Also known as KatzUpdated 9/20; major changes italicized. Background A Mary Sue is an unrealistic type of literary character commonly created by inexperienced authors. Although they vary, a typical Mary Sue has an unreasonable number of cool or special traits, especially ones the author wishes he or she had, and they tend to accomplish things too easily, solve problems too neatly, and become the center of attention whether they deserve it or not. This test aims to help authors evaluate whether their characters are in danger of becoming Mary Sues by drawing attention to potentially problematic traits. However, authors should remember that a Mary Sue is a subjective classification. There is no such thing as a Mary Sue trait; any trait can be part of an interesting, well-balanced character. You shouldn't feel bad about checking a few boxes. In fact, if your character scores very close to zero, that may be a sign that he or she could use a little spicing up. When taking this test, be honest, but keep it in perspective and remember context. We haven't read your story, so we don't know whether something that sounds unrealistic actually makes perfect sense. Section 1: Author Avatars There's nothing wrong with using yourself as the basis for a character. After all, you know more about yourself than about anyone else. Nevertheless, many Mary Sues are based on the authors, who insert themselves into the story for the wish fulfillment of being able to do cool things that don't happen in real life. Unless otherwise noted, score one point for each positive answer in this section. 1. Does your character look a lot like you? 2. Does your character have the same name as you, or a name that is a variant of yours, such as a nickname or different spelling? (Score two points for this question.) 3. Does your character have the same job as you or study the same subject in school? 4. Does your character have a job or skill that you really wish you had? 5. Does your character share strong opinions and beliefs with you?
edited 20th Sep '11 10:44:51 PM by jewelleddragon
I think I've seen a Mary Sue test exactly like this one somewhere... I took it, and none of my characters ended up being Sues, thank God.
edited 17th Sep '11 3:00:44 PM by tropetown
Also known as KatzThat was just the first bit (my internet has been spotty today).
Also known as KatzSection 2: Woobies Since Mary Sues are usually good at everything and get everything they want, authors often give them tragic pasts to make up for it. Of course, bad things happen to excellent characters too. A character starts sounding like a Mary Sue if the tragic past has no consequences and he or she is still perfect despite what happened. Unless otherwise noted, score two points for each positive answer in this section. 6. Is your character an orphan?
edited 19th Oct '11 8:46:15 PM by jewelleddragon
Also known as KatzSection 3: Awesomeness Special characters with cool, unique traits are fun to write and read about, but too many cool traits make a character hard to believe. Remember that there is nothing bad about checking a few things in this section. Unless otherwise noted, score two points for each positive answer in this section. 20. Is your character part of a race/species that is not the most common for his or her location?
edited 19th Oct '11 8:51:27 PM by jewelleddragon
Also known as KatzSection 3a: Setting-Specific Uniqueness Some traits may sound like a Mary Sue, but actually be perfectly common in your world. This section seeks to balance out this problem by taking the setting into account. Scoring for this section is as follows: -one point if it's not natural in this world (glowing eyes, etc) but normal in the character's world -one point if it's a normal real-world trait but unusual in that setting (ie, a blonde in a race of brunettes) -two points if it's both not a normal real-world trait and unusual for the setting 36. Does your character have an unusual name?
edited 19th Oct '11 8:36:58 PM by jewelleddragon
Also known as KatzSection 4: World Warping Perhaps the most defining characteristic of Mary Sues is that they have an undue influence on everything. They virtually always get their way, accomplish things no one else could, and don't give anyone else in the story a chance to shine. While most heroic characters will have one or two of these traits, many more than that is a sign that your character may be bending the world to his or her will too much. Unless otherwise noted, score three points for each positive answer in this section. 51. Is your character the Chosen One, the only person who can defeat the villain or complete some other task? 52. Are there any other prophecies about your character? 53. Does your character defeat the main villain by him- or herself?
edited 19th Oct '11 8:38:04 PM by jewelleddragon
Also known as KatzSection 5: Reactions and Consequences Mary Sues don't suffer the same consequences everyone else does. Other characters usually all like them, except for villains, who will immediately dislike them. They will get away with things that would get other characters in trouble and do chancy things without suffering from the results. Unlike the other sections, this is usually just plain bad writing. Your character should always be treated realistically for who and what he or she is. Unless otherwise noted, score three points for each positive answer in this section. However, skip any questions that are reasonably justified by the circumstances of the story (for instance, a foreign ambassador avoiding arrest because of diplomatic immunity). The character him- or herself doesn't count as a justification (ie, people like him or her because he or she is really likeable), nor do plot necessities (ie, this needs to happen so the story can move along). 65. Does everyone automatically like your character?
