JigokuDayu

Mary Sue How-to

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I wrote this several years ago on LJ. *amuses herself way too much* I thought it might be helpful for people worried about writing a Sue or anyone who just wants a little chuckle.

How to be a Mary Sue by Jezebel Haddo

Have you always wanted to write a Mary Sue character but weren't sure how? Now you can with these 15 easy steps!

1. Prattle endlessly about their hair - Hair is the most important aspect of a person. How can we understand a character if we don't know every minute detail about their hairstyle?

2. Give your character at least two nicknames. It makes them seem more interesting that way.

3. They should be drop-dead sexy. Even if they have traits that are not commonly thought of as sexy, they should have multiple people falling in love with them for no good reason. Only evil and/ or stupid characters should be ugly and/ or fat. Cool characters should be gorgeous or at least ruggedly handsome.

4. Don't waste time developing their personality. All you need to write is that they're a cute, smart, sassy, fun-loving, badass rebel who's good at everything and is popular with the in-crowd. That makes it true to life.

5. Don't give them discernible flaws. Your character will be much cooler if they come across as more god than human.

6. Put an emphasis on music, sports, and dating. The best characters are always listening to hip rock bands, are their team's MVP, and have lots of people falling for them (though they only date equally cool people). That's what life is all about!

7. The rules of any established universe should bend for your character's awesomeness. If anyone complains, they're jealous. Laws and consequences are for losers.

8. Why not make your character a twin? Twins are really common! Every twin has at least one twin.

9. Your character has the right to treat everyone else like scum and still have said scum love and worship them. Hey, how can anyone not love their coolness?

10. If it's a girl, make her super-skinny, yet super-buxom. What's the point of having a nice rack and an incredible arse if she isn't thirty pounds underweight? And we all know that's how most girls are built. If it's a boy, he must be ripped, with a six-pack stomach and bulging biceps, but he's not too muscular, of course.

11. Employ a deus ex machina whenever possible. It's the fun way to solve problems.

12. Make blanket statements with nothing to back them up. If you say your character is friendly, I'll take your word for it, even if they never do anything to show that they're friendly.

13. Oxymorons, stereotypes, and anachronisms are your friends. Just because your character goes to Hogwarts doesn't mean they can't be immersed in Muggle pop culture. A Chinese character doesn't have to be at all Chinese as long as they're named Lee or Wong and they like egg rolls. And just because grunge rock came about in the 90's, doesn't mean someone in the 70's couldn't be listening to it.

14. It's okay to give your character rare abilities, famous relatives/friends/lovers, and a high profile job. While you're at it, why not several of each?

15. Make sure they've experienced lots of trauma, but don't bother showing them actually being affected by it. You don't want the character's coolness being watered down by things like human psychology. Emotions are only good for eliciting sympathy. As long as the character whines about the bad stuff, it will seem authentic.

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This was funny! I was afraid when I clicked on it that it was going to be another one of those lets-bash-any-character-that's-remotely-interesting-and-call-them-mary-sue rants, but it wasn't, so I'm happy. I just went back to some of my old fics and amazed myself with how badly I had written those chars. I was soooo guilty of many of these crimes back then!

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This was funny! I was afraid when I clicked on it that it was going to be another one of those lets-bash-any-character-that's-remotely-interesting-and-call-them-mary-sue rants, but it wasn't, so I'm happy. I just went back to some of my old fics and amazed myself with how badly I had written those chars. I was soooo guilty of many of these crimes back then!

Thank you! I wrote it back when I was an RP mod. Some of the applications the game got were just so bad, I still crack up about them. But it's definitely not restricted to OC's. Just as many canon characters can become one-dimensional. Writing characters, for fics or games, requires development of their personalities. I'd rather read a page of backstory than a page of going on about how so-and-so's good at everything they do.

I wouldn't say I'm completely innocent in creating Sues, but I don't think I've actually written any. Mainly because I'm more of a reader than a writer when it comes to fics. I sort of had years to learn, so hopefully I know the basics now.

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Thank you! I wrote it back when I was an RP mod. Some of the applications the game got were just so bad, I still crack up about them. But it's definitely not restricted to OC's. Just as many canon characters can become one-dimensional. Writing characters, for fics or games, requires development of their personalities. I'd rather read a page of backstory than a page of going on about how so-and-so's good at everything they do.

I wouldn't say I'm completely innocent in creating Sues, but I don't think I've actually written any. Mainly because I'm more of a reader than a writer when it comes to fics. I sort of had years to learn, so hopefully I know the basics now.

