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The Mary Sue police
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The Mary Sue police:

Element of love
I think most of us have heard about the hated MarySues.The very mention of the word or even implying a character is a Mary Sue will create heated arguments.Even trying to define what exactly is a Mary Sue is problematic as every person has their own definition. We only know for certain that they do exist.

My question is ''' Are MarySues bad or something that must be stopped?

I don't mean "bad" in a bad quality sense becuase they are in fact a sign of bad writting. I mean bad as in "evil"

Some people that want to create quality writting(like me ) want to avoid creating one at all costs. But if a person willing wants to create and even enjoy Mary Sue characters why is it so wrong?

For instace bella from Twilight. She is a character that most people claim is a Mary Sue and not without a reason as she is a character that has what many women want.

But even if she is.Why is it wrong to want to be like a Mary Sue. Why does it have to become a pseudo witch hunt to destroy them?.

From a psycological point of view They are exactly the same as any Escapist Character. But MarySues are more individualised (or in other words designed just to please the author hence the reason most of the time only the author enjoys them) and a complete denial of reality (lack of flaws).

I think if anyone has ever daydreamed something that person has had a Mary Sue.

I do believe MarySues are mostly a sign of bad writting. But I don't think they should be considered as "something wrong" or "evil". Just as a kid playing with his toys isn't something wrong

Sure a kid playing with his power rangers/batman/Gi I joe toys most likely won't create the next Harry Potter he only wants to have fun. (why stop him?)

What's so wrong about having a dream (after all that's what MarySues are) where everything is perfect (for the author)?.

Just like the mirror or "erised" was in Harry Potter" a reflection to our desires, so are Mary Sue characters. They are a reflection of what our needs and desires.They have a lot of potential to show us who we are and what we want. When someone shares with you a Mary Sue they are also sharing with you who they are.

Are they something a good/serious author must avoid? In my opinion yes.Are they soemthing wrong? In my opinion no.

What is your opinion?

edited 28th Apr '12 5:27:21 PM by FallenLegend

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
 2 Cookoo, Mon, 21st May '12 11:03:20 AM from A Cuckoo clock Relationship Status: You can be my wingman any time
Right twice a day!
It really depends on the setting whether a character is a Mary Sue or not. Even then a character which can be called a Mary Sue doesn't mean automatically that it is a bad character. It greatly depends on the capability of the writer more than anything else if it can be pulled off correctly or not.
What time is it when your clock strikes 13?

Time to get a new clock.
 3 Fighteer, Mon, 21st May '12 1:08:54 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
It is fine to write fanfic. A lot of people do. (I do!) As a form of escapism, you may choose to put a self-insert there and have them do all kinds of awesome things, simply because it's your story. As we grow as readers and writers, we gradually come to appreciate that having an all-loving, all powerful hero modeled after ourselves is boring and look for more sophistication.

It's an entirely healthy progression — from the preschooler who believes that his toy Superman can't ever lose because he hasn't learned to separate it from his ego, to the adolescent who fantasizes about being Captain Kirk's soulmate, to the mature adult who recognizes that good characters need to be believable.

What is problematic is when people publish these fits and starts at writing and subject them to critical evaluation. Modern successful authors don't start out knowing how to write legendary books that appeal to millions of people. They probably wrote bad fanfic or thought their elementary school creative writing project was the Greatest Work Ever, just like everyone else. The difference is that they had to get their freshman work past an editor who could be critical and tell them when what they're writing is crap. What we see even in their earliest writing has already gone through copious levels of maturation.

Fanfics haven't done this. So of course they're mostly crap. One should not expect otherwise, and criticizing them solely on this basis is completely missing the point.

