Forum: Original Characters

Discussing: Why original characters?

Why original characters?

Why do some authors like to write stories around original characters, using the canon characters as primarily background, whereas for other authors it's the reverse (if they include originals at all)?

What's the appeal of developing original characters within a fanfiction universe?

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

What's the appeal of developing original characters within a fanfiction universe?

You can "know" them better than any canon character, because they come from you. I do like writing canon characters, but sometimes there's that last little distance I can't quite cross, an action or motivation I don't understand. With my own characters, I know them intimately - where they come from, their history, why they do what they do.

Also, sometimes there are themes or parts of Middle-Earth you want to explore that you simply can't by using an existing canon character. For example, the Haradrim - even if you write from Aragorn's POV, you'll have to invent some OCs for him to meet.

I started writing a long story with a female OC because I wanted to explore how an ordinary person might have experienced the Ring War. All of the canon characters are nobility and/or otherwise extraordinary (confronted with a Quest, etc.), so I had to create a "plain Jane" character who lived through those times.

It's an interesting question. I'm sure there are hundreds of reasons people choose to write/read OCs - I'd love to hear some others.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Also, sometimes there are themes or parts of Middle-Earth you want to explore that you simply can't by using an existing canon character. For example, the Haradrim - even if you write from Aragorn's POV, you'll have to invent some OCs for him to meet.

Some very good points, Forodwaith. Heck, if I want to write a story in Dol Amroth, or the Green Hills, or Lossarnach, anyplace outside of the plot of LOTR, I'm going to have to do OC's. Lots of OC's. I also agree with your assessment of the canon characters--you do have that bit of constraint, that "am I keeping him/her in character?" that restricts your choices, and for me, at least, dampens the enjoyment a bit. It's a lot more fun for me to look at canon characters through the eyes of an OC. Other than Gimli and Imrahil, I've never written a piece from a canon character's point of view.

And while we're on the subject, what makes an OC? I for one think of my Cygnets as OCs rather than canon characters--other than their names and a few dates, and most of those in HoME, there's nothing written about them. Any characterization that Elphir, Erchirion, Amrothos and Lothiriel have in my stories is all my conception of them.


 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Most of my OCs are foils for the canon characters, and I never envisioned doing anything else. But I have been caught a few times when I start something and the OC takes me somewhere I didn't expect to go. Forodwaith, your point is a good one, since these come from inside, they can easily take over and demand that their side be told.

What makes a character original, anyhow? If Tolkien just barely mentions the name, and an author develops the background and character, does that qualify said character as original or not? What makes an original character good/interesting/readable?

All excellent questions that I'm interested in hearing what others' answers may be.

If Tolkien simply gives a name, then in many ways it is an original character. How many different versions are there of Lindir, Erestor, Grimbold, Ingold, etc.

As to readability, my first thoughts would say the character's motivations and actions must make sense, but be complex enough to be interesting. If the story is focusing on the OC, there must be a good reason why (and most of the time a romance with a canon character is not enough for me.) The character must be comfortably placed in his/her race, place, and event. Comfortable in the sense of flowing well to the reader, of course.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

If Tolkien simply gives a name, then in many ways it is an original character. How many different versions are there of Lindir, Erestor, Grimbold, Ingold, etc.

This is exactly what launched my WiP - the single mention of a character's name, and a posthumous mention at that! Thinking about him got me started thinking about his wife - not that Tolkien ever wrote that he had one, but it seemed quite reasonable that he could have had one, and the story has grown from there.

The character must be comfortably placed in his/her race, place, and event.

Agreed. That's the challenge - and it's also part of the enjoyment of writing OCs. I think Forodwaith was the one who mentioned in another discussion that M-e is in many ways another "character" that Tolkien created, and so too are the different races. IMO trying to write an OC who "plays nicely" with Tolkien's creation is just as challenging as trying to get into the psyches of canon characters to write believable stories about them.

~Nessime

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Why do some authors like to write stories around original characters, using the canon characters as primarily background, whereas for other authors it's the reverse (if they include originals at all)?

For me, it really depends on the type of story I'm writing. If what I'm telling is a re-telling/expansion type thing, then I'll stick to the canon characters. Similarly for gap-fillers. They're more closely tied to canon, and seem to have less of a place for gap fillers.

But some stories are less closely tied to the events of canon. They of course are involved or they wouldn't be fan fiction, but a lot of times they explore themes and backstories that are vital to canon but never explicitly mentioned. OCs become vital then. For example if I'm talking about Boromir's or Faramir's life growing up, I don't have a whole lot to work with, outside of their immediate family.

