Fix 2: Sue/Cannon

Hello my lovelies! Today’s lesson is on pairing your Sue with a cannon character!

A lot of Mary-Sue fanfiction comes from the writer wanting to pair someone (other than the cannon love interest) with a cannon character. Often they want to pair themselves with said cannon character. This is something I have a lot of experience with because 1) This is still a very fun type of RPing as long as I have a partner who’s willing to play along and is about on my writing level and 2) this is how I started writing fanfiction.

I think my first fanfiction was actually one about (Yugioh reference) Joey winning over Kaiba. My Sue didn’t show up until fic two. She’d been plaguing my RPs with very decent people before hand… to the point that I seriously wonder why in the world those people were willing to play the other characters for my philandering Sue (who was affectionate with Joey and in love with Kaiba… I was in middle school), but she finally showed up in fanfiction form. Luckily she didn’t show up a lot… I think all of one… maybe two more times after that.

Now, while the fic is now deleted, I once had a fic with an original character paired with a cannon character get added to a Fanfiction.net C2 (it’s a Community where you can find stories of a same type. It ended up in a ‘best’ list). This fic, when I was deleting it, was not good. By my standards it was wince worthy… by most FF.net fanfics, it was good. The reason why the fic got added was because 1) it was a 2nd generation fic that paired my OC with someone who’s a child in story and 2) it was super plot centered, and based on a serious plot hole the author still hasn’t addressed in all the sequel’s she’s written.

OC/Cannon can be good, but they honestly need to be about five times more original than a normal Cannon/Cannon fic, and needs to be about ten times better written. I have stumbled across a very good Draco/OC fanfiction. What I love about it is that: The girl is a muggle. She never finds out he’s a wizard. Draco is the center of the story. Draco is in character throughout the whole story. They break-up at the end, thereby allowing it to slip seamlessly into the cannon timeline.

The last three are the most important. The Cannon character is the focus of the story, not simply a way to describe the OC. The Cannon character is in character the whole time. The OC doesn’t interfere with timeline.

BUT MARYSUEFIXER… Harry is with Ginny in the end of the books. I don’t want him to end up with her, but with my OC!

To this I say: Do you want him to be with your character or with you?

BUT MARYSUEFIXER… The Cannon character and his love interest have nothing in common!

To this I say: Really? Not every relationship has to be built on being exactly alike or exactly opposite. Your best friend doesn’t have to like the same TV shows/music/books/movies/furniture/food you do in order to be your best friend. Your boyfriend doesn’t have to have the same interests or job as you to be loving and supportive.

BUT MARYSUEFIXER… My OC is better for the Cannon character!

To this I say: Again, Really? Okay sometimes this may be true. I have a couple of original characters who are married, but their relationships can be at best described as toxic or mutually destructive. But you know what? They don’t fit with anyone else, and it’s way more interesting that way. If your OC breaks up the bad relationship then a lot of the interesting parts of the plot go out the window. On the other hand, if the Cannon character has a perfectly good love interest then there’s no reason for you to even be thinking this.

I am a huge proponent of sticking to Cannon as much as possible. I’m not saying you have to not pair your OC with a character who’s already paired… but I’m seriously against it. I suppose you can break up the cannon relationship if you must, but for the love of Bob, don’t just write the real love interest as a bitch. It’s a huge cop-out, and often just makes your story bad. If you have to pervert a cannon character’s personality so you can get rid of them then you have a problem.

So, a few things you can do. 1) Pick a character who the author hasn’t paired off. 2) If you do pick a character who gets paired off, then do something really interesting with it. 3) Always focus on the Cannon character. 4) Don’t ignore the Word of God (what the author says, or is in the text).

Now, here’s an example of a fic where OC is paired with a Cannon character. I’m going to run with Draco/OC because it’s popular, and I mention it earlier. In the standard Draco/OC fic he meets the OC/Sue in Hogwarts and falls in love with her. End of story. But Rowling said that Draco Malfoy marries Astoria Greengrass. This poses a big problem to Draco/OC’s happily ever after.