LOL if only. I started writing when I was 11. I don't think I really polished my writing skills until I was twenty-two. Of course I slowly improved over the years as anyone would, but when I look back to things I wrote two years ago I'm horrified. Although, I'll probably do the same two years from now... Oh well!

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LOL if only. I started writing when I was 11. I don't think I really polished my writing skills until I was twenty-two. Of course I slowly improved over the years as anyone would, but when I look back to things I wrote two years ago I'm horrified. Although, I'll probably do the same two years from now... Oh well!

I wouldn't get too down about that. A good writer knows there is always room for improvement. We progressively get better all the time. The scary writers are the ones who think they're absolutely perfect as is and explode if you say anything to contradict that.

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I wouldn't get too down about that. A good writer knows there is always room for improvement. We progressively get better all the time. The scary writers are the ones who think they're absolutely perfect as is and explode if you say anything to contradict that.

XD Yeah. That was me at 12 years old.

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Lol, I love this! Very funny and so true. A lot of fic's I've read have done MS's either on purpose or thinking that they have great character. They turn me off to a fic right away since they are too 'cookie cutter', too perfect for my taste. I find myself rolling my eyes everytime I start to read one of those, either in a fanfic with canon character or an OC in Original works. I need to be able to relate to the main character or be able to beleive that they could be real to want to keep readin cuz if you dont like the main character than why read it? While I've only have one fic on AFF, I worked hard not to have a MS. Realistic characters are much more enjoyable to read and write about, we're not perfect so I dont expect fictional characters to be either. When your younger its alot easier to write a MS and not know or think that you are because you think that kind of character is cool. Probably why the preteens around my neighborhood got into twilight, they love the main characters. (Sorry to anyone who likes twilight, no offense to you in any way.) Not my thing at all, couldnt even finish the first book that my sister had. Since I read a lot I tend to pick on on MS's right away and I always want to kick myself when I buy or checkout a book and find myself not liking the main character, money down the drain.

enough ranting of my opinion lol, just thought I'd let you know that I enjoyed the topic, made me literally laught out loud. :D

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Lol, I love this! Very funny and so true. A lot of fic's I've read have done MS's either on purpose or thinking that they have great character. They turn me off to a fic right away since they are too 'cookie cutter', too perfect for my taste. I find myself rolling my eyes everytime I start to read one of those, either in a fanfic with canon character or an OC in Original works. I need to be able to relate to the main character or be able to beleive that they could be real to want to keep readin cuz if you dont like the main character than why read it? While I've only have one fic on AFF, I worked hard not to have a MS. Realistic characters are much more enjoyable to read and write about, we're not perfect so I dont expect fictional characters to be either. When your younger its alot easier to write a MS and not know or think that you are because you think that kind of character is cool. Probably why the preteens around my neighborhood got into twilight, they love the main characters. (Sorry to anyone who likes twilight, no offense to you in any way.) Not my thing at all, couldnt even finish the first book that my sister had. Since I read a lot I tend to pick on on MS's right away and I always want to kick myself when I buy or checkout a book and find myself not liking the main character, money down the drain.

enough ranting of my opinion lol, just thought I'd let you know that I enjoyed the topic, made me literally laught out loud. :D

I don't like Twilight either. I have nothing against the movie or the books itself, since I haven't seen it. It's just the hysterical fanbase frightens me. I'm a bit hypocritical in that way - I'm probably just as rabid when it comes to Saiyuki... Oh well! But yeah, I think in any trend or uber popular fandom, you're going to come across a higher percentage of new writers, many of which - not all - haven't developed the skill to portray quality characters yet. I think once the hype dies down, though, the badly written characters become fewer and far between, whether it be the author's maturing, learning, or going off to the next hyped fandom.

I could just be talking out my ass, but I just find a higher ratio of quality stories in smaller, more obscure fandoms, so it's just a theory! When I started writing fanfiction for Tekken, my writing was terrible, but it wasn't the worst. And I remember once Tekken started getting more media attention, the fandom became swamped with young, hyper teenybopper-type fics it didn't previously have much of.

Of course, I don't have a problem with the hype-inspired fanbases either. Even if there are a lot more Mary Sues. There's advantages to it even if the ratios of quality differ. Like Twilight and Harry Potter, and a few years ago, LotR. Fandoms like that are a great place for young budding authors to start out and find their voices, and some more experienced, weathered authors to have a bigger audience to build their own personal fanbase.

Did I get off topic? I didn't get much sleep, and I talk a lot when I'm exhausted! Oh well, I hope I made at least a little sense!

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I don't think you got too off topic, Clover. And thanks, Karategirl.

