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Why Do We Hate Mary Sue?

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One of the classic GaryStu characters, and I will admit to loving him anyway, is Drizzt Do'urden. Salvatore is obviously living out a rich and marvelous fantasy life through his worthy drow, but the books are fun and I'm willing to suspend disbelief to enjoy the escapism. :D

Twilight is just poorly written as well as having characters I just can't care about. Bella and Edward are largely one-dimensional, and were they characters in any of the gaming 'verses I enjoy, I'd be prodding the writers and devs mercilessly for subjecting us to such an onslaught of cardboard.

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Some reviewers sadly just fling accusations that are not refutable and they won't explain it better. There are so many kinds of Mary Sue, but the accurate times is bad writing, where the Sue is too perfect and spoiled and doesn't have hard to overcome obstacles. Heinlein famously asked something like 'now how can I put their fanny in a bear trap?'

:):D and if the accuser also begs for more of a Mary Sue then it really isn't too bad. Asking for more, totally refutes the accusation, as Mary Sue is a shorthand for bad writing. A good writer can make a Sue into a great story. Many good writers started writing more Sue-ish and improved.

Gary Stues don't get accused as often because whole swaths of Sue traits are 'feminine' traits like appearance and sweetness, which is less often dwelled upon for male characters. Not as many males are written as 'angelic' whose smiles and goodness are an inspiration to even their critics. Male characters have much more agency in stories: they may be strong or clever or really fast with a light saber, but male characters act on the world directly. One Sue, that I kept reading because it was like watching a train wreck, didn't actually do anything, like a pampered toy pet. In a world of magic they didn't do any healing, in many, many chapters, even when friends or innocents were hurt. Males acted, but sue didn't even take the traditional female role of healer and helpmate either, she existed only to be admired. Luke Skywalker in New Hope was pretty Stuish, but Yoda put him into the swamp and made him sweat and he made mistakes => Campbell's Hero's Journey. Sues cannot make that journey or the Heroine's Path if the only flaws the writer admits are trivial, like being too beautiful.

If the reviewers accuse of Sue dom, are they willing to be specific or is this some odd kind of jealousy? Maybe they're inserting themselves into the female OC and they aren't happy that you aren't following the Sue script as they expect. Sues <> OC, I will never say that is an equal set as I write strong female leads who have to work and sweat and suffer for their endings. The traits of a Sue almost always include a love interest, and are well described on wikipedia and the tropes on tv site.

Actually I was a published Writer and a Professional Editor through the 90's with a two page listing of Published Works added to my resume's credit. No valuable input explanations are given about my Female O.C., except the one person who ranted she did not act Native American enough because she is half blood Native American. Sounded like she felt Sam should be a clone of her, the reader. I'd say that is a perfect example of the rants I get. Not enough like me is the biggest underlying message in my Mary Sue bashing reviews.

Therefore, I'm quite certain my supposed Sue is not a Sue. However, she was designed based upon a real high-level female FBI agent I knew a few years ago. I twisted Samantha's personality considerably so she's not completely like the real woman I drew off of to create the same kind of strong, willful, and highly obsessed with personal performance/honor personality. Nor is my Sue a good Girl, or particularly sweet. She speaks Japanese, but is sometimes snappy when a native or cannon Project D character does not speak slow enough that she can do mental translations. Samantha could not follow the Sue script if her life depended on it. She's way too violent to ever fit a Sue mold. I never state that she's pretty, only that she strikes the members of Project D as being very unusual. She's dressed in Neo-Vamp Gothic clothes and has tons of braids in her long hair when they first meet her. One reason for her design was to point out the horrific plethora of non mechanical know how stupidity that overwhelms the vast majority of Initial D fan fiction online at all sites. I know automotive upgrades and other things. Even her car reflects such know how. So I am pretty sure that it is a huge bunch of Bunk. Most of the readers are so incompetent in the mechanical aspect of writing Initial D they do not understand what they are reading or writing in the genre. Initial D is also the biggest offender in fanfiction to date with Sue/Stu characters who beat Project D and then conquer the rest of Japan. Worst of all, They always seem to be from America. I wrote this at first as a tongue in Cheek Hey morons, the impossible needs to be realistic. ROFL. However the demand to continue this saga has been rather pressing.

Samantha Singing Wolf is a trained body guard who was in her introduction actively working for the American Embassy in Japan. Of all the expanding number of O.C. cast i have produced through 4 novel sized stories to date to play good guys and bad guys alike, Sam is the one all the morons want removed. My suspicions get firmer with each flaming Sue bash that it is her refusal to be a Sue that angers the readers.

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I posted two in depth development tools to prevent Mary Sue/Gary Stu Original characters from forming. It is the main character development heading of these forums. Since someone mentioned an interest the two long posts got made. Hope they help everyone who wonders if they have a Stu/Sue character on their hands.