I've created several OCs for my "Lady of Gondor" story because it is by nature involved in more of the untold story. Heck, my main character herself is an OFC, and reading through this thread I asked myself why I felt the need to invent her. The answer: it gave me a personal face, a personal experience to talk about in events where major canon characters weren't necessarily involved (for example, Dunharrow after Eowyn rides off to war). My other favorite OC in this story is probably Tova, a Rohirric war-orphan. Again, similar reasoning -- it gave a "face" to the pre-war situation in Rohan, where there just wasn't one in Tolkien.

Marta

Marta

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

For me, working on this story has been an incredible immersion in Tolkien's world that I don't think using only canon characters will give. To provide what I felt was an acceptable level of detail in her history and background forced me to explore inane details that I had never before considered.

Simply deciding her age required research to find a 'period of peace' in an appropriate time period that would allow her mother to have the time of betrothal, etc.. and time for her to grow to be a young adult during a certain period to match 'facts' in her story. I've used some canon characters, and have done research on them. They are easier to me in that more of the framework has been provided, and it is often a matter of searching the indexes or the web for already-written information, rather than delving into the LaCE or other essays in order to understand the background to build (what I hope is) a believable character. She has great strength, but also great weaknesses that she struggles with, all based on the richness of the world that JRRT gave us.

It has been (and continues to be) a wonderfully satisfying challenge to see her grow as her story comes together.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

What's the appeal of developing original characters within a fanfiction universe?

Well, this is obviously a personal question, so I can only answer from my own limited thoughts.

My first ever fanfiction story focused on an OFC. Why? Because I wanted to have a redheaded girl in Rohan find an obscure piece of history. And then be Eowyn's best friend. You want Tolkien-canon-confirmed redheads? Here are your choices: Nerdanel, her father, Mahedros, Amrod and Amras. There you go. All Elves, and First/Second age, at that.

I didn't know much of anything about the fanfiction community at that point, the fact that OFCs had such a negative connotation to many readers' and writers' minds, or the tension between writing with canon characters and OCs. Thank goodness! Or I would never have pursued my following stories as I did.

The joy for me of writing about OCs (and as others have indicated, characters who exist in name only, or have only sketchy outlines) within the Ardaverse is that all I need to do is come up with the storyline and the personality of the characters themselves. So much of the hard work of the secondary universe has already been done for me, thanks to The Professor. Geography. Culture. Language. Thousands of years of history. Buildings. Battles. Food! Wine!

I'm working on a long story now about Morwen of Lossarnach and Thengel, Theoden's parents. I was quite stunned, actually, when I did a character search on Thengel before beginning this enterprise and there were almost no stories on him. Why? Well, probably because he exists only in the appendices. But there's just enough tantalyzing information for my imagination to run wild. Morwen wasn't even an option as a character in the pull-down list, so I knew I had a winner as far as lack of competition of other people's vision of this couple.

But... I still find myself writing the occasionl backstory vignette about Eowyn and Merry, most likely stemming from the long Eowyn (and OFC!) centered story I wrote earlier. I feel like I have a "handle" on their personalities, so to speak, and I feel quite fondly for them. So I haven't completely given up on writing about more commonly-written canon characters, but I guess I feel more artistic freedom with original characters. And I like the fact that there aren't preconceived notions about the personalities of OCs - although in some ways you could say that about backstories of canon characters when they are children or growing up.

~Thevina

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Well, here's my entirely personal response to why I've mostly written canon characters in this fandom...

You can "know" them better than any canon character, because they come from you. I do like writing canon characters, but sometimes there's that last little distance I can't quite cross, an action or motivation I don't understand. With my own characters, I know them intimately - where they come from, their history, why they do what they do.

I write OCs as well as canon characters in another fandom I'm involved in (and I'm also working on a "real world" novel that is, of course, entirely OC!) but I've mostly written canon characters in this fandom because I like the discipline that comes with working with canon characters.

For me, the challenge and the fun is in trying to go that extra mile to make sense of those bits of the canon characters I don't quite understand. Or working out what behaviours and attributes make them who they are so that I can keep them in character and have them do new things in a way that's convincing.

I also think doing that helps me write OCs, because it encourages me to scrutinise my OCs' motivations and behaviours just as carefully, rather than just dashing something off because I believe I know them well enough.

Also, in the other fandom I'm involved in, I help run an RPG, so I spend a lot of my time having to work out how to drive the plot forward for everyone's characters. Writing to a pre-existing plot structure is so restful by comparison and gives me time to explore character rather than plot. And one of the great things about Tolkein is that the plot is so rich, you can work within its framework but still find plenty of "spaces in between" for your fic.

Liz


 

 

Re: Why original characters?

