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As a challenge by a friend. I was dared to make a super "special snowflake syndrome" character likable despite the cliches.

This is what I came up with.

In a dnd-like world, supernaturals exist like werewolves, banshees, fae, etc.

Humans, of course, are like 97% of the population. So yes, prejudice will happen.

The main character is a white-haired young adult with heterochromia. And get this, he lives in a secluded city where it's mostly humans.

He is adopted by a noble family where he is raised to be a "perfect gentleman". He has the class, talent, grace, and manners of a noble. He has unusual features, but he could also be classified as attractive.

The cliche part is that he is admired but also hated for multiple reasons. The very main reason is how people are envious of such perfection, so he's mostly looked down on or people are intimidated by him. His "uniqueness" made him a loner.

He's also secretly harboring the power to manipulate water. Which makes him the very special snowflake trope

Spoiler alert, the reason for his appearance, and why he's effortlessly attractive? He's a siren. White-haired and heterochromia are common. And yes, it's also common for their kind to water bend.

But the Mc and readers won't know that until later in the novel.

The setting of the story will mostly be in the city to embody his uniqueness.

What I mostly plan on doing is fleshing out his character. Maybe he breaks people's expectations of him by being average at academics, anxious at any attention, or laughing obnoxiously at any joke.

To show how "human" he is, by breaking this persona of perfection, by having close friends who see he's not what people say he is as he opens up.

Are there any other tips or other ways I could make him not so "op". Breaking the stereotypes as you will.

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  • I have honestly no idea what you mean by "op". Could you add a definition or something?
    – towr
    May 5 at 15:21
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    @towr OP means Overpowered. Often used in anime.
    – Crimsoir
    May 5 at 15:28
  • Like in anime. It could mean they had a power that made them so undefeatable, like Superman. The word "Op" has also evolved into different meanings. In this, the character could be deemed as otherwordly because of his background, appearance, and power. An "untouchable" person per say. Too different by a society of human folk May 5 at 16:15
  • Depends on what is your story. If your character would be matching powers with other opponents, then yes, you should take care and create weaknesses for him. On the other hand, it could be a story of an overpowered individual trying to fit into a society.
    – Alexander
    May 5 at 16:52

2 Answers 2

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The key is to humanize them (in a general sense rather than a specific species!) - and by that I mean humans have flaws, troubles and weaknesses that are relatable to the reader. They don't have to be ones that the reader has personally experienced - just that they can understand how unpleasant that might be to live with.

To illustrate what I mean:

He is adopted to a noble family where he is raised to be a "perfect gentleman". He has the class, talent, grace, and manners of a noble. Not only does he have unusual features, he could also be classified as attractive.

Many dislike the "noble" classes because they see them as priviliged, living an easy life where everything is handed to them by right of birth rather than by hard work. So make that "class, talent, grace, and manners" be something that his family drilled into him mercilessly as a child, maybe he wasn't allowed to eat dinner until he could correctly identify all the cutlery, punished if his courtly bow wasn't perfect, forced to learn endless facts and family trees of his own and other noble families. Now the majority of your readers won't have grown up in a noble family - but they will likely have had at least some experiences of striving to meet standards they felt were impossible, demanding parents pushing them to do better, or being told they can't go and play until they finish they're homework and get it right etc. And readers can extrapolate from that.

And by showing that his supposed "perfection" wasn't because he was special - but because he worked really hard at it helps avoid a classic complaint about this sort of character. If you can carry him having to work hard to achieve mastery over most things that makes him "perfect" all the better.

His "uniqueness" made him a loner.

Instead of him being a loner (someone who chooses to be alone) instead he's lonely. He has no "real" friends or leisure time because who he spends his time with and how he spends it are dictated by the family to the family's ends. Again most people will have had experiences where external life factors prevented them from doing as much of what they wanted, and most people will have at least some experience with feeling lonely at somepoint, so once again the reader can extrapolate from their own experiences.

You get the picture.

Spoiler alert, the reason for his appearance and why he's effortlessly attractive? He's a siren. White-haired and heterochromia are common in their kind. And yes, it's also common for their kind to water bend.

