One popular thing to do among fanfic authors is to create a new character and have him or her interact with the established ones. This is a trickier task than one might think, as it becomes the author’s duty to (a) make the new character interesting enough for us to care, and (b) see to it that the established characters do not get neglected. This is still Daria, even if John Doe happens to be the star of a particular story.
For clarification, this is different from the “Mary Sue” fic, in that the new character is not based on the author but is instead a completely made-up personality.
And so, the award for the best “New Character” story…
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD
Most of the other awards have been given to people who we see from time to time on message boards and such, but I’ve never even heard of this guy outside of his two contributions to ff.net (of which, “Catalyst” is far the superior). But hey, even if he never hears about this award having been given to him, he’s still earned it.
I’ll begin by saying that this was hard to narrow down. As I mentioned, this is a very popular concept, and there is a lot of good stuff along these lines out there. In the end, I chose this one partly on gut reaction. Something about the story just *felt* particularly good – though don’t think for a moment that that means I’m going to spare you all a gushing review.
The premise of the story is simple enough: new guy comes to Lawndale, meets the usual gang, and hijinks ensue (of course, there’s more to it than that – read on). The story is set post-IIFY at the start of Daria and Tom’s relationship.
That relationship, and its fall due to the arrival of newcomer Eric Chou, is what the first part of the story is about. Tom, it turns out, is the jealous type who overreacts when Eric is seen talking to Daria. Tom’s behavior in this story is definitely outside of established patterns, but this is forgivable, because there was nothing pre-season 5 that indicated that Tom might not act the way he does in this story. Everything that might contradict how this story portrays him is established during season 5, after this story was written.
And speaking of characterization, I rather liked the portrayal of DiMartino. It’s good to see him shown as something besides a tightly-wound maniac ready to explode – not that it hasn’t been done before, but the author gives him appropriate motive for breaking slightly with his established (unstable) character. I can see him going out of his way to help out a student who was both smart (something he doesn’t usually see) and a fellow in the military.
The story slows down a bit as issues between Tom, Daria, and Eric are resolved, but the details are important so that the reader may understand why it’s inevitable that Daria and Tom must part ways. To the author’s credit, Daria does not now go racing into Trent’s arms. She’s on her own again – or not?
There is, after all, still Eric, and once again the friendship of Jane and Daria is threatened by a guy. Here is another strength to the story – it focuses on Jane and Daria’s relationship as it’s affected by the newcomer, keeping the focal point of interest not just on him, or even on the girls, but on the dynamics of all three. And that sort of thing, in the end, is the best reason to introduce a new character in the first place.
What happens next? Read it.
I’m going to try to inform Mr. Soils Guy of his award, but if anyone out there happens to know him, please direct his attention to this review.
Read about the adventures of Eric Chou in Lawndale on ff.net here