Tips For Making Better Harry Potter OCs
- First, keep in mind what timeframe your story is supposed to be set in. If your OC goes to school at the same time the Golden Trio attended, that's going to be in the 1990's. (Harry's first year was in 1991.) This means that many of the bands you listen to, movies and shows you watch, technologies you use, and fashion trends you enjoy won't even exist yet. A lot of the words and idioms you use every day without even thinking about it wouldn't exist, either - back in the 90's, nobody said "epic" or "lol," for example. If your character attends school during the Marauders era, that's even farther back - the 1970's.
- Ask yourself whether your character's behaviors, slang, etc. make sense given xir history. A pureblood who'd never been around muggles much before probably wouldn't be referring to clean-cut students as "preps" and using slang originated from muggle culture.
- If your character is a pureblood, try to give xir a name that fits with wizarding culture - which is to say, aim for a name that's been around for a very long time, as opposed to a new or trendy name. So myth names, historical names, and names have been fairly commonplace for awhile now are fine, but stay away from newer names and name trends. Basically, Jill, Esther, and Persephone are in, but Skylar, Jordyn, and Makayla are right out.
- If your character was raised by muggles and has had little to no exposure to the wizarding world, keep in mind that just about everything magical will be novel and new and therefore ought to be boggled over at least a bit. Remember how Harry reacted to seeing assorted magical things for the first time? If you're writing about a muggle-born child, don't forget to capture that sense of wonder.
- Try to keep your character's actions and behaviors appropriate for xir age. One of the most notable goof-ups in this regard happens with romance. Let's just say that most real 11 and 12-year-olds are not going to be full-on snogging and having serious relationships with other kids that age - that's more appropriate for kids around 15 and older. (Also, writing about 11 and 12-year-olds having that kind of relationship makes you look really creepy.) It's also rather unlikely that an 11-year-old child could conduct xirself with utter grace and calmness and consistently speak with verbose eloquence for any serious length of time. And younger kids are rather less likely to roll eyes and feign indifference than older ones are.
- A rather common trope among OCs raised by muggles is that they go uncontacted by the wizarding community beyond the age of eleven. This makes little sense, as witches and wizards do need to be taught how to channel their magic or else the magic they let off during piques of emotion can potentially be very dangerous. If you don't want to write about an 11-year-old, why not just start the story at an appropriate year for your character's age?
- Remember, muggleborn kids probably don't receive acceptance letters to Hogwarts completely out of the blue. While the names of all magical children are entered at Hogwarts as soon as they're born, someone from the school will come over to explain things to the child's guardian and guardians so they aren't completely clueless as to what's going on (as seen with Dumbledore coming to the orphanage where Tom Riddle lived in The Half Blood Prince), and presumably give the guardian/guardians some instructions on how to get to Diagon Alley (as Hermione's parents are seen there in Chamber of Secrets.)
- If you're thinking about having a Hogwarts student from another country, think it out carefully - there are other wizarding schools besides Hogwarts, and the US is implied to have at least one school (the Salem Witches' Institute). Given that no foreign students are mentioned at Hogwarts, it doesn't seem too likely that sending students from, say, the US to be educated there would be common practice.
- If you're a non-British author trying to write a British character, try to be mindful of differences between British culture and your own culture. Simply throwing in the occasional "bloody" and "blimey" does not a convincing British character make.
- For Pigwidgeon's sake, make sure your character actually exhibits the traits associated with the house xe's sorted into. Far too many Slytherin OCs, for example, are just mindless sycophants to Voldemort or Draco or whoever the writers think are kewl, or they come off as perfectly sweet little angels and don't show any real cunning or ambition whatsoever.
- Try to keep the spells your character uses appropriate for xir year. For example, aguamenti is a fifth year spell; you wouldn't expect to see a first-year student using it, let alone practicing it before attending Hogwarts.
- If your character is supposed to be an upper-class pureblood or similar, check out Tips To Write Better Royalty, Nobility, & Other Upper-Class & Important Characters. If your character is one of the snobbish types who looks down xir noses at muggle-borns and mixed-bloods, How It Feels To Be A Bigot might be helpful to you. If you intend for your character to develop beyond that, see Changing Alignments, Allegiances, & Loyalties More Believably.
- Check out Basic Tips To Improve Your OCs & Fan Characters and Tips To Create Better OC Relatives of Canon Characters for more OC-creating tips in general.
Also, don't forget to look at:
Tips For Writing Fanfiction With An OC Protagonist
Building Better Backstories - Tips & Ideas
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters
So You Want To Have A Powerful Or Talented Character Who Probably Won't Be Perceived As A Mary Sue?
Ideas To Explore in a Next-Gen/Future Harry Potter Story or Roleplay
Chronicles of Peter Potter in Wonderland Name Generator
Magic Wand Generator