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Why Do We Hate Mary Sue?


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3 hours ago, Kurahieiritr said:

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.

 

Afraid those 2-5 pages can’t be helped when you go reading the fashion catalog.  :o

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1 hour ago, Desiderius Price said:

Afraid those 2-5 pages can’t be helped when you go reading the fashion catalog.  :o

Tell me about it. I can always tell when someone is fashion enslaved by their writing out that much overkill about clothes, shoes, makeup and hair. Puts me to sleep because I don’t read fashion mags, and I prefer my characters to be dressed in under 3 paragraphs and on the move to tackle whatever little crisis is plaguing them myself. ROFL.

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1 hour ago, JayDee said:

I looked this comic up and read it which was a howling cackling good time. Now this is a great strip. Thanks for sharing the entry link with the rest of us.

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12 minutes ago, Kurahieiritr said:

Tell me about it. I can always tell when someone is fashion enslaved by their writing out that much overkill about clothes, shoes, makeup and hair. Puts me to sleep because I don’t read fashion mags, and I prefer my characters to be dressed in under 3 paragraphs and on the move to tackle whatever little crisis is plaguing them myself. ROFL.

I kinda prefer my characters to be undressed… but that’s me.  And, if it takes multiple paragraphs, that’s fine :) 

I did write one scene, though, where it was a couple doing a reverse strip tease, getting dressed from nakedness, but that was more about how they didn’t really want to get dressed.

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Just now, Desiderius Price said:

I kinda prefer my characters to be undressed… but that’s me.  And, if it takes multiple paragraphs, that’s fine :) 

I did write one scene, though, where it was a couple doing a reverse strip tease, getting dressed from nakedness, but that was more about how they didn’t really want to get dressed.

You have an interesting context offered which means it would be far more entertaining than the by rote nit picked nuances of how many ruffles or darts are in the skirt someone is putting on that I was talking about from my own side of the debate. Not saying that a section on clothing can’t be entertaining to read if it is showcased through actions, and the obvious desire to not get dressed as you are describing here. Still, my experience is that if the actions, and motivations are not there, and the clothing is so focused upon and detailed that I for one want to puke long before the descriptions end, it is time to find a new story to read. Too much detail is as mind numbing as too little detail in many cases. Blank space and over defined alike tend to force the reader into a numb state of destroyed mental image production. When that happens, the reading can become as unpleasant and tedious as looking through a government written how to manual for doing your tax returns for crying out loud.

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16 minutes ago, Kurahieiritr said:

You have an interesting context offered which means it would be far more entertaining than the by rote nit picked nuances of how many ruffles or darts are in the skirt someone is putting on that I was talking about from my own side of the debate. Not saying that a section on clothing can’t be entertaining to read if it is showcased through actions, and the obvious desire to not get dressed as you are describing here. Still, my experience is that if the actions, and motivations are not there, and the clothing is so focused upon and detailed that I for one want to puke long before the descriptions end, it is time to find a new story to read. Too much detail is as mind numbing as too little detail in many cases. Blank space and over defined alike tend to force the reader into a numb state of destroyed mental image production. When that happens, the reading can become as unpleasant and tedious as looking through a government written how to manual for doing your tax returns for crying out loud.

Thanks, I like putting spins onto classics at times.  And this is about the limit I put onto clothing description:  “A man wearing black leather pants, a black leather jacket, with a natural leather button up shirt and a red leather tie.”  In this case, I’m trying to portray the image of a man not to be trifled with.  I haven’t ran across many Mary Sues, but I’ve heard enough to get a feel of what to avoid in my own stories.  Even in original fiction, the same things hint at an underdeveloped/under thought character – for a main character.

 

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18 hours ago, BronxWench said:

That was completely brilliant, actually. :lol:

But we all do kinda want to hear about the Christmas party where they got really drunk, mind.

I can’t believe how old it is now. Another five years and AFF’ll have users who weren’t born when it was created.

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On 10/27/2017 at 8:05 AM, JayDee said:

I can’t believe how old it is now. Another five years and AFF’ll have users who weren’t born when it was created.

