NightScribe

Mary Sue Or Not A Mary Sue?

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A. Bed the favorite character/s of an established series as quickly as possible, maybe even love at first sight deals, and often it's annoyingly done as possible.

B. Be the very best, at the top of everything, and overshadow everyone else at the expense of characterization.

C. Be absolutely perfect no matter what they do or how unlikely, this includes spontanious deus ex machina solutions and neeto new abilities that always fall to them.

D. They remain as flat and unchanging in the beginning of the story as they do in the end, no matter how many times the plot is solved by them or affects them too.

E. All of the above in one.

Wow, you sound like you're reading from a Laurell K. Hamilton novel!

laugh.gif

I often shy away from OMC/OFC fics if they're in the OMC/OFC category because I've been burned too many times by Mary Sues (and once been accused -- rightly so, I think -- of creating one). However, if you create all-new characters in a fandom with the intent of creating an original story using someone else's world, that's a little different.

Example: I'm leery about Snape/OFC fics, but I'll be glad to read one that takes place in Hogwarts in the 2020s, even if it's got an OMC/OFC.

Maybe it's a personal prejudice. I'm sure I'm missing out on a lot of good stories this way, but like I said, I've been burned too many times.

Edited by Listener

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Guest DarkAvenger

I once had a friend and beta reader that decided that my original character in a fanfic was basically a mary sue... problem here... it was a guy character and had NONE of my personal characteristics. The character was treated horribly, raped, sold, etc. and not at all meeting of the requirements for a mary sue. Needless to say, she stopped being my beta, I told her to basically fuck off when she told me to "ditch the OC", and our friendship fell apart. Guess it wasn't that great to begin with, huh?

Mary sue's have to be, as APP said, essentially perfect, do no wrong, characters that make you feel almost sick to your stomach when you read them. Pulling one experience of your own and sticking it in a character has nothing to do with if it is a mary sue or not, in my opinion.

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Hi there! I'm pretty new here so excuse my newbiness.

In regards to the question, I actually *love* mary sue stories. happy.gif Granted, I'll never commit myself to do such a story, but I enjoy reading them. I guess it's because I love cheesy movies. MJ-stories are hilarious and make me feel that my writing could be worse. laugh.gif Some of those MJ-writers are so eager to get into the 'action' that they pretty much sum up an entire scene in, like, a sentence. Not to mention, they forget to spell (eagerness, I guess?).

I don't think the fanfic world would be the same without these writers. I know, I know... some of you feel it'd be a better world. But come on, these writers give us something to talk about. The way they try to justify their actions is pretty funny. I've even found writers who hate MJ-stories but are, in fact, committing that same crime themselves. It's a riot. And hey, most of these are young writers who don't know any better. They come to a site and want to live out their wildest fantasies. So yeah, I give them kudos for making their ideas (however premature or bizarre) known. I daydream a lot so I can relate to why they do what they do. I suppose there's a Mary Sue in each of us, in one form or another. blink.gif

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As I'm reading these posts, I'm feeling some new hope for the OC's that I'm writing for my various fanfics. My beta even said the same thing, that most people view an OC pairing up with a canon character as a Mary Sue. In my opinion, I think that as long as the character is well written (has flaws, etc.) then the pairing could be plausible. That's why I try to pick canon characters who haven't been paired with another character to see what I could make work.

I make sure to do my research ahead of time and plot everything out that I want placed in my story. Doing this helps me to make sure that I don't make the characters OOC, even though I'm placing an OC in there. Being a fan of said show helps a lot, as well!

Edited by midnightphoenix

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This is also another reason why the whole MS issue irks me, because it's my belief that just because one is a fan of a show, that doesn't mean they have to accept all of what was presented, canon couplings included.

I'll site The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series as an example. The writers of the show wanted it so that Egon, one of the GB's, would eventually be dating Janine, the secretary. But I am not a fan of this coupling, because I don't think Janine is a right match for him. Egon is eccentric and scientific and at times, aloof. A potential girlfriend would have to have a lot of patience in dealing with someone as eccentric and aloof as he is. It's also been theorized that Egon may have had an Autism Spectrum Disorder such as Aspergers Syndrome(but that's another matter entirely).

