There are people who feel that fan characters aren't original enough to be published among other original characters, which sometimes get called "original-original characters". Like, "Only original-original characters are allowed! NO fan characters!" and some openly downright look down on fan characters in comparasion to the other originals.
I don't understand. (And I want to make clear now, that I don't have any personal complaints about this matter, this is just something that interests me and I wish to offer food for thought to people who have that mind-set.)
Is it because fan characters are using elements and may or may not be following the rules, of a universe created by someone else as in of a pre-existing universe? Well, you know, THIS universe we live in is just as much pre-existing and has its rules as any fictional one. So, in the terms of originality, if you shut out fan characters, shouldn't you shut out any character created into our universe as well? But then again, maybe you do and feel that only characters created into a self-created universe are "original-originals".
I'm not so sure if the term "original-original" can ever be valid, at this point of published human creativity. But if you're determined to use such a term, I think it applies only to self-created species, such as the hobbits by Tolkien. Or unique type of pre-existing species, such as the Twilight vampires. (I personally categorize them as their own species called the meyerpire, because vampires do not sparkle.) As in I think "original-original" might apply not to a character in essence but only to its species.
As for a fictional character itself, I personally think that basically there never was anything but simply original characters:
- to begin with there are the original characters that are created into this universe or into a self-created fictional one.
- those characters get a second name; "canon character", when talked about in relation to fanfiction on them or their universe.
- "fan characters" are original characters created by a fan into a fictional universe/story that was created by someone else. They are the reason why the term "canon character" exists. But the name is the only aspect that gets complex, Because a fan character originates from a mind just like any other character.
Think about it. What would be different if fanfiction didn't exist, if no one ever created a character into someone else's universe/story? The characters that are now refered to as "original-original" would be exactly the same. The characters that are now refered to as "fan characters" would go through exactly the same creation process, only with a some other base; some other source of inspiration and some other universe to write it into. As for the rules of a universe...You know, one doesn't have to follow canon rules. That's the beauty of fanfiction; it can be alternate universe and therefore the character creation can be as free as you want to.
But even if you chose to stay strictly faithful to the canon rules...The way I see it, the universe is only the setting for the character's developmental possibilities. It's the life story, the personality and the psychology that makes it a character. And those aspects origin from the characters creator's mind equally much no matter who created the setting/universe it's written into.
Therefore I really don't see how would the universe take anything away from a character's originality or worthiness. The only thing where I can see the universe matter, is if the original character's creator wanted to publish stories or other art about that character in that universe.
I don't know but I think the same would go for the universe's/original story's owner; if they wanted to publish stories or other art about a character created by a fan - even if it was created into their universe and story, they would first need a permission from that fan. Because the character itself and its personal story is intellectual property of its creator.
Hence, I believe all original characters are equally original. People just like to use different sets of tools for creation and development.
What do other fiction authors think about any of this?