Character Development sheets To beat Sue/Stu Problems is where the cribs are located. I really hope they help everyone who is interested in them. Edited by Kurahieiritr

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... Most of the readers are so incompetent in the mechanical aspect of writing Initial D they do not understand what they are reading or writing in the genre. Initial D is also the biggest offender in fanfiction to date with Sue/Stu characters who beat Project D and then conquer the rest of Japan. Worst of all, They always seem to be from America. I wrote this at first as a tongue in Cheek Hey morons, the impossible needs to be realistic. ROFL. However the demand to continue this saga has been rather pressing.

Samantha Singing Wolf is a trained body guard who was in her introduction actively working for the American Embassy in Japan. Of all the expanding number of O.C. cast i have produced through 4 novel sized stories to date to play good guys and bad guys alike, Sam is the one all the morons want removed. My suspicions get firmer with each flaming Sue bash that it is her refusal to be a Sue that angers the readers.

That is one of the biggest problems with Sues, that they are not realistic, The details of the setting are ignored and other things stuffed in, like the one famous Sue who clothed herself in American goth boutiques and chain stores in a HP story. Or very commonly, a complete unfamiliarity how people got/get around without cars and trains. Simple fact checking would take about 15 seconds online, because people still do endurance rides on horses as competition or drive buggies through the countryside in places. I don't know how many times a read had come to a screeching halt because I'm going WTF when I reach something that's not a simple typo but a serious lack of understanding by the writer, If they have a beta, too, I really don't know why their artistic vision requires that they keep a travel detail when it's not a part of their story and it makes them look really bad. Lack of believability kills a reader's enjoyment.

I think you are probably right when the Sue lovers get upset at more realistic depictions. They confuse realistic competence with Sue 'perfection.' That is actually a little sad that they believe that women cannot be accomplished and three dimensional :cry: What it says about their expectations and society's, is troubling as well. A recent review was upset that my lead still had to follow orders even after the mission ended, that she couldn't do everything she wanted because she was the lead.

I haven't been accused of Sue very often, almost never, though my leads hit a few traits their Sue purity scores are good.. A strong competent lead will do that in fanfic, especially if they fit the standard for the universe. Magic in a Harlequin romance is special, but in a high fantasy or a CRPG is normal.

I posted two in depth development tools to prevent Mary Sue/Gary Stu Original characters from forming. It is the main character development heading of these forums. Since someone mentioned an interest the two long posts got made. Hope they help everyone who wonders if they have a Stu/Sue character on their hands.

Character Development sheets To beat Sue/Stu Problems is where the cribs are located. I really hope they help everyone who is interested in them.

Yeah I ran my various leads through a Sue purity test, just to be sure. The problem is the ones who write the worst Sues are convinced that they aren't.

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Trust me, I spent a long time working this out.

Well, when people read fanfics, they look at say... some Anime guy, and they think "Baby I'd like to be fucking him." Or that they'd like to be saving the day.

So, we can't possibly be the ones fucking or saving or starring. It's somebody else who's the star, and we can't pretend they're us, or that they'll fall for us, because they've already fallen for somebody more perfect than we could ever be. In other words, we hate Mary Sue because we are JEALOUS of her. She makes us feel inadequate.

The real problem with the Mary Sue is that usually the only person who can identify with her is the writer. Her personality, looks and perfection are just too hard for a reader to identify with. And we're jealous that she's got the man we wanted, that she's in the setting we want to see ourselves in, that she's perfect but we can't be. And why shouldn't we be? Mary Sue has everything we desire, but we could never have. The hot fantasy robot as a boyfriend, the good looks, the adoration - and though she's got a million friends, there's no way we would ever be friends with her because she's too freaking-ass self-centered. And on top of all that, all the important things in this world we once loved are now happening to her. True, in the story, she has to be deeply integrated, but she's always there, involving herself.

If I think of more, I'll add it, but that's a start to why we hate Mary Sue.

We are JEALOUS.

I like your response because it totally smacks of honesty. My only problem with the OC female bash in my story is that she does not get the hot guy cause He's already taken by his equally hot male teammate. ROFL. As to the save the day bit, well I suppose that might be a reason to have a fit with my O.C. female. After all she's a trained body guard who takes down a demented stalker to save cannon character lives. Other than that, my O.C. is very imperfect. She's an anal perfection freak from hell that makes a couple of the cannon characterless from the real anime series want to murder her. But I suppose if you can't do the saving because my O.C. is coming through so strong personality wise, this answer makes the best sense to me yet.

