Out of Character? WHAT character?

by Cheryl Lachowicz

I'm a fanfic writer. And, sorry to toot my own horn, but I like what I write. I found the recent editorials about fanifction authors a little disturbing; in particular, the points about characters being out of character.

I wrote a Breath of Fire 3 fanfiction. It was 30 chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue. In it, Ryu was a drug and child abuser, suicidal, and cursed, and I don't mean occasionally. A lot of people complained about Ryu being "out of character": He would never drink, hit his kid, those words aren't in his vocabulary, so on and so forth. And I always cock my head to one side, smile sweetly, and demand:

"Prove it."

And, try as they might, they can't. Why? Because he wasn't given a personality in the game! How can one conform to a non-existant personality?

I understand how people feel about it: not only am I breaking the stereotype of a sweet, innocent, saintly hero, I'm also hitting on taboo subjects. That's fine, though; I'm not talking about the taboo subject matter, I'm talking about Ryu's character. I feel that, in the case of fanfiction writers, that the interpretation of character personalities is the right and responsibility of the author. And it was my interpretation of Ryu that he be very emotionally and mentally unstable. Someone else may see him as solid in his convictions and content with his life. So be it. But you cannot prove either interpretation. The only show of personality in that game was an intense dislike of killing other human beings.

And that's the trait that's in my fic.

Of course, the "personal interpretation" doesn't work with all games. Most of Square's games, for example, have personalities set in stone. If Tifa's going to sleep around, there better be a damn good reason. Why? Because the character designers gave her a personality. And the act of sleeping around is contradictory to that personality. But don't try to say that EVERY character has a personality. They don't.

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