edited 20th Sep '11 10:34:10 PM by jewelleddragon
Also known as KatzSection 6: De-Suifiers Some traits are particularly unlikely to show up in a Mary Sue. Just as the traits from the previous sections are not bad in and of themselves, these traits are not good in and of themselves, nor can you necessarily fix a Mary Sue just by adding more of these traits. You should always think first and foremost about the role your character fills in the story and how you can make it more believable. Unless otherwise noted, subtract one point for each positive answer in this section. However, skip any question where the trait is actually a good thing in context (such as helping the villains, but secretly being a double agent). 85. Is your character of a different gender from you?
edited 19th Oct '11 2:34:47 PM by jewelleddragon
Also known as KatzScoring -28-0: Your character may be an antihero. This character never gets a break: he or she doesn't have special skills, rarely gets anything done without help, and is not well-liked by others. His or her personal flaws, which outweigh his positive traits, are another struggle. This character may work well in a dark setting, but readers may also be alienated by his or her lack of likeable qualities. 0-10: Your character is understated. For every talent, he or she has a flaw, and for every accomplishment, he or she has a failure. Perhaps he or she is just a subtle character with a muted personality. Particularly if your setting is understated, this character may fit right in, but don't be afraid to spruce him or her up with some more special traits or to let him or her take charge of the plot more often. 10-25: Your character is well-balanced. He or she has enough distinctive traits to stand out, but he or she also has some flaws. Although he or she has won some victories and accomplished some goals, the world doesn't bend to his or her will, and other characters treat him or her realistically. You probably don't need to worry about this character at all. 25-40: Your character shows some Mary Sue tendencies. Maybe he or she has a few too many special traits to be plausible, maybe he or she accomplishes things too easily, or maybe the other characters are too focused on him or her. You should probably think of ways to tone down this character a little to make him or her more realistic. Then again, if your setting tends to be over-the-top, he or she may fit right in. 40-100: Your character is definitely in Mary Sue territory. He or she may have a tragic past that gets a little too much focus. In addition to having a lot of cool traits that may not always make sense, he or she often gets special treatment. The story revolves around him or her, rarely letting other characters do anything important, and other people love him or her and let him or her get away with things that other characters couldn't. This character needs a significant overhaul to make him or her more believable. 100-403: Your character is an extreme Mary Sue. He or she has every cool trait in the book. Even though he or she has a tragic past, he or she still manages to be the best at all kinds of things and to accomplish everything he or she tries. Rules don't apply to him or her. The other characters in the story are only there to praise your character and make him or her look good by comparison; anyone who dislikes your character is treated as an obvious villain. There isn't much hope for this character. You may as well scrap him or her and start over.
edited 20th Oct '11 10:21:28 AM by jewelleddragon
I think, once you've worked out any little issues (I can't see any, personally), you should get that posted on a website. It's really good. I just don't like having to do all the calculations by hand.
edited 17th Sep '11 4:37:10 PM by tropetown
Awesome Lightning MantraI scored 16 with Mark Wess (the character I created that other thread for). I'm actually surprised. Though he is very powerful, attractive and smart, he scored very little in World Warping and got de-Suified more than I expected.
edited 17th Sep '11 6:41:18 PM by Teraus
"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
Fuzzy Orange DoomsayerI'll grant that you improved it a bit, but you should at least cite your sources.
edited 17th Sep '11 4:39:37 PM by feotakahari
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
Does your character suffer no lasting mental or emotional consequences from any of this, not counting dramatic angst?I think you might need to clarify what differentiates lasting mental/emotional consequences from dramatic angst. "Becomes a self-pitying twat who angsts a lot" kinda counts as a lasting consequence, right?
Is he or she disfigured in a way that is not cool or sexy?I always have trouble with questions like these. I think all tests need to have some sort of extra clause for missing eyes, because I've seen them portrayed as awesome and manly.
edited 17th Sep '11 5:02:41 PM by Merlo
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
I got 14 with a character who I was a little worried was showing some Sueness... luckily, he's balanced out by his enormous flaws, and by having smarter, better planners around that outthink him, so that wasn't an issue.
Gay bacon stripsI tested this for one of my characters and got almost negative digits. But that's mostly because he's a fuck up with lots of issues to sort out over the course of the novel.
Also known as Katzfeo: I will; it also draws from this one, this one, and Common Mary Sue Traits. (Incidentally, the katfeete one pretty clearly draws from the springhole one; the ponyland one dates back to 1997, so perhaps that's the original?)
