to learn and grow in your writing. I fully agree that it is insanely useful to write out a backstory about OCs, because then you lock their personality in, and you're less likely to change their attitude like flipping a coin. I started doing that midway through my first set of stories and sat back and bit my lip at all of the inconsistencies I had made before hand because I had never set history, personality and reason of actions into stone and had been metaphorically flailing and blind writing. I also found out it may help to go into GREAT detail about an OC when plotting them out. As to the point of looking at clothes for wardrobe and possibly even appointing an actor or actress to serve as a visual basis for them, as if it was an episode. I dunno why but it makes me feel more in control, because if I appoint a face then I can see it all play out in my head.

I also like the whole 'slow introduction' of an OC. Granted I don't always do that, but I think it's better than throwing someone new in your face. Fans are finicky as well as devout to the main characters in a fandom, and throwing an OC in their face can be like shoving a tablespoon of medicine into the face of a small child. They are't gonna like it.

Do I make sense? Lol.

Your Indian Pirate Lord,


Tuesday, February 12, 2008 11:53 PM


wow! this continues to be a fine and interesting thread.
OC's are tricky - but, obviously, i aint stopped using em yet!


Thursday, February 14, 2008 6:49 AM


I'm in agreement with SpaceANJL, particularly the statement:

But I hold with the idea that an OC should stand as a character - that you could imagine their lives going on if they never even met or heard of any of the BDH's.

Any OC I create whose going to keep appearing has to have a past, present and future outside of knowing or being in the presence of the Firefly crew. I may not be forthcoming about what that past, present or future is, but it's there.

In the same way, when I first started posting (is it really near a year ago!), I felt the ship needed more crew members but
a) I didn't want readers automatically assuming they would be shacking up with one of the BDHs (I'm guessing that's more or less a Mary-Sue thing) and
b) I wanted people to be able to imagine them as believable in Joss's verse (as we all do I guess).

All my major OCs did their time, so to speak, before becoming a major influence in the story directions.

I guess I'm just re-iterating what others have already written







Mon, February 17, 2020 15:36 - 30 posts
Appreciating the Feedback All-Stars
Sun, February 3, 2019 10:27 - 4 posts
The Writer's Resource Package
Sat, May 26, 2018 00:24 - 32 posts
Sun, April 29, 2018 13:19 - 2 posts
The Expanding Verse
Sun, November 12, 2017 01:41 - 78 posts
The crow?
Sun, March 12, 2017 13:03 - 1 posts
Eager student looking for patient fanvid teacher!
Wed, November 30, 2016 19:11 - 14 posts
Tall Card Deck
Wed, September 21, 2016 21:30 - 6 posts
Any good fics on this site?
Tue, February 16, 2016 19:42 - 4 posts
My Fanfic Plans
Thu, August 6, 2015 11:38 - 1 posts
"Ode To The Final Charge of the Serenity" (Another Firefly theme inspired poem)
Mon, June 29, 2015 06:37 - 1 posts
"Serenity's Crescendo" (A Firefly themed poem)
Mon, June 29, 2015 06:33 - 1 posts