From a Reader to Fanfiction Writers

Dear FanFiction Writers,

Here’s numero uno of the things I request you not do.

  • Do not over-power your main character ridiculously.

Yes, it is vaguely amusing… for all of 5 seconds. Honestly, we have all read All-Powerful!MC fics, it’s nothing new, it is really detrimental to the development of all characters and there’s a reason people try not to have Mary-sues in their stories. It’s overdone.

Unless it’s a one-shot fic. Everything goes in those. So if your super-powered character is just meant for a short – i.e no development of character- story then go ahead, this post is not really meant for you.  A good example of these would be Little Miss Xanda’s pics in particular Death’s Kiss which is in the perspective of Death, On a Whim again from the perspective of Death. There’s also a ton of HP fics that use a Powerful!Harry to bash other characters, which can be pretty funny.

————-Ignore me. I am a line.————–

It is fine for a character to be developed to the point they become relatively powerful but even then they can’t ever have the power to do whatever they wish to the world unless that is your conclusion, as it is the struggles of the characters that allows the reader to connect with the character emotionally.  If Harry Potter could just blast Voldemort to death in the 1st book with his undying self without lifting a finger, we would not have heard of the Harry Potter universe at all, despite it’s incredibly interesting world setting, it is the plot that attracts readers – the development of Harry Potter and the many trials he went through. – otherwise we would just read an encyclopedia (J.K Rowling’s imaginary world of Magic has nothing on the oddities of the real world. )

It is fine for a character to have a trait that allows them to become powerful (temporarily or in the future ~) – as long as that trait has to be developed or has some side effect that makes it costly to use – thus preventing them from becoming the God of the world. An example of this would be Naruto’s Jinchuuriki power, he may have limitless chakra but he loses control, it takes years off his life and he had to be thrown off a cliff to learn how to activate it. Not to mention how his village hated him for it. (Which would have severely affected his development.)

It is best that the advantage whatever angle you are giving the character is significant enough to affect the story (no one is interested in a paraphrased version of the author’s work.) but the angle should not give them god-like power. You should put the character in a situation where even with the edge they have, they are still in peril. For example, Ryuushi in “Of the River and the Sea.”  has an edge from her knowledge of the future and the fact she is an adult in a child’s body but the first doesn’t really help her survive in a blood-thirsty village (well at least her survival of those future events is still in question.) and the second is an advantage that fades slightly with time. AND clearly the Naruto-verse is significantly affected by her presence. 

PS: It is fine for the fanfic-universe to be unaffected by the presence of the character if you are writing something on a smaller scope and from a different perspective, as long as you do not rewrite the story, it is fine to use elements from the actual story as reference. – although I admit it is very tiring to read the same events over and over again, so if you are going to repeat the events in the exact same way, please just summarise (succinctly!).  A successful OC insert that did not significantly change the main story would be Inoue Shiori. (I won’t spoil it for you, suffice to say it is good. Hmm I rank it on the same level as green-tea white chocolate milk shake ^__^ in terms of amazingness.)

————-Ignore me. I am a line.————–

It’s perfectly okay for a side character to be powerful as long as they do not aid the main character too much (and they must have a reason for not helping.). – Look up: Hibari Kyouya from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. He is the Cloud guardian so yeah, he is strong and amazing in every way but he is not going to fight for Tsuna. He only does what he wants to do. In addition to that, he hates crowding so theres no way he’s a plot hole waiting to be exploited. (Readers won’t whine “Urgh, why doesn’t he just ask Hibari.” Coz duh, that is a one way ticket to hell via tonfa.

Another example would be The First Flower of Spring which has Shiki-dono which is ridiculously strong but the writer ensures that he is not a plot hole by having him be apathetic to the world and the mentality of the heir fights alone so that even her super-strong retainer Haruno Jun doesn’t fight her fights for her ( those she can and is meant to handle.) – I highly recommend reading this ^__^ the writing is amazing.

Side characters that are powerful, interesting and kinda hot tend to be a base for smut fics or just romance fics (You see this in the abundance of fanfics of Twilight which is honestly >…> )

————-Ignore me. I am a line.————–

If you intend for the character to develop, they cannot be perfect – cannot reach perfection until the end of the story and even then it is not recommended that you do so (you might want to write a sequel after all.) –  or they have no room left for development.

The best kind of ending is the one that is bittersweet 🙂 Sort of like dark chocolate XD

Anyone who has studied writing could tell you, The resolution is the opposite of the hook. (The final state of the character is opposite to the state they start out as.)

Here’s a lecture on the 7 Point Story Structure which is a pretty good way of structuring your story. – Just get past the tacky intro music and your persistence will be rewarded with Dan Well’s hilarious commentary.

You could also look up Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Though this is much more in-depth reading (It is a 246 pages tome. One could call it a treatise on plot structure.) It is very through and has very interesting ways of viewing stories. – You can find a cute summary of the plot bit here.

If you have looked at what I showed you above, you’ll have pretty much got the gist of plot structuring. Which supports all that stuff about development in a main character that I was talking about.






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