Of course, it's not just main characters that can be Sue's. Sometimes it can even be the main character's mother. Ahem, Miss I-can-fly-at-will-as-a-kid-who-doesn't-even-know-she's-a-witch-even-though-flying-unaided-has-previously-been-established-as-beyond-wizarding-ability-in-canon!

Sorry, a certain someone here in the dungeons told me to say that! He's really upset about how he was portrayed in a particular tome that shall remain nameless.

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I don't like Twilight either. I have nothing against the movie or the books itself, since I haven't seen it. It's just the hysterical fanbase frightens me. I'm a bit hypocritical in that way - I'm probably just as rabid when it comes to Saiyuki... Oh well! But yeah, I think in any trend or uber popular fandom, you're going to come across a higher percentage of new writers, many of which - not all - haven't developed the skill to portray quality characters yet. I think once the hype dies down, though, the badly written characters become fewer and far between, whether it be the author's maturing, learning, or going off to the next hyped fandom.

I could just be talking out my ass, but I just find a higher ratio of quality stories in smaller, more obscure fandoms, so it's just a theory! When I started writing fanfiction for Tekken, my writing was terrible, but it wasn't the worst. And I remember once Tekken started getting more media attention, the fandom became swamped with young, hyper teenybopper-type fics it didn't previously have much of.

Of course, I don't have a problem with the hype-inspired fanbases either. Even if there are a lot more Mary Sues. There's advantages to it even if the ratios of quality differ. Like Twilight and Harry Potter, and a few years ago, LotR. Fandoms like that are a great place for young budding authors to start out and find their voices, and some more experienced, weathered authors to have a bigger audience to build their own personal fanbase.

Did I get off topic? I didn't get much sleep, and I talk a lot when I'm exhausted! Oh well, I hope I made at least a little sense!

No, your right on topic Clover, I fully agree with that. Nothing against the books or movies but hype fanbases can get intimidating and create alot of junk stories to be produced by teens who still need to work on their writing skills....or just want to make their fave characters hook up lol.

But your also right that alot of budding authors do spring up from the huge fanbases which actually end up writing some great stuff that leaves you beegin for the next chaper. I like Harry Potter and over the years I've read some really great fics that I hope will one day take that author far.

And yeah Jigoku, I have come across some secondary characters who were MS's, either crazy moms or annoying best friends. lol dont worry, they can remain nameless, very funny though.

Edited by Karategirl422

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I don't think you got too off topic, Clover. And thanks, Karategirl.

Of course, it's not just main characters that can be Sue's. Sometimes it can even be the main character's mother. Ahem, Miss I-can-fly-at-will-as-a-kid-who-doesn't-even-know-she's-a-witch-even-though-flying-unaided-has-previously-been-established-as-beyond-wizarding-ability-in-canon!

Sorry, a certain someone here in the dungeons told me to say that! He's really upset about how he was portrayed in a particular tome that shall remain nameless.

LOL! Yum, inconsistencies and plot holes big enough to swallow a reader whole.

I think the only ones that really annoy me are the fics that seem really good and that I enjoy for a few chapters (six whole chapters on one of the recent ones I've read) and then the main char has a sudden drastic shift in personality or reasoning over the course of two paragraphs in the middle of a scene and you can't seem to figure out what triggered it! I really liked the first six chapters so I kept reading another chapter or two in after that - there were a couple dozen more to go - but the main char's personality was too randomly different that I couldn't enjoy it anymore. Didn't piss me off or anything, it was just disappointing because it had been so good prior to the change.

But its rare that things like that happen in a well written story like that I think. At least I don't come across it often.

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I must agree with both you guys.

I was recently reading a fic that was really good, except in this area. The OC protagonist was well developed and I liked her for the most part. Yet in every other chapter or so, she would do or say something that didn't make any sense. Usually it was something extremely contrary to her established nature. It's very jarring to have a smart, hard-working person flaking out a quarter of the time and acting like a complete ditz.

What really bothered me was the lack of development of the canon character she was paired with. How can someone take such a complex character and make him so one-dimensional? He had great dialogue and actions, but his emotional responses were so fake and tacked on. It was like cardboard. His big moment of pathos in the fic was little more than him making lame excuses for something terrible he'd done.

A lot of it amounts to authors "telling-not-showing." It's not enough to have a character say he feels really bad about something. You have to describe how it affect him in a realistic way. Like, is his stomach knotted up? Are his eyes welling with tears? Are his knuckles clenched? Is his throat tight? Etc, etc. It has to be believable. I think that's the most important factor in not writing Sue's.

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I must agree with both you guys.

