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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?
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:iconheronwolf:
heronwolf Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I agree. Personally don't see the issue with people using existing pieces of art as inspiration. Isn't that how most art is made anyways? Where do you think Tolkien got most of the names for his dwarves and Gandalf? From a Norse poem hundreds of years old. Heck even the whole 50 Shades of Grey series was based on a fan fiction made of Twilight. Does it matter?
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:iconmetarex12:
Metarex12 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Student General Artist
I kind of see both points, but I still think of them as an original character. You made them. It's just the universe they exsist in and the other characters they might encounter isn't original since it belongs to someone else. I do both fanfiction and original writing and love both.
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:iconulyferal:
ulyferal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You echo my thoughts on this subject though admittedly I hadn't taken the time to get that deep into the subject. Once your take a fan character and place them into a new situation as I do they become original stories at that moment. The only thing not original is the characters themselves because they were designed and developed by someone else and I stay faithful to their basic character design but I do go AU with a lot of their backgrounds and tweaked their behaviors considerably. I love doing it and it has helped me develop my voice and style of writing. The only downside is breaking free and developing my own characters which is where I am now. But I will always love and write fan fiction because I so love the characters of the fandom.
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
Yeah. But I usually prefer writing about my original characters and include canon characters only on the side if needed, and if I do dig deeper into a canon character I usually choose someone who's not been told too much about 'cause I enjoy exploring and developing the character through the untold areas more than writing about the known ones. =P
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:iconulyferal:
ulyferal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
And that's who I wrote all my fics about. One character who was always being put down and wasn't popular and wasn't the main characters. Everyone loves how I portray him in the some 100 stories I've written about him. I changed many things about him even his sex a couple of times. LOL Even made him an alien a few times as well.
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
Lol. Well, you sure know how to have fun with a canon character. :D
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:iconknittingknots:
knittingknots Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
I hear that...It's for love, and sometimes to stretch, getting immediate feedback if that idea is working...
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:iconxeg0:
XeG0 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Student Writer
I have been on both sides of the fence. I made a lot of fan characters, but I discovered the reason that I was doing so was because I wanted something original, but became so enamored with an author's creation that I wanted it to exist in their universe. The reason I do not write fan fiction any more is because I cannot do anything with it in terms of wanting to be a writer; I can't really publish fan fiction unless I get exclusive permission. I found it immensely liberating to my creativity to build a world from the ground up, and furnish it with characters, than simply using another's. I generally tend to look at fan fiction as an important step towards originality and growing creativity, so I don't disregard it as a whole.

I do think, however, that it's a bit of a stretch to essentially claim that all human characters aren't original. The entire writing experience is focused on the humanity of characters, the humanness of their trials, no matter what species they are. In that sense, no writing is then original. It's true that presets exist, especially in fantasy writing, and I feel the challenge is breaking away from such tropes; for creativity, I've been told, is not spontaneity, but is taking existing pieces and creating something unique.

Looking down at the other comments, I see I may be classified as a "'realwriter' snob" simply for writing original fiction. if I come off that way, feel free to completely disregard my comment, as it was not my intention.
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
"The reason I do not write fan fiction any more is because I cannot do anything with it in terms of wanting to be a writer; I can't really publish fan fiction unless I get exclusive permission."

I do't see how you can not do anything with it in terms of wanting to be a published writer. Because you can always ask the canon's creator for that permission. And even if you don't get the permission, the project still helped you to develop as a writer or in the least kept you from becoming rusty. I don't see fanfiction being useless just because you need a permission to get it published as a book. :)

"I do think, however, that it's a bit of a stretch to essentially claim that all human characters aren't original."

I never claimed they aren't. I was saying that if you want to say that your character is more original than someone else's original character, your character needs to actually have an original aspect that the compared characters don't have, such as to be of an original species or an original type of pre-existing species. And that isn't the case with most characters that get claimed "original-original" and "superior in originality" to fan created ones.
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:iconknittingknots:
knittingknots Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
I do both; my fanfic world is sort of my escape from when the world sucks.
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:iconauthourlady:
authourlady Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012   Writer
When I first started writing I would write my fancharacters into my fanfiction, alongside canon characters. This was before the internet for me, so I was the only one who saw these stories. The problem with fancharacters, I found, was that no matter how well they were developed, they had trouble fitting into a different "universe". Fancharacters are great because they teach you how to create a character using the limits within someone else's story and universe, and fit well, as if they'd been there the whole time, but when you try to put them in your own story, they're not the same character anymore. Not really. There's things you will inevitably have to change so they'll fit in your story/universe.