Awesome Lightning MantraOkay... I tried the test again with Blacklawn. Quoting from another thread:
The character is named Blacklawn (not his real name, more like a codename. His real name cannot be translated, and he's an alien from another universe). He is not attractive by any human standards. He looks like a floating crest-like thing with three glowing dots for eyes and several tentacles. He has many abilities, but that's justified by the fact that he's actually composed by 6 different minds (the story's Big Bad has a device which allows him to make clusters of minds). He was originally evil, but became good as the villain's grasp over his minds became weaker. He isn't even among the most powerful characters in the story. His main mind had a somewhat troubled past due to the fact that the person who raised him betrayed him at some point in exchange for political powers. He had many other disappointments, but, other than that, his life was pretty boring and he had a rather nihilistic view on existence (that changes later), and that's why he was susceptible to mind control in the first place. The other minds that compose him either lost great part of their memories or were already equally weak to mind control.I scored 4. Blacklawn is not a plain character in any aspect, at least, not in my opinion. In fact, he has one of the most dramatic pasts in the story (which is not saying much. Most of my characters had normal childhoods). I now think that your test is a bit too forgiving. Perhaps you should nerf the de-Suifiers? Subtract one point for each instead of two, maybe? (or weigh them differently). I think it's a good test, but probably needs a small change in this aspect.
edited 17th Sep '11 6:41:31 PM by Teraus
"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
Writer's Welcome WagonGot negative digits for my co-protagonist too, since he's very flawed. But even without the detractors, I get about three or so, since he's very weak compared with other psychics in the story. I'm not going to test out Bryan (the narrator and protagonist) because he's more mundane and he doesn't drive the story in a Sue-ish way (I'm planning to make things go wrong with him in my current draft). Incidently, the Ponyland one is based on this one, so it looks like all the major litmus tests are connected in a family tree of sorts.
edited 17th Sep '11 5:08:07 PM by chihuahua0
watching down on usGot a 10 for AB!Beowulf. I actually expected a lot more due to his being incredibly out of place in a Migration Period Germanic society, but the fact that this is an important part of his character development may have helped.
Banned entirely for telling FE that he was being rude and not contributing to the discussion. I shall watch down from the goon heavens.
Also known as KatzSo should the de-Suifiers be worth 1 point instead of 2, or should there be fewer of them? I can also rephrase the scoring and take out the less than 10 category (or make it, say, a less than 0 category).
edited 17th Sep '11 5:50:53 PM by jewelleddragon
Have them be worth 1 point, but have more of them in total so it balances out.
Put in some mary - sue like, but not Mary Sue canon characters (with de-suifiers @ 2pts each):
edited 17th Sep '11 6:03:24 PM by FrodoGoofballCoTV
Rabid FujoshiI would add:
SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
Wolf1066It looks like a pretty good test so far, I especially like "If he or she does get punished, does the authority figure wish he or she didn't have to punish your character (and only your character)?" My Fantasy Kitchen Sink werewolf came up with 12, not factoring in de-suifiers (as the book is not complete it's hard to answer that section but there are quite a number of them that are very much possible depending on how the story progresses and quite a few that would have already happened in his backstory) The de-suifiers may want to be toned down a bit (like maybe only one point each) - my Author Avatar Werewolf is in grave danger of having negative points. Section 1: Author Avatars - 3 Section 2: Woobies - 2 Section 3: Awesomeness - 4 Section 3a: Setting-Specific Uniqueness - 3 (just your common garden-variety werewolf ) Section 4: World Warping - 0 Section 5: Reactions and Consequences - 0 Section 6: De-Suifiers - potentially 26 91. Does your character fail at something important? Has done in the past, likely to do so again. a. Are there significant negative consequences? Very likely. b. Does he or she ever lose a fight against someone of the same or lesser skill level? Everyone has their off days and a fair fight is always a crap-shoot. c. Does your character ever ignore a problem hoping it will go away (but it doesn't), or give up on something without trying? Depends on the problem and how important he thinks it is at the time - could later come back and bite him in the arse. 92. Does your character need another character's help with something important? All the time. Can't be everywhere at once. a. Does your character get rescued by someone who isn't a love interest? Quite possibly. 93. Is your character ever wrong and admits that he or she is wrong? Frequently and culturally is not likely to change. a. Does a wrong choice ever lead to negative consequences? Definitely - could be quite serious depending on the choice and consequences. 94. Does your character struggle with doubts about the morality of his or her actions, and are these doubts never fully resolved? Plenty of potential for that. 95. Does your character ever get ignored, snubbed, or overlooked by characters who aren't villains? Doesn't everyone? 98. Are there other characters who consistently outthink your character? There's bound to be. 99. a. Alternately, is your character in a committed relationship for the whole story with no significant romantic rivals? A grey one as he's "committed but available". 100. Does your character have other problems that don't go away by the end of the story? Without a doubt. Edit: Seriously Ninja'd on the De-Suifiers. Even at one point each, my character could wind up -1
edited 17th Sep '11 6:19:19 PM by Wolf1066
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
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