Mary Sues

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Jane Poirot
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Mary Sues

Post by Jane Poirot » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:21 pm

This is a topic related to Mary Sues, but it isn't limited to JUST discussing Mary Sues in literature/film/Disney Channel--you can talk about your own characters and debate whether or not they're Mary Sues, and fess up to any Sues you created.

(You can talk about Sues you've seen in fanfiction if you want, but I would not recommend it just in case some troll looking for trouble links the author back to this topic and the author creates an account to spam us)

I actually feel ashamed to admit this, and I fear my most loyal readers on ff.net will find this and be thoroughly disgusted and take me off their favourites/alert list, but when I was younger, I actually did create two Mary Sues (I recently admitted it on LiveJournal, too, in Suethors Anonymous, and most of this is copied from what I wrote, slightly revised). Thankfully, this was LONG before I discovered ff.net (which was when I was at the tender age of fourteen). If I had, I would have been just as bad as the other suethors out there in my reaction to criticism calling me out on it (and it would have most likely gotten a "Toxic" rating on PotterSues, too). This was a story I kept to myself, knowing people would think it was crap, so here it goes:

While waiting for the release of the fifth Harry Potter book, I made up two Sues in my head: One who had my name and LOOKED like me, but was a *beep* of a lot spunkier than I ever was at that age. She knew more magic than the trio combined and set out to make them look like a bunch of brats to defend "poor Draco" and Lucius; in a partial subversion, the two do NOT end up together. The other sue is a girl named Aphrodite Walker (I'm laughing at the name as I type this) with hair with one side blonde and the other side red, and she goes to Ravenclaw. Draco falls in love with her (she's half-blood, so, in my twisted mind that did not understand why this was unacceptable to purebloods, Lucius was okay with it as long as she had one pureblood parent) and they ended up together while Harry married Hermione and Ron ended up with nobody.

A part of me is sincerely thankful to God I never published such a story, yet the other part wonders what such reactions would be to said story...perhaps I could write it as an obnoxious parody?
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Post by go_leafs_nation » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:27 pm

When it comes to Mary Sues, Stephanie Meyer has redefined the concept of such characters. Which, I suppose, should make her go down in history. I am still ashamed I wasted my time reading those books.

When it comes to this topic, are we only talking about Mary Sues, or archetypal/stereotypical characters?

Peter Benchley's Jaws is riddled with Mary and Gary Sues. His shark is the best character of the book. The humans are uninterestingly cliche and 2D. They're dull. But he certainly knows his shark!

Practically all the non-Ian Fleming spinoff Bond novels are dreadful. Bond loses his 3D personality and becomes a macho, stereotypical male hero. The only book that doesn't do this is the rather good Colonel Sun.
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Post by Jane Poirot » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:40 pm

go_leafs_nation wrote: When it comes to this topic, are we only talking about Mary Sues, or archetypal/stereotypical characters?
A Mary Sue can become an archetypical/stereotypical character if their writer lets them. A Mary Sue is basically a wish-fulfillment character for the author (which was what Aphrodite was at the time, as well as the Sue with my name). I don't blame people for secretly wishing to be wisked away to another world since the whole purpose of fiction is to temporarily escape reality (even so, elements of realism SHOULD be thrown in; more at the bottom); it becomes a problem when the character is not someone the reader can relate to because they're too perfect.

Let's say for instance I created a character who was great at sports when I suck at sports in real life. Fair enough, but let's say this character earned a black belt in, say, Karate...after only two weeks of practice. Any sane person who has ever taken any form of martial arts can tell you it takes years of dedication and hard work to earn such a reward. So why should this character earn a black belt in two weeks while the rest of the world has to work for years to earn theirs? The reader does not wish to see the author's wishes fulfilled; they wish to see a character who actually has to work to get what they want because they can relate to that.
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Post by cacums » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:46 pm

Forgive my dullness, but is a Mary Sue and Author's Pet the same thing?

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Post by Jane Poirot » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:48 pm

Pretty much, yes. You know how we have a tendency to spoil our pets and give them one more treat than we should? That's pretty much the case.
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Post by Kristev » Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:08 am

Each of my characters, in a way, are reflections of my wishes. They're fragmented, diversified, and in this, they developed into real people.

Kylie is my worst. She's so powerful, her magic and her knowledge are things I wish I had. But she also has a few flaws and weaknesses that I don't have. Her speciality is medicine, and while she is in fact only 17 when she becomes an R. N., this is not unheard of. And it is a known fact, stated in the first book, that she's paramedic certified and in nursing school. This is because she's been being trained in medicine since she was a little girl. (Her mother, Lynne, went to somewhere in Africa with Kylie, as part of a U. N. team. Lynne was a physician from England, and due to a shortage of medics, Lynne forced Kylie to work alongisde her, assisting her. Thus, medicine became Kylie's life purpose, her obsession, and Lynne gladly taught her until an age she could begin to learn medical science in school. See, there's a good, logical, sensible reason she's so good at what she does.)