Mary Sue as a concept for literary criticism has some merit — it helps weed out those boring, fantastically improbable characters that break suspension of disbelief. But it, like most other such concepts, has become vastly overused and misapplied, and has lost most of whatever dubious value it once had. For this reason, I assume up front that anyone who uses the term unironically is either too ignorant to know better or a troll.

edited 21st May '12 1:26:05 PM by Fighteer

Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
 4 Tam H 70, Mon, 21st May '12 2:38:30 PM from 合計虐殺 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War ALWAYS changes. Man does not.
[up]Like Shades of Gray, for example? The totally-not-based-on-Twilight fanfiction that became a best-seller?
Element of love
[up] Publishing may be an issue.

But mexican tv novelas are filled with every kind of sue in existance.

Just chanel 2 is the most viewed chanel in the whole country millions of people that love Mary Sues!
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
Euo will do!
I've no issues with a Mary Sue correctly deployed. They can be a devastating plot device if used carefully. So, people who sniff at something that looks like a Sue without having a glance at the context? Annoy me a bit.

However, I'm right behind those who persecute the pointless, fluffy and totally misused Sue. I'd not only hold their coats, but pass the hot tar and the feathers. wink
"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 7 d Roy, Wed, 23rd May '12 8:52:31 PM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
Shouldn't this go to the Writer's Block Conversation or the Fanfiction forum?

 8 drunkscriblerian, Wed, 23rd May '12 11:09:29 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
[up]Not really. This is a point for both writers and non-writers to discuss.

Once again, Fighteer said what I think pretty much perfectly (and he did it better than I could have, kudos to him); writing Mary Sue type characters is part of the natural growth process of a writer. And as he said, some writers simply suffer from arrested development.

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
 9 Fighteer, Thu, 24th May '12 11:18:31 AM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
On those telenovelas, I'd say that if the genre is based on having these unrealistically beautiful, tragic characters, then it's Missing The Point to label them Mary Sues. We call such things Anthropic Principle, because the style of writing is part and parcel of the concept. You can dislike them because of it, but you can't necessarily make a valid claim that removing the Sue-ness from such works would "improve" them.

Superman is arguably a God-Mode Sue and/or a Boring Invincible Hero in many incarnations. But that's the point of Superman — you can't remove it and have the concept work. Yet writers have still found ways to challenge him believably and he's one of the most popular superheroes in history. So whatever aspects of Sue-ness he has are not intrinsically indicative of bad writing, and therefore labeling him a Sue is misleading.

edited 24th May '12 11:19:40 AM by Fighteer

Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
 10 Hilarity Ensues, Thu, 24th May '12 11:32:50 AM from Standing between Sho'Nuff and total supremacy.
I think the most obvious reason people dislike Mary Sues so much isn't just that they're overly special/amazing. Plenty of canonical characters fit that description. It's the fact that they take over the fanfic that they're in, and (most) people don't read fanfics to read about someone's original character being really awesome. They read them to read about the canonical characters. The hate towards them is certainly exaggerated, and the word gets thrown around too much. But in my view, that's the main reason the Mary Sue label is applied to characters in fanfics when they'd otherwise be called "escapist characters" in a published work.

Element of love
[up][up]I am talking about mexican novelas.I dunno about american onestongue

Gaviota for instance ... she learnt in a month 5 languages and without ever going to shcool she was the best ceo ever saving a company from bankrupcy (something not even actual economist ejecutives could do)

Not saying is a bad thing as everyone just loved her in Real Life as well as in-universe.

edited 24th May '12 1:50:23 PM by FallenLegend

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
The Wordnomnom
I dont think Mary Sues are bad. Or even always bad writing. Im more likely to be down on a boring super-powered character who isnt a self insert than one who is. A self insert is at least understandable. Superman and Alucard are just lazy writing.