For instance, my fancharacter way back when was a Sailor Senshi. I couldn't take her and put her into a story of my own design as-is. She can't be a Sailor Senshi in my universe, because the Sailors only exist in Naoko's universe! So she was changed to fit into my universe, but she's not the same character anymore (I don't write about her anymore, it's just too difficult to work with her).

There is nothing wrong with fanfiction and fancharacters, but the reality is fancharacters will never be seen just as original as "original" characters, because they're not following the logic and the world of the character's creator, they're following the logic and the world of the universe's creator, someone whose mind, as a fan, you will never know. Fancharacters can be extremely well written, and useful, even cool, but in the back of everyone's mind, including your own, there will always be, "This is just a fancharacter. They will never appear in canon." (Me-mow is the only exception I can think of, more below.) Whereas if you were to write your own story, your own world, people will say, "This is a great original character."

I don't think any creator would ever put a fancharacter into their own work unless they asked for it, such as the creators of "Adventure Time" when they put Me-Mow into the show. But how much of Me-mow's personality was her "creator's" and not the creators of the show? Facets of her personality are created specifically to work with the characters already in-universe. No one can take credit for those facets other than the creators of "Adventure Time", because her personality and her life is dependent on the "Adventure Time" universe and characters.

It's been years and years since I've written fanfiction, and more since I've written fanfiction with fancharacters. Working with them is a good practice in character development, but fancharacters should never take center stage in your life's work.

TL;DR I see the value in fancharacters, but I don't see them as "original" as someone's original characters. Publishers and critics won't take them seriously, and if you want to get paid for your work (like I do), you can't either. I only refer to fancharacters as fancharacters, and original characters (such as the characters in Twilight) as original characters.

Anyway sorry for my long winded explanation, but I have thought seriously about this topic before (not recently and I didn't write anything down .___.) and I hope you just take it in the spirit it was offered, as an opinion based on personal experience.
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:iconknittingknots:
knittingknots Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
It kind of counts what type of story you're writing, your setting, how much research you put into things, and what you're trying to do...and maybe how much life experience you have to add into it. I have a whole group of characters I evolved for one fanfic that I definitely popped out and didn't even change the key players names...because the backstory and scenario were strong enough to modify out of that universe, but again, these people weren't as specialized as your person. Mine were a family of shape shifters that popped very nicely into a novel that I'm working on that is totally stand alone. You'd never know the original idea started as the backstory in a fanfic.

It really just counts what type of character you're developing. To be honest, with just a few tweaks, I could pull all the canon characters out of my big story, and still have stories I could tell about these guys in A Tale of Ever After. I'd just rename the village, tweak the location or significance of it, and continue the stories I set up as a back story. It just counts how you build it, what your characters are, what they do, and if they are they too specialized to move.
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:iconauthourlady:
authourlady Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012   Writer
In your case, if I had more information on the characters and what story specifically you wrote them for, I would probably consider your characters original characters in a creator's universe (like if no other shape shifters existed in the universe you were putting your characters into, that would increase the likelihood of my saying, "Oh they're original characters in the [insert fandom]-verse."). Or if I took one of my original characters and wrote them into a Homestuck fanfiction (here I could argue that they'd no longer be the same characters, and they wouldn't, not really, there are things I would have to change to make the story believable in the Homestuck setting). Even just changing the name of the village, and its location and significance, has a HUGE impact on whether you can still consider it the creator's universe or your universe. It all depends on if the reader can read it, learn later it was based on [insert fandom] and say "Whaaaat? REALLY?" I personally think that's the real test.

I'm sorry, I should have clarified; in my comment I was only speaking of the most common fancharacter I've seen, not one like what you're describing. Most fanfiction writers I've seen don't put that kind of care and time into their characters, especially the young ones, or the ones who are just starting out.