While Janine at times was a bit bookish and nerdy, she had some annoying qualities which really frightened Egon, she came across as flighty at times, and it also seemed to me that she didn't take a genuine interest in his hobbies and things that he liked. Now does that mean I hate Janine? Not at all. Plus, if theory of Egon having an ASD is true, then I don't believe that Janine would have enough patience to deal with someone with an ASD(believe me, I live with it myself, and you gotta have the patience to deal with me!).

But, while it took Egon a few years to "like" Janine in that way, and to admit it, of course it would be OOC for him to believe in love at first sight with any other potential date, which is why I've had to make several revisions to the fanfics I wrote and published at FF.net, that feature the OC I introduced that I've wanted to eventually set Egon up with. However, due to problems with people(most of them hardcore E/J-ers) that think they own the GB-verse, who think that because they're better writers and as such, feel that alone gives them the right to dictate to others what to write, I've quit writing GB fanfiction altogether.

I know, this is why I was kinda apprehensive to even start posting my stories featuring OC's. It can get scary when you're attacked by rabid fans of the series. :think:

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Ah, I remember my first Sue. You wouldn't really notice because it was a good story and I was anal about spelling and grammar even then. But I was 14 and the general characterisation of the OC just howled "Pointless Self-Insert".

Anyway, I call Mary Sue's defining characteristic "Vitamin Special".

Sure, sure, it relies on skill too.

But Vitamin Special is my favorite term. It defines that Mary Sue can turn Wolverine, Jack Sparrow, or god forbid, Jason Voorhees (I swear I found one) into a stable, sane, loving guy who'll stick around for the baby. Mary Sue can persuade Megatron that humans aren't that bad after all.

Mary Sue's long hair never splits. Her eyes are shimmering emeralds, not just green. She can handle a six foot greatsword with the agility of a warrior who's been doing it since he was seven, just by picking the damn thing up. She's great in bed and has an orgasm on her first try.

Mary Sue has no flaws. Mary Sue NEEDS no flaws! Except perhaps that everybody loves her. Not that her author ever takes a flaw like that seriously. You can work with flaws like "Too nice!" and I know my medic works with the flaw "Emotional cripple" - something you don't just get over because you fall in love.

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This is why I never describe my original characters when writing fan fiction. Also, I'm very ambiguous as to race because that's a hot button I don't want to try pushing—might get my finger burnt. If people imagine my OCs to be White or Asian when they aren't, it doesn't bother me (besides most of them are White or Asian). Often enough I find some way to make that OC important to the plot, but not important like center of all attention.

Eiyuuko Sugimoto for example is dead in the begginging of my one story. She was making plans with one of the canon characters for a few years out of the twenty-two spent knowing each other until one day she was killed. How she became important to the canon cahracter was summed up by the years they knew and worked with each other.

Still, I'm not even sure how Sueish she is...

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Ever seen Silverbolt from Beast Wars? And there's other guys like him around other fandoms. His flaw is "Too noble". And he is too noble. It DOES get him into trouble. He can't hit Blackarachnia as she kicks his ass, screaming at him to fight back.

Being too nice can be a serious flaw. Real people are sometimes too nice too. Provided you know how to use it. In fact, "Too nice" is my favorite kind of flaw, because it gets them into trouble and adds a real edge to your character. "Never Gives Up" is massively warped into "she's gonna get killed because she's so damn stubborn."

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Bumpage, once again. Sorry folks.

This is why I never describe my original characters when writing fan fiction. Also, I'm very ambiguous as to race because that's a hot button I don't want to try pushing—might get my finger burnt.

Not describing them also tends to bring on the Mary Sue accusation in some people. You'd get those who'd be all like, "Whos is this person? Where'd they come from? How do they fit into the scheme of things?". It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

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oh, c'mon... there are some Mary Sue characters who are supposed to be just like that.

let's take James Bond... huh?

he is an icon because he is such a perfect, I-can-win-everything-and-make-all-ladies-fall-in-love-with-me guy :)

it is intended.

so if you create a Mary Sue, being aware that this is Mary Sue - that's okay. not every book/story/movie has to be a deep psychological drama.

we like James Bond, Indiana Jones, Lara Croft and so on. cliche and scheme work sometimes <_<

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For myself - having written several stories with OCs who could be Mary Sues but I prefer to think of as additional necessary characters for my stories - one of the keys for me in defining whether or not an OC is an MS is the writer's reaction to criticism of that character. (I've also DMed with players who insisted on running a MS character. You would think they would get the message when other members of the party tie that character to a tree in the deep woods and pour honey over him...)