Concerning the comment that those who are convinced their O.C.is not a Sue equals a Sue: I have seen a few of those authors also. However, when I think about the fact that the Sue squeaks actually started when My O. C. did her Body Guard Job description, I tend to agree with the poster that feels it is a jealousy because the reader could not take over Samantha's position to rescue the stalked Project D team. I did not give readers that opening. It was described from a dazed and shocked Cannon's view. HE was like; "what the fuck? Is that bitch insane or what?" Smacks of the reader did not get to save Takumi's life by playing the O.C. as I consider the reviews I have received, and where the actual hate began.

Edited by Kurahieiritr

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I like Sue/Stu's, but they have to be done right or they become to predictable. What is fun is to build a character like Mary Sue and then slowly reveal flaws and weaknesses, let the reader slowly discover that the character isn't as perfect as the she/he seemed at first blush. That way you show that your character isn't perfect, just better at hiding their flaws...that makes them real because that's what we all do obsess over flaws, either real or percieved, and try to deperately hide them from others

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One of the problems with Mary Sues is that we're mainly told about them, rather than see them do something. We're told they're smart, witty, good in strategy, perfect, beautiful, strong, independent, social, friendly, etc.

Yet with exception of beauty (a lot of Sue-writers do tend to describe their pet Sue's appearance with huge amount of detail), we never see that proved. Okay, maybe the Sue wins a game of chess in the story's background somewhere (not that that immediately makes someone a strategy wiz), and maybe some people laugh at a witty remark of them (though often, the remark itself isn't shown and if it is, it's usually not all that witty), but that's it.

Sometimes, we hear about them doing things that prove those points, but even then, the actual action is rarely shown. "Mary Antoinette Raven Tara Susan "Sue" Blackwood smiled as the strategy she had convinced the others of proved to be working." vs. "I think," Mary said, "that we should reinforce the troops here, because the intelligence we have suggests the enemy will likely come ashore nearby. Perhaps we could set up a trap there for them."

The first only tells us she's good in strategy, the second shows it (or disproves it, depending on the result later in the story).

Of course, it's not a problem if some things are told rather than shown; however, the problem with many Sues is that we almost completely have to rely on things the author tells us, rather than shows us, which makes Sues boring - perhaps even moreso than their supposed lack of flaws, or the sheer predictability of the character and events it stars in. (It also basically makes most Sues a form of unreliable narrating)

And this reason is why Mary Sue stories makes poor writing.

Most of the time, Mary Sue writers get too intent to pile awesomeness upon awesomeness for their Sues to "shine" more that the narrative suffers. Instead of an engaging story, we get is a list of cool things that the character has done. And considering how anything can happen in the fictional world, this list of amazing feats fail to impress.

The presence of Mary Sues are especially irritating in fanfics because they frequently warp the universe of an existing fandom to an unrecognizable form. In other words, they invade the fandom.

People who read fanfics come in with certain hopes/expectations of the settings, rules, and characters - but in Mary Sue stories, all of this would have been changed. Instead of seeing our favorite characters in action, we see them abandon their personality and goals that made us like them in favor of an Original Characters we don't know, let alone emphasize with. We came for entertainment, but we are forced to see someone else's shopping list instead.

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Wow!  A lot of insights on these Mary/Marty Sue characters, the good, the bad, and the ugly so to speak.  I don’t judge those who use these types of characters, however, personally, I don’t use them (based on the definition I understand them to be) but I totally and completely get the concept that type of writing provides, regardless of the genre, it is a personal expression and should be viewed as such.  I'm just now getting back into writing after about a 20-25 year break, it's amazing to me that Fan-Fiction has actually been around that long, but then again not!

I think it's important to remember that there is an audience for every type or style of writing, even for the ‘out of this world, totally perfect’ non-canon characters.  Some readers are simply looking for an escape so to speak from the normal routine of a particular storyline, these characters do that for them and it’s a good thing!  It won’t and shouldn’t blow their minds so speak about the original storyline.  I compare it to my choice of genre and accept the fact that there are some (a lot of) people that are offended by graphically described sexual acts whether they are normal (if there is such a thing) or blatant erotica and that that entails.  I love being the antagonist, I don’t want some superhero coming in to save the day or a bumbling idiot for the sake of humor.

It’s just a personal choice, but I tend to do enormous amounts of research when it comes to canon characters and I do my best (in my opinion) to maintain some form of continuity to that character.  With that being said, when I choose to create a new character from the ground up, all that research is heavily relied on in an effort to make them fit into the world I’m writing.

For example, my current (and forever shall be) obsession is Tolkien, so I resort to my membership in various Tolkien Societies to create these ‘new’ characters so they will fit in.  Every character has their own bio-sheet that describes everything about them, some are several pages long depending on what role they are to play in the story.  I have about seven personally created characters in my overall cast for the Hobbit/LOTR.  Introducing them to canon characters can sometimes be difficult if I intend to run some form of a parallel path with the original authors' ideology.  Beyond the fact that I completely adore Tolkiens’ works, I think the gaps in time, the abundance of unknowns, and the general ‘left undone’ and missing parts of his works leave a lot of room for Fan-Fiction creativity.  There’s always an interesting side story to tell (evil grin).

