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A new Mary Sue test
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A new Mary Sue test:

Also known as Katz
However, skip any question that there's a good in-story reason for.

I'm not sure this is the right phrase, as someone said above "Everyone likes her because she is very likeable!" could easily be used as an in-story justification. I think a better phrase would be something along the lines of "A character cannot be used to justify themselves."

Yeah, I've been thinking about how to say that (or whether to include the caveat at all). "Any question there's a plot-related reason for" came to mind, but that might be interpreted to allow for bad plotting ("he has to convince the guard to let him in or how will he find the amulet?"), rather than what it's intended to allow for ("the guard let him in because he had the letter from the other guard").

[down]Perfect!

edited 18th Sep '11 11:52:27 PM by jewelleddragon

How about, "skip any questions that are reasonably justified by the circumstances of the story"? You could add a bit explaining that the character can't be used to justify themselves, and neither can plot requirements (ie: I need someone to go through the door so that they can discover the villain and move the story along).

edited 18th Sep '11 11:47:38 PM by tropetown

 78 Wolf 1066, Mon, 19th Sep '11 12:10:46 AM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
How about:

"Skip any question if it is clearly established in the story that most characters of the same race/species/sex etc would have the same attribute."

Put the character's attributes in context with the rest of the 'verse.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
Also known as Katz
[up]The one point/two point system in section 3a addresses that. I don't want to eliminate points entirely for attributes common to the character's race because there can be Mary Sue races (Eragon elves, anyone?).

BTW, I've taken out the first question (is the character your gender/age/race/etc) and put it, reversed, in the de-Suifiers section. So now you get negative points if your character is a different gender, race, etc. from yours.

 80 Mr AHR, Mon, 19th Sep '11 6:38:43 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I think you should also include something about a difference between premise, backstory, and actual story.

A character discovering powers out of nowhere is an asspull.

A character discovering powers out of nowhere in a backstory, and has been using them logically in the story is not.

A character discovering powers out of nowhere as the catalyst to the plot is not.

Case and point— Harry Potter and Tom Riddle. Harry Potter shows unusual powers by premise, and Tom Riddle shows unusual powers by backstory.

edited 19th Sep '11 6:42:38 AM by MrAHR

 81 Teraus, Mon, 19th Sep '11 3:40:27 PM from The Origin of Dreams
Awesome Lightning Mantra
@Wolf 1066
The question remains: who would your character use a sword against? Unless there are other characters also skilled with swords running about for some reason it devolves to "swords vs guns" which the average person does not buy (why don't they just shoot him before he gets close?) or "swords vs unarmed (or improv-armed) opponents" which is not exactly "heroic".

Consider this situation: two characters with the ability to materialize things, both extremely powerful, fight against each other. How they've managed to obtain such power doesn't matter right now.

Character A likes to summon two swords and concentrate all of his power on them. He could summon many more objects, but they wouldn't be as powerful as there would be more objects to control (and a limited ammount of energy to focus on each object to prevent the enemy from manipulating it).

Character B likes to summon streams containing millions of very hard, ultra-sharp spikes to throw at character A. They use their weapons both defensively and offensively. Each spike is less powerful than a sword, but their number compensate for this, and each one fights in their preferred style.

Did that make sense to you?

@ jeweleddragon
BTW, I've taken out the first question (is the character your gender/age/race/etc) and put it, reversed, in the de-Suifiers section. So now you get negative points if your character is a different gender, race, etc. from yours.

I don't know... Seems very easy to exploit. What if the person wants to be the other gender, race, etc?

edited 19th Sep '11 3:48:47 PM by Teraus

"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
Also known as Katz
[up]The de-Suifiers are only a point each now, so you couldn't possibly get more than -3.

 83 Morven, Mon, 19th Sep '11 5:12:30 PM from Seattle, WA, USA
Nemesis
I still think that most people are more likely to make a Sue of the same gender, age and orientation as themselves. Yes, there's a minority who want to be something else, too.
A brighter future for a darker age.
Shadowed Philosopher
Being of the same gender/age/orientation isn't a Sue trait, but being of a different one is an anti-Sue trait. As best I can figure. The characters I've made that were Sues were all fairly blatant self-inserts who were basically me except the name.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 85 Night, Mon, 19th Sep '11 5:27:53 PM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
Gender is pretty much 50/50 likely to be yours even if you select it by flipping coins. Age, too, can be troublesome; I've been writing stories about people in their mid-twenties for a decade, but I happen to be there myself now.

It's basically trying to build in against false positive. I'm not sure if the concern is warranted or not, though.
"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
 86 Mr AHR, Mon, 19th Sep '11 5:36:53 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
There is another half to the age/gender thing, though.

What people are sexually attracted to.

