Are you creating a Mary Sue?

by juliusmsanz

Let’s talk about Mary Sue today.

You know, or should know, what a Mary Sue, or its male version, is all about. Mary Sues are all about the author trying to put himself in the story by creating an idealized character.

Are you creating Mary Sues? I advise you to look it up and take a test, they’re there, because you never know.

Why is the Mary Sue one of the most obvious detectors of novice writers? Because we all try to impose a bit of our own personal values and experiences, we write about what we like and what we love, but we write stories. Stories that make us distance ourselves and contemplate our work. You see, let’s be brutally honest, every writer does his work for others and to satisfy his/her ego.

There are limits however.

The more you idealize and the more you make your character perfect, the more people are going to recognize you as an amateur. Every character has flaws, every character fails, nobody is absolutely perfect. If they were what is there to develop? I understand these characters took you a long time to create, but they are not real, they are tools of your trade. Don’t try to make yourself look cool by having oversexualized characters or complete do-no-wrong characters. You try to justify why they are so badly treated, you try to place them as these  miserable victims to make them destroy everybody who badmouths them. Your character can also be lazy, or a coward, or an idiot, or ugly. Whatever your character is, whatever your character does, do not overpower them.

I also understand why you put your character liking the expressionist movement, it’s your favorite. I understand why you make the character wear all those hip clothes, you think it’s badass and like them yourself. I see what you put your character as a tall, handsome individual, that’s whom you’d like to date. I get all that. But you have to be prepared to face the consequences and accept that the character isn’t you and that the character can be different and still likeable. (More on this in future posts.)

Oh and please don’t make your character defend this or that subject just because you feel strongly about it. That is even worse.

avatar16Tell me and show me again how great you are.

We, as readers, can detect some of these little things. It’s plain to see, especially when you have female knights with very little armour or something along those lines. Remember Avatar when one earthling within a very short time period came to be a Messiah of sorts for the Na’vi and led a rebellion and almost became the leader of Pandora? I hated how easy it became, it made me think: Mary Sue. Maybe i’m wrong but that’s my impression. These are the obvious ones. The not so obvious ones are the ones you have to correct yourself. You wrote a Mary Sue, so what? Big deal. Make some adjustments and you’ll be out of Mary Sue territory. Do that test and ask yourself if the character really needs that Sue thingy you put in. Is it really needed? Can the character be different? You know the answers to those questions. Do not delude yourself.

Sorry for the rant and see you again tomorrow!