Tips for Writing Fan Characters

Jun 12, 2014 by

Tips for Writing Fan Characters

Made with dolldivine’s Pony Maker (click pic for link).

There have been a lot of bad fan characters for every fandom out there; but what annoys me more than the bad characters is the belief that a lot of people seem to have that if a character is a fan character they’re automatically bad or Mary Sues.

That assumption helps nobody, because of it people with good fan characters can barely get readers; and the people with bad ones can barely get help because they’re just told that fan characters ruin stories.

Now I’ll admit that my first ones were a bit cliché, but I’ve learned from my bad stories; and through practice and reading I’ve discovered things that I’ve turned into tips here:

Don’t break the rules for your character. Don’t make your character an alien if they’re not already at least hinted at in the original; don’t make your character from another dimension when they don’t exist in the story.

It’s best not to base a character off of yourself. When you do that you tend to make them how you want to be even if you don’t realize that that’s what you’re doing. This is how a lot of powerful and flawless characters are started.

Don’t replace canon characters with yours. If everything your character does can be easily done by an existing character then they’re not really needed, and if they’re not needed then readers who are already skeptical about fan characters won’t put up with them.

Similarly Don’t undermine the canons with yours. Don’t make your character so powerful that they single handedly fight off Galactus while the Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer stand by and watch.

No rule 38s. Copies of canon characters are again unneeded, it’s even worse when they’re genderbent copies only made for pairing with the original because most people aren’t going to fall for someone exactly like them.


So what tips have you found? If we keep working with our fan characters maybe we can finally get rid of that annoying assumption.

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