There's a large grey area in the middle. Again, this is from past personal experience with writing fanfiction and fancharacters myself, and making the transition to original fiction and original characters, and what I've seen in my fanfiction trawling through the years. I don't see a lot of fancharacters making the transition from "fan" to "original" well. Like I said, there's a grey area, and I would have to look at things on a case-by-case basis. Here I only explained my own black-and-white definition between what I see as a "fancharacter" and "original character".
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
”but the reality is fancharacters will never be seen just as original as "original" characters, because they're not following the logic and the world of the character's creator, they're following the logic and the world of the universe's creator, someone whose mind, as a fan, you will never know.”

Again, why should it matter whose mind produced the universe's rules? The rules of a universe don't create characters. They create only the universe itself which serves elements that can be used to develop a character into it. The character's personality, skills and psychology/choices in situations make it a character, and those are determined by whatever basic personality characteristics it had since birth and more-so by its life story - and all those origin from the character's creator's mind equally much no matter which universe's elements its life story is built on.
Therefore, there are only original characters in pre-existing universes, and original characters in original universes. All the characters are equally original, only their universes' originality differs.

”Fancharacters can be extremely well written, and useful, even cool, but in the back of everyone's mind, including your own, there will always be, "This is just a fancharacter. They will never appear in canon." Whereas if you were to write your own story, your own world, people will say, "This is a great original character."”

Not in the back of my mind. Because I don't care that my original characters or anyone else's original characters will never be canon. Sure it would be cool if a fan's original character was made canon, but it isn't in my mind the slightest when I write and read. Because in my view, fan-made characters are not made in grand dreams for them to become official but instead their whole point is to add to the canon without being part of it; to extend the universe, be new characters for fun and exploration of the universe's possibilities, and in some cases of alternate universe possibilities. So to me, if a fan character is great, I have no problems thinking and saying that it's a great original character.

”TL;DR I see the value in fancharacters, but I don't see them as "original" as someone's original characters. Publishers and critics won't take them seriously, and if you want to get paid for your work (like I do), you can't either.

In my world view, if the bit that I bolded is true, it's a ridiculous situation. For the reasons I spoke of in the above two paragraphs. And perhaps more importantly for the earlier mentioned fact that pre-existing base isn't help for imagination, it's just a base you love to use and more-so a challenge; creating something new and out-standing into a universe that already has popular stories of itself and has rules set by someone else, is much more challenging than creating something new and out-standing without any limits and over-shadowing stories. Therefore fan creation should be appreciated and respected equally much and taken as seriously as utterly original works.
As in fanfiction is not easier, and it does involve equal amount of originality when it comes to what makes character a developed character. (Personality, relationships, life story, the emotional affects of life events, psychology, personal skills...)

Like =knittingknots, all fancharacters I've created, (in my case into the Harry Potter universe), I could easily throw into a new fictional universe without having to change them. All that I'd need for the universe as difference to this one we're living in, is the existence of some kind of inheritable magical powers and of werewolves as it is. And still my characters would be exactly the same persons with same life stories as they are now in the HP universe. I never even pair my characters with canon characters. I just like some original elements and characters of the universe and to use them in non-crucial ways.
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:iconknittingknots:
knittingknots Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
Character creation is character creation. I create characters in my extended fanfics because the original cast is not enough. I have written stories where there are more original characters than original cast because I normally write continuations; the quest is over, and people are settling down into real life. So in my major fanfic, I had to create an infrastructure to the village they used as a home base, characters to people it out, back stories that explained action, tensions between the various factions there, just like I would do in a fictional story that wasn't a spin-off of someone else's work. These have to be more than monsters of the week...they become integral players in the story I'm weaving, so they can't be shallow.

There are fanfics where you don't need original characters, but there are other ones, especially set outside of the main canon story parameters that demand new characters. And if you don't create them with the same loving attention that you would in an original story, it shows.
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
Agreed.
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:icondakk-tribal:
Dakk-Tribal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
As a general fan-fiction writer (I've been writing fan-fiction for roughly eight years now) I started out writing with fan-characters in my stories but I realized it didn't help me get noticed in my writing, so I eventually stopped with fan-characters. Once I did I got a lot of feedback, and while I was greatly satisfied, I was also greatly disappointed since fan-characters were hard to make for me originally and I was proud of them because of that.