I think I'll add my input, since I write OCs a good deal...

I'm probably relatively alone in thinking this, but I've always found the story of the Ring War and the surrounding events to be pretty much told and have little desire to elaborate on it. What else can I write about Frodo that Tolkien hasn't already said? To me, writing canon characters is just covering ground that has already been covered.

Furthermore, many of my story ideas originate simply from staring at a map of Middle-earth or poring over the timelines. There are just so many fascinating events and places with absolutely nothing written about them. I want to go to Minhiriath and Eryn Vorn and Harad, not just know that they're there. And to do that you need OCs (unless you like radical AUs, which I don't really go in for).

To me the beauty of Middle-earth is its depth and its existence outside the mind of its creator. Anyone can step inside and make their own story; there are thousands of years of history and thousands of miles of geography to be filled in. You can let your imagination run free within an area that you love (Middle-earth), and, as Thevina said, you don't even have to spend a lot of time coming up with unique and believable cultures, food, and so on.

And last but not least: OCs... well... they're just fun!

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

To me, the difference between an OC and a minor, barely named character is fairly negligible in terms of substance. There is a little more context for the minor canon character, but that's about it. If you only have one or two minor points that must be respected, that's a huge scope for development (it's the investment and belief in those minor characters can make all the difference between them and an OC). OCs, insofar as they do interact with canonicals or canonical settings are also bound by the conditions imposed by said settings and canonicals. I don't much bother about the "restriction" imposed by fanfiction: to me, that's the real allure and challenge of writing fanfiction (or historical fiction, for that matter); it's not a problem in and of itself. Indeed, the problem of OCs is that the more freedom one has to maneuver (the less contact they have with the canonical events and people), the less 'resistance' there is from the surrounding environment, the more disconnect is possible between the character and the context, the more arbitrary development of either one (or both) can become, and the less either character or environment believably fits in M-e.

So if I write an OC, that demands that I first get a solid grasp on the environment s/he'll be functioning in--its basic features and cardinal points, all of which have to be plausible while allowing me to make a point I want to make, which already shows the fluidity between OC and environment. They affect each other, and a proper balance has to be achieved. To me, that, actually, is the challenge of writing OCs, because that balance between character and environment is precisely what gives a story its specifically Middle-earth feel, I think: the evocation of the presence of history that matters, that has depth, and that can affect how one reads the same utterances. Trotter is very different from Aragorn, even though they often have the same lines. Likewise, the difference between a plastic OC and one who's really alive is the difference that context makes of him or her.

When writing OCs, I'm doing more what Tolkien did himself, and since Tolkien did it so magnificently, the pressure is on to do a decent job, because otherwise, it will show badly. I know that might be the reverse of what people ordinarily think--that in writing the canonicals, we're closer to Tolkien's work and so more restricted by it--but I think that's not the whole story. In content, yes, we're bound more closely to Tolkien; but in terms of process, no--writing OCs means you have to take especial care to bind Tolkien's world to yours. The restriction is not just that readers will ask "Is this the canonical I know?" but "Is this the world that I know?" A world is a lot bigger and more complicated than any individual, and so writing an OC generally set in Tolkien's world requires a lot more work, because I'm imitating the overall environment in a way that I may not do as obviously in a fic that's focused on canonical characters in canonically described settings--there, one can take for granted a little more the setting. That's why I think it's harder to convince people to read OC stories that are set in unfamiliar parts of M-e: there's no common setting (save a name, perhaps), no common characters (save by rumor or reputation, perhaps), and our own world-building is noticeably different from Tolkien's, which can make it harder to believe in the story.

So: OCs=pesky creatures that make me work a hell of a lot harder than any canonical. ;-P

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

I don't (much anyway) write OCs for much the same reason I rarely read them - I'm character driven in all my fandom obsessions. It's not the universe, the language, the geography, the plot that hooks me - it's the characters. Therefore they are who I want to play with. Admittedly I have also been known to argue that as so many Tolkien characters are so lightly sketched in we are basically writing OCs anyway.