Since many characteristics of the standard Mary Sue is also standard to romance novel heroes/heroines (utterly adorable, infallible, etc.) this character type can show up anywhere. From my observation, the key is how the writer responds to criticism. If the OC/MS is the way they are because the writer was lazy and didn't want to do the research necessary to create a believable fully fleshed out character, it will show in the rest of the story as well. (You had better give me a damned good reason why your 16-year-old fashion model/rock star can fly a F-6 Phantom.) [Points to those who can tell me ALL the things wrong with that scenario.]

Generally, if the writer gets defensive about their OC when asked an honest question - it's a MS (Well, it's MY story and MY universe and that's just how it is.). An non-MS writer will respond with something more curious and open (Oh, I hadn't realized Essy was coming off as too whatever... Darn, are you sure about that fact?)

This also goes back to the suggestion that blatant Mary Sues are a sign of a writer who is still in the first stages of learning the craft. To me, they are also a sign the writer had not yet learned how to do the research to make both the story and the character more real.

Just my two cents worth. :lol:

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Guest Zanthious

The writing world is diverse. Made up of fools, prodigies, brilliant minds, liars, thieves, bastards, and whores all rolled into a community where most dream of being published and read by thousands, but few Are. And we as writers are all guilty of pride to an (at times) unhealthy degree. We should just remember that there are things sometimes that we can simply not controll, or change. Just as there will allways be someone on AFF that will not like your writing, So too, there will almost surely allways be someone who's you don't like. We just have to try and rise above. We all started somewhere, or are starting there now. And I've read some pretty nasty things written about new writers, and downing those with lesser skills than some feel they have. I don't like "perfect" characters either, but, some do or they would not be writing them.

Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, and most of them stink. I just feel like sometimes we let lables, tags, catagories, and our opinions, take the fun out of reading, and writing stories.

But, on a lighter note, since I am new here, it was nice to get to see what alot of the others think on subjects, and see what they like and dislike :lol:

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This is also another reason why the whole MS issue irks me, because it's my belief that just because one is a fan of a show, that doesn't mean they have to accept all of what was presented, canon couplings included.

I'll site The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series as an example. The writers of the show wanted it so that Egon, one of the GB's, would eventually be dating Janine, the secretary. But I am not a fan of this coupling, because I don't think Janine is a right match for him. Egon is eccentric and scientific and at times, aloof. A potential girlfriend would have to have a lot of patience in dealing with someone as eccentric and aloof as he is. It's also been theorized that Egon may have had an Autism Spectrum Disorder such as Aspergers Syndrome(but that's another matter entirely).

While Janine at times was a bit bookish and nerdy, she had some annoying qualities which really frightened Egon, she came across as flighty at times, and it also seemed to me that she didn't take a genuine interest in his hobbies and things that he liked. Now does that mean I hate Janine? Not at all. Plus, if theory of Egon having an ASD is true, then I don't believe that Janine would have enough patience to deal with someone with an ASD(believe me, I live with it myself, and you gotta have the patience to deal with me!).

Wow...I have never met another person with Aspergers. Great to know that I am not alone. :throwup:

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I know, this is why I was kinda apprehensive to even start posting my stories featuring OC's. It can get scary when you're attacked by rabid fans of the series. :tomato:

More Bumpage. Not just rabid fans, rabid Egon and Janine shippers who see it as a threat to the OTP. :jaws: Which was stupid because it's not like I was gonna have them knockin' boots right off the bat. :rolleyes:

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Old thread, but I did want to verify the origin of the term Mary Sue was from a story in a Trekkie 'zine. Figured I should at least do that...

Still, I have my own take on the topic. A Sue is someone who is just too perfect to be able to connect to. One can be a fucking sex addict as an OC and that can be interesting to see how it affects interactions with others. So, on this variant... Can you connect to the character or see them as someone who could exist, even if they had exceptional or fantastic qualities. It's all about how they are fleshed out and the details.

Now there is also the Bella from the horrid MS/SI Twilight series... *cringes* That is another example of the Sue. Everyone loves me and whatnot... I swear that whole series is a poorly written fanfic. I can't get past the first chapter of the book someone tried to get me to read of it.