I was recently reading a fic that was really good, except in this area. The OC protagonist was well developed and I liked her for the most part. Yet in every other chapter or so, she would do or say something that didn't make any sense. Usually it was something extremely contrary to her established nature. It's very jarring to have a smart, hard-working person flaking out a quarter of the time and acting like a complete ditz.

What really bothered me was the lack of development of the canon character she was paired with. How can someone take such a complex character and make him so one-dimensional? He had great dialogue and actions, but his emotional responses were so fake and tacked on. It was like cardboard. His big moment of pathos in the fic was little more than him making lame excuses for something terrible he'd done.

A lot of it amounts to authors "telling-not-showing." It's not enough to have a character say he feels really bad about something. You have to describe how it affect him in a realistic way. Like, is his stomach knotted up? Are his eyes welling with tears? Are his knuckles clenched? Is his throat tight? Etc, etc. It has to be believable. I think that's the most important factor in not writing Sue's.

Very ture, I totally get where your coming from with that. It is a major let down when an author makes the canon character so flat compared to the actualy personality of that said character. Descriptive words are very improtant otherwise we can't relate to the character in any possible way. Belivability, that little tiny thought of this person could actually be 'real' is a big key in writing OC's...or even Canon Chars if you want to do them justice in portraying them.

I've read some fics where they totally butcher a canon. It's one thing to say that they will be out of character, that I will understand, but to actually try to pass them off as their actuall personality and not at all getting what that charcter is about is is something that turns me off to fic. If your trying to be serious in portraying that character correctly then do some homework, watch episodes/read books/ comics...ect. what ever it is that they are from and put the effort in. It's worth it in the end.

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Very ture, I totally get where your coming from with that. It is a major let down when an author makes the canon character so flat compared to the actualy personality of that said character. Descriptive words are very improtant otherwise we can't relate to the character in any possible way. Belivability, that little tiny thought of this person could actually be 'real' is a big key in writing OC's...or even Canon Chars if you want to do them justice in portraying them.

I've read some fics where they totally butcher a canon. It's one thing to say that they will be out of character, that I will understand, but to actually try to pass them off as their actuall personality and not at all getting what that charcter is about is is something that turns me off to fic. If your trying to be serious in portraying that character correctly then do some homework, watch episodes/read books/ comics...ect. what ever it is that they are from and put the effort in. It's worth it in the end.

Totally! And it just really drives me nuts when it's my all-time favourite, oh-my-god-I'm-so-in-love-with-him character. I can just picture him sneering at the lousy portrayals he's had.

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Totally! And it just really drives me nuts when it's my all-time favourite, oh-my-god-I'm-so-in-love-with-him character. I can just picture him sneering at the lousy portrayals he's had.

Lol, yeah if only these characters knew how they were protrayed. They probably wouldnt like it, much less their creater. All that effort into creating a uniques, complex character only to have them be written to be like an idiot or a total fluffy love sick dude. It just doesnt work.

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Lol, yeah if only these characters knew how they were protrayed. They probably wouldnt like it, much less their creater. All that effort into creating a uniques, complex character only to have them be written to be like an idiot or a total fluffy love sick dude. It just doesnt work.

I wish a certain famous author would get this through that incredibly thick skull of hers. I won't name names. I'm sure everyone can guess.

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I wish a certain famous author would get this through that incredibly thick skull of hers. I won't name names. I'm sure everyone can guess.

Haha, once again I agree with you. No names required there, not at all. :)

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Thank you! I wrote it back when I was an RP mod. Some of the applications the game got were just so bad, I still crack up about them. But it's definitely not restricted to OC's. Just as many canon characters can become one-dimensional. Writing characters, for fics or games, requires development of their personalities. I'd rather read a page of backstory than a page of going on about how so-and-so's good at everything they do.

I wouldn't say I'm completely innocent in creating Sues, but I don't think I've actually written any. Mainly because I'm more of a reader than a writer when it comes to fics. I sort of had years to learn, so hopefully I know the basics now.

Awesome way to learn characterization. I was into D&D years ago. Got me started with creating characters, and led to writing. I'm not a frequent back story O.C. writer. I prefer to throw my O.C. characters to the proverbial rabid wolves form line one. Brings out lots of flaws, and shows the subtle sicknesses so to say. Then again, I tend to write the psycho loner that thinks He/she has to save the world. My O.C. characters last only so long a necessary to carry off the plot requirement. Most of my characters tend to be somewhat psychotic with illusions of grandeur that make them easy enough to kill off as soon as they finish their job.