Respectfully speaking, I am not judging anyone regardless of their use or non-use of these types of characters.  In another site, I still belong to (because they have great resources), these types of characters are forbidden which I think is wrong.  It is now strictly a Hobbit/LOTR site and the admins are getting pretty picking if you get ‘too far out of line’ (in their opinion) with canon characters.  No writer should be limited in their creativity as long as there is an audience that is reading their work.

Thanks for reading, it’s just another point of view.

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Wow, @Avaloyuru I think I agree with pretty much everything you just said lol. I even used to do the bio sheets too (now I just start writing and after a scene, when I’m in the head of the characters, I start to map out their personality in the planning files and make decisions about quirks and whatnot.) 

It’s been quite a few years since this thread started, and I think my views on the Mary sue/Gary stu topic have changed or evolved somewhat. I think a lot of the symptoms of that kinda character are kinda important to beginning writers, especially young ones, in sort of experimenting with character development and learning how to get in their characters heads, and learning the empathy and whatnot required to really write a powerful character. Might not be an experience all writers go through, but I think it’s a crucial one for many. 

And definitely, some writers stick to that kinda character as their weapon of choice. That’s totally legit. I used to think it was an indication of bad writing to have a mary sue character. Though I didn’t necessarily think a perfect character was mary sue, but rather a character that makes the characters around them act in nonsensical ways (like everyone in the story gushing that Suzie is such a sweetheart, even though all her appearances, she seems pretty mean and inappropriate). But the perfect character that everyone wants to be with, which often is defined as the mary sue character, can absolutely be done with tact and skill.

Everyone should do the characters that they enjoy. Personally, they’re not my cup of tea, but I’m more of a villain lover than a hero humper to begin with. 

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LOL @CloverReef Thanks for the shout out!  Absolutely!  There are a number of forum threads that are a few years old that I’m reading and commenting on over the past couple of days.  I know there are a lot of voyeurs in here that I hope will take something positive away from what we share here.  I’m still trying to learn a lot of new things, particularly when it comes to initials used to describe things.  Some, like OC’s are easy to figure out, others not so much.  I find myself having these DUH moments, LOL.

I have to admit the title of 'Mary Sue' is new to me, it wasn't something I heard 20-25 years ago when I first started writing Fan-Fic but reading through some of the forums I understand it.  We all write for different reasons and purposes which are what determines the need or rejection of these types of characters.  I've read a few stories with them included, some were very nicely written while others were for what I call humor relief.  The writer may not agree with me but hey, I got something out of the story and somebody out there loved what they wrote and that's what it's all about.

For example, I'm currently working on a short 'break out' story for this site.  It's a bit mild in the erotic area than my usual choice and it's F/M instead of M/M.  But at the same time, there is a purpose in this 'episode' and that is to introduce a deeper element (that I see) in a Hobbit/LOTR canon character.  This storyline actually has more OC’s than canon characters LOL

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3 minutes ago, Avaloyuru said:

For example, I'm currently working on a short 'break out' story for this site.  It's a bit mild in the erotic area than my usual choice and it's F/M instead of M/M.  But at the same time, there is a purpose in this 'episode' and that is to introduce a deeper element (that I see) in a Hobbit/LOTR canon character.  This storyline actually has more OC’s than canon characters LOL

Not surprising. That’s a really rich world you have to work with! I look forward to seeing what you dish out, but mostly I hope to see some of your M/M stuff soon ;) 

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On 4/3/2013 at 3:44 AM, BronxWench said:

Because I often write for game fandoms, I am often handed plot lines that require my PC to be something of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. The challenge for me becomes one of explaining why this one particular person is the only one who can save the world, while at the same time trying to flesh out the frequently cardboard NPCs that follow my PC around.

It's a fascinating challenge to un-Sue that Sue. If you think about it, no hero ever acts alone. There's always something, and that can be the fun part of writing for these fandoms. I like to flesh out the NPCs with back stories that give you an idea of why they're tagging along, and personalities of their own instead of having them serve as mirrors for the PC's actions. I've also been known to credit some of the quest successes to NPCs rather than the PC where it makes more sense for the NPC to have done better. It makes for a richer and more realistic narrative.

Having said that, the anti-Sue is as awful. The lead character who is paralyzed by indecision, or self doubt. The guilt-wracked character who can't forgive themselves for past mistakes, and judges every action by those errors. The one who turns humility into a vice rather than a virtue (which calls to mind another pet peeve completely unrelated to this thread). The self-effacing mouse who becomes somehow competent under duress.

