This is basically my indepth guide of how to write both interesting OCs (Original Characters) and FCs (Fan Characters). You can use it for any of your fanon / original fiction needs, even for fan canon characters, especially those that will be different personality wise.
This is undergoing heavy revision as of Jan 1 2017 to clear up unnecessary amounts of verbose detail and possible plagiarism, replacing most of them to links. The most notable change I would say is of the MBTI one, as I replaced all of (my) descriptions of the cognitive functions to just several links to several function pages I've found.
This guide may not work for everyone, either part of the guide may not work for you or the entire guide.
- CC = Canon Character
- FC = Fan Character
- OC = Original Character
- OOC = Out Of Character
- Headcanon: A fan's own interpretation of the canon, often including their own ideas to
- Fanon: Similar to headcanon, but multiple fans believe in it.
When it comes to characters, personality is better than appearance. Sure appearance is important, but there's always more than meets the eye, and personality gets people far more interested in your character than appearance will ever do. There are many people who end up running into the issue of one dimensional characters, who are focused on only a few characteristics or traits of them, or they get too many unrelated and sometimes contradicting traits, which can break someone's suspension of disbelief.
For major characters, a single simple or generic trait won't really make the cut. This guide is but one way to flesh out your characters using popular personality methods that I've found across the intenet, whether it be Typology, Astrology, or some other -ology that I've been able to find on my internet journey.
A Guide to Personality Systems
Four Classical Temperaments
There are four temperaments of personality, often including mixtures of the four types, such as "PhlegMel". Most of the information on Four Temperaments are obtained from here , including the mottos.
Motto: "Do it now!"
- Instills their values onto others
- Can grow upset by setbacks
- Lacks Emphasis
Often Cholerics are referred to as the task-oriented extroverts.
Motto: "It needs to be done right."
- Avoids attention, but desires recognition for their accomplishments
- Sensitive, sometimes far too much.
Melancholics tend to be referred to as the task-oriented Introverts.
Motto: "Let's do it!"
- Sometimes sarcastic
- Good sense of humor
- Tends to overlook details
- Prone to exaggerate
- Poor listener
- Chronically late
A Sanguine is referred to as the people oriented Extrovert.
Motto: "It should be done."
- Quiet seeking
- Prefer not to get involved
- Seek stability
- Content with themselves
- A good listener
They tend to be referred to as the people-oriented Introverts
Make sure to not just focus on their strengths but also the weaknesses of each temperament. Cholerics can be impulsive and insensitive to others, Sanguines are poor at details and can get obnoxious when talking too much, Melancholics can be oversensitive and too perfectionistic, Phlegmatics can be too fearful of change and can be unwilling to take action.
The worst you can do with classical temperaments is create a character who is only made of the positives of each temperament. This also runs into the question that what if your character has a plethora of attributes of two or more temperaments, but as stated at the beginning, there is such things as mixtures, such as "PhlegCholr."
Zodiacs and Horoscopes have been some of the most "ancient" methods of defining someone's personality. Even today, they are still popular and widely used by many people. There are usually two main horoscopes that people go by: Chinese and the Western one. Your sign is determined by time of birth, (and location, if you wish to know the full Zodiac chart, but people tend to normally ignore it and just use the Sun sign), with the Chinese one being a 12 year cycle and the Western one dependent on what day and month you are born in, and there is such thing as being born "on the cusp", directly inbetween two signs.
Here is one for the Chinese Horoscope , a lesser known but still widely used horoscope across the internet.
Note that I am well aware that there exist other horoscopes and zodiacs, but these two are the main ones I see on the internet and thrown around.
One of the most popular ways of classifying someone by their personality is the Myer Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. Most of you have probably come across this in some way, shape, or form, in fact, one character here has an MBTI type, that of being INFP. This method of typing is much more detailed than even temperaments can offer. As you can see by the chart above, there are four dichotomies with two categories for each, which in turn makes for sixteen different combinations. You can combine this with temperaments to create something like Introverted Cholerics for example.