Well, I should say... A Sue is all in the details and fluff. If you can connect to a character and see how aspects of their personality or being could be someone you know then congratulations... They ain't a Sue or Stu. There're many stereotypes a character can still fall in but cliche's are as old as time really. So write those OC's and do not fear them in me humble opinionings here, after all that's what published writers do in books added to a setting after all! Mara Jade was an OC who ended up with Luke in the expanded universe of Star Wars. Zahn is an incredibly talented writer and it worked well.... The only difference between his works and the fans now.... He was published and got paid for his efforts. Lucas has decided the EU is no longer that canonical so... That's it. Still doesn't mean I won't hold to that pairing from now on though...

Just me two cents. XD

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I had a huge rant about this yesterday to a friend who had no idea what a MS is.

There are varying opinions on a a MS, I admit that. My version is certainly leaning more towards the "uberly perfect, no flaws what so ever, everyone falls in love with within seconds" MS.

Even my oldest works don't have a MS in there. I'm not one to write one, I never have written one, I am physically and mentally incapable of writing one. I think it comes from the fact that none of my friends have never been perfect, and I draw parts of their personalities and add them to my writing to characters that match their personality to a point, but are totally different. (for example, I can take a females friends very hyper, bubbly personality and add it to someone who at the end of the day, may have a psychological problem, and harm themselves.)

I try make characters that people warm too, and I have thus succeeded in that with my Originals, and even with some OCs in the Harry Potter universe. I have reviews from people who hate OCs, who have loved mine. (they have also loved the actual story too, even if I think its utter crap)

One of my female characters is very fiercely protective of her family and friends, but when it gets too much for her she lashes out at the very people she tries to protect. you see the gradual build up with the small things she does. She doesn't believe that everyone loves her, and will often deny it until she is proven wrong. she isn't a stick thin size 0 model body, she is an "average" body (a size 14 in UK sizes), if a bit "thick" around the middle. She sings, but she isn't good enough to have landed a record deal at the age of 16 and become an overnight billionairess, she is a bookshop worker and sings along to the radio to cheer up customers. She is also the main caregiver to her cousin. Granted the only MS trait she has, is the fact she has owned her house since she left school, that she bought with "daddys money".

Anyway, enough about that.. tis my opinion and thats all ;)

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Just an note about a discussion I had a year ago (last fall semester, actually) in my MFA program about Mary Sues. We had a visiting writer speaking to us and she made a comment that, since everyone hates Mary Sues, perhaps we ought to use them a kind of archetypical anti-character, one that our readers will immediately dislike. She was being facetious, but I work with a woman who falls into that category: she's blond, pretty, skinny as a rail, smart and personable, and all those in authority just love her! What would we do without her! Eggghh. I've killed her at least twice in writing exercises.

I've written on forums for a few years, especially the FF.net forum, and I've been the phrase Mary Sue tossed out where it clearly didn't apply. In fact, I've seen reviewers use the phrase to suggest the character is like the writer - but unless you KNOW the writer, how do really know the character is like them? The Stephen King example works because everyone knows a lot about King, but we don't really know what's on the other side of an avatar on a forum unless we know that person or they've revealed something.

Another element is that beginning writers are told to (and should) write about what they know. They know themselves, so that's not a bad place to start, is it?

I think some reviewers apply the phrase Mary Sue to any story they simply don't like. The phrase often get used when there is insufficient explanation for character motivation. A Mary Sue is character equivalent of the deus ex machina problem: everything goes her way, and there is some utterly ridiculous solution to all her problems. Think Downton Abbey. :)

Bad motivation is different. Recently, I read about a year's worth of confession magazines as part of a literary assignment (don't ask). These are FILLED with horrid motivations: you know, mothers who, for no explanations, suddenly have sex with their daughter's husbands and crap like that. As others have said, that's not a Mary Sue, that's just bad writing.

I don't hate Mary Sues. A number of people in my MFA program seem to hate them, and seem to enjoy telling people how much they hate them. :) I'm kind of meh. If I like the story enough, I keep reading/watching. After all, Anna is my favorite character on Downton Abbey and she's definitely a Mary Sue.

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A character like the writer is NOT a MS. A character like the writer but with only upsides is a MS.

I agree that MS characters are quite enjoyable in some situations. But, you guys forget part of the definition of MS (Perfect without reason). A lot of characters are perfect, but have methods to their madness clearly explained. MS are good for satires.

But near-perfect characters are great for villains. No one likes weak antagonists, they don't push the protagonist.

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