Gamers have a love/hate relationship with Sues, and when we turn writer, we get a chance to see if we can do better. That's the fun part.

That’s an interesting take on the Sue issue there, BW.  And reading that, I think I see a bit of the anti-Sue in myself…. :Eye::Eye:

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1 hour ago, CloverReef said:

And definitely, some writers stick to that kinda character as their weapon of choice. That’s totally legit. I used to think it was an indication of bad writing to have a mary sue character. Though I didn’t necessarily think a perfect character was mary sue, but rather a character that makes the characters around them act in nonsensical ways (like everyone in the story gushing that Suzie is such a sweetheart, even though all her appearances, she seems pretty mean and inappropriate). But the perfect character that everyone wants to be with, which often is defined as the mary sue character, can absolutely be done with tact and skill.

Great point about some folks enjoying the ability to write over perfected original characters. I find I’m tolerant of an overly perfected character that the canon characters gush over only so long as the situation proves they are worthy of the gushing gets shown to me. It’s the telling me that a character is something spectacular without adding any convincing activities that makes me irritable with the Sue/Stu variety characters. Such a feeling is a common enough argument against them as there is nothing to really make such perfected characters feel believable which is the whole reason for the bashing when you really consider the root issue that causes the discontented feelings in readers. I’ve seen a few writers who make very compelling Sue and Stu characters, but the compelling element truly is in having a strong grasp of characterization and showing the attributes in action that makes such characters a good and entertaining read.

It is still a case of irritation for many fans whenever the perfect seeming, yet rather boring written out OC overtakes the canon characters abilities and makes the canon characters look incompetent in some fashion. Outshining the canon characters in fan fiction is when the most complaints of Mary Sue characterization happens as far as I can tell. Whenever an OC earns their place through activities, so is okay to outshine the other canon characters, a lot fewer grumbles are heard from the fan base in many cases. It also seems to depend on what specific show or genre/series you are looking at writing from what I’ve noticed as a writer of numerous animes/mangas. Some fandoms are very accepting of a Mary or Gary, while others are exceptionally intolerant as was commented upon about an LOTR site within this thread. Initial D is not very accepting because of the unbelievable American take over of the fandom class 14 year old writers making their fantasies of being great drivers without ever having driven disease. Zero real research also adds to the likelihood of hatred for an OC overall. Like was described here, the over described clothing and similar aspects drive readers into mental corners, and that also plays a huge role in the Mary Sue bashing. Gary never gets half so much block paragraph descriptions as a rule. He’s allowed to move around more while being described unlike Sue which is trapped within a rigid series of overblown details most of the time.

Anime/mangas like Fairy Tail tends to have a fandom that will applaud the crazy OC perfected character with fair ease and adoration so long as the character’s magic is within bounds, and they have a perceived flaw somewhere in their make up. Stuff like Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin fandoms are another free for all where Mary and Gary can thrive because the fandom tends to make everything into AU type stories and ignores canon-verse. So I think a lot of the real Mary and Gary variety complaints have shifted due to the fandom based readership in many cases. I see some fandoms being very intolerant like Initial D, while others are more open to the OC who’s a bit too perfect or over the top enough to place a canon in the shaddow so to speak.

Additionally, there seems to be a phenomena that is very much anti-female original character oriented so there’s a hint of a double standard society has created at work in the deeper levels of psychological kickback experienced most of the time.  It is rare to see the same level of vitriol spewed toward Gary Stu characters as a whole even when they eclipse a canon character too far that I’ve noticed over my years of being a fan fiction writer.

Flames due to Mary/Gary characterization may also be a powerful factor in the uptick in Canon Character x Reader stories as a whole because it removes the ability to complain and hate an OC that someone has written into a fan fiction also. Due to pressure to not get flamed and screamed at, the  “x Reader” craze has gained a solid toe hold and is not likely to vanish any time soon. So in a strange twist of fate, we have the emergence of a secondary way to engage readers while making it impossible to spew OC hatred with the sudden surge of x Reader story lines. I know Devianart is in overload with x Reader tales of late, and you have to wade through a lot of stories to find canon x canon or even canon x OC type stories over the last year.

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2 hours ago, Avaloyuru said:

LOL @CloverReef Thanks for the shout out!  Absolutely!  There are a number of forum threads that are a few years old that I’m reading and commenting on over the past couple of days.  I know there are a lot of voyeurs in here that I hope will take something positive away from what we share here.  I’m still trying to learn a lot of new things, particularly when it comes to initials used to describe things.  Some, like OC’s are easy to figure out, others not so much.  I find myself having these DUH moments, LOL.

Have to admit I was wondering about the sudden surge in comments on years old topics, but I’m guessing the debate still rages today, and it’s every bit as relevant.