Kelly is the one who is closest to me, and he's actually more powerful than Kylie is, magically, and nearly as knowledgable, in different areas. He is also gay, and stern but loving, cold and distant, but also protective. His faith is strong, and he is a devoted Anglican. But he's also a natural witch, and he can't face that . . . yet.

Steve is the part of me that, being trapped in Idaho, actually took an interest in cowboy things and western attire, skills, and culture, until I realized how pointless, silly, and futile it was. Steve has never yet figured this out. He is also fascinated by the martial arts and the military, and he's got the ability to paint and create beauty. I haven't really got that.

Scott seems to be a nothing, a psychic who is so open to anything that he has no personality, no depth, absorbing the personality of whomever he's around. But he's creey and cryptic, and that too is something I enjoy being when people don't expect it.

Sarah is my inner performer. I love the theatre, Broadway and the West End. I was trained to act, and love to sing, but sing horribly and haven't acted in years. Sarah lives out this fantasy, but when the glamour comes off, she's sensible and strong, with dignity and resolve. Being older than the rest of the teenagers, Sarah and Kelly are actually young adults, so the chaos of hormones and first loves is over for them. They know what they want, and have a good bit more maturity and good judgment than the others do.

Robert is also gay, but a macho side of gayness I also wish I had, but I sense in it a lack of depth and style, and knowledge, as opposed to Kelly's more effite style. Each has an ability, a talent beyond their special powers, and Robert's is tennis. Tennis is the only game of sports I ever play (badly) and enjoy. Robert is good, a champion, but it took him a long time to get this way. I later came to realize that what made Robert even take an interest in the game was a meeting (mentioned once in dialogue only,) with the Williams sisters after they won a game. He isn't an overnight talent, none of them are. They've all been working their training for years.

Shawn is my youth, my foolish side. Youngest of the heroes, at a mere thirteen at the start, he is the least sophisticated and needs the most growing up. But like Sarah, he shares a talent for music. However, he is Robert's best friend and thus, is easily controlled by Robert.

Daniella is my sexual side, the part of me that wants to be wild and uninhibited. But she's actually firm and grounded character, and there's a reason she is such a libertine - she used to be a dragon. This human body is a reincarnation. I'd never act like her, but I often want to. However, the addition of dragonism in her opened my books up to a world I never considered. She brings so much to the table, with the mythologies and history I can create through her, including the unexpected world of dragon politics.

Nolan is the character who fulfills my fears, and he embodies them. He's afraid of everything, but largely because he's traumatized. However, Nolan is an herbalist (a trait I wish I had), and Kylie uses this to teach him medicine. Now he's a paramedic and Kylie's assistant, though he does tend to play Chapel to Kylie's McCoy.

These are just the primary heroes. There are many more, as the series evolves and changes. Please let me know if any of them are, in fact, Mary-Sues.

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Post by PeachFreak » Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:21 am

Mary Sues aren't always bad...and all my characters turn out to be anti-Sues, which are just as bad.
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Post by go_leafs_nation » Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:43 am

I find it interesting that everyone can interpret the same thing in a different way. For instance, most of us here can see that Twilight is all about Mary Sue. The fangirls, however, don't even admit to such a possibility. The same character can be interpreted as fresh and original by one critic, and as a stereotypical Mary Sue by the other.
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Post by PeachFreak » Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:02 pm

I don't like throwing the term "Mary Sue" around too much...but I can honestly say I think Beowulf must be the biggest Gary-Stu ever written. I suppose, given social context of the era the poem was written, his character might not be terribley unusual...but, reading about him today is a nightmare.

Reasons behind my thinking:

1. Beowulf is perfect. He's attractive. A great warrior. Brave. All that jazz. Plus, even the powerful ruler of the Danes can't stop Grendel. But Beowulf can!
2. Everybody loves Beowulf, despite how he acts.
3. Beowulf loves himself, and let's everybody know how amazing he is. He basically acts like a total @ss and everyone just loves him more for it.
4. The one person to speak out against Beowulf, Unferth, is decided to be 'evil.' Unferth points out that Beowulf lost a swimming contest to Brecca, despite how "amazing" Beowulf is. Beowfulf then says he's greater than both Unferth and Brecca will ever be. The reason he lost the contest? He was too busy slaying nine sea monsters, of course! Then, Beowulf points out that Unferth killed his brothers and will burn with Satan for all eternity.
5. The author loves Beowulf. He loves talking about how shiny Beowulf's armor is, especially. Plus, the reason Unferth dislikes Beowulf? Unferth's jealous of him, naturally.

Personally, I side with Grendel. The Danes build a battle hall in the monster's habitat. Naturally, the creature's going to kill the intruders. Plus, they continue to use the hall, and wonder why they're being killed. But, then again, Grendel, like all who oppose Beowulf is a hellish creature whom God will punish.

When Grendel kills things for fun, it's called being a monster. When Beowulf kills things for fun, it's called bravery!

