Original Characters

Blue Kat

New member
I figured I'd start a thread on OCs because I've seen a couple of people talking about them elsewhere on the forum and I thought it could be fun to have a more involved discussion and share some recommendations. Most of what I read/write is OC centric and it's always bummed me out when people write them off because OCs can be really great when done well.

Anyway, one of my favorite fics on HPFF is Periphery by my_voice_rising. It opens with the main character, Chloe, receiving a note from Sirius Black: Marlene McKinnon, her best friend, is dead. They haven't spoken in over a month. The story then takes you back to Chloe's time at Hogwarts where you learn the tragic event that resulted in her friendship with Marlene and the Marauders, including a complicated relationship with Sirius that is equal parts slow burn and unrequited-but-maybe-requited love (it's hard to say). All the while, the plot moves toward answering the question that begins the story: what caused the falling out between Marlene and Chloe? The author writes beautifully well-developed and well-rounded characters; the quality of the writing is superb and the fic is full of beautiful, highly evocative prose.

What other OC-centric fics have you read and loved?
 

DobbyMinerva

New member
Thank you for starting this thread! I definitely agree that OC-fic can be a lot of fun to read (write) when done well. As a writer, I actually find it really hard to come up with stories without them! OCs are great because they give you a lot flexibility, as well as a chance to write about canon characters from a fresh perspective.

Some recent ones I've liked:
Wide Awake by OldNumberSeven (an impressively detailed Marauders/OC)
Strangers At Drakeshaugh by Northumbrian (an interesting next-gen where the OCs are muggles)

Out of curiosity: what about OCs who are based on canon, such as a very minor character from the series that's been fleshed out to the point where they're pretty much a new character. Do people consider them OCs?
 

Blue Kat

New member
I think I'd put those kinds of characters in their own category. They're not exactly OCs, but they've got a lot of original content. They're sort of a hybrid, maybe? The fic that I mentioned above, Periphery, does a really good job of that with Marlene McKinnon...and I think I read one that did that with Eloise Midgen, but it was a super long time ago.
 

darsynia

Moderator
Staff member
I am writing an OC and I am having a blast with her. She's what some people consider the worst kind of OC--she falls into the category of 'self insert' even though she's not really like me at all. She wakes up in the Harry Potter universe and discovers that she has swapped places with her own magical self. For the actual reader this means they can imagine that they exist in the Harry Potter universe too! Are they magical there, too? Here's hoping!

One of the fun parts for her is the way that people end up appreciating when a person picks up special things about them and remember them right away. Because Elodie knows all of the characters so well, she's able to use that knowledge to help people feel more comfortable with her. She doesn't fawn all over Harry Potter. She asks Hermione if her name is from A Winter's Tale. She encourages Ron Weasley to talk about Quidditch. She asks Tonks if she's a Metamorphmagus after seeing her hair change color in conversation.

Another thing I realized about halfway through my story (and I'm going to keep it, because while I'm not writing her as my own personal self insert, I want the reader to feel like they could pretend they're Elodie if they want to) is--I didn't describe her! I described her height, and her hair length, but nothing about what color her hair or eyes are. I think it works because we can all imagine what Elodie looks like, but it does mean I can't commission any fanart of it, hehe.
 

Blue Kat

New member
I am writing an OC and I am having a blast with her. She's what some people consider the worst kind of OC--she falls into the category of 'self insert' even though she's not really like me at all. She wakes up in the Harry Potter universe and discovers that she has swapped places with her own magical self. For the actual reader this means they can imagine that they exist in the Harry Potter universe too! Are they magical there, too? Here's hoping!

One of the fun parts for her is the way that people end up appreciating when a person picks up special things about them and remember them right away. Because Elodie knows all of the characters so well, she's able to use that knowledge to help people feel more comfortable with her. She doesn't fawn all over Harry Potter. She asks Hermione if her name is from A Winter's Tale. She encourages Ron Weasley to talk about Quidditch. She asks Tonks if she's a Metamorphmagus after seeing her hair change color in conversation.

Another thing I realized about halfway through my story (and I'm going to keep it, because while I'm not writing her as my own personal self insert, I want the reader to feel like they could pretend they're Elodie if they want to) is--I didn't describe her! I described her height, and her hair length, but nothing about what color her hair or eyes are. I think it works because we can all imagine what Elodie looks like, but it does mean I can't commission any fanart of it, hehe.
I've always been intrigued by the whole "person falls into story" trope--I've got a draft of one kicking around in my unposted WIPs folder. One of these days I'll post it, probably. Your fic sounds really interesting though--and I really love the name Elodie!

I definitely tend to err more on the side of minimal physical descriptions of my OCs, largely because I tend to write in the first person and I have found that it can be difficult to incorporate those details into the narrative without sounding forced and weird ("Let me describe myself. I am a tall brunette with eyes like the sea after a storm...").

I think people tend to be way too harsh about self-inserts. Self-inserts can be great when they're in the hands of a capable writer.
 
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