A web comic about Sue: http://interrobangstudios.com/comics-display.php?strip_id=989

I try to avoid Sues myself (maybe name a non-sue OC as Sue….?)  However, if Sue is what floats a particular author, gets ‘em writing, gives them experience to then go back and judge, that’s okay too, because we all have to start somewhere and we’ll all make mistakes (unless the byline is Mary Sue...she’ll get it perfect the first time).

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1 hour ago, Desiderius Price said:

Have to admit I was wondering about the sudden surge in comments on years old topics, but I’m guessing the debate still rages today, and it’s every bit as relevant.

A web comic about Sue: http://interrobangstudios.com/comics-display.php?strip_id=989

I try to avoid Sues myself (maybe name a non-sue OC as Sue….?)  However, if Sue is what floats a particular author, gets ‘em writing, gives them experience to then go back and judge, that’s okay too, because we all have to start somewhere and we’ll all make mistakes (unless the byline is Mary Sue...she’ll get it perfect the first time).

Absolutely! You took the words right out of my mouth – whatever gets em writing, I’ll get behind 100%… well, within reason. (I may have some reservations about hateful propaganda lol). The one thing I could not stand back when I was in fan fiction a million years ago, was when writers would write stories making fun of ‘bad’ writers in their fandom, which was often the beginners. That is a way worse offense than intentionally or accidentally making a mary sue/gary stu character. I can’t imagine how many of those beginner writers were so humiliated and bullied they never picked up the pen again. 

@Kurahieiritr You really know your stuff, don’t you? Your analysis of the various fandoms and the differences on their general treatment of sue/stu is fascinating. I’m really curious about that double standard. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, but I’ve been out of fan fiction so long… Well I don’t know why it seems to be a fan fiction flame thing. Mary sue is not a strictly fan fiction concept, but I haven’t noticed the term floating around in the original fiction world as much as I did in the fan fiction world. Though I am specifically m/m, which very well may be evidence of your whole point. When most of the mains are male, the issue doesn’t seem to come up. 

I wonder if F/F or M/F writers have more problems with readers screaming mary sue?

Edited by CloverReef

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5 minutes ago, CloverReef said:

Mary sue is not a strictly fan fiction concept, but I haven’t noticed the term floating around in the original fiction world as much as I did in the fan fiction world. Though I am specifically m/m, which very well may be evidence of your whole point. When most of the mains are male, the issue doesn’t seem to come up. 

I wonder if F/F or M/F writers have more problems with readers screaming mary sue?

I consider the term to be generic, for the under-developed and/or overly-powered (perhaps self-inserted) character.  It’s easy to accidentally do, to have a flawless character, if the author isn’t paying attention.   Other times, it might be deliberate, especially when it comes to a super hero.

 

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I think M/F writers run the biggest chance of having characters labeled as Sues. It’s far too easy to fall into the tropes.

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50 minutes ago, CloverReef said:

@Kurahieiritr You really know your stuff, don’t you? Your analysis of the various fandoms and the differences on their general treatment of sue/stu is fascinating. I’m really curious about that double standard. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, but I’ve been out of fan fiction so long… Well I don’t know why it seems to be a fan fiction flame thing. Mary sue is not a strictly fan fiction concept, but I haven’t noticed the term floating around in the original fiction world as much as I did in the fan fiction world. Though I am specifically m/m, which very well may be evidence of your whole point. When most of the mains are male, the issue doesn’t seem to come up. 

I wonder if F/F or M/F writers have more problems with readers screaming mary sue?

@CloverReef Thanks for your kind words. Guess it is the presence I’ve had since the early 90’s in the fanfiction realm as a reader/beta/writer hobbyist during diverse time frames that is educating my familiarity with the flaming subject matter of the Sue and Stu issue as a whole. In terms of the socially normalized double standards, I’ve seen a correlation of F/F and M/F based writers having more trouble if a character is an OC, than for M/M (which is what I most often write if there is any kind of pairing allowed at all) so that is why I added it as a relevant point of reference.

So I can see why you would be less plagued by such a problem as a whole because of writing M/M predominate story lines. Various fandoms have different tolerances overall to the OC characters, and it often has to do with fans feeling entitled to ship warring when it comes to Canon characters also.  If you haunt M/F stories where the female is an OC and the male a canon is where the bulk of Sue bashing takes place. Especially with the hottie of the canon show being the love interest’s boyfriend. It’s that combination when you’ll start to notice more vocal written complaints about Mary Sue as a whole. At least that has been my eye ball experience of the fandoms involved that I tend to write about, or work with as a whole system. With shows like Slayers, the biggest arguments are about OOC behaviors of canons has been my personal experience of that particular series, as the bulk of the OC characters seem to be the bad guys, which is also a common thread for Fairy Tail and the more open to OC type characters for the fandoms as a whole. So nobody even considers putting canons from Slayers with non canon characters as a rule and that prevents Sue/Stu issues most of the time. So diverse fandoms have these unspoken yet very obvious rule books to what can and cannot be written happens to be an underpinning for the Sue and Stu variety arguments some fandoms have, while others don’t. Observation teaches you the rule book so to speak.