Avon

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Personally, I do have a collecion of OCs who appear in most of my fanfics. As my stories usually include Legolas, Aragorn, and Elladan and Elrohir, and normally take place in Mirkwood or Rivendell I feel I need to invent a few original characters as not much is known about individual elves in either location, but paticualy Mirkwood. My OC's however don't feaure as main characters in the story. I also would never think of doing that, as there is the danger of the OC becoming 'you'. Though some people can write original characters so well you begin to really like their OCs. But a well written, well liked OC is a good aspect of the story in my opinion. It's when the OC is an exotic female half-elven beauty who saves the fellowships life and then falls in love with Legolas. (so predictable) These are not OCs I like. (I don't think anybody does) A good OC is well liked, A bad OC is 'you' in disguise.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

A good OC is well liked, A bad OC is 'you' in disguise. I have to disagree. Any OC that a writer makes, whether its in fandom or a story that is published, is at least a part of the author themselves. It can be in looks, or characteristics, or it can even be the whole person, but in order for an OC to been realistic they have to mirror the author in some way. (Or else another currently alive human being.) Anne Rice has said many times that her character Lestat from her Vampire Chronicles is like her, but with the physical description of her late husband. And if memory serves me right, didn't Tolkien mention somewhere that one of his characters was like him? (I think it was Beren or something, but not sure.) For me, a bad OC is when the character doesn't mirror reality in any way. That's why Mary Sues are so hated. They are perfect in so many ways, that it turns serious readers off because they can't relate to the character. No person in reality is that perfect, and part of reading a story is coming to care for the character, and you can't do that when they have no semblance to a real human being. So, a character that is you in disguise isn't a bad character, as long as that character shares the same faults. Arquen

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

A bad OC is 'you' in disguise. I have to disagree. Any OC that a writer makes, whether its I think an OC has to be as interesting as any other character, and it seems difficult in fanfic. When there is such a rich background of existing characters, I think OCs often fall flat in comparison. I have read many times to 'write what you know' and to put parts of yourself in the characters to make them more realistic. But I think if you are going to write yourself in, you need to be interesting enough to hold people's attention. -or do the research. another thing I've noticed with the HatedMarySue is that there seems to be a lack of conflict. No one can stand against her (in whatever way -physical or emotional) and there are no social repercussions for her actions. That is a character flaw, but also a plotting weakness. As I said earlier in this thread, I especially enjoy my OFC because she drives me to dig deeper into the world. I love the research and the background and I enjoy playing with the moral and ethical complications that are so deeply woven in Tolkiens world. I have done more recently with some canon characters, and I enjoy them, but an OC is more of a puzzle and I enjoy that challenge.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

I write OCs when they're necessary. For instance, writing about Eomund and Theodwyn, I have some description to go on, and that is greatly helpful. But. Eomund must have had a mother and a father. I have to create them, or explain their absence. Theoden, we know, had three other sisters besides Theodwyn. They're not even given names. I have to create them or conveniently dispose of them in order to advance the story. And so on. And so forth. I am leery of main character OC's. The reason? Well... It's true, many OC's are bad OC's. What makes them bad? It's not just the MarySue problem of being too perfect. I hear authors defending their stories and saying that their MarySue isn't one because she has flaws and not everyone loves her and so on. But that's not what it is. In Tolkien especially, the stories are almost never entirely about one person. Even long stories that are ostensibly the tale of one particular person, are as much about that person's context as that person. His plots are never character-driven. Creating an OC and telling a story that is completely about that person is, I would argue, what makes OCs so leeriness-inducing. (Not a word. Sorry. Couldn't think of anything else there.) Worse still, creating an OC that bends canon and causes the context to warp, to accomodate that character, (Or, changing a canon character-- same thing, usually.) and then not addressing all the changes satisfactorily. If I'm reading fanfiction, I'm just not interested in something so strongly character-driven. If you think about it, really that's what makes the Mary-Sue stuff so annoying, because it's about something that's just not as interesting as the rest of Tolkien's world. Tolkien switches among different characters and viewpoints, and often pulls back to give a larger view. The writers of the kinds of fiction I usually abandon in the first chapter tend not to. And it's not just OCs, it's those who become so enthralled in their writing of canon characters that they neglect other considerations. Tolkien's work is really an ensemble piece, character-wise, and a major character was the world itself. We would all do well to remember that in our own writing, and realize that our audience is most likely equally enthralled with that world, not just with our characters. Give the contexts and environments a voice, and balance the stories among characters, and your OCs will be better actors for it. That's my two cents, as it occurred to me just now while I was reading this and thinking about what it usually is that causes me to abandon reading a work of fanfiction. It's not to say that strongly character-driven stories can't succeed, it's just that in this particular universe the universe itself is probably the most fascinating part, and to neglect that is to deny the story one of its most enchanting possible dimensions. (As has sort of been said, above, but I thought I'd say it again more strongly.) This may not be so much the case in other fandoms. I don't know. I have read and enjoyed character-driven AUs, but mostly because they were just darn good stories and had little to do with Tolkien as we know it. I don't read other fandoms, so I can't really comment on that.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

