Hmmmmmm, I’m not sure I want to hand out any particular “rules” TBH… as I said in my stupidly long video revisiting a TMNT fanfic I wrote when I was ten (if you can stand to watch it, I really should’ve been a little more generous with the editing), I really support people indulging in fanfiction in whatever way brings them the most pleasure and so much of the wishfulfilment and Mary Sue type stories are done by young girls and I feel protective of young girls.
However, for those who want to improve on their writing and develop their ability to craft stories with greater appeal, here are some considerations:
- Who is your OFC? If she is human, and you are setting your story in a world where the turtles’ existence is still a big secret, then she is not gonna just roll with what they are. She is gonna freak out. And she will need time to adjust. It does not make your character a bad person for reacting this way.
- Be aware of your cliches. I don’t mind a good cliche now and then but some of them need to be handled with care as they are very overused (in lots of media, not just fanfic!), eg: being a damsel in distress desperately in need of being rescued, or being a martial arts expert badass who don’t need no man or turtle to help her. Have a read of tvtropes.com as it’s a website that extensively delves into the kinds of done and done again cliches that permeates all media and give your plot points a lot of thought.
- Give your character flaws. Perfect people don’t exist and no one likes them anyway. Flaws will make you character come alive and read more true. They also provide more opportunity for storyline potentials as many stories (significantly in the TMNTverse too) deal with characters evolving and growing as they learn.
- Watch the tragic backstory. Nothing wrong with your character having seen a bit of trouble and strife in her life but a LOT of people (and this happens in the professional writing world WAY TOO MUCH as well) see a tragic backstory as a shortcut to character development. It isn’t. Be wary of laying it on too thick and take care to remember that establishing your character comes from a background of abuse does not mean you have sufficiently developed her as a person with, you know, a personality.
- Get a beta. A ruthless beta. This is someone who will read your story and mercilessly tell you what works and what doesn’t and possibly suggest ways to improve it. DO NOT TAKE THEIR FEEDBACK PERSONALLY. ALL WRITERS GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS. I guarantee your favourite author has had their work absolutely shredded and thrown back at them in ribbons at one time or many other in their life. Like any skill, good writing takes practice.
- Give a lot of time and thought to your character. A lot of time and thought.
- Not everyone in your story needs to like your character for your character to be liked by your readers. Consider personalities and how they clash. It is impossible to like everyone you meet in life. It’s okay. Sometimes you just don’t get along with certain people. And crafting a believable story with convincing interpersonal relationships means that not everyone in them can get along either, not even the heroes.
- For that matter, not all your readers even need to like your character for her to be awesome, complex, well-developed and to resonate with them. Don’t be afraid to take risks,
- Lust, desire and infatuation exist at first sight. Love at first sight does not. If you’re writing a love story, your characters need to get to know each other and that will include discovering each other’s flaws and resolving how they feel about them. Love takes time and has many hurtles to overcome.
- Remember, too, the particular challenges a relationship with a TMNT would present and take those into consideration. It will add depth and nuance to your story.
- It’s fine to write a character with a special, exceptional skill but she doesn’t need to be good at absolutely everything. The TMNT exist in a world where all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures exist so it’s fine to have an OFC who is weird and wonderful, IMHO. But again, no one is perfect. If you want your character to be exceptional, pick one thing and go into some depth as to how they got so good at it.
- You can ignore everything here if you want. Fanfiction is for fun. If all you want to do is write something gloriously self-indulgent as a bit of escapism for yourself THAT IS PERFECTLY OKAY. No one “owns” fanfiction. No one is the boss of fanfiction. HAVE FUN. That’s the most important thing.
- People will be shitty to you for writing an OFC. They will try and spoil your fun, put you down, mock you, tease you and generally give you a hard time. THEY ARE JERKS. Ignore them. You’re not “ruining” fandom. Fandom is for everyone. And when we love these characters so much, of course we want to indulge in a bit of wish fulfillment. It is 100000000% okay.
And some advice to older fans:
- Do you REALLY want to be that 30 year old grown-ass adult picking on some 15 year old kid for writing a story about the most beautiful girl in the whole world that Leonardo saves from being killed by the Foot Clan only for them to fall in love, get married and have little hybrid babies? Really? You were a kid too, once. You don’t have to read it.
- Spelling and grammar? Please bear in mind not everyone may have had access to the same level of education you have had and may also be differently abled to you. If it bothers you THAT much, offer to beta.
- Give concrit, not abuse. And if they don’t want to accept your concrit? Too bad. Move on. This is fanfiction, not curing cancer.
I would ask people who really hate and despise the “Mary Sue” to please read this article and consider the points it makes.
There you go, I don’t know if that’s really what you wanted anon, but that’s what I feel in my heart. <3