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 To be, or not to be a Mary Sue

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Frozen Memory
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PostSubject: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:35 pm

To be, or not to be a Mary Sue

What is a unique character?

That my friends, is not an easy question to answer, but with this article I have created for you all and for myself, I will hopefully shed some light on how to create a character that isn’t the typical Mary Sue/ Gary Sue and if you have a character like that you can modify and salvage your character. This article is not meant to bash or harm anyone’s character. This is just a guide that I have come up with from reading many different sources that I will provide at the end of this little article. In essence, I have done your research and study for you. This is more than just a summary of the reports so please do read and hopefully I can help you on your way to become a writer if that is what you wish to be. Enjoy!

So why do we need a character besides theme to further our plots? For a variety of reasons, but in some cases, characters aren’t important. There are a few best sellers out there that revolve solely on detail and actions rather than character. They are portrayed only as shadows and sometimes they don’t even have names. The problem with that is that the detail and actions you put in there have to be able to capture a reader alone. Sometimes that can be a success but few writers can pull that off without sounding boring to the reader. Usually, characters are the second and most important part of the plot and the book. It’s the characters that make your story pop and pull in a reader no matter what type of book you are writing. So now the problem is how to create a unique character without sounding cliché or having a boring character that sounds too much like a Mary Sue or just a one minute flimsy characterization.

Creating a character can be easy, or can be difficult. It all depends on your plot and what genre you are writing for. Characters for reality will be very different from characters of a fantasy. They will have different types of personalities, different rules of logic, and sometimes the illogical is logical. Let’s say… we have an idea for fantasy. Maybe we have a time traveler who is a dragon but with special illusions and magic, looks like a human being and crossed over into another dimension for example (We will use this plot for the essay to make the examples and ideas clear). Great, we have the idea, but what about our dimension crossing illusionist dragon? Who is he and why should any of the readers care? Well, the first step is creating personality. You can’t have a character without a characterization, now can we?

Some authors find it easy to make steps when they are creating a character. To make it simple, we will do that as well. So for our character, we are going to jot down ideas about personalities. He is a dragon so a cliché idea would be wisdom. Is he a young naïve dragon, or a dragon that has lived many years upon his world? That could be a factor to think about. Is he a jolly dragon? Does he hate the world for some reason? Is he bitter and want revenge? Maybe he is looking for someone or something. Jotting down all the ideas and attributes. The second step is connecting the dots and putting them together. Draw connecting lines between them. You can have two traits or more. It all depends on your fancy and the idea you are thinking about. The more elements you have the more unique and complicated a character can become. Sometimes silly ideas or objects can inspire a trait.

My journalism teachers a few years ago said this acronym to us: ‘EOTI’ which stands for Eye Of The Investigator. This can also apply to writing a story or novel. You pull ideas from the things that surround you. Maybe the television has a commercial going on about toothpaste. How can we turn that into something useful? You branch out from it and eventually, you get to an idea that doesn’t seem like it could have come from a toothpaste commercial at all. It all takes creativity. Here is an example:

Toothpaste – strong enable – teeth – fangs – powerful jaws – something weakened it – no longer has teeth –loss of confidence – people make fun of someone – want revenge: Our mighty dragon had strong and powerful jaws but something had happened and he lost his teeth. Without his teeth, he can’t hunt or catch his food so he is in search of a spell to get his teeth back.

You can do that with anything that is around you. Just work off the idea and you will eventually come with a reason or a new idea.

Another thing you have to consider when creating a character is avoiding clichés. They can be fun in a comedy, but you don’t want the typical story line or the typical character. They won’t stand out and will be easily forgotten by the reader. Some might not even finish reading the book. Avoid the handsome prince and damsel in distress, or the wizard that conquers all by learning a single spell. You can grab one of these characters and add something to it and make it something totally different instead of using the ordinary category. No matter what you do, you have to work off the template but add your own twist to it or add things from books and television shows and combine them. That way it will be unique. There is always going to be a way to turn a used idea into something original by adding twists to it or adding pieces from something else. Complicate your character.

