How To Make People Like Your OCs

"Why do so many people hate OCs?" is a question that many have asked. There are plenty of reasons for it. Many of these reasons genuinely are pretty bad, but some of them are actually very valid. OCs often do things or are used in ways that make them genuinely obnoxious. Sometimes the way they're presented is very obnoxious and puts people off of them.

So here are some tips to hopefully help you make your OCs a bit more endearing, based on observations of when and why people did or didn't like certain characters. Of course there are no guarantees that it's going to make everyone like your characters (some people are just going to hate OCs no matter what), but hopefully it'll help you make your character more likeable to some!

Let people warm up to your OCs gradually. Don't present them as figures to be liked, admired, or pitied from the very start. Instead, show people who they are and what they're about, and let people form their own opinions of them based on what they see rather than on what you say. If you want to endear the audience to your characters, aim to humanize them as soon as possible. Consider the characters you like and the stories you got to know them in - those stories didn't demand that you feel about them a certain way from the very start, did they? Instead, you probably simply got to see these characters being themselves (warts and all!) and were allowed develop these feelings for yourself as the story progressed.

Don't try to compete with the canon characters, or make a point of comparing your OCs to them. It's fine for your characters to be talented or have tragic backstory elements, but you constantly have to showcase how your OCs have the canons beat in some way (or worse, in every way), people start getting annoyed.

Avoid contrived scenarios around your OC wherever possible. Don't reduce canon characters to damsels in distress who need your OCs to save the day for them. Don't reduce the canon characters to straw bullies. Don't have villains hunting or searching for your OCs for flimsy or ridiculous reasons. Don't give your OCs nonexistent families or social networks so they don't have anyone to associate with besides the canon characters. And don't make everything in the universe revolve around your OCs and their personal dramas all the time.

Let the canon characters respond and react to your OCs in a way that makes sense. It's very obnoxious when an OC is either loved or hated to a ridiculous extreme by the canon characters or when they make the OC the center focus of their lives in some way. Likewise, it tends to strain credibility when canon characters are quick to trust an OC to the ends of the Earth just because the OC shows off some spiffy trick, or when the canon characters easily overlook serious mistakes or misdeeds committed by the OC. (Imagine if your own friends or family were the victims of your OC's actions - would you be okay with letting them slide?) For tips on managing the canon characters believably, check out Simple Tips To Put Yourself In The Shoes Of Characters Who Aren't You and Tips For Writing & Roleplaying Canon Characters Better.

Know that characters who behave inappropriately are more likely to be perceived negatively. This is a huge problem I see in many OCs. While many of them are just fine in concept, in execution they behave in very off-putting ways. For example, they might have a habit of pushing help onto characters who don't want it, or they might go and touch or use other characters' personal belongings, or they start talking about intimacy or marriage a few moments after meeting another character. Some have a major case of nice guy syndrome (even ones that aren't actually guys), some habitually bully other characters for no real reason, and many of them have co-dependent tendencies. Of course, any of these can be legitimate character flaws, but it's important to recognize that they are flaws, and to treat them accordingly. For more information, you might check out Ethical Considerations For Fantastic Situations - Are Your Sci-Fi & Fantasy Heroes Ethical People?, So You Want To Have An Attractive Character?, and Reasons Your RP Characters Might Be Creepy (In A Bad Way).

Don't try to justify or excuse your OCs' bad or hurtful behaviors. It's okay if your OCs are flawed people, but don't try to make it out that their behaviors are justified or don't realistically require corrective action. None of this "she's this way because of how she was treated in the past, so it's not her fault and you can't be mad at her or hold her accountable for it" or "he can't help it, everyone else just made him so angry!" nonsense. (Hello, these are literally excuses that real life abusers make!) For more information, see "Is This My Character's Fault?" - A Flowchart and How To Write Sympathetic Antagonists Without Endorsing Or Excusing Their Actions, & Without Making Your Protagonists Seem Heartless.

Show, don't tell their positive traits. It's almost always annoying when people brag about how great and awesome their characters are, and it's especially annoying when these characters don't actually do much of anything that backs it up. If you want people to see an OC as smart, show that OC being smart. If you want people to see an OC as a good love interest, don't make that OC act like a desperate creep. If you want people to see your OC as a great leader, then depict your character with the qualities of a great leader and avoid the ones that will make your character look like an insecure control freak or an arrogant, self-centered prat.

Make them have to put in effort and work for things. They shouldn't be able to do or get everything flawlessly and effortlessly, especially if it's really important in some way. As a general rule, struggle and challenge should be involved in any instance where the plot centers around doing or getting the thing, or where doing or getting the thing will change the course of the character's life.

Don't allow them to be boring people. Many OCs could be very interesting characters if they were written right, but fail to live up to even a fraction of their potential. Sometimes they end up being passive instead of proactive, sometimes they have no conversational skills or have nothing interesting to say, or sometimes they never undergo any sort of character development. Sometimes they end up being shallow love interest or best friends. Aim to avoid this type of thing wherever possible!

Don't overdo their physical descriptions. It's good to let people know what your characters look like, but describing them with purple prose or describing details you'd need a magnifying glass to see in real life is a bit ridiculous and tends to be annoying. For more information, see Describing Your Character: Tips & Advice.

Keep them consistent. Yes, they can have interests and personality traits that come into conflict with each other, but none of them should spontaneously vanish, nor should they develop new ones for no reason. Nor should they spontaneously reveal traits or powers that were never mentioned before. (If they genuinely do need a power or skill upgrade, it should happen in a way that feels natural and organic, rather than like it was pulled out of nowhere.)

Humanize them! This is a completely non-optional step that far too many people overlook. If your characters aren't humanized, people can't really develop positive feelings toward them, and if they can't develop positive feelings toward them, they can't like them. For more information, take a look at Simple Ways To Fill Out & Humanize Your Character.

Never, ever, ever take them too seriously. Don't be afraid to make them look ridiculous or foolish sometimes. Don't be afraid to have them roll out of bed looking like complete messes in the mornings. And remember: these moments should not be used as a way to endear these characters to a love interest, but as a way to humanize them.

You might also be interested in:

Basic Tips To Improve Your OCs & Fan Characters
How To Write Powerful & Extraordinary Characters Without Being Obnoxious Or Boring
"Is This A Good Idea For My Story/Setting/Character?" - How To Answer This For Yourself!

Tips To Keep Your Characters In Perspective & Make The Right Impressions With Them
Tips For Writing Fanfiction With An OC Protagonist
How To Convert Fanfiction Into Original Fiction

Why People Might Not Want To Roleplay With You
Reasons Your RP Characters Might Be Bad Friends Or Love Interests
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters

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