I know. Makes me realize that I’m getting too freaking old. The thought of half the stuff I loved as a kid being complete unknowns to younger people these days happens to be a constant heartbreak for me too. Times are changing I suppose, and brilliance in art has shifted with the turning tides. But, it was still a lot of fun to read as Dr. Who got drug into the mix and so forth. A very fun type of comic strip that I hope will remain with all of us for a long time to come.

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  • 4 years later...

Hi, all.

Back to the “original-original” question, I suppose that the ultimate reason we as readers loathe genuine “Mary-Sue” characters is the boredom they bring to a story, combined with the odd coincidence that most authors who accidentally write a true Mary Sue just aren’t that good.

Apart from the infamous “Mary Sue the Author” not being worthy to be spit-roasted by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as some might have suggested she desired, her character, prose, and story were BORING, and yes, I deliberately added the extra emphasis to the single word describing that misguided woman’s prose.

You can over-power an OC like a “M-F’er;” and get away with it, but you still have to make the story interesting, even if the conflict is “how entertaining will it be for the OC to curb-stomp the near-unbeatable antagonist the regular main character couldn’t handle easily, if at all.”  Succeed in this, you’ve written another “James Bond.”  Fail, and it’s yet another Mary Sue.  Even with all the “problems solved,” your OC must at a minimum solve those problems in a way that rewards the readers for sticking around.  Better yet, while your OC may have the “canon” problems solved, they need to solve new problems, even as they help the “canon” heroes grow to new heights. 

Your OC Targaryen or OC Viserys Targaryen may have dragons and total knowledge of the “canon future.”  How does this help retaking the throne from Robert Baratheon?  How does it help putting Jon Snow on the throne, or otherwise prepare him to defeat the “Other” and the White-Walkers?  Does he rescue at least Eddard Stark and his children, even if Catelyn is allowed to crash-and-burn?  How spectacular is it when he has his dragons roast The Twins and all who shelter within them?  Does he sell Joffery Baratheon to the Dothraki as a pleasure-slave for their horses?

Thanks.

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On 4/2/2013 at 10:44 PM, 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.

I have to agree with you here.  It also helps to have the “hero” examine themselves and their motivations without causing them to become “anti-Sues” instead of “Sues.”  Seeing the protagonist overcome barriers is usually interesting, even if the barriers are all “in their mind” or not quite reasonable to anyone other than the protagonist themselves. 

“Could I persuade this annoying gorilla to quit messing with my girlfriend if I quit beating him with a circus mallet?  And if he agreed to leave us alone, could I take him at his word?  Or will I be forced to keep hitting him until I finally manage to kill him?  And how much will I owe the zoo or circus the fucker escaped from when the oversized monkey finally snuffs it?”

Thanks.

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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.

RPGs as a whole, have the issue where the player is, effectively, a mary sue/gary stu in the storyline.   Nobody can resolve anything, find anything, without you getting involved.  And as you level up, your character gains strength/ability to the point you’re a tank, or master sniper, and can take on any opponent. 

Spoiler for Fallout-4 Automatron DLC… the mechanist had the best line when they’re telling the player, “I’m trying to stop the worst threat to the commonwealth, and that threat is YOU.”  I had to admit when I first heard that, how true it was… the player character is, ultimately so overpowered, especially having the power of quick saves & loads to overcome any obstacle.

 

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On 8/5/2022 at 1:01 PM, Wilde_Guess said:

Back to the “original-original” question, I suppose that the ultimate reason we as readers loathe genuine “Mary-Sue” characters is the boredom they bring to a story, combined with the odd coincidence that most authors who accidentally write a true Mary Sue just aren’t that good.

Inexperienced, pressured, and the occasional “oops” are likely reasons too.  An overpowered narcissist protected by plot armor (good stuff, highly recommend it, better than bullet-proof vests) isn’t terribly interesting to read TBH. 

