The Percy Jackson & the Olympians Litmus Test
A Litmus Test, in fandom, is a quiz or checklist which allows you to police yourself when you write OCs (Original Characters). It is very easy, when one is making up his or her own character for a fanfiction, to make a character either very flat or to make a character "interesting" using attributes which are cliche.
Litmus Tests have a long history and have been used for various purposes. This one was tailor-made by bohemianneko to fit the Percy Jackson fandom, using the one found at Criminality as a template. If you have any ideas for other fandom-specific questions which would enhance the quest, please comment to this post or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Litmus Test
Organized/“Written” by: BohemianNeko (Livejournal)
Based upon the Original Litmus Test by Dr. Merlin and the Litmus Test available at Criminality (http://www.criminality.breakthepressure.com/)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians belongs to Rick Riordan.
The Percy Jackson fandom seems to be in its early days yet and seeing as many fanfiction writers (and fans in general) of the series are in middle school, I decided to try and compile a Litmus Test which would be relevant, easily accessible, and easy-to-use. A Litmus Test, fandom-ly speaking, is a way to measure whether or not your character is a “Mary Sue” or a “Gary Stu” or any other name you would like to attach to such characters. If you hope for this test to help you, you must answer the questions honestly. If you waver on whether or not the answer is “Yes,” then presume that the answer is yes. All characters have some element of Mary-Sue-ism, but it must remain within certain bounds in order for your story to be readable and believable in most cases. Mary Sues may be more forgivable in fandoms such as PJO because mythological stories often deal with archetypes, but please realize that archetypes are such a part of the human consciousness that characters who are simply textbook definitions of an archetype are like reading a story about air—it’s legitimate but not very interesting.
Please note that all fandoms are different, and therefore some of the questions will be modified from the original Litmus test and the test upon which this one was based. This is a tool, not an authority. Please keep careful track of the points your character accumulates and do not feel offended if your character “fails” the test. This does not necessarily mean that your character is not a good character, or that he or she will not fit into your story. It is simply something to help you think.
Again, please not that this test is based on point values, and you are aiming for a low score. Only count the point value if you answer “Yes” to the question. Each point value is one (1) unless otherwise noted, and each sub-question, marked by a lowercase letter, adds one (1) point. Also, bear in mind that answering “Yes” to several of these questions is expected and not the end of the world.
PJO-specific questions will have their own section at the end of the test.
Section One: The Name
1. Is the character named after you? (This can be your first name, middle name, or the name you go by in chat or irc.) If so, stop now. Put your pencil (mouse?) down and turn in your test.
DO NOT NAME YOUR CHARACTER AFTER YOURSELF.
DO NOT NAME YOURSELF AFTER YOUR CHARACTER.
I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR EXCEPTION IS.
2. Is the character’s name an unusual spelling of a common name?
3. Is the character’s name a noun, adjective, or other kind of word which is not usually used as a name?
4. Do you wish you had your characters name instead of your own?
5. Is your character introduced using more than a first and a last name? (Example: Rachel Elizabeth Dare—Please note that while authors sometimes break the Litmus rules, they’re allowed to do that, but the presence of it in a canon work does not necessarily make it “okay” or advisable in fanfiction.)
6. Does your character have a nickname or pseudonym which is used to refer to them more often than they are referred to by their real name? (This does not apply as strongly if the character’s real name is not introduced prior to the use of the nickname.)
7. Is the character directly referred to in the title of your story?
8. Did you spend more than a day searching for the perfect name for your character?
9. Have you considered your character’s name as a pet name?
a. Is this your pet’s name? [2 points]
10. Does the character’s name have a special significance to you, of which the readers are not aware, but which might become important later?
Section Two: Physical Attributes
1. Is the character the same gender as you?
2. Is the character the same ethnicity as you?
3. Is the character the same age as you?
4. Does the character share your birth date? [3 points]
a. Astrological sign?
b. Did you read astrology profiles in order to decide upon a birth date for your character?
c. Share a birth date with another (canon) character?
5. Is the character a hybrid of two or more species (being specifications)? (Obviously, while more applicable in other fandoms, this likely does not apply to your character being a demigod. So is your character half-dryad, half-naiad or the like?) [2 points]
6. Is the character the child of a canon main character? [2 points]
a. Two of the main characters with one another?
b. The result of an accident/major scandal?
7. Is the character not in some way exempt from limitations which would typically be faced by a person in his or her position? (Examples: a half-blood who cannot be harmed by either mortal or god weapons, a mortal who can come to Camp Half Blood) [4 points]
8. Is your character the age he or she is to add to the plot?
9. Is your character astoundingly good-looking for no apparent reason?
a. Good-looking for an insanely apparent reason?
10. Does one or more of the main characters find your character highly attractive? [2 points]
a. In defiance of his or her usual sexual preference? [4 points]
11. Does your character have a very unusual eye color or heterochromic (each eye a different color)? [3 points]
12. Does your character’s hair play an unnecessarily large role in his or her physical description/does it come up often?
13. Does your character have an item or trinket which he or she cannot stand to be without? (This does not include magical items or relics.)
14. Does your character have an item which all the other characters in the story want?
15. Do you write your character’s dialogue as though it is spoken in a different accent than the other characters? [2 points]
Section Three: Personal Traits
1. Was the character adopted or did he or she live with people who were not his or her parents? (This does not apply to not living with a god-parent.)
2. Does your original character have an extended family or group of friends who will play a substantial role in your current or another story?
3. Is your character the “long lost _______” of one of the canon characters? [2 points]
4. Did your character have a tragic youth? [3 points]
a. Because of sexual abuse or rape?
