Melania_Prince

Am I a Mary Sue?

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Hi. I'm new here. I don't know where to start with getting the question I'm asking through to everyone. I used to think I was great when it came to making characters. But lately I've noticed that a lot of the characters I make are the same and nothings changing. I write characters who always have sad backgrounds, are really clingy and cute, or like to be alone, but I never actually make them be alone. It seems to me, like I'm making characters based off myself, or how I want myself to be, but still the same in every way. I need help. I don't want to be a Mary Sue. How can I change how I make my characters? Please help.

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This is a very common doubt that plagues writers, particularly if they're new at the art. The only way to really know whether the characters you're writing are Mary Sues or not is to develop a strong sense of objectivity. You need to learn to pretend you have other opinions, other viewpoints, that you don't know what you, as a writer, know. Place yourself in the eyes of the audience, that's the only way you're going to find out. Like, for example, pretend you despise "cuteness" or clinginess. Does your character still have redeeming factors? Does she have flaws the audience can identify with? (remember: a flaw is only a flaw if it actually hampers the character; arachnophobia is not a flaw if the character never encounters spiders or never actually gets hindered in any way when she encounters one).

Being detached and unemotional about your own writing is one of the hardest skills to acquire, but it's arguably the best when it comes to ensuring the quality of your work.

And if you ever become a respected author someday, do try to keep this sort of thing in mind. I can't tell you how many authors I've seen who become so full of themselves in their maturity that they don't even consider the possibility that they too can make mistakes and write painful Mary Sues.

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And if you ever become a respected author someday, do try to keep this sort of thing in mind. I can't tell you how many authors I've seen who become so full of themselves in their maturity that they don't even consider the possibility that they too can make mistakes and write painful Mary Sues.

Lol... Too true.

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I think all authors are afraid of that in some way or another, no matter what they write. Are my characters solid, are they three-dimensional? Did I take my time and flesh them out enough?

Some scenes I've written make me cringe and I've been known to ask my editors over and over, "do they read okay?" lol I cringed with each and every chapter of the fic I posted here, even though I had been pretty proud of myself previously.

Shadowknight (edit: ack, sorry not used to this forum setup!) basically has the best advice, IMHO. Detach yourself from your work and you'll be better for it. Even negative reviews and flames can help you if you keep an open mind and your emotions in check.

Edited by Firefall_Varuna

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On 6/21/2012 at 4:01 AM, Melania_Prince said:

Hi. I'm new here. I don't know where to start with getting the question I'm asking through to everyone. I used to think I was great when it came to making characters. But lately I've noticed that a lot of the characters I make are the same and nothings changing. I write characters who always have sad backgrounds, are really clingy and cute, or like to be alone, but I never actually make them be alone. It seems to me, like I'm making characters based off myself, or how I want myself to be, but still the same in every way. I need help. I don't want to be a Mary Sue. How can I change how I make my characters? Please help.

Mary Sue’s are one thing but don’t go overboard and off the cliff on the otherside.

 

I think first, You should write a mary sue and then just use it as a reference of what not to do.

There is nothing wrong with characters who all happen to have sad backgrounds. Tragedy is everywhere. Why are they clingy do they have a reason to be clingy is it just there without reason.

The best way to avoid mary sue is let things happen to your characters. Let them live. They shouldn't get their way all the times. Things happen. Items.

How do the clingy don’t want to be alone characters react when circumstances force them to be alone? 

 

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On 6/21/2012 at 11:01 AM, Melania_Prince said:

Hi. I'm new here. I don't know where to start with getting the question I'm asking through to everyone. I used to think I was great when it came to making characters. But lately I've noticed that a lot of the characters I make are the same and nothings changing. I write characters who always have sad backgrounds, are really clingy and cute, or like to be alone, but I never actually make them be alone. It seems to me, like I'm making characters based off myself, or how I want myself to be, but still the same in every way. I need help. I don't want to be a Mary Sue. How can I change how I make my characters? Please help.

What I do to help combat the tendency, is to randomly choose some personality traits for each character.  So, I’ve got a file with a comprehensive list of various traits, and let the computer randomly grab from it.  Ditto for hobbies, allergies, and  phobias; that’ll help shape the characters.  In the end, though, there will always be a bit of you in the character, but hopefully, they’ll all be distinctive enough that an audience can’t tell that it started out as an orgy in your head.

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14 hours ago, InvidiaRed said:

The best way to avoid mary sue is let things happen to your characters. Let them live. They shouldn't get their way all the times.

Yaaas! Let shit happen! Might I also add to that, let good and bad things happen to other characters? Our lives aren’t always about us. Sometimes we get involved in other people’s shit and we’d be douchebags if we went around making all that other stuff all about us. But maybe your character is a douchebag, so they make things all about them, which is fine, just make sure the surrounding characters react accordingly, and don’t all rip off their clothes on sight and throw themselves at the douchebag. 

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I don’t think just “letting things happen” to a character is enough to combat the Mary Sue disease. A lot of stuff happened to Rey from the current Star Wars trilogy, but that hasn’t prevented her from being good at absolutely everything she does on the first try, which makes it kind of pointless for her to have a story arc. For example, she had no real motivation to seek out Luke Skywalker, because he had nothing to teach her, so that part of the story came off as contrived. Compare that with the story arc of young Luke in the original trilogy, who had to confront not just enemies and hazards but his own flaws before he could become a Jedi. That’s what made his story worth watching.

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On 8/24/2018 at 7:34 PM, GeorgeGlass said:

I don’t think just “letting things happen” to a character is enough to combat the Mary Sue disease. A lot of stuff happened to Rey from the current Star Wars trilogy, but that hasn’t prevented her from being good at absolutely everything she does on the first try, which makes it kind of pointless for her to have a story arc. For example, she had no real motivation to seek out Luke Skywalker, because he had nothing to teach her, so that part of the story came off as contrived. Compare that with the story arc of young Luke in the original trilogy, who had to confront not just enemies and hazards but his own flaws before he could become a Jedi. That’s what made his story worth watching.

The only thing that makes sense with Rey. Is that she is likely a wound in the force. Like the Exile in KOTOR2 but much more badly written. She doesn’t display force powers until after she encounters other force users.

The funniest theory regarding her is that she might be Aboleth. The most OP character in the extended universe.

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