Tips To Create Better OC Relatives of Canon Characters


Being related to a canon character is one of the hallmarks of a Mary Sue. That said, it doesn't make a character a Mary Sue. It's only reasonable that most characters should have family somewhere, and that many of them will have children eventually.

So, here is a list of tips to create tolerable and even likeable OC relatives who will be less likely to shatter a fanfiction or roleplay than otherwise.

  • If your character isn't a child born during the course of the story or roleplay, ask yourself: Could your character's story/backstory play out almost exactly the same with only a few minor changes if your character wasn't closely related to a canon character at all? If so, consider making your character a non-relative instead, or at the very least extended family rather than immediate family.
  • Avoid wonderbabies like the plague. They're hated even when the original authors write them.
  • If your character's birth or infancy is going to be in the story at all, check out Things Writers Need To Know About Birth & Babies.
  • Get at basic grasp of what types of traits are dominant and recessive, and how dominant/recessive genes work. If Mommy has red hair and Daddy's a blond, baby isn't going to grow up with raven locks without a dye job.
  • Don't create characters who are the spitting image of the canon relatives, or look like genderswapped versions of their canon relatives. If they're children, give their appearance features from both sides of the family - and not just the best features from each. If they're siblings, try to go with a similar, yet definitely distinct look.
  • Do not make their personalities and tastes essentially the same, either. This goes especially for child characters in their teens and beyond - how many people do you know who act like or emulate their parents that much by the time they're your character's age?
  • Give your characters lives that don't revolve around or completely relate to the canon relatives. Give them friends, hobbies, interests, likes, life goals etc. that the canon relatives do not share nor have any interest in.
  • Don't have your characters become bestest buds/teammates FOREVARZ with their canon relatives. Nothing wrong with a friendly relationship, but remember - your characters' lives should not revolve around or always relate to the canon characters. Do you always hang out with your parents and your parents' friends and/or co-workers? Probably not.
  • Don't create characters who have more or less the exact same skillset or abilities as their canon relatives. Give your characters their own unique strengths and weaknesses. If you're having trouble thinking of anything, try the random skill generator.
  • Actually research the backgrounds of the canon characters. Don't be the next doofus to give Captain America a sister living in the early 21st century who (barring time-travel shenanigans) isn't well into her sixties at the very least. Remember, if you're not clear on the details surrounding a character, you can usually find information via fan-made wikis. They're not always completely accurate, but they're much better than nothing.
  • Don't rewrite what has already been established in canon. Your character was not in the van with Jane Foster when Thor crashed to Earth. Your character was not on the raft with Will Turner. Your character did not tag along and help Sherlock Holmes solve his mysteries. Your character was not hiding behind the sofa when Voldemort tried to kill Harry Potter.
  • Avoid creating characters who require convoluted and/or extraordinary explanations just to fit into the universe, IE, time-travel shenanigans, being kidnapped as an infant, or having a parent who is a member of an alien race that doesn't get out much or that no one's ever heard of before in canon.
  • If you're considering having your character be adopted by a canon character and your character is from the US, remember: US adoption agencies don't just let anyone adopt kids, and it doesn't matter how rich they are. Read Reasons a Child Adoption May Be Denied and Reasons for a Home Study Adoption Denial.
  • Avoid creating long-estranged relatives, especially ones who just happen to show up when your story starts and insert themselves into the daily lives of their canon relatives.
  • During and after creating your character's past, put yourself into the shoes of characters your character would have grown up around and ask yourself how they would have interacted with your character throughout xir life. This doesn't just go for the characters you want your character to be friends or enemies with - this goes for everyone your character would have interacted with up until the point the story/roleplay begins. Factor this into your character's history.
  • Put yourself into the shoes of your character's canon relatives, especially any canon parents/caretakers. Ask yourself how you'd feel and react if this was your child/ward/whatever doing whatever it is your OC is doing. Adjust and write your character and your character's story accordingly.

See also:

Building Better Backstories - Tips & Ideas
Basic Tips To Improve Your OCs & Fan Characters
Tips For Writing & Roleplaying Canon Characters Better
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters
Common, Yet Terrible Character Descriptors - And How To Fix Them (And Write Better Descriptions In General)
Tips To Write & Create Better & More Believable Futures
Tips 'N Stuff For Better Character Design
Telling Story Canon From Personal Bias, Erroneous Memories, & Fanwank
Describing Your Character: Tips & Advice



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