I did enjoy your how to Mary Sue though. That made me smile. It usually is the oh so perfect that irritates everyone around. Then again, I've known an FBI lady my uncle worked with for several months who was damned near perfect. Took nearly four months to find a single flaw in that one. She was scary perfect. All I can say is that when I found out she had driven herself into a really huge emotional hole from the stress, she finally became human. It took her needing emergency surgery to put her damaged guts back together because she had so many bleeding ulcers for people around her to recognize that there is such a thing as an imposter of perfection. One thing I would love to see is the Cannon that sees and O.C. as perfect. Then show the O.C. away from the Cannon do something like bulimia fits or any kind of huge emotional crack up where the other characters can't see the supposed perfect one completely lose it. the O.C. resumes his or her spotlight on the stage with the cannons, and voila, you have seen how imperfect and fake the O.C. is pretending to be.

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Awesome way to learn characterization. I was into D&D years ago. Got me started with creating characters, and led to writing. I'm not a frequent back story O.C. writer. I prefer to throw my O.C. characters to the proverbial rabid wolves form line one. Brings out lots of flaws, and shows the subtle sicknesses so to say. Then again, I tend to write the psycho loner that thinks He/she has to save the world. My O.C. characters last only so long a necessary to carry off the plot requirement. Most of my characters tend to be somewhat psychotic with illusions of grandeur that make them easy enough to kill off as soon as they finish their job.

I did enjoy your how to Mary Sue though. That made me smile. It usually is the oh so perfect that irritates everyone around. Then again, I've known an FBI lady my uncle worked with for several months who was damned near perfect. Took nearly four months to find a single flaw in that one. She was scary perfect. All I can say is that when I found out she had driven herself into a really huge emotional hole from the stress, she finally became human. It took her needing emergency surgery to put her damaged guts back together because she had so many bleeding ulcers for people around her to recognize that there is such a thing as an imposter of perfection. One thing I would love to see is the Cannon that sees and O.C. as perfect. Then show the O.C. away from the Cannon do something like bulimia fits or any kind of huge emotional crack up where the other characters can't see the supposed perfect one completely lose it. the O.C. resumes his or her spotlight on the stage with the cannons, and voila, you have seen how imperfect and fake the O.C. is pretending to be.

Actually several game systems are better for teaching character creation with weaknesses and flaws as well as story hooks for the gamemaster/author to exploit. If your game group is more mature you can get some very rich characters, good training to the future author. Of course some games or editions of older games let characters have no weaknesses. The White Wolf and Champion systems are good at that kind of balance. Scifi games usually have to live with unpopular actions, limited resources and healing. And Call of Cuthulu creates characters who might start as Sues, but slide into anti-Sue and madness.

I partly moved to writing because the game group wanted to be Stus after years of original characters. It made world and plot creation a waste of time and effort. More of the same as canon seems to be what Sues want not something new.

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Reading the game console post makes me glad I was never big on playing video games. Sadly, Sue and Stu seems to be the world's sell worthy asset to the entertainment industry. It is becoming prevalent in television, Movies, books and video games. Perhaps that explains the hatred of the O.C. specifically female versions. Whether it is a fashion magazine or what have you, girls are under so much pressure to conform to fads, and all the rest. They measure themselves against the beautiful and flawless lie produced by so much makeup cake that you can't see the moles etc that are there under the paint.

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On 4/18/2013 at 6:16 PM, Kurahieiritr said:

Awesome way to learn characterization. I was into D&D years ago. Got me started with creating characters, and led to writing. I'm not a frequent back story O.C. writer. I prefer to throw my O.C. characters to the proverbial rabid wolves form line one. Brings out lots of flaws, and shows the subtle sicknesses so to say. Then again, I tend to write the psycho loner that thinks He/she has to save the world. My O.C. characters last only so long a necessary to carry off the plot requirement. Most of my characters tend to be somewhat psychotic with illusions of grandeur that make them easy enough to kill off as soon as they finish their job

I wonder whether playing role-playing games early one helps one avoid the Mary Sue trap. Character creation in an RPG usually involves tradeoffs (or at least the odd bad die roll), so unless you are crazy lucky (or cheat like mad), your character can’t be perfect. As a result, you’re always thinking about characters in terms of their strengths and their weaknesses.

Edited by GeorgeGlass
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Alternatively, don’t write an anti Sue…

I asked on FFN what the polar opposite of a Mary Sue/Gary Stue was and got an Anti.  I thought it was quite funny, having it explained to me that the character has so many flaws that they are perpetually suffering from bad luck that no normal person could possibly endure.

The only reason I had asked was because I was worried (sort of) that my crossover seemed to be more of an Anti Stu rather than a someone in the middle type guy.  

 

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