Obvious example: Edward Cullen.
 87 Logan Locksley, Mon, 19th Sep '11 6:31:50 PM from On the ceiling
Occasionally Smart
Good questions. Good list of things to keep in mind. I don't think I'll go through the whole thing with any of my characters, but there are a lot of good ideas for things to avoid (or include in some cases).

I must admit I laughed out loud at "Does your character glow or sparkle?"

About the gender/age discussion: People tend to write what they know. If you're a 19 year old guy, it's not an incredibly difficult task to write another 19 year old guy. It's not so much that characters similar to the author (or even full-on author inserts) are more likely to be Mary Sues, but that Mary Sues are more likely to be author inserts. However, given how small the section on similar age/gender is...even a positive answer to every question in that section would only add 8 to the total Sue Score, which really isn't that much compared to the rest of the categories.
He's like fire and ice and rage. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time. Rory punched him in the face.
Also known as Katz
It's not so much that characters similar to the author (or even full-on author inserts) are more likely to be Mary Sues, but that Mary Sues are more likely to be author inserts.

Exactly; that's why that section is the least heavily weighted (and the shortest). Even a proper, intentional self-insert won't be anywhere near Mary Sue level on this test without a fair number of additional traits.

 89 Wolf 1066, Mon, 19th Sep '11 8:21:25 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
[up]Even my more obvious self inserts wouldn't gain much on that section.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 90 Teraus, Mon, 19th Sep '11 8:29:15 PM from The Origin of Dreams
Awesome Lightning Mantra
My protagonist (Adam Henry Zadoc) scored 0 in the latest version of the test (subtracting one point for de-suifiers).

It's actually funny because he was specifically meant to be an author avatar. We have exactly the same beliefs and he becomes a real Badass at a certain point. Well, he has some flaws, too. Mostly being ingenue and, sometimes, blindly optimistic and unhealthily obsessed with certain ideas/people.

The villain of my first book (Noah Cartwright) scored 6. I guess this test wasn't meant for villains, though.

Either we need more incriminating questions or we are too good with character creation...

EDIT: Eluxya, my most powerful character, who is practically omnipotent, extremely intelligent and totally awesome, scored 32, and that's considering I've marked several justified things just to make things more difficult. I don't think she is a Sue, so I guess that's more or less accurate. She's practically a goddess and is older than our universe, I'm not sure what rules apply to beings like her in this test.

edited 19th Sep '11 8:50:44 PM by Teraus

"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
I think the average writer who visits this site will learn how to create good characters by virtue of seeing both well-done characters, and complete and utter Snark Bait.

edited 19th Sep '11 9:10:51 PM by tropetown

 92 nrjxll, Tue, 20th Sep '11 8:30:34 AM Relationship Status: Not war
I'd actually like to see a Villain Sue litmus test sometime.

Indecisive Goldfish
Got an 18 with Aurus. Though he swings into creator's pet with me...
 94 Teraus, Tue, 20th Sep '11 12:56:54 PM from The Origin of Dreams
Awesome Lightning Mantra
I made a test with Edward Cullen. I tried to be as honest as possible and tried to imagine what Stephenie Meyer would think, though it didn't matter too much. He scored 79, so I guess the test is not as forgiving as I thought and I have good reasons to be confident about my characters. cool

edited 20th Sep '11 12:57:46 PM by Teraus

"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
Also known as Katz
It's definitely possible to score high on the test; Neo, for instance, scored 94 with 2-point De-Suifiers.

 96 Teraus, Tue, 20th Sep '11 1:12:53 PM from The Origin of Dreams
Awesome Lightning Mantra
Wow. And I never had anything against him. I never really thought about it, though.

edited 20th Sep '11 1:13:29 PM by Teraus

"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
 97 Mr AHR, Tue, 20th Sep '11 1:16:00 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Well, in the end, it is execution.

That's what I keep telling myself, anyway, since certain characters of mine consistently score high.
Also known as Katz
[up]Right; Neo is a great example. He isn't really a Mary Sue but he has all the characteristics of one.

Author in waiting
I decided to run my character Moonfire through the test, because she's a unicorn and always fails in spectacular fashion. In this test she only got a 26, but it did bring something else to mind.

•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 natural human trait but unusual in that setting (ie, a blonde in a race of brunettes)

•two points if it's both not a normal human trait and unusual for the setting

The word "human" seems wrong. Moonfire scored a lot of points because she has traits that while common place for her spieces, aren't human traits.

edited 20th Sep '11 1:23:36 PM by TheEmeraldDragon

I am a nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect.
 100 Teraus, Tue, 20th Sep '11 1:25:11 PM from The Origin of Dreams
Awesome Lightning Mantra
Holy ****, Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way scored 164.
"You cannot judge a system if your judgement is determined by the system."
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