We would all do well to remember that in our own writing, and realize that our audience is most likely equally enthralled with that world, not just with our characters. That would probably make a good poll - personally, I suspect the split would be no higher than around 50-50. In other words, I think that there are probably just as many people who are reading Tolkien fanfic for the characters (I'm one of them) as there are people who are more interested in the whole Arda-verse. I suspect what you are saying you look for in a story is pretty much what makes me hit the scroll bar. IDIC, of course. ;-) Avon

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

(aside: I don't know what IDIC means. I'm assuming from context that it's similar to "to each his own". Apologies if I'm wrong.) I suspect what you are saying you look for in a story is pretty much what makes me hit the scroll bar. Actually I don't think so. I don't think i explained it well-- in fact I know I didn't explain it well. I'm thinking not of strong-POV pieces, where one character is witnessing the events that happen and we never go outside his viewpoint. Tolkien does do this in places, and I don't mind even long pieces that do it. It's not unknown in great literature, and in fact can make a simple storyline much more affecting, in almost any genre. What I meant to get across (which is clearer to me upon longer meditation) was that ... Ah, still don't really know how to explain it. Well, I'll try anyway. The stories that drive me mad are the ones where it seems that the one character is not only the most important thing, but the only thing. The story exists simply to put the character through certain situations. In worst cases, the plot is simply contrived to set up a series of what amount to poses for the character. (And here she is triumphant, and here she is coping with adversity, and here she is getting the man, and here she is in the twisted multiracial a/u time-travel femmeslash eight-some I've always wanted to write, etcetera etcetera.) The worst "OFC Adventure"-type stories are like this, where the author pushes canon around to achieve his or her character's 'poses'-- i.e. she gets to save an important canon character from certain doom, or some important canon character gets to fall in love with her, and she saves the world, and so on, and so forth. Some bend canon, some simply structure everything around canon-- everything not explicitly stated in canon being fair game, they'll twist it without regard for common sense to allow a character to have a certain role in it. (Well, if every single person whose fate is not mentioned dies, then she gets to save the day, so they will, even though it's likely that such massive slaughter would have been mentioned in canon had it been intended to happen-- but it's not, so I can do this!) Most are more subtle than this, of course. I am most likely guilty of this on several levels. I am by no means claiming innocence. I, too, have written entire pieces simply because I wanted to give a certain solemn character an attack of the giggles. And have probably done more insidious things. I haven't really thought about it before now. But anyway. So, I'm trying to say, by 'character-driven' I don't mean what is usually meant by it, in that the presentation of events are strongly influenced by point-of-view and the most interesting part of the story is the character's development. No... I mean, a piece with a plot driven entirely by a concern on the part of the author to get a character to do everything the author wants him to, with little consideration to supporting cast, setting, or indeed the rest of the context that is so rich and so wonderful in this fiction's universe. There, is that clearer? I hope so. : ) The reason I thought to discuss this in a thread on OC's was that, while this happens a lot with canon-character fics as well, it's generally more forgiven because, deep down, many of us have always kind of wanted to see Aragorn in a tutu (or whatever) and will forgive the bizarre contortions required to get him there, simply to enjoy the image. It's just far less interesting with OCs, so you can't get away with it as easily. Hence, I think, a lot of the hostility against OFCs. Am I right? Did someone spike my drink? The world may never know. I just wanted to try again to get my point across.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

IDIC = infinite diversity in infinte combinations. Vulcan, unless I misremember. Fabulous discusion BTW. I've weighed in before, so I won't repeat any of that, but I find myself leaning more and more to writing only original characters which is an exciting challenge to keep Tolkiesque by using the world, environment as a baisis since the involvement of the canon characters are minimal. by 'using the world' I mean that I'm trying to "...tie into the more or less connected legend .... ...draw(ing) splendour from the vast backcloths ..." that JRRT provided. ... I enjoy filling in the blanks with details that appear to be part of the whole.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