Another thing you can do about your character is to first base them off a stereotype and then work your way up. For fantasy, a typical stereotype would be an Elf who is extremely beautiful, have plenty of magic, elegant, and swift. Maybe your elf isn’t the typical elf and has no magic at all and can’t understand why and maybe he isn’t as beautiful as his people. No one is a complete stereotype so neither should your character. You should also use extremes for your characters. If your character is very mean, make him the biggest bastard you can. If he is very shy, make him have some kind of social disorder. The extremes can me fun and intriguing to read as long as they fall somewhere in the spectrum of legitimacy. You can’t have a character be extremely naïve but at the same time be full of wisdom. That would contradict your character and you wouldn’t go anywhere.

You could also think about how you want your character to appeal to a crowd. Do you want them to hate your character or empathize with your character? That also affects the personality of your character. You need to think about how he reacts to his surroundings and how his surroundings are going to react with your character. If they don’t mesh together, you could have some problems. Have your character think about what he should do and make him do something that goes along with his personality and mind set. If he does something that is completely uncharacteristic of him, he credibility will go down and he won’t be remembered the way you want him to be.

One of the most important things you can do for your character is writing an outline about him or her. After you formulate her personality, write about her family history. You could write about the time period she is in, how her family treats her, how she thinks about her family or society, what she wears and why. She could wear really skimpy outfits or baggy clothes. Each one portrays a certain characteristic and personality attribute. Maybe she wears her hair in a crazy fashion. No matter what you do, make sure it makes sense for what you are writing. If it is a medieval story, most people would not be wearing a Mohawk and women wouldn’t be wearing strapless shirts and pants. Do your research before you write. Take in disease and what the social standards were for men and women and age groups. It makes your story and character more believable and that is something that makes your character intriguing for a reader.

So we have some personality traits, now we need a name. Oh what’s in a name? A lot of things. Some people say that names aren’t important and you could just leave it to the end of the book. I highly disagree with this statement as do the sources I have read. A single name can say a lot about your character; Culture, society, belief, and give foreshadowing to some event in a novel. To avoid being a Marry Sue, don’t use ridicules names. If you are in a futuristic role-play and you call someone Sunshine Daisy Bunny, you aren’t helping your character on the unique ladder. Instead, you have started her towards the Mary Sue category. That may be acceptable during the Flower Power Era, but not in a science fiction story. You should also add flaws. If your character is perfect in every way and never gets injured, that is another way to lose readers. No one wants to hear about a perfect character that never gets hurt in battle, always wins and gets what he wants. Don’t baby your characters. Distance yourself away a little and let them grow in the story.


Names that can’t be pronounced or are ridiculous in their longevity and complexity, should be reserved for fantasy novels and used only if that type of character begets such a name and it matches the sect or clan that they come from. A human with a long hyphenated name wouldn’t match as well as if that name belonged to and Elf or a dragon. Match names to ethnicity, background, time period, and the background of the actual novel. Does that sound familiar? Names must match up as well. You can give your character a name that means something about their personality and that tells more about the character than having a plain name you thought up at the end of the novel and didn’t correlate with your character at all.


CHARACTER CREATION:

Let’s get to some fun, shall we? There is this book I bought called Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress. In the back of the book she had a great template you can use to create your character. I will write it here and then take you through it with my own character. (I do not take credit for her work.)

