A psychiatrically-minded (pun unintended) reader might infer from my frequent rants about the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Original Character creation community that I have some sort of grudge against certain people. I don't remember if I've said it before, but to be safe, I shall reiterate: I am but one side of this multifaceted story. Others may have different viewpoints, and several are probably more convincing than mine.
In short, the obvious: don't take just my word for it.
I don't actually have any grudge per se, at least consciously. My primary distaste is with the habit of forceful arguments, using loaded words and condescending dismissals; it gives me an actual physical headache, possibly through some psychosomatic influence. There is the unnerving feeling that the debate is not being conducted logically; the participants are not playing fair.
This also explains my decreased presence in the AnimeSuki thread. The rules of the forum state that there is one, and only one, thread per topic, and "Original Characters In The Nanoha-verse" counts as one topic. So if I encounter friction with other regulars of that thread, or at least their debating technique, there's not exactly anywhere else I can go other than "away".
I also have no illusions that this post will make me in any way popular with the community. So it goes.
In such an emotionally-charged situation, possibly no other collection of three words can cause as much ill feeling as "suspension of disbelief". We all know that the Nanoha-verse is not a place with especially stringent physical laws, at least as we understand them in Real Life. While endless entertainment can be had in speculating whether characters would act in a way claimed by a fanfic, human behaviour being somewhat unpredictable, natural laws are supposed to be marginally consistent. (On a macro level, as a rule of thumb, and several other disclaimers to satisfy the nitpicky out there.) The Nanoha-verse, however, asks one question first and foremost: is it cool?
Some time should be taken to introduce one of my Nanoha-verse OCs. (This is unfortunately necessary.) She's not actually my favourite OC, but I would count her among my top five characters related to my Nanoha-verse fanfics, canon or original. This is at least slightly ironic, as she was originally created to be a shameless, complete Mary Sue.
(Off-topic: don't bother with linking me any of the Mary Sue Litmus Tests out there, since they're invariably so biased towards a certain type of character that I can only believe that the original was meant as a joke, and not to be taken seriously. I mean, "is your character Asian" would rule out the majority of the Real Life world population.)
Lumina Celeste is a ranked-S mage, which puts her around the power level of Nanoha and co. She's not actually in the Time-Space Administration Bureau, which most of the canon characters as of StrikerS are; this was a conscious decision on my part to avoid the previously-mentioned irritating debating technique used by some of the military fans in the OC thread, since if Lumina's not in the military, she's not quite bound by the regulations thereof, and I don't have to defend my writing from You're Doing It Wrong.
Lumina focuses mostly on defense, from her Intelligent Device (named Cyrus for no particular reason), which I created from the basic idea of shields, Big Lump of Metal version. When set up, apart from the medium-sized round shield strapped to her left arm, Lumina is also surrounded by six floating discs of unobtainium; enchanted unobtainium at that. The physical properties of these discs may be altered on the fly, including size, shape, mass, and sharpness of edge. These discs may be stacked for further defense, up to a maximum of being able to block pretty much everything, and certainly being able to block a full-powered Starlight Breaker.
In addition, Lumina can snap off standard magical beams at power rank B, which hasn't had a lot of examples in the series, but careful questioning indicates that this is the Standard Mook Mage (those faceless masses in the TSAB ranks who exist primarily to be cannon fodder) blast power level. The flying discs (technically controlled by Cyrus rather than directly by Lumina) are able (by choice) to reflect energy, be it kinetic or magical. This allows Lumina to set up trick shots. And yes, this implies that should Lumina wish, she can reflect Nanoha's Starlight Breaker back to the source.
Also, Lumina has great curves. Mary Sue, remember?
I mention all of this because I presented Lumina for anti-Sue editing to the OC thread, and got the reaction of: "what Sue?"
This was unexpected, entirely because the vocal portion of the thread had criticized me for holding to the philosophy that it doesn't matter what the character can do, as long as the story is written interestingly. (Note that I'm avoiding "written well", since that's a loaded descriptor.) The slippery slope argument was pulled out several times: I believe the example was that if my view took hold, we would be neck-deep in Godzilla-killing Supermen, and this was somehow a Bad Thing for everyone in the entire fandom. The next point that was then pulled out was: would this fit the feel of the Nanoha-verse as we know it?
There are other factors in play which I'll get into later, but for now, let's have a look at what Lumina can do, one at a time.