I know that the last post to this was quite a while ago, but I only just came across it as I was browsing the forums, and I would like to put in my tuppeny bit… Both of the stories that I currently have posted – ‘Despair And Hope’ and ‘Fallen’ – are OFC main characters. And the unposted Nuzgul I’m writing – ‘Ties Of Blood’ – is also going to have an OFC as its main character. I find it easier to write from the POV of a female character than a male, possibly because I am female myself and therefore understand better the workings of my own mind. I choose to write OC female characters because there are so few female characters in LOTR – Arwen, Eowyn, Rosie and Galadriel. Even in The Silmarillion there are very few female characters that are not married elves or Vala. Therefore, if you want a female character, it generally has to be an OC (although I am not saying that this is all you can have – I have read many well-written Arwen-based fics.). What’s the appeal of developing original characters within a fanfiction universe? Background. Purely the freedom of being able to create a character without having to explain the entire world that surrounds them, as well as its history and peoples. When you create an original character within the LOTR universe you have a rich history of people, an entire geographic world, and several languages to draw upon. With my characters, such as Tathíel in ‘Despair And Hope’, I know their back-story, even though anyone reading doesn’t (yet.). I know what has happened to them, why they are what they are, and what they do to themselves. I can control their actions – sometimes – with a great deal more ease than I can control the actions of cannon characters. With cannon characters you always have to keep in mind that there is a certain way that they will react. In any given situation, a cannon character will react in a given way. With an OC, there is no set pattern for the way they will react so you can experiment and alter them in any way you like without getting anyone’s backs up. Probably. What makes an original character good/interesting/readable? The likeability of the character, how close you can become to them. If you read the character’s struggles and just think, “Oh, well, he/she/it’s dead, never mind,” and don’t care about them, that is a bad character. If you read and think, “Oh! I hope everything turns out alright!” then that is a good character. If they do something that the cannon characters would never do, or draw you into the story so that you forget what it was you were thinking about, or what you were doing, then the character has been successful in whatever the writer has set out to do. I’ve read a few stories like this – I get so into the story that I read it exhaustively from beginning to end – to the exclusion of all else, sometimes (I am very easily distracted from actual work that I should be doing!). If the plot draws me in, the characters will keep me there – as long as they are well written. Isabeau of Greenlea asked: And while we're on the subject, what makes an OC? I think that what makes an OC is a character whose personality, actions and (sometimes) appearance is entirely of your creation. So the characters that are mentioned briefly in LOTR, Silm, etc – Erestor, Lindir and so on – are cannon-OC’s. They belong to Tolkien, as do their descriptions, but their personalities and the way they act belong to you. There seems to be a trend of – for example – Erestor as a cold-hearted, exotic beauty with a traumatic past (or at least, that’s the reading I get most frequently). However all that is mentioned of him is that he is Elrond’s second-in-command who has dark hair and speaks very little during the Council. Therefore your interpretation of Erestor (or whoever) is just that - yours. Dwimordene said: So: OC’s= pesky creatures that make me work a hell of a lot harder than any canonical True – but that’s half the fun! 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration! Aranel_Pilindan wrote: I also would never think of doing that, as there is a danger of the OC becoming ‘you’ and A good OC is well-liked, a bad OC is you in disguise. I have to disagree. An OC is you, to a certain extent. By writing an original character formed in you own mind you always put a part of yourself into it, even if you can’t see it. A good OC is well liked, but I don’t think that ‘you in disguise’ constitutes a bad OC, not necessarily. Some self-inserts are very well written, but they are ‘you’ (the author). A self insert/OC who is a disguise for the writer is not essentially a bad thing, it’s the quality of the writing and the way the character is presented to us that determines if it is good or bad. Arquen asked: If memory serves me right, didn’t Tolkien mention somewhere that one of his characters was like him? (I think it was Beren or something, but I’m not sure.) Yep – Tolkien said he was Beren. When he died, Beren was inscribed on his tombstone. Luthien Tinuviel is inscribed on his wife’s tombstone, as she was the muse for the creation of Luthien. Tolkien said that the love between him and his wife was what inspired the tale of Beren and Luthien. Basically I think that the appeal of OC’s is just the freedom they give us to create within an already-created world. But that’s just what I think. My, this was long! Demon… …Who’s now going to have a nice lie-down

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

I'm attempting, at the moment, to write a story with an OC in it (Theodred's wet nurse, to be precise). OCs have to be watched very, very closely, because they can easily become Mary Sues when your back is turned. If you decide to write an OC, particularly an OFC, be aware of Mary Sue-ish characteristics and steer clear of them - then all will be well. As to "why original characters?", I created Theodred's wet nurse because I want to write about Theoden trying to cope with losing Elfhilde and being a new Dad. In this case the OC informs the reader about the canonical characters.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

I'm writing an OMC myself, and I had never realized that there were Marty Stue rules in addition to the Mary Sue ones. I thnk Forodwraith wrote it in one of the first posts: sometimes you can't use a canon character to cover certain areas because there were none there. I'm attempting to follow the Rangers who hear that their brothers/fathers/sons were killed at Sarn Ford -- you can't use canon characters for that so you have to go OC. But then it treads a fine line because some people only want to look at canon characters, or at least an OC's viewpoint of a canon character. But I find that limiting. I like to read about the 'people' of Middle Earth, not just the specific few, especially since so many stories have been written about the canon. It's getting hard to come up with an original POV that doesn't turn out to be a copy of a story that's already been written, even though you may never have read it.. I like the idea of reading about Theodred's wet nurse because it gives an insight into the background of how Theoden came to be where he was during TTT. I'll head over to your story to read it now...