Granted MOST stories with sues I wouldnt want to read but I wont condemn them all.
While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail, / In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.
 13 Fighteer, Sat, 26th May '12 10:46:54 AM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Mary Sue is used explicitly to label something as bad writing. Therefore using it in a different context is inviting confusion and potentially undeserved criticism.
Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
 14 bobthedog, Sat, 26th May '12 12:40:34 PM from anywhere else
don't bite, sniff
It's getting a bit tricky to write an unSue (I don't mean an antiSue) hero now. I find myself trying to remove likeable traits from my hero- type characters, so as people don't point fingers screaming 'Sue! Sue!' I take this likeability removal to the point where even I don't like my characters any more. Then I put most of the Sue traits back. This works, sort of, and some of the characters were unbearable before treatment, but I can't help thinking things used to be simpler in the ancient era — Before Sue .

edited 26th May '12 12:43:19 PM by bobthedog

We are trapped in that bright moment wherein we learnt our doom
 15 Steven, Sun, 27th May '12 12:06:35 PM from MY PANTS Relationship Status: What is this thing you call love?
The guy who face palms
At this point, people just slap on the Sue label for any writing or character they don't like. It's a Paper-Thin Disguise for trolling.
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[up][up]Since when is Sueness about likeability? I think mostly it is about (hyper-)competence. We of expect the hero to be somewhat special, to be better at some things than others, the point is just to keep it down to still plausible levels. But I don't think it ever has been about likeability.
 
 17 Gabrael, Tue, 29th May '12 8:29:48 AM Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
A Polar Bear Named Gabrael
I never figured Bella from Twilight had enough development to be a Sue of any kind.
Euo will do!
Hmmm: I'd call her a 2D cardboard cut-out, but she reminded me too much of damp tissues, rather. Fanny Price for the C21st young adult market. tongue

EDIT: Included the Mansfield Park link for those lucky enough not to have gone anywhere near it. Suggestion: should you ever have to cover it in English, take measures to reinforce your will-power. You'll need them. I'd rather battle through Kafka's Die Verwandlung in German without a dictionary nearby than touch that ever again. Heck: Brecht suddenly looks a positively cheery option.

edited 29th May '12 9:34:41 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 19 Gabrael, Tue, 29th May '12 9:24:25 AM Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
A Polar Bear Named Gabrael
[up]Haha! Perfect!
[up][up][up] I thought people considered Bella a Sue because of the way the other characters reacted to her (like she was amazing).

Since when is Sueness about likeability? I think mostly it is about (hyper-)competence. We of expect the hero to be somewhat special, to be better at some things than others, the point is just to keep it down to still plausible levels. But I don't think it ever has been about likeability.
I don't think it's necessarily about being hyper-competent, unless the character is hyper-competent in a gratuitous/contrived way.

edited 29th May '12 12:55:49 PM by Pingu

 21 Fighteer, Tue, 29th May '12 1:12:36 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
The point of a Sue is that they suck the plot into being all about them. They outshine the canon characters in every way that matters — if it's a romantic story, they are loved by everyone; if it's an action story, they kick the bad guy's ass effortlessly. Their flaws do not in any way detract from their awesomeness. Dying tragically is optional but common.

The defining mark of a Sue in fanfic has always been that canon characters and canon plots warp into serving the Sue's needs. Odd eye colorations, fancy names, and unearthly beauty are optional.

Again, labeling something a Sue that does not fit these criteria is an incorrect, flanderized use, and has contributed to the increasing meaninglessness of the term in serious criticism.

edited 29th May '12 1:14:20 PM by Fighteer

Neoclassicism, AKA the Tinkerbell school of economics.
 22 New Geek Philosopher, Fri, 1st Jun '12 1:13:39 AM from Sydney, Australia
Wizard Basement
I read the OP and started imagining a Death Wish fanfic where Charles Bronson shoots down badly thought out Original Characters in a prolonged action revenge franchise called Death Wish Fulfillment, but then I realised how silly it was.

I'm not sure any major entertainment franchise would ever get off the ground if the writers listened to the Mary Sue Police 100% of the time, some criticism is warranted, but when you start lumping in people like Morpheus from The Sandman into Gary Stu merely because he's an immortal dream king who rules Dream Land, it somewhat devalues the meaning of the word Mary Sue when it's more badly applied than certain "egregious" tropes are if they're poorly used.
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Total posts: 22
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