The first letter is where do you get your energy? What part of the world do you focus on? Your outer? Or your inner? Extroversion vs Introversion
The second letter deals with how someone perceives things. With the five senses, or intuition
The third letter is based on decision making. Thinking or Feeling.
The 4th letter deals with how someone organizes their world, which boils down to Judging, or Perceiving/Prospecting
In addition, there are several misconceptions about MBTI. An Extrovert can be shy, a Sensor can be interested in philosophy, a Thinker can feel emotions, and Perceivers can plan.
For those confused about Abstract Thinking it is thinking characterized by the ability to use concepts and to think and understand generalizations, such as of the properties or pattern shared by a variety of specific items or events. It is a level of thinking that is removed from the facts of the here and now, and from specific examples of the things or concepts being thought about. More information can be found here, and here.
An alternative to the standard Dichotomies is the cognitive functions, which, in my opinion go much more in-depth when it comes to typing. There are more than enough websites for resources on cognitive functions, but I have found several.
This is the function stack for each type, in this order: Dominant-Auxilary-Tertiary-Inferior
The Dominant Function is the one you are most comfortable with, and the one you also use the most easily, sometimes so much that you arean't even aware you are using it, it's that natural to you. The auxilary goes hand in hand with your dominant, and assists it. The tertiary function is developed later. The inferior function is a type's achilles heel, and the one they like using the least, and is only developed later in life. When not developed, using the lower two functions takes stress and may mentally tire you.
The Enneagram is another method of classifying someone by their personality that very often goes hand in hand with the MBTI, and as such, here is a correlation chart of MBTI to Enneagram. Here's a link to Wikipedia's article on the Enneagram of Personality, and this website
Other Personality Typing Systems
I am aware that some of these methods of personality typing are not scientific, but this is fiction we are talking about.
Additionally, you can use Alignments , whether the 5x5 one or the 3x3 one to define your character's morality and ethics
Giving your character flaws is important, as it will lead to them becoming more realistic, relatable, and believable, but don't overdo it. This is also a good guide to write better antagonists, and even a side character can be made memorabe. Here is also a great guide made by the Tropers over at TVTropes on how to write interesting characters. Here is also how to write a good crossover. Additionally, it is recommended that you do not restrict yourself to just one or two of these personality methods.
Based on TVTropes
In fiction, many writers tend to use established archetypes, which can easily function as character templates for a story, and can be done well if executed right. Have you ever heard of Damsel in Distress? That's an example of an archetype. Archetypical Characters repeatedly appear in myths and legends far and wide, even in cultures which wildly differ from one another. For example, Gods.
I do not have a problem with people using character archetypes for writing their own OCs and FCs, though if you plan to do so, try and be more original with it, add a creative twist or two. Repeated archetypes without changes made to them will grow stale, so I also advise that you step out of your comfort zone if your looking for inspiration. No one wants a Princess Peach or Robin Hood ripoff unless you are making an FC of her, and it's difficult, if not impossible for someone like Goku to try to fit into 15th century Europe. While I already linked it at the start, this guide will definitely help .
Tsundere: Cold and Aloof, but later shows a more warming side. Tsunderes tend to be much louder and outgoing than Kuudere however, and may switch between those two rather than the progressive "Aloof but shows Soft side later on". Almost all times they make an appearance, they are in love with someone, but refuse to admit it for one reason or the other. Sometimes they can be violent with their outbursts.
Yandere: Most of the time they will come across as either a Dandere, Deredere, or both. Beneath that however, is an obsessive, possessive, and usually, insane character. Most Yanderes are violent and will kill to "protect" the person that they love. Usually are psychopaths, and tend to stalk their target of obsession.
Yangire: Usually confused for a nonviolent Yandere, these used to be normal characters suddenly become violent for one reason or the other, usually something that happened in their past.
Kuudere: Often confused with Tsundere, Kuuderes rarely if ever show any emotions, in addition to being amongst the most introverted of the Dere bunch. They tend to give people the cold shoulder, even to the person they love. Cold, Blunt, and Cynical. Tend to be snarky and have a dry sense of humor.
