General Tips for Making Heroes of Olympus OCs
Remember to take everything with a grain of salt. These are just tips, not a code of law. Before I begin submitting more extensive guides to this blog, I thought I’d outline some basics first.
- It’s helpful to have a basic understanding of Greek/Roman mythology.
No, you don’t have to be an expert; the information from the original series should be enough. I’m not sure how much the movies can help you, but I remember they had Persephone chilling in the underworld when it was summer, so probably not much.
- Ask yourself if the character works and makes sense in the universe. This can include obvious physical features, like giving your OC cat ears that shoot lasers or something, but this can also to relate to how your character behaves and interacts with the environment. Remember the rules put in place by the universe.
- Do not make a character just for the sake of pairing them with a cannon character. Not only does this mean that the character’s existence depends on this relationship (thus making them less of a person), but often times these particular characters are just clones of whoever they’re paired with. Attraction doesn’t work that way. Annabeth isn’t a female version of Percy, and in some ways that’s why they work together. Develop your character as a person. Give them a chance to breathe, interact with the world and characters, and if they end up in a relationship, let it form naturally. Making an OC for the sake of romance with a cannon character also reeks of a self-insert.
- Typically, a character has a fatal flaw. Use it. Fatal flaws are real drawbacks based on the character’s personality. They are not quirks and they will not just go away when it’s convenient. “They can’t sing” is not a fatal flaw, even if they are a siren. These are weaknesses that can cause the character’s downfall. Even “good” traits can be considered fatal flaws if they are pushed enough. If your character is “independent”, how independent are they? Are they unable to connect with people? Would they betray a loved one? Fatal flaws are meant to either bring about the character’s downfall, or for the character to overcome through effort.
- A Mary Sue is not the same as a character who is pretty and/or talented. If that was the case, where would that put the Aphrodite cabin? A common misunderstanding is that a Mary Sue is a character who has neon rainbow hair that sparkles in the sunlight, purple and green eyes that change color with their moods, and the ability to do everything perfectly. However, it is possible to have a character who is very plain-looking, and still have them be a Mary Sue. It’s all about framing. This is why Mary Sue tests are often unreliable, because really it’s about how the character is presented to the audience. Often times, a Mary Sue character never grows or evolves as the story goes on. They have no real flaws to speak of, they seem to be perfect at everything, and the audience is told how to feel about them. It’s hard to describe what makes a character a Mary Sue without seeing them in action. Just let your character breathe. Let them screw up, let them make mistakes, let them grow as people. I can guarantee that the audience will find that a lot more interesting than a character being the best at everything.
- Don’t get offended if someone critiques your character. A proper critique is structured so the creator can gain something from it, and not all of them will be pretty. A good critique will outline what works, what doesn’t work, stuff that’s missing, stuff that isn’t needed. A critique is not needlessly flaming, nor is it mindless worshiping. Just because someone says they’re confused about your character’s backstory does not mean that you’re being personally attacked. That being said, people are jerks and it isn’t uncommon to get comments full of personal attacks. This isn’t the same as a critique, though. Remember a critique is designed to help you.