NAME: Leonardo Foster (He is English living in America and modern/futuristic setting. Name fits. Foster also has the meaning of someone who had been a foster child which Leonardo was, or someone who takes in a foster child. His first name means brave lion and that is a symbol of one of his characteristics.)
NICKNAMES: Leo (Still means lion and called Leo only by friends.)
AGE: 458 (Looks like he is in his thirties. He is a twist on a vampire so it fits.)
WEIGHT: 200 pounds.
HEIGHT: 6’3
EYE COLOR: blue
HAIR COLOR: blond
STYLE: Short but feathered and natural spike. (Not gravity defying.)
DISTINGUISHING MARKS: pale, fangs
FATHER’S NAME: Ryker Foster (Rich man, meaning and characteristic, who took Leonardo in briefly before he was sent away.)
FATHER’S CURRENT STATUS: Deceased
MOTHER’S NAME: Danica Foster (Morning star for beauty)
MOTHER’S CURRENT STATUS: Deceased
ETHNIC BACKGROUND: English but was born in Denver, Colorado.
RELIGION: Catholic- not much confidence in it, but he wants to believe and hopes God exists.
DEGREE OF RELIGIOUS PRACTICE: Every day when young, not anymore.
CURRENT ADDRESS: A mansion in Las Vegas. He owns it but government wants it
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF HOME: The mansion is big obviously and mostly the color white on the outside. He had decorated the exterior yard with two Greek Statues. One of them is Artemis and the second is her brother Apollo. Their significant will be described later. A fountain rests in the middle of the trimmed yard with sculptures of horses on waves. The interior of the place is mostly light colors as well such as whites and blues. Furniture is toward the cozy spectrum and generally a mahogany shade.
OTHER OCCUPANTS OF CURRENT HOME: None.
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Singer at a night club.
CURRENT EMPLYER: Anne Laurence, bar owner
SIGNIFICANT PAST JOBS: Fortune Teller.
INCOME LEVEL: High.
EDUCATION: Art Degree from College.
MARITAL STATUS:
-Never married
-First Marriage –how long?
-Second Marriage –how long?
-Third Marriage -how long?
-Divorced -How long?
-Separated – How long?
-Widow/Widower – How long?
-Other:
SPOUCE NAME: None.
SPOUCE NICKNAME: None.
SPOUCE’S OCCUPATION: none
CHILDREN: none
POLICE RECORD: Arrested for threatening the judge at a hearing. Convicted to community service for a few weeks. Arrested for fighting another Vimpyre (spelling intentional) but wrongly accused of starting the fight. Bail paid by Dacre, a friend.
MEDICAL RECORD:
-General Health:
-Excellent -Good -Below Average -Terrible
-Chronic Conditions: Vimpyrism, anemia
-Current Conditions: Albinism
OFTEN FOUND WITH: (outside of work) Dacre, Jenny
ORGANIZATIONS MEMBER OF: none


DRESS:
-EXPENSIVE COUTURE CLOTHING, LONG-LASTING SYTLES:
-EXPENSIVE COUTURE CLOTHING, TRENDY STYLES
-GOOD QUALITY, CONSERVATIVE CLOTHING: long shirts and pants and caps. Doesn’t like exposing his skin to anyone. Slightly self conscious about his appearance but doesn’t realize.
-GOOD QUALITY, UNCONSERVATIVE CLOTHING:
-WHATEVER EVERDYBODY ELSE IN HIS/HER GROUP WEARS:
-WHATEVER’S MOST COMFORTABL; COMFORT IS MAIN VALUE
-WHATEVER’S HANDY, DOESN’T REALLY CARE:
-DRESSING TO BE NOTICED – HOW AND WHY?
-OTHER:
GROOMING
-EVERY-HAIR-PERFECT TYPE
-AVERAGE GROOMING AND CLEANLINESS FOR OWN GROUP
-CLEAN BUT SLOPPY
-DIRTY AND A SLOB
SPEECH:
-PACE -TALKS FAST -AVERAGE PACE -TALKS SLOWLY
VOICE:
-SHRILL -AVERAGE -DEEP -UNUSUALLY AUTHORITATIVE -OTHER: musical
ANY FAVORITE PHRASES OR WORDS: ‘Ignorance isn’t bliss; its idiotic.’
USUAL CSS WORDS, IF ANY: Damn it, bastard, ass, hell
MANNERISMS:
GENERAL
-Projects a calm image
-volatile – moods change, and body language with it