The only fandom I’ve dared to write a M/F pairing for to date has been Fairy Tail. AT FFnet, I get some rather dreadful flames for putting the character of Lucy with anyone other than Natsu as an example of how Shipping wars of canon characters play such a determination for x Reader Story lines, and including OC characters in canon half shipping at least relieves and eases some of the vitriol you’d otherwise experience as a writer in that fandom at least.  So it is more of a character specific complaint that a canon set forth interest is treated as a crack ship when anime and manga chapters specify otherwise as much as any other factor that encourages an OC character to be added to the Fairy Tail canon character romance smorgasbord in order to avoid the insane shippers who hate everything but their OTP for Fairy Tail at least. So my experience is that Fairy Tail is prone to canon specific pairing ship wars more so than Mary or Gary issues of making one of the partners an OC.  Even Initial D has ship wars over which Takehashi brother should get Takumi in the M/M shipping ideals. An attempt to evade shipping wars can make an OC love interest very attractive to some writers for that reason. When fangirls get rabid enough, OC is the only remaining option if you wish to have romance in the story line for some fandoms. In others, there is zero tolerance though. So you have to take the underlying laws of each fandom’s tolerances into account to write in the anime/manga sphere at least.

Edited by Kurahieiritr
Grammar and spelling

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4 minutes ago, BronxWench said:

I think M/F writers run the biggest chance of having characters labeled as Sues. It’s far too easy to fall into the tropes.

Exactly, Bronx. M/F really is the biggest ball of hatred spewing class that I’ve noticed over the years. In terms of original fiction, there isn’t a guidebook that the fans have evolved to use against fellow writers, so they nitpick the fanfiction realm and spout some pretty petty and crazy hatreds at times for a variety of reasons. Especially if you pair an original with a canon character who is everyone’s favorite character for a series it seems.

Edited by Kurahieiritr
typo

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38 minutes ago, CloverReef said:

The one thing I could not stand back when I was in fan fiction a million years ago, was when writers would write stories making fun of ‘bad’ writers in their fandom, which was often the beginners. That is a way worse offense than intentionally or accidentally making a mary sue/gary stu character. I can’t imagine how many of those beginner writers were so humiliated and bullied they never picked up the pen again. 

I recall those days and it was a horrible trend I’m glad to see gone. Well, mostly gone as a rule. A few hateful jerks will try it, but most readers refuse to read those stories so it is in death throws state far as I can tell. Fortunately a lot of the readers and even fellow writers stood up to such trolls, and I think that did a great service for everyone. I still think there is no substitute for research and learning the subject material to the best of one’s ability so you can write a strong story, but I also think that new writers need to be granted more leeway to learn characterization at times also.

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7 hours ago, Kurahieiritr said:

It is still a case of irritation for many fans whenever the perfect seeming, yet rather boring written out OC overtakes the canon characters abilities and makes the canon characters look incompetent in some fashion. Outshining the canon characters in fan fiction is when the most complaints of Mary Sue characterization happens as far as I can tell. Whenever an OC earns their place through activities, so is okay to outshine the other canon characters, a lot fewer grumbles are heard from the fan base in many cases. It also seems to depend on what specific show or genre/series you are looking at writing...

Like was described here, the over described clothing and similar aspects drive readers into mental corners, and that also plays a huge role in the Mary Sue bashing. Gary never gets half so much block paragraph descriptions as a rule. He’s allowed to move around more while being described unlike Sue which is trapped within a rigid series of overblown details most of the time...

Additionally, there seems to be a phenomena that is very much anti-female original character oriented so there’s a hint of a double standard society has created at work in the deeper levels of psychological kickback experienced most of the time.  It is rare to see the same level of vitriol spewed toward Gary Stu characters as a whole even when they eclipse a canon character too far that I’ve noticed over my years of being a fan fiction writer...

Outshining the canon characters”  Excess competence/talent for an OC almost is required for many settings, like superheroes or videogames, especially for female OCs. There’s been so many decades of Lois Lane and little Nell, we can’t (and probably should not) accept the trophy-helpless female love interest. Leia was much later than the previous two, but both she or her mom being rescued with less agency as they didn’t use the force. The market has the catch-22 that we expect more liberated and powerful heroines, but cannot stand starshine-Sues. So OC’s have to be strong enough to be equals to canons but not overpowering. They have to flirt with being a Sue, just to be able to run with the boys and participate in the on-camera action. That is a tougher nut than the Gary-Stus usually have to deal with.

