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Young Writers Society
Mary-Sue's and Gary-Stu's
Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:10 pm
Mary-Sue's and Gary-Stu's
Now this is probely something everyone complains about all the time on dA, however I'm not gonna bitch about how a girl/guy has a character that I think is a Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu. Oh no. I'm here to complain about something else.
For those of you who do not know what a Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu is I'll give my definition.
<i> A character that is pretty much good at everything and anything they do. Unoriginal and over the top. Insanely beautiful and smart. Most of the time you'll find this character in Fan Fiction.</i>
Now I used to be a fan fiction writer. Until I took a good look at my characters and the fandom I put them in. Which is why I converted to doing original stories. The point I'm really trying to make is not all characters who have a tragic past, or magical powers, super strength and all that jazz are Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu. Which is really what I'm here to rant about.
After reading a lot of things about Sue's/Stu's I agreed and disagreed. Yes, a fan-fiction character is quite the same as the fan character before her. Why her you ask? Well most fan-fiction writers have a girl main character. Here is a small check-list to see if your character could be a Mary/Sue.
I'll just use the Sonic The Hedgehog fandom for an example.
~Your character falls in love with Shadow the Hedgehog. <i> Most girl love Shadow because of his 'mysterious' ways. Which then makes them fangirl over him. Then leading to these writers coming up with a character and plot that leads to that character falling in love with Shadow.</i>
~You overly explain the characters looks. <i> An example could be: Her hair was raven black with shimmering cosmic blue highlights near the end and made her dark red eyes see through you soul. The long strands of hair reached her waist and flowed elegantly as she walked. And so on...</i>
~The character is faster than Sonic/Shadow, or stronger than Knuckles, or smarter than Tails. Or all over the above. <i> Now I'm not saying that making your character strong or fast I'm just saying not as good as the original characters. What you should do is come up with your characters own use.</i>
~ Your character later earns the trust of the cannon characters quickly. <i> Now this isn't really a bad thing. It's more...an easy way of writing</i>
~Your characters past usually involves a deep tragic loss of a mum/dad/brother/sister or other. Or all of the above. </i>Now a characters past is good. However it shouldn't really be such as boring or predictable. Hey, even I have a character whose parents where killed.</i>
~Your character eventually saves the day without the help of the other characters.<i> Mostly the character finds some hidden power and kicks-ass. I'm not saying that this is, again, a bad thing more that the other characters really should save the day and your characters does her own part to help.</i>
~You later do a sequel that involves your character having children with Shadow. <i> Now this is one thing that I sometimes like and despise. I enjoy reading stories of what the children do but it really just ends up being the same thing and has no reason to it. But at the same time it can be fun</i>
So if your character has these then better go back to the drawing bored 'cos its been done!
Still with me? Really? Great!
Now when ever a Gary-Stu has some of these no one seemed to notice! This is one thing that really pisses me off. If a guy can be all powerful and not get called a Gary-Stu then whats the point in Mary-Sue? (I have no further rant on this I just wanted people to think about it)
Now to my real point. There is a thin line between a developed character and a Mary-Sue. And most people fail to tell the difference.
For example (back to original stories and not fan-fiction now), a girl that wares a skirt is a Mary-Sue, or that has blond hair and a good body, or that has a odd color of eyes, or has a tragic past. People are judging what the character looks like and what happened to them before they know the character. What happened to the days when your character was only a Mary-sue because she didn't have a flaw. I give my own characters flaws then bully them about it after words.
I love looking at peoples characters however I know what a Mary-sue is and when I see it I try to point it out to the person that made that character. I'm not trying to offend but help. A character who is kind to others yet clumsy is seen as a Mary-sue. What?! So you mean to tell me that my character is a Mary-sue? Sure I agree with you however you have just looked at two point about her. She is clumsy yes but look at what other things are said about her. The way she acts in the story! Not how she acts in a character profile! The same can be said about guys.
It sucks that characters that have a bad past or look 'nice' or have weird eye colors are just slumped into the Sue/Stu category.
Now I'm gonna give a check list again only this time I'll show how a negative can be turned into a positive.