However, Mary Sue and Gary Stu are not forces to be taken lightly, got one trying to weasel his way into my potter fanfic – started as a foil to Harry helping out Oliver Wood to teaching first years their intro flying lesson, I’ve had to keep tempering his character down to avoid plot inconsistencies.  Classically, the mary/gary character will take training to become more proficient—don’t let them!  Above all else, cancel their scholarship!  Oh, keep them out of the beauty isle too.

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10 minutes ago, Desiderius Price said:

Inexperienced, pressured, and the occasional “oops” are likely reasons too.  An overpowered narcissist protected by plot armor (good stuff, highly recommend it, better than bullet-proof vests) isn’t terribly interesting to read TBH. 

However, Mary Sue and Gary Stu are not forces to be taken lightly, got one trying to weasel his way into my potter fanfic – started as a foil to Harry helping out Oliver Wood to teaching first years their intro flying lesson, I’ve had to keep tempering his character down to avoid plot inconsistencies.  Classically, the mary/gary character will take training to become more proficient—don’t let them!  Above all else, cancel their scholarship!  Oh, keep them out of the beauty isle too.

Oh, definitely keep them out of the beauty aisle!!!

I had the misfortune to read a fan fic years ago with a PC/MC who had… wait for it… rainbow eyes. Now I ask you, what in the holy fuck are rainbow eyes? :blink: 

Oh, and she was proficient with every weapon in creation despite being unable to manage walking most of the time. I wish I was making this up, I really do. 

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10 minutes ago, BronxWench said:

Oh, definitely keep them out of the beauty aisle!!!

I had the misfortune to read a fan fic years ago with a PC/MC who had… wait for it… rainbow eyes. Now I ask you, what in the holy fuck are rainbow eyes? :blink: 

Oh, and she was proficient with every weapon in creation despite being unable to manage walking most of the time. I wish I was making this up, I really do. 

Rainbow eyes?  TBH, that’s not a super terrible idea, however, some description/justification would be needed.  Suppose one could color the eyelashes, or eyebrows, or even the iris itself with concentrically colored rings.  Iris/Whites could be done with a contact lens or a potion … in my potter fanfic, I’d simply chalk it up as a party gimmick from Fred & George.

But yeah, the weapon thing would be understandable *IF* they’re military with years of special forces training, and is now a grandpa in a motorized wheelchair.  Otherwise, less...credible.  Guess that’s the crux of the Mary Sue/Gary Stu thing, it produces a character which is less realistic, less relatable.

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The author never managed to actually make it clear what this MC’s eyes looked like, although the MC spent an inordinate amount of time staring at herself in a mirror. And changing clothes. And falling down and crawling.

I swear, there is not enough brain bleach in the universe, sometimes. :lol: 

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12 hours ago, BronxWench said:

The author never managed to actually make it clear what this MC’s eyes looked like, although the MC spent an inordinate amount of time staring at herself in a mirror. And changing clothes. And falling down and crawling.

I swear, there is not enough brain bleach in the universe, sometimes. :lol: 

Aw, so it was the mirror that possessed her!  :)

Well, you remembered enough so we can have fun with it, as easily forgetting things isn’t a great thing either.  Now, if only I could eradicate this plot bunny of having Mary Sue dating Gary Stu, I’m sure their children would be mostly harmless.

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4 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

Aw, so it was the mirror that possessed her!  :)

Well, you remembered enough so we can have fun with it, as easily forgetting things isn’t a great thing either.  Now, if only I could eradicate this plot bunny of having Mary Sue dating Gary Stu, I’m sure their children would be mostly harmless.

::loads crossbow with silver bolts wrapped in wolfsbane soaked in garlic-infused holy water::

Mostly harmless, I’m sure. :lol: 

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30 minutes ago, BronxWench said:

::loads crossbow with silver bolts wrapped in wolfsbane soaked in garlic-infused holy water::

Mostly harmless, I’m sure. :lol: 

By lucky coincidence, a genetic mutation makes them impervious to garlic-infused holy water, it’s now a health tonic.  They also use silver bolts for toothpicks, after all, dental hygiene is important for those perfect pearly whites!  Anyways, make sure to get *ALL* their hearts to thwart the regeneration process.  :devil:

Yeah, mostly harmless, like the earth.

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