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Ah, interesting discussion! And I suppose it also applies to me since my fics tend to be swarming with OCs. Basically, all the reasons mentioned above are the reasons I tend to have prominent OCs. Tolkien gave us an entire map, an entire history, but really just told us about the most prominent, Middle-earth-shattering events. So what about the little people? There's a great fic by Aliana which shows Minas Tirith from a "normal person's" point of view (Fallen). You couldn't do that without inventing an entire cast of OCs. But consider all the Great Events - and consider how amazing they would be from a "normal" person's POV (I'm thinking, in particular, about the Fall of Gondolin, the Siege of Minas Tirith, and other disaster scenarios). Usually, I tend to develop OCs because I want the creative space to work within my own characters, with their own histories/personalities/quirks, while still playing in the Arda sandbox. In my current fic (SSP: Adraefan), while Boromir is the protagonist, the three anonymous elves (OCs) become major, major characters. It's fun to flesh out these new people, thus giving the readers a new perspective on a very well-worn character like Boromir. Also, as someone mentioned above, there are places like Harad that are just begging to be explored - and how else but with a trusty OC! I guess that's what has always drawn me to Tolkien in general, that certain events and places are explained in great detail, while other things are left completely blank - like, what's to the East of Rhun?! Or South of Harad? Still more Harad? Or what? Rainforest, jungle, Antartica? I've been sort of daydreaming and formulating possible geographies for these great Blank Spaces, and I sometimes mention them in my fic (and they're currently being developed in the Inevitable Sequel) - but I'd love to see everyone's take on these! That's why I sort of wish more fanficcers would write about OCs and original places too! Tolkien leaves it wide open... Aeneid

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

I love canon characters, reading about them, writing about them, but for me, writing OCs is just plain easier! There are certain canonical characters, such as Legolas, Aragorn, Boromir, Elrond, etc. that I love reading about, but am terrified of writing about. Part of this fear is the fact that I could possibly be eaten alive by other Tolkien fans , and also, because I don't think I'd do the character (s) justice. Original characters, however, are much easier and exciting, to me. I also like canon characters that do not have a definite personality. It leaves room to "breathe," and to be more creative, so to speak. I'm more of an "outside the box" kind of person, and I'm constantly asking "what if," "how," "what about," and so on. Canon characters are a lot harder for me to work with, since they are well known, and often have a definite personality. OCs allow me to be more creative, because I really don't have any rules I have to follow. Well, that was interesting . . . Maybe I shouldn't have written that much . . . CLF

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

There are certain canonical characters, such as Legolas, Aragorn, Boromir, Elrond, etc. that I love reading about, but am terrified of writing about. Part of this fear is the fact that I could possibly be eaten alive by other Tolkien fans , and also, because I don't think I'd do the character (s) justice. YES! I understand exactly how you feel. Also, there are so many people who 'specialize' in particular canon characters and have looked at them from every angle, and who write so well, that I feel totally intimidated to attempt to write my own view. I too prefer the creativity allowed with an OC. At the moment I'm writing one that basically will have minimal contact with canon characters, but I think in the future if I can develop this very frustrating craft to a point where I wish to continue, then I will probably continue following an OC similar to what Aeneid, Aliana and Cyberwulf are doing. Plus, I have to admit this after, but I was only only recently introduced to Fanfic within the past few months, and if I have to read another "Legolas as a cute little youngster" tale, my monitor is going to suffer. I used to like Legolas as a character and thought I'd attempt to write him eventually -- and quickly changed my mind once I started reading fanfic.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Plus, I have to admit this after, but I was only only recently introduced to Fanfic within the past few months, and if I have to read another "Legolas as a cute little youngster" tale, my monitor is going to suffer. I used to like Legolas as a character and thought I'd attempt to write him eventually -- and quickly changed my mind once I started reading fanfic. I know what you mean. Legolas was always one of my favorite characters, but then I discovered that he really doesn't have much of a personality, does he? I mean, I love reading fanfics that have him in them, as long as they're written well. However, reading Mary-Sue fics, seeing how badly movie!Legolas' lines were, and seeing the line "The elf prince did this and that," too many times kind of turned me off him. I like reading stories that have Aragorn and Legolas in them, though. It's just that I don't think I'd be able to write them very well. Also, since these are definitely two characters that have had tons of stories written about them, my own personal interpretation might not be the general public's. I'm kind of nervous about trying to write a story with them in it . . . Also, I'm not really into aloof people or characters, and isn't Legolas kind of aloof? Maybe it's just me . . . CLF

