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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:30 am 
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I wasn't sure where to put this, so I'm just gonna stick it in the Misc. forum. This is an essay I typed up on fan characters. It covers Atlantis fan characters and just fan characters in general. I also explain my own Atlantis fan character.

Please note that this essay reflects only my own opinion, and I do not pretend to speak for anyone else. As someone thats been writing fanfiction and making fan characters for a really long time now, these are things I've thought A LOT about.

-----------------On the subject of fan characters------

What is a fan character, and are they good or bad?

Strictly speaking, a fan character is a character that you make up to introduce into an existing fandom. Sometimes called an original character (OC), fan characters can be either good or bad, depending on how the author writes them. Bad fan characters are typically called Mary Sues (or Gary Stus if they're guys).

Mary Sue is perfect. She can do no wrong. In an Atlantis fanfiction, Mary Sue would be the most beautiful girl that ever lived, shes probably Atlantean, a better fighter than Kida, Helga, and Rourke combined, and shes way smarter than Milo. Shes so beautiful and talented that every man she meets automatically swoons over her, and all the women are either jealous of her or wish they could be her. Often times Mary Sue will also be whats known as a self-insertion (SI). An SI is the authors way of writing themselves into the story. This is very frowned upon in writing communities.

Gary Stu is exactly the same, only hes a guy. Hes the most handsome, the smartest, the toughest, all the women want him and the men either hate him because hes so awesome, or they want to be him. Gary Stu can also be an SI.

So what does one do in order to prevent an OC from becoming one of these ridiculously perfect people? Its not easy, I can tell you that much. As someone thats been writing and creating fan characters for about 19 years now, I STILL have trouble with it at times. Its entirely possible to just get carried away with a character and end up making them too perfect to be realistic. But its nothing to be ashamed of. We all do it. Theres nothing wrong with fantasy. There isn't anything wrong with SI either. We all have to dream. But if you decide to write Mary Sue/SI fanfiction, be prepared to get slack from people.

Now, lets take a look at the Atlantis fandom for a moment. There are SO many opportunities for OCs here, but before you sit down and start making up some super cool character, lets get some things straight.

First off, I would suggest running any OCs you make through a litmus test. You can find them all over the place (just go to google and type in "Mary Sue litmus test"). Theres even an actual Atlantis Mary Sue test, though it can only be accessed through web.archive.org now (http://web.archive.org/web/200412171029 ... mstest.htm) Don't worry if you get a high score on a test, its not a horrible thing. They're just there to give you some ideas on what areas your character might need work in.

I'm not gonna cover everything listed on the tests (as I think some of the qualifications for Mary Sues are rather silly, to be honest), but I will cover a few things.

Don't make a character too perfect. Give them some flaws. They can be pretty and talented without being TOO pretty or talented. Give them limits. I don't care how attractive someone is, not EVERY person that meets them is automatically going to fall head over heels for them. And your character may be a great fighter, but he/she won't win every single fight they get into. No one is THAT good.

Plots. It is okay to give an OC a big (or relatively big) part in a story, as long as you don't take away the focus on the canon characters. The entire point of having an OC is to do something with them, after all. No one makes up an OC just so they can sit in the back of a cafe with their face hidden by a newpaper, and have no speaking lines at all. These aren't random extras in a movie. These are characters we put time and thought into. Just remember that Atlantis is about the characters actually IN the movie. Your OC shouldn't outshine Milo or Kida.

Relationships. Now, a lot of people will say its bad for an OC to be related to or have any sort of meaningful relationship with a canon character. However, I'm here to tell you that this is not a bad thing, as long as its done correctly. For instance, having someone show up claiming to be Milos long lost brother/sister is pretty ridiculous. Though, I supposed it COULD be done, but you'd be hard pressed to convince anyone of it. Milos parents were killed when he was very little, before they had a chance to have anymore children. So we assume that Milo was an only child. He has no siblings.

However, whos to say his parents didn't have another child before Milo was born, one they were forced to give up for adoption. Granted, thats still pushing it, but it can still be done. Its probably best not to though.

On the other hand, Audrey does have a sister, and while shes already been established by Disney, she has no part in the movie, so you could expand on her. We know nothing about her except that shes a boxer, and I believe her name is Nena. So you could take that and go from there.