So, there are a couple of options. The first (and most obvious) is to get rid of Astoria (divorce/death) in favor of your OC. This is a possibility, but not the most original. If you have to do it, you should focus on Draco dealing with his loss, and how he starts to love again. Essentially it’s a hurt/comfort fic (which I generally do not like).

Now, for the more original idea: Draco and the OC have a fling before/during his marriage to Astoria and has a child with Draco (preferably younger than Scorpius as to not interfere with Cannon). Astoria is (rightfully) crushed. She tries to work it out with Draco, but eventually leaves, taking Scorpius with her. Draco moves back to the OC and his other child, though the OC always wonders if maybe he’ll cheat on her too. Draco has limited visitation rights with Scorpius, but is allowed to escort him to Hogwarts for his first day of school.

This is a scenario I like because the Cannon character receive the most focus, the OC is a driving part of the plot without being the plot, there’s a lot of unresolved feelings all around, and it fits in with the cannon time line. It also sets up for Scorpius starting to date Rose Weasley just to anger his father (which is a pairing I like for no real reason). Please feel free to steal my idea. If you write it just please 1) link it to me! 2) do the sequel with Scorpius and Rose, at least a short one-shot. I just love the complication it all adds.

So, we’ve now established that you can make OC/Cannon work, as long as the plot is interesting. Now it’s time for me to give you things to do. First off, for whatever character you want to pair with your OC, please consider what the most obvious way to get them together is. The only way this will work for you is if you write very well, good enough to be an English Major. I don’t suggest even trying this way. Instead, think of every possible alternative. If you know they end up with one character at the end think about ways around that in a way that doesn’t mess up the timeline. A summer tryst when the main couple is broken up, a divorce, a death, an affair.

If you have to break up an established couple, remember to not make the love interest a complete bitch. It will almost universally make your story terrible. Instead, focus on bringing out the good and bad traits in both the Cannon character and his original love interest. A love triangle is much more interesting when you can like all three characters. If you’re having trouble with the original love interest I suggest making a list of their good and bad traits, and be honest. If, like Astoria Greengrass, the eventual love interest has no description or screentime, you get to write then from your own mind. Treat them like another OC. Write them not as bad/evil, but simply as the one who doesn’t even up with the Cannon character.

If you want a good example of the good-but-the-loser, look at the second season of Friends. Ross has to chose between Rachel who he’s always loved or Julie who is smart, beautiful, and kind. There’s nothing wrong with Julie, she’s just not Rachel. The audience roots for Rachel, but there’s a lot of tension because Julie’s a good choice too, better in some ways. There’s a more recent example from the TV show Bones. Booth must choose between Brennan who he’s been in love with for a while, or Hannah who is equally amazing. The line “and she’s no consolation prize” makes you love the lead guy, but heart break for the lead girl. Having the good-but-loser character makes much better writing.

Now, if you chose to pair your OC with a Cannon who has no love interest you have a whole other set of issues. Normally they are the loner, and therefore the object of affection for the majority of the fanbase. If you write these stories you will probably not be popular. Actually, if you’re writing any OC you’ll probably not be popular. But you need to consider the Cannon character just as much. A guy friend of mine writes amazing Kaiba fics because he focuses on an aspect of Kaiba a lot of people seem to somehow ignore: his role as a parent. My friend pointed out that if (big if) Kaiba found someone, it would need to be someone who would fill a mother-like role for him; someone he could unload his troubles and worries on, someone who can be strict by loving with it. Essentially he needs Molly Weasley.

I have never seen any interpretation like this before, which makes it interesting, but also means that if anyone wrote a Molly-like character for said above Stoic it would mean that the author is probably very focused on Kaiba’s reaction and growth versus how pretty her Sue is. Always focus on the canon character, always. People read fanfiction not for your OC, but to see characters they love doing new things.

In focusing on the Cannon and what they like and don’t like (to do this well, you need to have a really good understanding of the Cannon, and some really well thought out theories, hence why this is so hard) you can create a character that will help the Cannon to mature. Your character will be less a generic love interest that way. If you’re having trouble with this, think about if the Cannon character was your character. What character would you create for their love interest?