Then, Grendel's mother, who will obviously be angered by the death of her son, is also a hellish monster. Beowulf kills her too. Ugh.
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Post by Jane Poirot » Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:57 pm

Not every Mary Sue is easy to spot off the bat, but the most blatant Mary Sue I have seen so far is Katy Keene. I saw this issue with her story on sale and I thought, "Oh great, it's from Archie comics!" So I bought it...and you know that feeling when you want to throw a book against the wall? That was how I felt. Here is the checklist:

* Tragic background (parents killed in car accident)? Check
* Annoying sidekick? (little sister) Check
* Multi-talented? (models, acts, and sings) Check
* Wins over the charm of everyone she meets? Check
* Those who hate her are merely jealous of her talent? Check
* Wins awards every time she's nominated? Check
* Desired by just about anything with a Y chromosome that isn't gay or bisexual? Check
* Unusual spelling of a common name? Check (Katy is slowly becoming fairly common thanks to Katy Perry, but the Katie's I know spell their names with an 'ie' at the end)

There are two ugly incidents in her story arc in the comic book that further cement her Sue-ishness; first, Katy is the judge of a fashon show along with the above-mentioned jealous rival and a parody of Tyra Banks. Katy sings nothing but praise that is only marginally useful, Tyra gives both praise and constructive criticism, and the jealous rival has plenty of nasty things to say. Three guesses as to who is portrayed as the good guy for singing mindless praise and who is the bad guy for suggesting the model is something less than perfect. :roll:
Second, there is some sort of celebrity-trash channel (I would have to re-read it in order to recollect my memory) where this host begins with trying to make Katy look bad...and then finishes by saying she was wrong in her judgment and says nothing but good things about Katy. THAT was the part where I wanted to throw the book against the wall. Know why?
THAT. DOES. NOT. HAPPEN. IN. REAL. LIFE.
In real life, TV show hosts are not supposed to start off by saying bad things on a celebrity and then end by saying "oh I was wrong they are like sooo good"; such shows end with either a question pondering if the start can make their future better if they work at it, or on a funny note.
True, some well-developed characters do have Sue-ish traits, but these characters end up averting it by becoming characters the reader can relate to and identify with. I'm sorry, but no, I do NOT identify with someone who ALWAYS gets their way 100% of the time, and wins EVERY award nomination that comes their way.
It is also true that there ARE multi-talented people in Hollywood with a tragic background who are also great human beings, but they don't win every single award that comes their way, so why should Katy Keene? It's just not realistic. She basically exists just so young girls who think dressing like a prostitute is stylish can draw outfits for her to wear in the next issue to save the cartoonists a cramping hand (no seriously; her clothes are really slutty; I know California does get pretty hot in the summer time, but we're talking Death Valley clothing).

The comic is called "Katy Keene" so she should still be in it; she should just be less Sue-ish, maybe have her nominated for a Grammy only to lose it to Amy Winehouse?
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Post by fendue » Fri Aug 28, 2009 8:45 pm

Mary-Sue Pleasant from The Sims and the Sims 2

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Post by Jane Poirot » Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:55 pm

Most people would say a classic trademark of a Mary Sue is a character who is desired by just about anybody. However, if a female character attracts three boys yet still manages to have genuine character flaws and is not perfect, and changes as a person throughout the course of the story, can she still be a well-developed character?
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Post by CMustardwPipeinLibrary » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:09 am

I'd think so. One trait does not a Mary Sue make.

Because that would be bland and one-dimensional.
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Post by Jane Poirot » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:40 am

I think every character, even a well-developed one, has a Mary Sue trait. A Mary Sue basically has the whole pack in spades. Some of the classic Sue traits sound interesting by themselves (ie, the premise of being the sole heir to a fortune), so I give my characters just one or two of them, but not a whole lot, or else it's overdone.
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Post by Jane Poirot » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:32 pm

Has anyone else read My Immortal ? It is both the worst fanfiction ever written...and the most hilarious thing I ever read/seen. Actually, I saw one of the many dramatic readings of it on YouTube; the actual fic itself had too many typos/close spacings for me to read in one sitting. I personally think Tara Gillesbie (the author of said fic) is a troll, and a brilliant one at that. When people create a Mary Sue, they often do so without realizing it and while their Sue may have several Sue traits, they don't have a whole lot all at once. THIS particular Sue (Ebony Darkness Dementia Tara Raven Way...we'll call her Ebony) is just too over-the-top to truly classify as a Mary Sue. She's a Sue by the slimmest definition, but trust me...there should be a special name for Sues like HER. Think Bella Swan is bad? Just look up "My Immortal Fanfic Readings" on YouTube and revel in the badness that is My Immortal.
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Post by Jane Poirot » Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:15 pm

Would it be too early to classify Gary Stu Allen--I mean Sam Allen, Rex's new-found love child on Desperate Housewives --as a Marty Stu? He's so d@mn perfect it grates my nerves. I loved how Andrew wasn't always the perfect son and gave his mother h*ll for a while, but eventually grew up and really develop as a character.
Sam, on the other hand? He's too perfect; nothing ever upsets him, he's good at everything, he only wants to find out more about the daddy he never knew--suddenly, I'm beginning to like Kayla a lot better now. She, too, was the long-lost lovechild of one of the husbands on Wisteria Lane, but at least she had flaws. At least her evilness made the show more interesting to watch (and contributed to season four's total bad@ssery).
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