5. Does the character have an unusually interesting youth as compared to the other characters?
6. Does your character have guilt issues because of some wrongdoing or allegiance which he or she is constantly trying to overcome?
7. Do the characters spend a large amount of time trying to convince him or her that it was not his or her fault?
a. Do they eventually succeed?
8. Does your character share a specific religious or political belief that is yours, simply because it is yours?
9. Did the character have an unusual birth or unusual experience in early infancy? (i.e. abducted, placed in a basket and set afloat, visited by Three Weirdos, etc.)
10. Does your character have a sibling with whom he or she cannot bear to be without?
a. Is this sibling a twin?
b. Does the character have emotions toward this sibling which may not be deemed “appropriate” or “normal” to have toward a sibling?
11. Does your character have an unusually good singing voice or other secular talent?
12. Does your character’s only fault involve the fact that he or she cannot sing well? [3 points]
13. Does your character have better taste in music than you do? (Meaning that he or she listens to music that you think people who are more affluent or intelligent than you are listen to, even though you have never listened to such music yourself.)
14. Does your character share an unusual hobby or profession with you?
15. Does your character share an unusual interest (other than Greek mythology) with you? [2 points]
a. Will this become a major plot point later?
b. Did you choose this interest so you could be active and engaging in what your character talks about? [-3 points for effort]
16. Is your character royal or in some other way very important?
a. In a way that he or she does not know about?
17. Do all of the main character like your character?
Section Four: Relationships
1. Does your character fall in love with Percy and kiss him passionately with lots of swirl-y camera movements at the end of your story? [2 points]
a. Because you want to fall in love with and kiss Percy?
b. Even though they were enemies at first?
c. Even though they should still be enemies?
d. Even though they are related? (This does not count on the god-side of the family unless he or she is also a child of Poseidon, unless you want to make an issue of that.) [2 points]
2. Does your character fall in love with and/or kiss any of the other main/recurring characters?
a. Because you want to fall in love with and/or kiss this character?
3. Does the character fall in love with another character you made up?
4. Does the character’s presence make two other characters (canon or otherwise) realize they’re meant for one another? [2 points]
5. Did you create your character only so he or she would fall in love with a specific canon character? [4 points]
6. Does the end of your story feature the wedding of your original character?
Section Five: The Real World and Your Character
1. Would you like to be friends with your character?
2. Do you think every person who reads your story should like your character? [2 points]
3. If someone doesn’t like your character, do you feel insulted?
4. Do you ever pretend or imagine that you are your character?
Section Six: The Plot
1. Do you introduce your character on the first page of the story? [2 points]
a. In the first sentence?
2. Do you tell the story mostly or entirely from your character’s point of view?
3. Does your character almost immediately become friends with the main characters, especially following some forced, tense pages of plot which make it seem “surprising”? [2 points]
4. Your character is introduced to the story because he or she did something very easily which was impossible for the other characters to accomplish? [2 points]
5. Does the character befriend a villain against all odds and in doing so reform the villain? [2 points]
a. Does your character die, leaving the villain to become evil again but to save the day with one final act of goodness inspired by your now-dead OC?
6. Is the character transformed into a half blood, god, full-mortal, etc., for some inexplicable reason? [2 points]
a. Is the character happier in his or her new form?
b. Do other characters like the character better in his or her new form?
c. Do you wish you could be transformed into whatever your character was transformed into?
7. Does your character save the day or another important character’s life?
a. Using magical/mystical powers or intervention?
b. Through dying?
c. Through almost dying?
d. Does the (near-) fatal experience cause a character who previously detested or disliked the character to suddenly like or fall in love with the character?
e. Does he or she get not-dead by the end of the story?
f. By the end of the sequel?
8. Do the characters have a teary “forever” farewell with your character?
a. Has your character’s experience with the other characters changed him or her in such a way that he or she now swears off all his or her vices which were exhibited during the story? (Your character does have flaws, right?)
9. Does the character end up living at some illogical place like Mount Olympus or Camp Half blood even though he or she is not a half blood or otherwise entitled to live there?
10. Do you plan to write more stories featuring your character?
11. Do you plan to write one or more stories featuring your character’s children?
a. Your character’s children with another character?
Section Seven: Percy Jackson-specific Questions
1. Is your character the son or daughter of one of the Big Three? [2 points]
a. Is he or she the actual fulfillment of the prophecy from the books?
b. Is he or she the fulfillment of an even bigger and scarier and generally more dramatic prophecy?
2. Is your character the son or daughter of Artemis (or another eternal maiden other than Athena)? [2 points]
3. Is your character the son or daughter of one or more of the central characters of the series?
4. Is your character one of the complications set in Percy’s “love life” by Aphrodite?
5. Is your character an until-now-unheard-of half blood who will defect from the side of Olympus or Kronos at some key moment?
6. Is your character capable of elemental control? (Water, Lightning, Mysterious Underworld Stygian Black Rock Stuff, etc.)
a. Is your character not a child of the Big Three in this case?
7. Is your character strangely at ease with finding out he or she is a half blood if it is the case?
8. Does your character belong to a prominent counterculture for no particular reason? (Goth, Emo, Jock, Prep, etc.)
9. Was your character a prominent half blood whom everyone assumed was dead X-number years ago who is suddenly not-dead much to everyone’s overwhelming joy?
10. Is your character better at some skill (such as swordplay, designing things, etc.) which is the “specialty” of another character without a reasonable explanation as to why?
a. Is your character better at all of the skills each of the characters possess?
b. Does he or she teach one or more of the characters how to do something better to any great effect upon the story?
11. Can your character communicate with animals telepathically?
a. When he or she is not a child of the Big Three?
b. Is the animal not sacred to or created by his or her god-parent?
12. Does your character have any other kind of telepathy (twins count)?