What about love? Everyone deserves a little love, don't they? Of couse they do. And OCs are no exception to this, so long as you're not writing for the sole purpose of hooking your OC up with someone. Not many people like to read a fic thats entirely sap and romance. People want actual plots. But that doesn't mean you can't introduce a little romance into your OCs life. And yes, it IS possible for them to fall in love with canon characters, as long as its written in a way that makes it believable. Milo is in love with Kida, hes not going to leave her for some random OC.

If you do wish to hook up an OC with a canon, keep the characters personalities in mind. While being in love CAN cause significant changes in a person, its not going to turn them into a completely different person. Vinny isn't going to just randomly give up blowing things up simply because Mary Sue came along. Keep the characters IN character. Sometimes when you fall in love, you do change for that person, but you are always yourself. Never cause a change in a character that takes away from their original personality or no longer makes them who they are.

Now that we've covered some of the basics, I'm going to give a bit of a run down of my own Atlantis OC. As an aside, I have taken several litmus tests for her (including the Atlantis test) and she scores low on all of them, making her a non-Sue. But tests can really only tell you so much about your character.

I first created Catherine right after the movie first came out in theaters. Originally she WAS created solely as the love interest of the character I happened to like, and while thats still part of her story, a lot of her personality and history has been changed over the years in order to make her a little more realistic.

For clarification, my storyline (which will span the course of about 3, maybe 4 stories) takes place without the influence of Milos Return. Its based on the first movie only and the sequel never plays a part in the course of my storyline. In fact, I prefer to write as if it never happens at any point in time.

Catherine (Cat for short) is the youngest niece of Preston Whitmore. I went with Mr. Whitmore because we don't know that much about him or his family. For my story I gave him a younger brother named Jonathan, whos married with a family of his own. Jonathan Whitmore and his wife Annette, have three children; William, Elizabeth, and Catherine. Cat is 23 years old at the start of my story (which takes place a year after the first movie), her sister is 33, and her brother would be 38, had he not died at the age of 35. As an added bit of history, Cats sister Elizabeth is also married and has children of her own.

Appearance wise, Cat is cute. Shes not insanely beautiful, but shes not unappealing either. I usually describe her as a "girl next door", but not the kind of girls next door you see on TV. Not one of those girls with the perfect figure and hair that you see out washing their car in shorts and a white t-shirt. Shes more of the scrawny girl with messy hair and scraped up knees from climbing trees type of girl next door.

She is intelligent (well I wasn't about to make her stupid) as she did go to university, but shes not so smart she'd outshine someone like Milo. Shes sort of the black sheep of the family, though not in a bad way. Shes a tomboy and cares not for dresses and pretty frilly things. As a child, when her mother was trying to get her in pretty dresses and teach her to be a lady, Cat would rather have been outside climbing trees and wading into the pond to catch tadpoles. After all, one can't do anything fun in a dress.

She spent 5 years in an all girls boarding school at the age of 11, leaving when she was 16 and working for a year as a librarian. At the age of 17, her uncle Preston paid to send her to university, where she studied for 3 years (she studied archeology and art history) before returning home when her brother died. At the age of 21, she was hired by her uncle as his record keeper, and at 22 she left her fathers house and moved in with her uncle (6 months after Mr. Whitmore sent Milo to Atlantis).

She has a very close relationship with her uncle Preston, as she reminds him of himself. She tends to stand outside the social norms and refuses to conform to what other people think she should be, and Mr. Whitmore tends to see a bit of himself in her for that reason. Her relationships with other characters are normal. Naturally, they do like her. As Mr. Whitmores niece they're not going to shun her, though I never expect her to be uber best friends with anyone (though she does end up good friends with Audrey as they have a few things in common).

As for her love interest.. well, normally it might be frowned upon as I've already discussed, but its not anyone you'd expect so I think I can get away with it. She actually falls in love with Mole (yeah.. I know, whats wrong with her, right?). As stated before, she was originally created just for that purpose. I felt sorry for Mole. Hes so adorable, but so unlikely to ever get the girl. Well, this time hes gonna. Their relationship will play out over the course of several stories (only one of which has even been started so far), and eventually they do get married. And of course there will be more to the stories, as I don't plan to write just for the purpose of hooking them up. There will be plot, but the course of their relationship is sort of the plot within the plot.