Now, let’s say that you’ve picked a character who isn’t paired off, and isn’t all that popular. A friend of mine loves Kido from Yu Yu Hakusho. Don’t know him? Don’t know him and seen the show? If you saw the beginning of the Sensui arc, he’s the blonde punk who holds Yusuke captive by standing on his shadow. He shows up barely and all and he’s my friend’s favorite from the series. If she wrote a story pairing him with someone would you read it? I would because it’s so random, but not a lot of people will.

The biggest problem with OC/not-popular-Cannon is that it is way harder to make anyone care enough to read about it. Yes, if the not-popular-Cannon doesn’t show up much or at all (see Astoria Greengrass) you can basically write them as your own character. It can make the story easier to write, but you still need to be careful. You have to make your audience care about this unpopular character, and you have to make them care about your OC. In some ways you have to work twice as hard as someone who writes an OC for someone who already has a love interest. You have to focus on the cannon, not mess with the timeline, and make both the OC and Cannon interesting.

If you’ve gotten anything from this, it’s that it’s really hard to write an OC paired with a cannon character, write it well, and make people care. When I figure out how to do the publicity bit better maybe I can help you with that. But for now, I’m just your beloved MarysueFixer.

If you’re wondering what Draco/OC fic I was originally talking about:
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5105808/1/Kicking_Down_Castles

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  1. I once read a horrible Yu Yu Hakusho fanfiction. In the anime it is implied that Mukuro and Hiei end up together. In the manga it is a lot more obvious. The Suethor in question turned Mukuro into a total bitch and not the demon lord kind. All of a sudden Mukuro is petty, whiny and just like the Mean Girls we all knew in high school. She becomes abusive toward Hiei and all sorts of crap. Hiei ends up choosing the Sue because she is a beautiful innocent ice maiden and what the author likes. Pretty much a Yukina clone. Mukuro just sort of disappears into oblivion. The author focused a lot on Mukuro as a villain.

    • There’s so many bad ones. I’m in such a Harry Potter mode due to writing Harry Potter fanfiction, so I keep thinking of things I’ve read about where Harmonians will write as being some kind of abusive rapist or a complete moron. Ron’s not brilliant at schooling, but he’s brilliant at chess which means he would be fantastic at things like planning, battle tactics, or anything else like that. I think that even Rowling underplays him a bit. Harmony is real squick to me, so is pairing Harry with anyone but Ginny, but I know that people can write good fics for other pairings.

      You want to know my YYH story? I created a cat demon for Hiei. This was back when all the paired characters I made had to look like the ones they were meant to be paired with. the character, Raven, is basically Hiei… except even more screwed up. She’s also a brilliant character. She knew kurama growing up in makai, but the yhad a parting of ways (they thought the other was dead) when they were young. She goes off to train to be an assassin, and one day she and her people (she makes leader after a ridiculous amount of dedication and hard work as (unlike her very magically gifted siblings) she’s been cut off from her magic, and so has to work harder than the other students). In any case, Kurama, through something that takes more time to explain than I care to, comes in with a bunch of people and destroys her village. Raven survives because she was the last to return, mere fluke, but she begins hunting kurama.

      Long story short, she chases him to the human world, and wants to kill him. I MEANT to pair her with Hiei, but she ended up with a Kurama-esque character anyway. In the original (but similar) plot line I created for her, she ends up married to the Kurama character (because it’s no longer Kurama after all the crap I put him through. they don’t even look alike anymore), but alternates between cuddling up to him and torturing him for the people he killed. He ends up with some bizzare form of Stockholm as he knew what she was like going in. Eventually all the crap she does to him makes it impossible for him to recover and he dies.

      This is why I can’t do OC/Cannon, I just go insane with it.

      • The OC I designed for the YYH was a very simple book worm with telekinisis. If she got really upset she would cause minor damage like blowing out a lightbulb or something. She was written to have the glasses trope, attractive girl with glasses is ignored because of shyness, etc. She was in an accident and her soul wandered into demon world while her body was in a coma. She got back but when she woke up she was blind as a bat and could do strange things. She was not incredibly athletic or anything of the nature so she had a difficult time with everything. Of course my rp partner had the crazy gorgeous Sue and it was uncomfortable.