-usually fidgety
-other
POSTURE
-stiff and rigid
-stands straight but not stiffly
-average – varies with mood
-slumped and defeated-looking
-flexible and graceful
-Usually relaxed
-slouchy and careless
-other
GESTURES
-Doesn’t gesture much
-gestures are deliberate and controlled
-gestures mostly when excited/upset
-gestures much of the time
-gestures wildly, even weirdly
FAVORITE GESTURE: rubs his face or crossing his arms.
WHEN DOES HE/SHE USE IT: When angry or disappointed.
HABITS:
-SMOKER: no
-DRINKER: yes
-a drink once every two weeks. More if stressed.
MONEY:
-Prudent, Cautious – saves money
-average – some debts, some savings
-spends whatever he/she has, soon after acquiring it
-deep in debt
-into criminal activities from financial need.
VEHICLE:
-Does not have one because:
-Luxury car make Audi A4
-details: silver
-Standard vehicle:
-details:
-old/dilapidated vehicle make
-details:
LEISURE/CULTURAL PREFERENCE:
-Enjoys sports? No.
-How much? At all.
-Enjoys music? Yes.
-How much? A lot. Is a singer.
-What kinds? Jazz or soft music.
Enjoys reading? Yes
-How much? A lot. Does research
-What kinds? Philosophy, symbolism
-Enjoys dance? Yes
-How much? Mildly
-What kinds? Classical, cha cha, cultural
-Enjoys theater? Yes
-how much? A lot
-What kind? Comedy
-Enjoys movies? Yes
-How much? Mildly.
-What kinds? Comedy and realistic.
-Enjoys outdoors? Not particularly
-How much: doesn’t mind going out and about
-Does what outside? Takes in the sites, sketches, and walks around.
-Is good food important to him/her?
-not particularly.
-How important? Mildly.
-What kind of food? Fish.
-Can he/she cook? No.
-Enjoys shopping? No

HOME
WHERE DOES THE CHARACTER LIVE?
-Big city
WHERE WOULD THE CHARACTER RATHER LIVE?
-secluded area
WHY DOESN’T HE/SHE LIVE THERE?
-Needs to be close to work and easier political involvement.
WHAT KIND OF HOME?
-mansion
WHAT HOME WOULD HE/SHE PREFER?
-none.
DECORE OF PERSONAL SPACE CONTROLLED BY HIM:
-Carefully planned out, clean, neat, and comfortable to his needs.
OVERALL STYLE/IMPRESSION: intelligent and OCD.
PETS
DOES HE HAVE ANY? No
-Why: he doesn’t have the time for pets nor does he like them.


HOW DOES THE CHARACTER TREAT AND/OR GET ALONG WITH:

SPOUCE: doesn’t have one
CHILDREN: calm and tries to be patient.
PARENTS: Doesn’t generally socialize with them.
SIBLINGS: Doesn’t have any that he knows of.
THE OPPOSITE SEX: gentleman and polite.
NEIGHBORS: doesn’t socialize with them.
FRIENDS: protective
PEOPLE MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN HE/SHE IS: with respect
PEOPLE LESS SUCCESSFUL: kindly. Tries to help unless they prefer ignorance.
BOSS: respectfully but playfully.
UNDERLING AT WORK: Usually ignores.
COMPETITORES AT WORK: ignores them
THE LOCAL POLICE: respect in their face, despises them however.
THE IRS: loathes them and tries to hide it when confronted. Doesn’t always work
ANYONE WHO CHALLENGES HIM/HER: will defend himself, but won’t start the fight.
ANYONE WHO ANGERS HIM/HER: will knock some sense into them. Figuratively or metaphorically.
ANYONE WHO HELPS HIM/HER: Generosity and respect.
ANYONE WHO ASKS FOR HELP: helps to the best of his ability


EVERYBODY GETS TWENTY-FOUR HOURS:
WAKING UP:
Who sleeps with him? No one.
What time does he wake up? Late in the afternoon or evenings.
What wakes him? Alarm.
Cheerful in the morning? No.
Does he eat breakfast? What? Yes. Coffee and toast and sausage.
What does he do during breakfast? Watch the news.