It is a double standard, and I suspect it’s because, despite Lara Croft and Flemeth, there are still far more male action characters and power brokers in most universes. It’s easier to accept the male ‘special’ characters, be they Greystoke, Doc Savage, Wesley Crusher, or Encyclopedia Brown. It’s not fair but it will take a generation or more after there is parity for that to be absorbed by the next generations. We are all too used to Rick and Indy, so Lara isn’t s much fun. (especially when other themes conflict)

over described clothing” That has become my go-to litmus test for Sue-dom. There may be other markers, but I think it is the quickest marker. Clothing and hair can set many shades of character, but excess appearance wordage, down to sparkly marks and which store they bought their clothing in tells me to not waste my time. It’s because their clothing and hair have nothing to do with their character arc or important plot.

5 hours ago, Kurahieiritr said:

I recall those days and it was a horrible trend I’m glad to see gone. Well, mostly gone as a rule. A few hateful jerks will try it, but most readers refuse to read those stories so it is in death throws state far as I can tell. Fortunately a lot of the readers and even fellow writers stood up to such trolls, and I think that did a great service for everyone. I still think there is no substitute for research and learning the subject material to the best of one’s ability so you can write a strong story, but I also think that new writers need to be granted more leeway to learn characterization at times also.

I haven’t seen any Sue griping in years, though I know I walk the line in some stories. Of course some professional canon characters are Sues/Stus as well. Anakin/Vader becomes his own anti-Stu. I think the reason its fading a little is that major characters at least start as Sues, or the Sue-haters run away screaming before they finish the preview on Amazon. I want to be beaten with a rubber hose if mine ever got at bad as some Sues I’ve seen. Shame and fear are great motivators to watch out for as a writer. 

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9 hours ago, Anesor said:

over described clothing” That has become my go-to litmus test for Sue-dom. There may be other markers, but I think it is the quickest marker. Clothing and hair can set many shades of character, but excess appearance wordage, down to sparkly marks and which store they bought their clothing in tells me to not waste my time. It’s because their clothing and hair have nothing to do with their character arc or important plot.

Agreed. I’ve seen too many of those 2 full page descriptions of every tiny detail of clothing and even the makeup process in depth and over baked on steroids. I cannot get through that kind of boring to save my life and always go back and find something else to read when I get one of those stories in front of me. It’s one thing to have 2 sentences of the active dressing stage because you know it’s a blue skirt and white top thanks to the arms motions and the like, but a detailed makeup tutorial and extremely detailed clothing is a snooze waiting to happen. At AO3 you will find people who insert fashion links to the outfits in the middle of the sentences  which is yet another marker of Sue/Stu at times. They try to hide their Sue/Stu by avoiding the blatant markers in hopes of getting more readers, so you have to rely on the obscenely perfected other issues at times.

9 hours ago, Anesor said:

I haven’t seen any Sue griping in years, though I know I walk the line in some stories. Of course some professional canon characters are Sues/Stus as well. Anakin/Vader becomes his own anti-Stu. I think the reason its fading a little is that major characters at least start as Sues, or the Sue-haters run away screaming before they finish the preview on Amazon. I want to be beaten with a rubber hose if mine ever got at bad as some Sues I’ve seen. Shame and fear are great motivators to watch out for as a writer. 

I’d say in original fiction, the Sue and Stu line is ignored because there is no actual preconceived measuring stick to hold up to the writer’s work which is the biggest reason for the Sue and Stu downside. I’d have to agree that the Anakin to Vader story line can be seen as a Gary Stu to end all Stu’s since he is the paragon of virtues and light that becomes one of the darkest and hateful anti-heroes of all time. His children have to save him from his own rage and the like. Still, his place as an original character means that only those who write fanfiction will ever feel the bite of nasty comments for not staying true to Vader/Anakin instead of the man who dreamed up that particular archetype enhanced characterization.

I’ve seen a few harsh comments about an OC on various sites, but the worst of the hatred seems to have died down a bit in the last 2 years for several reasons. It seems to be getting better, and is more about how poor a job the characterization is of late. Again, it comes down to the telling the readers that the character is awesome without giving any active proof and that implies that a generation of readers have begun to shift their focus from the direct hate and into trying to get writers to show things instead of give us massive paragraphs of no reason to believe it brand of how great their OC is overall I think. A stronger focus on show me the character acting out their greatness has become more of the variety of critical commentary these days. So it is being worded as a need for genuine exposition instead of cop outs, or we see the offending story being ignored and getting no reviews and comments as a whole it seems.

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11 minutes ago, JayDee said:

You know, if it wasn’t for Mary Sue we wouldn’t have had the glorious creation of House Sparklypoo.

I’m not entirely sure if that’s a twilight reference or something else entirely :lol: 

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