First, we have the floating discs. This received nary a raised eyebrow among the OC thread denizens, because the canon characters do this pretty much constantly. Vita, for example, summons lots of balls to whack with her hammer, which I'm almost confident has had some sort of Freudian analysis performed on some other anime blog. Magic can, after all, create and destroy matter from out of effectively nothing, and in Lumina's case, change its properties as a sideshow to the primary purpose of blocking and reflecting.
Not (currently) possible with Real Life natural laws. Common in the Nanoha-verse. Therefore, it keeps in the feel of the Nanoha-verse.
What about the trick shots? The only caveat about the original version was that I said Lumina could keep up the shooting "indefinitely", which is a matter of stamina, and easily changed to "for an hour or so". Reflection? Plausible. Trick shots? Plausible, and cool. Not "cool" of the "OMG DID YOU SEE THAT" variety, which seems to be reserved for major explosions and familiar crossovers, but a sort of low-key, commonplace, fractional head-nodding "kinda cool". Which, again, keeps in the feel of the Nanoha-verse.
And so it goes. Lumina's general beauty and Large Tracts Of Land? Why certainly, the (female) canon characters are all of a minimum visual standard, it seems. Her Intelligent Device? Plenty possessed by the canon characters. Her power ranking? I am told that "at least you didn't make her rank SSS".
Which echoes an earlier comment when I presented my first Nanoha-verse OC to the thread, one Ivey de Lorien, mage rank A: "at least you didn't make her rank S". When I created rank S Lumina, it was "at least you didn't make her rank SSS". I'm not sure what standard of "too much" will be used if I create a character at rank SSS. (In fact, the main reason I haven't done so yet is because I don't have a good grasp on what SSS is capable of.)
Lumina as a character throws out all the considerations for plausibility and the scientific accuracy needed for even a "soft" science fiction setting as the Nanoha-verse. She is, given certain circumstances, a "Godzilla-killing Superman". And yet I point all of this out and say "this is a Mary Sue", only to be met with "no she's not, she's interesting."
Anecdotal evidence is unreliable, so I cannot quite say this with full conviction, but it's beginning to look like my viewpoint of just writing interestingly, and not worrying about "is this going to be acceptable to others?" is Mythbusters-Plausible for at least Lumina's case. "Keeping to the feel of the Nanoha-verse" is so subjective and so broad that if something seems impossible, chances are the next Sound Stage will feature exactly that thing. (Anyone expected the zombies in SSX? Anyone at all?)
Besides, my experience in various fanfiction-heavy fandoms makes the claim that what A Fanficcer writes could influence the fandom as a whole seem a mite non-sequitur. Honesty compels me to admit that this very claim has been made for fanfiction in general, that the writing thereof will "ruin" the original somehow. Like all subjective topics, the reasoning is vague, and the net result is that we must all Agree to Disagree.
Before anyone comments that "you should write what you want to write", that's more or less the entire point of this post: I do agree that we should all write what we want to write. I never said that what we're writing would be good, but I am saying that there's no point in following "rules" if one doesn't understand, truly and fully, why these "rules" are followed, rather than parroting the consensus.
But it is this consensus, from enough people in the OC thread community for it to be a consensus rather than the views of a vocal minority, that states that we should not write what we want to write. The justification for this is "shared universe", in the sense that we're all playing in the same sandbox. I refuted this by saying that we are not, in fact, playing in the same sandbox: we are playing in copies of one sandbox. It's almost exactly the difference between a MMORPG and single-player games. Like all analogies, however, the applicability may be suspect; the consensus was that I had no idea what I was talking about. This may be true.
So it goes.
I mentioned that Lumina didn't get labelled as a Sue because she was "interesting". Through inexpert questioning, I determined that it was the personality I assigned to her that did the trick, which was my interpretation of the hot-blooded character archetype. Hot-bloodedness is definitely present in the mecha-influenced Nanoha-verse, especially with Subaru, but the stereotypical hot-blooded character (as seen in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) usually annoys me, since they're too loud. Therefore, I cast wider for inspiration: the obvious next choice is our favourite Justice Freak, Amelia wil Tesla Sailoon from Slayers. And since no character concept survives contact with the story, Lumina somehow picked up the more bizarre pronouncements of one Darkwing Duck.
You will note that none of this affects Lumina's abilities, or her overall power level. (Her background, one of the standard Sue areas of note, is completely unremarkable, mainly because I couldn't come up with anything. Anything, over-the-top or non-Sue or whatever.) I am convinced from this exercise that a good way to distract readers from the Sue-ness of a character is to have her announce, in all seriousness, that she is the spare change in the vending machine of JUSTICE.