If he's getting bonus attractiveness and kick-ass magical powers out of being a siren there needs to be balance. It doesn't have to completely cancel out the benefits it brings him, but it should be significant enough to matter. Perhaps sirens are particularly persecuted (Evil tempters/temptresses that come in and steal and corrupt people!!), or those that can manipulate water, or even those who can do magic in general are distrusted seen as evil (Burn the witch!!).

A common complaint about over-powered characters, Mary Sues and the like is when they don't have that balance to them.

Take Batman - he is pretty awesome - he's a genius, he's extremely wealthy, and kicks ass all while looking good. But it comes at a price, his parents were murdered, and while living as Bruce Wayne he has to constantly present an extremely fake persona to protect his life as Batman. That and of course doing his thing fighting crime and various villains drastically limits his ability to have "real" relationships, both platonic and romantic.

I'm sure many people would still make the trade - I mean you get to be Batman, but the important part is that it's still got the cost, and it's still a cost most readers would consider significant.

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    +1. Also, "he's a siren..." Well, if his parents are not, then they may have a shameful secret that he doesn't know: They are not his parents! Say they could not conceive, and rather than face the shame and ridicule of their wealthy society, they feigned a sickly pregnancy that required isolation, and secretly purchased a newborn from far away. The society knows little about genetics. Part of that relentless and abusive training is his parents fear of being found out; they know nothing of his ancestry. Then he figures this out. Confronts his "parents". He knows he is a fraud, and hides this.
    – Amadeus
    May 6 at 11:00
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    @Amadeus Or they know he's a siren and picked him as their kid, so he'd be "perfect." Very WW2-Germans-abducting-Norwegian-children. They may have even murdered his biological parents to steal him. Now they've spent those years pounding into him what he needs to do to keep the secret even he doesn't know about. Maybe a programmed fear of water, so as to not expose his gifts...
    – DWKraus
    May 6 at 13:58
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So there's a good example of this type of character and its found in one of the most popular anime with one of the most popular characters, Gojo Satoru.

Gojo is the teacher in Jujutsu Kaisen. He helped the MC to accomplish many goals and be stronger. If I can describe Gojo in a few words it would be 'overconfident and overpowered upside down Kakashi'. He's handsome, he's smart, he's the strongest Sorcerer alive according to himself and other characters within the story. And he proves his strength to one of the antagonist, to which he didn't break a sweat. However he does have a few weaknesses; his attitude (especially to old people); his overconfidence, and his emotions.

So basically spoilers: He may be perfect, but it doesn't mean he didn't do mistakes. (1) He didn't manage to accomplish one of his missions that caused his best friend to spiral down to madness. Then his best friend came back to do his grand plan of his ideal view of sorcerers and non-sorcerers. After his (former) best friend was defeated, (2) he didn't dispose his corpse; Which then allow one of the antagonist of the series, to use the body as a host. (3)Then he got sealed in a box, as he failed to escape; because of the person who used his best friend's body as a host, gave him time to be frozen in place by his emotions.

All those points there I put, is to pin point his mistakes, that affect the plot. And eventually lead to his downfall, of being sealed in a box. So Gojo is strong but he has weaknesses. That. They must have a weakness or they didn't manage to succeed, all their endeavors. And his best friend once defy him. Gojo's weakness of having emotions of his best friend; and not disposing the body, was his mistake that put him in the box. And over the course of the story, his character arc develops him of being strong but not the toughest. His emotions lead him wanting to be a teacher and make a better world through his students; but its also a weakness as, I've said it before, his only friend.

they even did this other trope of him gaining a power up, but it wasn't enough to defeat his enemy, and he still fail his mission. Gojo didn't understand how to use that skill but after he does, he still fail.

Give characters flaw and use that as a disadvantage to them and proves them human. Use their flaw or loss to progress or affect the plot. And show them struggle, how did they become OP? is it because of their hard work and endeavors? or is it because they're talented?

That is a way by Akutami to prove that OP characters can be not so OP. Hope this helps.

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