I'm pretty proud of Catherine. While she does have a few Mary Sue qualities, I think I've kept her pretty realistic. Lets face it, ALL OCs are going to have some Sue qualities, its very hard to write a 100% original character. But I think I've done a pretty good job with her. As I said, she scores low on all the litmus tests. She actually scored only a 12 on the Atlantis test.

She does have flaws (aside from her freaky attraction to Mole XDD). Shes not perfect by any means, and she does have her own issues that cause her significant hindrance. For example, she suffers from claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) to the point of being near crippling. Meaning she has panic attacks (kicking, screaming, crying, hyperventilating, etc). She also has mild thalassophobia (fear of the sea), and does not like going on boats. Unfortunately I have to stick her on one for part of the story, and she spends most of her time freaking out about it and being convinced that the boat will sink and they'll all die.

In conclusion, OCs can be a lot of fun. They give us a chance to exercise our creativity and add our own little flare to an established storyline. Just keep in mind that no one is perfect, and your OCs shouldn't be either. They don't have to be boring though. They can have some Mary Sue qualities and still be realistic and even well written. And honestly.. you could probably even get away with self-insertion and still make it believable, just as long as you don't reveal that the OC is supposed to be you. ;) People write what they know and what they're familiar with. Theres nothing wrong with taking experiences from your own life and adding them to your character.

If you write or plan on writing your own OCs, just keep these things in mind, and you'll be fine. Good luck, and happy writing!


Last edited by Adenostar on Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:47 am 
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Wow, usefull

I started writing my own fanfic with an 'OC' that is not brilliently thought out (as the story starts with him washing up in the caves). His name is Thomas Clarke (Thomas made up 30 seconds ago, Clarke has been there all along) and he was an assassin in training (6 months in, skilled but could not take on Rourke/Helga combined, can barely take on helga) and shipping over the the U.S from UK to complete training [yeah, this takes place in 1940]. His ship is hit by something [torpeido] and then he washes up in the caves of atlantis after swimming for his life.

Had to think a bit about his history while doing that litmus test. I scored 17 with this character


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:07 am 
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When I first created Cat about 8 years ago, I didn't put a lot of thought into her. I just made her up on a whim, just because I wanted Mole to have someone. He doesn't get any love in the movie or the fandom. Its sad. Everyones all about Milo or Kida.

Mole is so overlooked, and, to me, hes the cutest guy in the movies. (Yes, I know I have very odd taste in men.) I fell in love with him from the moment he appeared in the movie (You have disturbed the dirt! XDD) and I just wanted to cuddle him.

I started working on Catherine as soon as I saw the movie the first time, and at first she was very bland and two dimensional. Her personality wasn't that great, and her history was totally different than it is now. She was a much bigger Mary Sue then than she is now.

Eventually I all but forgot about her and moved onto other fandoms and other things. Then when I recently fell back into the Atlantis fandom, I went back to look over my character and what I had done with her. I didn't like it. I didn't like it at all. -_- So I started rewriting her. I gave her a totally different personality and changed a lot of her history.

Originally, she was actually supposed to be a bit of a girly girl. Dresses and those big, fancy hats. Always proper and sophisticated, and I thought that was boring. So I made her a tomboy. This is actually part of that taking real life experiences thing I talked about in my essay. I was a HUGE tomboy as a kid. My mom had to make me wear shorts under my skirts and dresses cause I was always climbing up trees and playing in the dirt.

I've put more work into Cat than I have most other OCs I've made. I wrote up a detailed history for her, even made up names for her sisters husband and kids. I went all out for her, because I needed to know as much about her as I possibly could, in order to write her as realistically as possible.

Aaaaanyway... wow, this is getting long. I think I should stop there. I get carried away and ramble sometimes. ^_^;


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:23 pm 
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Mole is awesome and underrated imo, maybe i will include him in a later episode of my series, i need a wacky side kick that would get on Kida's nerves but still would be funny.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:28 am 
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Wow....Really interesting.Well,I have OC,but i don't want to tell about him now.Later...


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:06 pm 
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Alkorn, this is TOTALLY off-topic, but I like your avatar! It's cute. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:58 pm 
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Also totally Off topic, but I finally made myself an avatar. This was SO much harder to make than I originally thought it would be, but I'm very happy with the results. XDD


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:24 pm 
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It's so cute/hilarious, Adenostar! I love it! :D

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:10 am 
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Thank you. ^_^ Thats one of my favorite scenes, it makes me giggle like mad every time I watch it. She totally just knocks the crap out of him.


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