And true, fan-fiction is generally looked down upon because of supposed lack of originality. I know this because I've read about it. To me, fan-fiction is just another way to express creativity in written form. It won't get you published, sure, but since YOU write it, it's its own form of originality.
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
I actually think fanfiction can get you published. Well, ok, I don't know if actual publishing houses would or if it has to be self-published, but the thing is, it can totally pay off the same as any non-fanfiction.

For an example; "Phantom" by Susan Kay, (The Phantom of the Opera fanfiction novel, a re-telling of the original story), is her self-published fan novel and became insanely popular and widely considered "the second Leroux". (Leroux is the original story's author.) I don't know if Kay has written anything non-fanfiction but I wouldn't be surprised if the popularity of her fan novel would convince publishers to publish her non-fanfiction work (too).
So, if you're just talented enough a writer and write on a popular enough fandom, it's potential to get you published.

I think in the end the only thing keeping from it is if the original universe's/character's/story's creator doesn't permit (profit) fanictions.
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:iconpariswriter:
ParisWriter Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Now you have me curious what sparked this entire thing...

The 'real writers,' as they like to call themselves in comparison to those of us who write fanfiction, are always going to be snobs about fan characters and fanfiction in general. I learned a long time ago to tell them to fuck off and just ignore them and their closed-mindedness. While it's true that 85% of fanfiction is crap written by teeny-bopper fangirls, there's still quality stuff out there. The same could be said for original fiction, too... There's a good amount of crap out there mixed in with the good stuff. (Twilight comes to mind.)

And, really, what's 'good' to one person is subjective. I don't like sci-fi, but does that mean all sci-fi is crap? No... I just don't like it, just as someone else might not like romance while I do.

To answer your question: Fan character deserve as much respect as these so-called 'original-original characters.' (And am I the only person who thinks that term is asinine and just goes to show just how stuck-up and full of themselves some people are?) You're still creating a character from your mind, giving them a backstory and a personality. You're simply doing it within the parameters of an already-established universe with its own set of rule that must be followed... which is much more of a challenge than creating a character in your own world where anything goes because you make the rules.
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
Yep, as I mentioned to Hellsing-Lover-13 there below, the best challenge is to be respectfully creative with something pre-existing than just enjoying utter freedom. Like, of course you can be originally creative and imaginative when absolutely nothing limits your choices, but do you know how to be original and creative when you have to follow rules? The so-called "original-original" writers should try it sometime.

What sparked this blog post was simply my curiosity for the situation among fiction authors and my wish to discuss it and hopefully make a change for the better. (Hence, why I for one got into whether or not if fanfiction never was, would change anything about literature creating.)
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:iconhellsing-lover13:
Hellsing-Lover13 Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Professional Writer
I just don't see the point of fan created characters... If you want to write something creative, create your own thing.
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012
Then you likely haven't thought of the matter much.

I mean, those of us who are willing to create original characters into the universe, are not creating copies of canon characters nor copies of canon storylines, but our own things. And we do not just mindlessly write like the canon author, but we get creative by digging into the universe's possibilities, even the untold possibilities, and use them for ideas and paths for our original characters. Some ideas and paths the canon author may or may not have thought of, or didn't show because there's only a limited selesction of canon characters. Therefore original fan characters are bound to bring their own colours to the universe's life for the fan base's enjoyment.

Pre-existing universes are boatloads of fun to explore in a creative way. And for the last, but not the least; Sometimes the best challenge in creative art, is to respectfully base on a pre-existing creation rather than enjoy an utter freedom.

Those are some points of fan created characters.
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:iconhellsing-lover13:
Hellsing-Lover13 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Professional Writer
There's no need to be rude. Then why not create your own thing? I just am saying I don't get it. As an original author and a fanfic author, I don't see the point in using someone else's world to run around in.
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:iconbendaimmortal:
BenDaImmortal Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
Didn't mean to be rude.
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