So tonight I'm going to yammer about fanfiction, since I've been doing some of late. Specifically, I'm going to examine original characters.
I find the phenomenon interesting, that before some people even start reading a fanfic with an OC, they start shrieking "Mary Sue." Personally I think this is unfair, and I have a hard time taking writers who scream about the existence of OCs seriously. Does it matter if a character is original, if they're an interesting and well written character? Hell, before I started writing original fiction, I started with fanfiction that contained OCs. It taught me how to avoid the pitfalls that create true Mary Sues (I'll get to those in a minute), and taught me a good deal about how to make characters interesting and believable without having to rely on writing an already established character. Sometimes you don't have an already established character to fill the role you need.
Sure, OCs have a tendency to be self-inserts for romantic purposes with an established character.
What I want to know is, is *that* really the problem?
I'm going with no. The problem is bad writing and people with no sense of characterization.
Mary Sue who graduated top of her class in Starfleet three years early with an exception because she was just that good, who is as beautiful as she is kind, pure of heart and secretly the daughter of Captian Kirk through some strange time travel bullshit, who is universally loved by all, praised unanimously and just the most special, precious, and lovely girl in the whole of the Star Trek Universe... Is not an example of every OC, but is an example of poor writing by someone who hasn't learned what makes a good and interesting character.
I don't care if you're describing your OC or Wonder Woman, but long flowery speeches about the "crystalline tear hung on her delicate, rose-shaded alabaster cheek as her soft, full, voluptuous ruby-sheened lips trembled imperceptibly" is an all around awkward sentence that should never, ever, be used except as a horrible example. It's not the OC that's making that happen, it's awkward writing. It's not a Mary Sue if that's the description, it's just, again, awkward writing. "Mary Sue" does NOT mean "female character I don't like," either. Nor does it mean "character who gets into a romance with a canon character," or "any original character ever." It also doesn't mean "any character who isn't completely boring and vanilla with no interesting aspects or description ever." Avoid the "universal mary sue litmus test." It's very anti-any description or any interesting aspects. It drives me *insane* that the term Mary Sue is so often applied that it's literally stopped meaning anything.
Ok, so this has mostly turned into a rant.
But seriously, it drives me insane when you find something well written, well thought out, characterized with an interesting and well developed original character, and some people are all "I HATE OCS! MARY SUE! BAD WRITER! I MUST ONLY HAVE CANON CHARACTERS IN ANYTHING EVARRRRRRRR!" Without even trying to see if it's good writing... and then they turn around and pour fountains of love on a poorly written cliche fest, or write one.
I guess what I'm saying is...
Original Character, Canon Character... Judge by the quality of the writing, not the origin of the characters.