Dandere: This dere is often confused with Kuudere, they are very shy, awkward, and often insecure people who barely talk. Most of the time they also desire to be more sociable but are too embarassed or afraid of something, whether social humiliation or getting hurt. However, they tend to be caring and friendly.
Deredere: Outgoing, and Cheerful, always shows their loving, soft side to everyone and wears their heart on their sleeve, tends to be very friendly and agreeable, and very energetic.
Himedere: These characters are much like Tsundere, but expect to be treated like Princesses or other types of royalty/nobility and try to act like they are one.
Oujidere: These are Himedere, but male, so they expect others to treat them like princes or other royalty/nobility.
Kamidere: Similar to Hime/Oujidere, but expect to be treated like a Deity.
A mistake that I used to keep having is that two characters having complete knowledge of what the other also knows, in other words, sharing all of their knowledge, as if they share the same mind. Characters should only know of something that another character also knows of if they share it through some means, such as talking, telepathy, or some other way. This is a common mistake in roleplaying too, when one person owns more than one character.
Villains and Antagonists
Sometimes writers make the mistake of focusing so much on the main cast and end up neglecting the bad guys. A good story of course, needs a good villain. Here are some guides on how to write them:
Crossovers and Lotsa Characters
Often, a problem writers run into when writing crossovers is the abundance of characters. My solution for this would be just to focus on a group of characters at a time, then focus on another, then another, and then you can return to them and back, or even make all of them "unite".
If you're going to do a lot of characters in your story, try to make them different in some way, unless they are minor/background characters.
One paradoxical irony about fiction is that the most perfect character is that of an imperfect one, and this is true, especially when in regards to Mary Sues. A Mary Sue (Or Gary Stu/Sue, Marty Stu, etc.) is a "perfect" character. Sues don't have any flaws, everyone loves and respects them, and anyone who opposes them turns out to be evil/incorrect/jealous/wrong, or for some other reason, which is often perfectly justified in the story. Frequently, a Sue is an author avatar / self insert, and a wish fullfillment, but this is not always the case.
If you have a powerful character, give them a backstory and/or other reasons as to why they are so powerful, it can be a powerup, training, anything, or a combination, which will also cement them not being a Mary Sue.
This is a term that is used to refer to the characters that appear in the canon of a setting. It is usually used in fanworks to distinguish FCs/OCs from their canon counterparts.
Sometimes, when you're reading a fanfiction of your favorite franchise, there's almost always that one moment where you'd ask to yourself, "Why would he/she do this? It doesn't look like something they'd normally do." This is what is known as an Out Of Character moment, where a canon character (such as Goku) acts inconsistent with their behavior in canon, and do not behave like themselves, and/or what you normally would expect of them.
Some examples are easy to spot, such as (many versions of) Superman being a murderous psychopath. To some degree however, OOCness is inevitable. Even the greatest fanfiction writers cannot completely replicate the canon character, only their original creator can do that.
OOCness is also subjective, and depends on how someone views the character, especially in characters that are obscure and have little canon information. It can also depend on someone's own headcanon, and OOCness becomes less and less of an issue if the canon character doesn't have much of a well defined personality, such as Gaster, or many Touhou characters,
Definition of OOC obtained from here
When making your fan canon character stronger/weaker than their canon counterpart, be sure to explain why they are stronger / weaker than their canon version, as well as any differing powers and abilities. Few expect a 2-A Goku.
In addition, be sure to make fights accurate. This means a Country Buster should not defeat a Solar System buster unless there is some factor(s) that allow the country buster to win, such as exploitation of weaknesses, if the Solar System buster is holding back a lot, or some other reason as to allow the country buster to win, or they will have to get stronger in order to defeat the 4-B, usually through training.
Also, constructive criticism is appreciated so I can make this a lot more accurate and helpful, although I sometimes may not pay a lot of attention to this blog.