Focus on Fanfiction – Original Characters

Anyone who takes more than a casual interest in fanfiction has almost certainly hear the term "fanon". For those who are unaware, "fanon" refers to elements which have become so popular that people start forgetting their non-canonical status.

However, as any self-declared fanfic critic (myself, for example) will quickly tell you, being "fanon" is an indication of popularity but says nothing for the quality of the idea. In at least half of the cases I’ve seen, fanon traits are a sort of "say it ain’t so" response by fanfiction authors who, whether consciously or unconsciously, band together in their self-delusion. (Easily differentiated from "alternate universe" fiction by the question "does the story pretend to take place in the original universe?")

So today, I’ll make mention of two characters who are of excellent quality, but don’t count as "fanonical" because they are quite blatant divergences from canon.

Mr. Black

First, in the Harry Potter fandom, we have Mr. Black created by Rorschach’s Blot. Is he an ex-dark lord, possibly the incarnation of death itself, or is he just a guy on vacation as he claims? As anyone who has read the fic knows, he’s just Harry Potter trying to take a vacation.

One of the best indicators of the quality writing that went into "Make A Wish" is the flurry of little sidestories written by it’s fans. Off the top of my head, I can think of only one other fanfic which has done this and it’s definitely not suitable for children. However, it’s author is probably the most famous fanfic author in all the early fandoms.

Toltiir, The Bet, and more…

Whether you know him as Metroanime, Kestral, Gregg Sharp, or by another alias, the author of "The Bet" is an icon in the Ranma ½ fanfiction community and, though his fiction rarely strays from anime, it has influenced the minds of many of today’s best fanfic authors.

For those unfamiliar with "The Bet", here’s the summary.: In 1998, Gregg Sharp posted a flurry of mini-fics to the FFML (FanFiction Mailing List) which was, at the time, the place to find and share fanfiction. While "Featherbrite’s Tale" won and got extended, the other mini-fics were also quite enjoyable. These events spurred a flood of "unofficial bet entries" and, though almost unheard of, you occasionally find a new one written in nostalgic memory.

To finally get back on track, The Bet introduced an original character so appealing and well-done that it usually takes quite a while for newcomers to realize he’s original. That character is Toltiir, cat god of chaos.

Unfortunately, as with his other original characters, I just don’t know how to describe Toltiir without doing a great injustice. You’ll just have to read The Bet yourself.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Focus on Fanfiction – Original Characters by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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