(using the Sonic fandom again)
~Your character falls in love with Shadow the Hedgehog. <i> It's unlikely but cannonXcharacter can be done. As long as you put some thought and effort into it. Don't make the character be in love with Shadow at first and don't make Shadow fall in love with your character.</i>
~You overly explain the characters looks. <i> Yes you need to give a description of your character just try and do it discreetly. like; she brushed her dark black bangs from her face. It is done neatly and your not over describing the character. However you have given the readers an image that they can put in their minds.</i>
~The character is faster than Sonic/Shadow, or stronger than Knuckles, or smarter than Tails. Or all over the above. <i> Now your character can be fast. But not to fast. Maybe do something like; She ran as fast as her legs could but she was no match for the blue blur. See you've made your character a strength and a weakness. She is fast however she isn't.</i>
~ Your character later earns the trust of the cannon characters quickly. <i> Try not to do this to much. Whatever you do don't have the character your character meets first introduce your character to all the other characters within the next chapter(I used to word character way to much in that sentence :XD: ).</i>
~Your characters past usually involves a deep tragic loss of a mum/dad/brother/sister or other. Or all of the above. </i>Back stories can be good. However no Sonic character really has a back story. Only Shadow has a real back story (which I found...interesting). So try not to go into so much with the back story. If you don't need to, then don't make one. Most other characters don't</i>
~Your character eventually saves the day without the help of the other characters.<i>Like I said before. Have your character her own part in saving the day. Just not the main part</i>
~You later do a sequel that involves your character having children with Shadow. <i> I don't really have a positive for this however I do suggest doing this just for shits and giggles.</i>
Moving away from the fan world and to the world of fiction! :dummy:
Now I used to have fan characters then I moved to making my own world. It then meant that I could my own rules other than follow the way of that fandom. However there are still Mary-Sue's/Gary-Stu's. Now back to that thin line. Like I said before it is really own the character acts within the story. Does he or she have a rival? If so who is stronger? And if one is stronger does that make her or he a Sue/Stu?
See where I'm getting at. Sure you have to make the story interesting and I've not seen many original stories that have a Sue/Stu (other than Twilight ). So why is there so much hate for characters. I mean, sure my character is powerful, yes she does have a bad past however that is just something that happens to her. Not who she is. Because it is my own world it means I can do pretty much whatever I want. And what I want is not to have Sue's/Stu's messing it up. I always over think my characters and panic anytime I see that they were acting Sue/Stu-ish. Even if its just for a second.
I want people to read the worlds other people have spent so much time on creating. Original worlds here are so under rated. Someone has put so much work into making their original world and characters that they almost feel as if the characters are real. Which is then shattered when someone puts a comments such as <i>'This is a Mary-Sue! You should go die and take this shit character with you'.</i> Come on people instead of looking at the profile read the story! And if the character is becoming some what of a Sue/Stu then tell the writer and quick. Say something like <i>'Uh oh. You should change this cos the character seemed like a Mary-Sue. And I know the character is so not that!' </i> And baadabing baadaboom you have given both a complement to the character and some help to the writer
Now I have been on many sites and I have yet to see someone say that.
"Is the glass half empty? Or half full?"
"Well, if I turn on the tap I can make it full!" ~ me.
Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:01 pm
Interesting point of view!
I find the problem is that most people don't realise why their characters are mary-sues, and like you said, they've put a lot of effort in creating them. YWS isn't the kind of place where people say 'you should go die' exactly :p But it's not always easy to point out why a particular character is overused or boring.
It depends on culture, too. Different cultures tend to read different stories, so for someone who habitually reads crime novels, they wouldn't spot a fantasy Gary-stu. However, a fantasy writer might create a character that seems unique to them, but very Mary-Sue to a reader of another genre. Japanese manga are littered with Maly-Soos (for lack of better word) that western readers love because they don't see them as being such.
I guess it would be oh-too-wonderful if we had a formula on how *not* to create a mary-sue. You've made a lot of good points on how to avoid the stereotype. I'll keep this article in mind next time I start growling because someone doesn't like my character
Noelle, you can lead a writer to their computer and give them coffee, but you can't make them write.
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