8 – Do you write OCs? And if so, what do you do to make certain they're not Mary Sues, and if not, explain your thoughts on OCs.
I do not name them Mary Sue.
Okay, no, I'll be serious.
I do write OCs. It's hard to write a multi-chaptered world-exploring crossover without ending up with OCs. Heck, even any long non-crossover would have OCs, especially for shows like SPN with such a limited recurring cast.
How do I make sure my OCs aren't Mary Sues? I never make them the hero. Now, of course, everyone is the hero of their own story - so, really, what I'm saying is that although my OCs are heros of their own story, the story I am writing is not their story. They are never the focal point of the story I am telling. Even if the story is from their POV, it's the POV of someone HELPING the heros of the story, not the POV of someone who is the hero of the story.
Till is my most powerful OC. He's the only medic I have in the demented'verse - he, arguably, saves Sam's life in Brains and Bones.[Spoiler for Part 1 of PPP]He also saves Draco's life in Purgatory, Prophets and Potions.Brains and Bones if from Till's POV, but it's the POV of someone who is pulled into a situation they don't understand and ultimately are not a part of, at the end of the story, Till does not defeat the leviathan, he just goes home and hopes that Sam and Dean defeat the leviathan - because that is beyond his capabilities. In PPP,[Spoiler for Part 1 of PPP]Till saves Draco's life, but it's Draco (a non-OC) that solves the mystery of what is wrong with Sam and saves the day... the only thing Till does is prevent that feat from being Draco's last.
Nate, I think, is my closest to becoming a Mary Sue - he's still a support character, but I haven't explored his limitations in the same way that I've firmly established Till's. I mean, Till is a medic, and you don't really expect him to have many skills beyond that. Nate is also a "support" character, but his skill set isn't defined, so therefore I fear that people might assume he can do anything. More than that, I often have him being calm, cool, and collected even in extremely stressful situations. This has all occured just because I haven't had the time in stories to really establish Nate's short-comings, or to use other characters to point them out. And unlike Till, who is very humble, Nate isn't the type to point out or even acknowledge his own short-comings. He's, by and large, a very confident guy by nature - more than that, I've paired him narratively with someone who ISN'T confident or collected, so Nate comes off as even more confident, cool and collected in comparision.
But, Nate's never the hero of the story. He's a support to those who need support, but he never saves the day. He never solves people's problems and, in moments where he COULD possibily do something badass, he fails to do so.
OCs can be a ton of fun, but don't make them the hero of the story. You can make them a rich, complex character, people will fall in love with them if you do - but, the story can't be about them.
Now, thoughts in general on Mary Sue's:
A lot of women's first fics are Mary Sue's - and, yes, Mary Sue's are bad writing (In so far as it is always bad writing to have a "perfect" main character that is super-powered and/or can do no wrong). BUT, the reason a lot of women/young-girls start out writing Mary Sue's is because they love a story and they want to identify with someone in that story, and more often than not, thanks to our white cis male dominated media, there is actually no canon character that these girls feel they can identify with... so, they write one in. And of COURSE they're going to make them beyond awesome, because THEY'RE beyond awesome and they want to identify with this character... and these women/young-girls have the confidence and self-esteem to see nothing at all wrong with this. This is how they WANT to interact with their fantasy-worlds if they were ever sucked into them. No one writes a story about themselves traveling to Middle Earth where they're killed by orcs not even two chapters in! No, if you ever went to Middle Earth, you'd want to travel all the way to the Lonely Mountain with Bilbo, or you'd want to travel all the way to Mordor with Frodo...or Gondor with Strider... you want to rescue your faves from death and you want to bring peace to the world. You want to be the IDEAL VERSION OF YOU!
And, that's why I don't think we should shit on fic-writers who enter the fic-writing world this way. They're writing, and they're writing an ideal version of themselves and their favourite worlds... and that's something to be commended. Now, I'm not saying that it means you have to read the fics and lie about how good they are - because those fics are inevitably crappy, without good tension, and any character written as completely without flaw becomes an annoying smug bastard quickly. But, I'm just saying, don't shit on the newbie authors that write Mary Sue's - be encouraging that the write and read more, they'll learn soon enough what makes a good story and what doesn't, but they have to keep at writing in order to do so, and they're not going to do that if someone shits all over their first tentative steps into fandom.
And now my boss has actually given me stuff to do, because it's 4:30pm, so OF COURSE NOW HE GIVES ME STUFF TO DO!
Talk to you guys after the show tonight...