um i’m not an expert, but i can tell you MY preferences for the way that people characterize/write derek hale? these by no means should be taken as gospel or anything like that, but these are the things that i really do consider when reading fanfiction and deciding if i’m enjoying it or not:
- derek uses contractions
- derek has a really dry sense of humor
- sometimes he argues/fights back like a child (“and derek doesn’t care” in raving)
- derek doesn’t “growl”
- derek is THE MOST in control werewolf of the bunch; the ONLY time he’s ever lost control was in 1x04 (magic bullet) when he was dying. and, even then? he let his claws out to scratch jackson and then his eyes flashed and that was it. so don’t throw around “his eyes got red” and “his claws came out” just because he’s frustrated. derek hale took chris argent’s “but that’s something you don’t have much of these days” line without so much as a single wolfey hair popping out; i seriously doubt stiles being petulant is going to make his eyes flash if being tormented with the BURNING ALIVE OF ALL OF HIS LOVED ONES doesn’t do that????
- bonus sterek tip: derek hasn’t been physically aggressive with stiles since wolf’s bane when he pushed him against a wall (ONCE) and slammed his head against the steering wheel (ONCE, and this was a hobrien improv— not something written into derek’s character!). their relationship has progressed past physical aggression. bonus bonus sterek tip: we never actually had evidence that derek broke into stiles’s room via the window; that might not be how he rolls for all we know.
- derek keeps his cards to his chest. there will never be a time when he just… tells everyone what the plan is/what he’s doing/what something means? he tends to wait ‘til the last POSSIBLE moment before revealing anything at all.
- derek’s focus is survival; he’s prone to rushing into things because of this.
- derek’s not a good leader (yet). derek does not command respect (yet). jeff davis has said that scott’s journey is to become an alpha himself, so i don’t really buy it when derek is scott’s alpha in any fic that has been written since s2 was aired? scott and derek can be allies, but derek is not ranked above scott.
- bonus sterek tip redux: the only reason stiles and derek ever started interacting was because of scott. scott is the glue that holds any sterek fic together. scott is the common denominator between stiles and derek.
- derek does NOT see scott as beneath him; even if he thinks scott doesn’t make WISE choices, derek thinks of scott as his brother. derek is arguably most emotionally invested in scott as far as the characters of teen wolf go? he gave up the chance to trap the kanima TO GO SAVE SCOTT. he told deaton “thank you” for SAVING scott. the relationship of derek and scott is MORE IMPORTANT TO DEREK THAN IT IS TO SCOTT. if you’re writing derek’s point of view, don’t sweep scott under the rug. derek and scott are two sides of the same coin: pragmatism in the form of derek and compassion in the form of scott.
- derek is sassy; he has a dry sense of humor. he is NOT emotionless. he also knows what a joke is.
- derek does not speak “properly”? he is not as familiar as stiles and scott are, maybe, but he is YOUNG. derek’s also kind of a douche; he’s not some “holier than tho, tired of your bs, let me sit over here in brooding silence” type. he will argue childishly, he rolls his eyes, he can be downright MEAN sometimes if he thinks being mean will get his point across. he can mockingly laugh, and he can say things like “who said i was going to do it?” in some playful/sweet voice that is actually VERY DANGEROUS (venemous).
- DEREK’S ONLY SOURCE OF COMPETENCE IS HIS BODY/HIS CONTROL. he is not a great leader yet; he’s not honest and he doesn’t trust, and he— frankly— kind of sucks at the whole alpha thing. BUT derek trusts his body. he trusts it enough to use it to get what he wants out of other people (see: flirting with erica and with cop at the desl). he keeps his body in perfect shape; works it like it’s a punishment. he is strong and he looks nice and he does that because in a way that’s all he has. derek uses his body like a machine, like a tool, like a way of getting what he wants.
- because of that, what scott did in the finale (making derek bite gerard) PROBABLY had inflicted serious angst if not trauma.