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

I used to like Legolas as a character and thought I'd attempt to write him eventually -- and quickly changed my mind once I started reading fanfic. I certainly understand that! Although you never know what will happen... Legolas walked into a long unfinished story of mine and stayed there for many, many chapters. And I have a nuzgul about him during the era of The Hobbit now too, although he's not a youngster IMO; my take on him is that he was born early in the Third Age and is perhaps Arwen's age. Most of my OCs are minor characters, with one big exception (that unfinished Elf story), but I reuse the OCs from fic to fic, most notably in a sequence about the Steward's family; so over time they do become more developed in their own right, even though they're not the focus or POV character. Cel

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

>>>I like the idea of reading about Theodred's wet nurse because it gives an insight into the background of how Theoden came to be where he was during TTT. I'll head over to your story to read it now...<<< Thanks, but it’s still sitting on my hard drive, and it’s very bitty. I’ll let you know if/when I post it. >>>but I reuse the OCs from fic to fic,<<< I’m doing that too. I’m trying, cautiously, to break into writing serious Tolkien fanfiction, and most of the odds and ends on my hard drive have to do with Théoden (my favourite character. Blame Bernard Hill!) when he was younger – how he courted Elfhilde, how he coped with being a single father, etc. So I’ve had to come up with a couple of friends for him, and decide what happened to his three non-Théodwyn sisters. So I might as well keep them from fic to fic. No point straining myself :-)

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Just adding my own thoughts here, though I'm afraid I'll just repeat what others said before me... It is true that most people want to read about the canon characters, since they're the heros and the ones they learned to care about as they read the canon work. Still, fan fic writers usually go beyond canon, expanding it and adding more elements to the LOTR mythology through their stories. These elements involve, often inevitably, OCs. To take one of my stories for example, Eomer is faced with a situation which requires talking to a healer, one who plays an important part in fact. Tolkien never mentioned the names of any healers in Edoras, so the only thing left for me to do was to think him up. I'm not even mentioning the villains one has to create when he's writing an adventure story, since in canon the bad guys' numbers are even more limited. And if one's writing about the 4th age, to which most of the canon baddies are destroyed and the world should be in peace after Aragorn's ascent to the throne... oh, dear... Now, when it comes to an OC that has a prominent role: I think it's an author's indirect attempt to place himself in the fandom he loves with passion. He uses an OC in such a way that he can experiment on what he would do in Middle-earth, where would he live, how would he interact with the canon characters and so on and so forth. It's rather challenging, but once done carefully and skillfully, it can prove a very interesting result and even fascinating, not only to the author, but to readers as well - it opens new doors to possibilities in the canon...

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

Why do some authors like to write stories around original characters, using the canon characters as primarily background, whereas for other authors it's the reverse (if they include originals at all)?

What's the appeal of developing original characters within a fanfiction universe?

- In my own case it is because my interest in Tolkien is as much worldbuilding-based as character-based. I am interested in peoples and times where Tolkien gave little information beyond names and scenarios. For instance, Bor the Swerting, who was Maedhros' ally in the First Age and had his entire family line and people wiped out in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad for his trouble. Or the Eastern Men who served Morgoth.

- It may also be necessary to produce OCs in order to give a context for a canonical character. For instance, what was an Elf-King's household like? Who else lived in Tirion besides Finwe's family? Who were all those Noldor who followed Feanor off the (metaphorical) cliff? Thranduil and Legolas didn't live all by themselves in a cave in Mirkwood. Who else lived there and what did they do? Unless one is working with a part of the canon that is relatively detailed ie LOTR, OCs are pretty much unavoidable for most longer fictions.

 

 

Re: Why original characters?

"I was only only recently introduced to Fanfic within the past few months, and if I have to read another "Legolas as a cute little youngster" tale, my monitor is going to suffer. I used to like Legolas as a character and thought I'd attempt to write him eventually -- and quickly changed my mind once I started reading fanfic."

"I know what you mean. Legolas was always one of my favorite characters, but then I discovered that he really doesn't have much of a personality, does he? I mean, I love reading fanfics that have him in them, as long as they're written well. However, reading Mary-Sue fics, seeing how badly movie!Legolas' lines were, and seeing the line "The elf prince did this and that," too many times kind of turned me off him. "



If he's one of your favourite characters, and you'd like to write about him, you shouldn't allow the other bad fics to put you off! Just go ahead and write a good fic about him!

As some people said, sometimes Tolkien characters can be almost an OC's, because you've added so much to them that they almost become your own characters. Although this often happens to the minor characters, characters like Legolas, about whom you don't know much, can be treated pretty originally, too.

 

 

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