        They of course decided to play the femme fatale type with the crazy outfits and all that stuff. It was like a mix up of everything. Where as my character was reasonable, her character was not. The author went insane trying to overpower her character and the rp stopped being fun, so I sorta ditched. ;^^ We all are guilty of ditching.

        Luckily for the most part I haven’t had to much trouble with writing Sues.

        What is weird is the “Most Beautiful Girl In The World” trope is used a lot. When in reality, it is pretty much impossible. You said in your post that you thought Zoe Saldana is the most beautiful woman on earth. I thought Emily Browning was gorgeous in Sucker Punch and I love Ellen Page. I honestly think Leonard Nimoy was the most handsome man alive and a lot of time I don’t agree with who everyone else is attractive. The consensus used to be that Fabio was the most perfect man alive, not in my opinion. How can there be most beautiful girl in the world when no one can really agree? XD Let me stop before I ramble on more. XD

      • I have a really fun semi-sue for those RPs now. She’s the ‘light maiden’ a human created by the gods to supplicate the demons for the barrier. The girl would be born human, and her powers released when she comes in contact with a demon. Basically she makes the demon feel very good just by touching them, and her touches will power them up over time. She’s reborn every so often, and supposedly there’s only ever one. For the RP I normally ask the other person to play Karasu (or my take off on him, Emilio), under the idea that he went after the light maiden, which is basically a demon fairy tale, and got stuck with the Toguro brothers in the first place. Of course the idea is that when he finds her he means to hide her away and keep her for himself, but in releasing her abilities he ends up with being able to feel her unhappiness or fear in touching her, and that messes him up pretty bad. It makes a lot more sense for Emilio. I played this with a friend, but I played Emilio and she was the girl… it was really just fun.

        Actually that RP is pretty fun, I did a YYH one with someone where I played Kurama for her, and our characters had the same abilities. It was very Sue-ish, but we kind of knew that going in, so we just had fun “mucking around with colors”.

        I end up dropping RPs for odd reasons. I had a couple where I was writing some amazing plots, and then I realized I was much more interested in the interaction of my characters, and the other person just kind of existed/got in the way. Now it’s a little hard to find someone on my level; because they normally want to write two or more pages of text and are really specific about post styles. I just want to read and write interesting things. I don’t need sparkly graphics! I want adventure and fun romance intertwined. Most people on my level don’t care about romance. *le sigh*

        As for the beauty bit 1) I’m glad you read it enough to comment on it. 2) I know that Beauty is fairly subjective, but people generally have some types of consensus: like Angelina Jolie is attractive, and Brad Pitt (sans the hideous beard) is attractive. Then there’s Johnny Depp, my mother and I were talking about he has 3 or more generations of women lusting after him. Not everyone thinks he’s really attractive, but most people do, and a lot of people would note him as the most beautiful man in the world. Even if they don’t, he’s attractive enough that almost everyone takes notice of him. When I think of the most beautiful person in the world I imagine a Johnny Depp, kicked up a couple of degrees.

  2. What is pretty funny is I do not find Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp attractive. XD Angelina Jolie has her moments but I don’t find her very attractive. I think I am sorta broken in that boat. My beauty ideals don’t fit well with others. What would be an amusing idea is if you had the most beautiful girl in the world run into someone like me. The person in question would be completely unphased and probably not care how pretty the girl is.

    • I think Johnny Depp is increadibly appealing, but I’m actually more attracted to people like Joseph Gordon Levitt or Robert Downey Jr. (like seriously!). I don’t like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, but I understand how their faces and figures work to fit the ideals of beauty. It’s like how everyone thinks George Clooney is sexy, but all I see is a bad Carey Grant clone (who I will argue is still sexier, even being many years dead).

      Most people can recognize when someone is supposed to be attractive. I can see why people think Humphrey Boggart is sexy, even if I think he’s just funny looking. (In that case it’s more the danger-appeal).

  3. I liked your thoughts on OC/canon character shipping. I find your essays really thoughtful (and useful for another author).


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