- derek knows how to use modern technology (see: can work jackson’s ipod in co-captain). derek owns a cell phone (see: talks to stiles on the cell phone in wolf’s bane).
- derek thinks the bite is a gift, BUT he is very, very aware of the damage that humans can inflict. derek is possibly the last person to think someone is weak JUST because they’re human. a human took away everything he ever loved; it doesn’t make any sense for him to think of humans as being HELPLESS.
- derek is extremely pragmatic. he will make choices based on what is the quickest solution to a problem.
- i cannot emphasis this enough: derek is a good guy. he may be the anti-hero, but he is not the antagonist. he and scott disagree on a LOT of things, but derek’s entire time spent in beacon hills has been dedicated to trying to stop the murdering of innocent people. derek saves scott’s life; derek saves melissa mccall and the sheriff’s life; derek will push people out of the way to save them. derek is a good guy, BUT HE IS NOT A NICE GUY. he is not a secret-ball-of-butter guy. he’s rough around the edges and he can be mean, but that doesn’t make him BAD.
- derek’s anchor is something like “pain” (as he tells scott in s1) and “anger” (as he tells isaac in s2). i tend to think that it might be a combo of the two (guilt imo), but you can take from that what you will.
- derek does an awful lot of silent communication
- whether or not you ship sterek, derek’s wittier side comes out most often in stiles’s presence. (think about the little sneer he gives stiles in 2x02 before he goes into the police station.)
- derek seems to have given boyd a level of respect he didn’t give erica and isaac.
- derek let boyd and erica leave when they wanted to
- derek has only made his betas submit ONCE and that was when isaac was about to go after stiles in the police station
- he really really didn’t look like he wanted to hurt his betas in party guessed when he fought them, but he did it anyway because he knew it was the right thing to do (note: he didn’t try and make them submit then, either)
- derek has never done what peter did when peter MADE scott try and kill his friends in night school
- derek obviously cares about his betas; he’s just not excellent at being compassionate. he says “it’s about power” in ice pick, but there’s CLEARLY a family that derek is trying to build. THAT’S why he called scott his brother and that’s why derek is so upset when boyd and erica leave them. he’s not compassionate or trusting yet, but derek did what he thought was best to help his pack learn to survive/learn to be as strong as him.
- sometimes derek thinks violence is the answer.
- actually he thinks that a lot.
on a final note, i am EXTREMELY turned off by fanfictions that choose to make derek into a humanized wolf? we have no evidence within the canon that scentmarking means anything to the werewolves. we also have BOUNTIFUL evidence that the werewolves can turn their were!senses on and off like they have a switch inside of their heads. i also feel like people should be very, very careful when they come up with their own theories about the differences between born werewolves and bitten werewolves because we actually don’t have ANYTHING to go on in that area.
i think sometimes people will characterize derek in a way that IS NOT in line with the way werewolves are characterized in the show, and they’ll use “well he’s a born werewolf so it’s different!” as a plot device there. and that’s OKAY, it’s FINE. but i think people need to be more aware of the fact that…. we’ve all seen that done before. if you’re going to tweak the teen wolf mythology (or make assumptions of the teen wolf mythology), then you better commit and make it AWESOME. don’t pass it off as a side detail, because it feels concocted just for plot development at that point.
ALSO IF YOU FEED ME “DEREK HAS TO TOP BECAUSE HE’S THE ALPHA” I WILL CLAW YOUR EYES OUT?????????
idk i really want to emphasize that i’m no expert on teen wolf; i’m not a writer of the show. but as someone who reads a LOT of fanfiction, these are things that i find myself wanting to message people about pretty frequently (i don’t because that would be a dick move).
obviously, everyone’s welcome to make their own interpretations about the show and about derek. i have made this list as a representation of the things that I PREFER when reading derek in fanfictions— nothing more. you’re absolutely welcome to disregard everything i’ve said here if it doesn’t line up with your interpretation.
hopefully some of this was helpful, though!