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I am thinking of writing an X-Men fanfiction, but I believe my query could apply to fanfiction set in any long running work with a large number of characters.

My fanfiction will concentrate on the New Mutants and a few older characters. It will diverge from canon after a specific issue, but more than one specific event will be altered. Characters introduced after this point in canon may not necessarily exist in the world of my fanfiction. Revelations about existing characters published after the divergence will not necessarily be true. My fanfiction will begin in universe decade after the divergence and the events of this decade will be drip fed throughout the work.

I originally planned to only use characters who already existed by the real-world point of my divergence so as not to create confusion for the reader. But it has become apparent I will need to use either later canon characters or OCs to fill roles in the story. One or two will be X-Men members and supporting characters; the others will be minor characters to fill out the ranks of the Brotherhood and the Hellfire Club. I particularly want characters who are younger than my New Mutant protagonists; the few who already existed in canon are not suitable for my purposes.

An example: I want one of my supporting X-Men to be a newcomer with an abrasive personality. Marrow, a character who debuted roughly a decade after the point of my divergence from canon, would be a good fit. But would it be better to create an OC to fill the role instead?

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This should be a matter of your personal choice, particularly if you are creating the divergence yourself.

If you want to build on existing universe and canon, then by all means reuse every canon character, just make sure that they are true to their canon roots.

If you feel like improvising and creating your own cast - sure, go ahead and don't feel limited in any way by the canon.

I think 10 years is short enough for the original character to also exist in you divergent universe.

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