DRESSING
Is it a big deal to get dressed? No. Just grabs clothes and goes.
WORK:
How does he get to work: drives.
Does he anticipate, dread, etc, for work? Sometimes dread because of ignorance
Does he give the job genuine attention and effort? Yes
Does he enjoy this work? Sometimes because he has a chance to do something and share his emotions on touchy subjects in his songs without criticism.
Is he good at his job? Yes
Would he rather do something else? No
How long and hard is the work day? six hours of work a night four to five times a week.
Does he stop for lunch? Yes.
Where? Fast food.
With whom? Dacre

DINNER:
Who prepares his meal? Fast food workers or microwave food.
Who does he eat with? Himself or Dacre
What does it typically consist of? Microwave cooked meals or something he manages to throw together without burning it.
Does he enjoy the meal? Yes because he can relax or talk to Dacre.
What goes on during dinner? Sometimes the tv or just talk.
Who cleans up? Leonardo does.

EVENING
What does your character do on a typical evening: research.
Where? His study or his room.
With whom? None or Dacre.
How much does he enjoy it? Sometimes hates it when it correlates with visions.
What would he prefer to be doing instead? Nothing
What is the atmosphere of the evening? Calm or frustrating.

BEDTIME:
Does he usually go to bed at a consistent time? No
With whom? No one.
When does bedtime occur at a different time? When researching visions or court cases.
Does he usually fall asleep right away? No.
If no, why? Insomnia.
Does he enjoy it? No.
Does he dream a lot? Yes.
What type of mood do his dreams have? Realistic, dramatic, fearful, psychological
Is one of the dreams recurrent? Yes.
What is it? Can’t reveal or it will ruin the plot.
So does your character sleep peacefully through the night? No.

DEEP INSIDE: YOUR CHARATER’S INNER LIFE
What is his earliest memory? His parents giving him up at an adoption.
If he was suddenly richer what would he do? Nothing different.
What is his dream in life? To be accepted for once and earn equality
What does he really long for, underneath? Someone to love him.
What event is he most afraid might happen? His friend would die.
Who does he, in his deepest soul, really love best? The lover who killed herself.
What would he be willing to die for? His friends and his lover if he had one.
What does he believe about God? That he should help the dark side of humanity lighten.
About the purpose of life: To do the best you can to accomplish some good with the time that you have.
About an afterlife: Doesn’t know if it exists, but is unsure if he wants one to exist. He is slightly afraid of it.
What does he actively work to do in his life? Protect his loved ones.
How would he describe himself if totally honest? He would say he was just an average man who has had a lot of screw ups in his life and does his best to better his society even though his people do nothing to help themselves. He doesn’t like to back down from a challenge and take any consequence. He calls himself ‘the follower of Gandhi’ for the first part of the book until a certain event changes his ideology.
In one word sum up your character: stubborn rebel.
Would your character agree with your assessment? Not really
Why? He considers himself as a civil rights activist, not a rebel. Protestor maybe.

Well I hoped that my character was enough to help you guys out. Leave comments and questions here. I really do want to know if this helped you or not. The bolded words were my responses for certain things. Now here are the resources that I had used for this:


The book mentioned earlier
Ylanne’s report on a Mary Sue (RPG)
http://www.associatedcontent.com.article/7094.1/how_to_create_a_unique_original_character.html?cat=2
http://storywrite.com/column/398
http://www.ehow.com/how_5296335_create-unique-character.html

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:36 am

I hope you don't mind if I add a few tidbits of my own here. c: Mary Sues drive me up the wall and so I'd like to put in my two cents.

-----

It's pretty easy to slip into making a Mary Sue character without realizing it. After all, you want your character to be appealing, so make her attractive. Well, then you want her to have an admirable personality and be someone people can look up to, so give her a winning personality and have everyone love her. And you want her to have talents, so of course she should be able to fight and cook and sing and draw and--

Alright, now she's just plain obnoxious. I don't want to hear about her anymore and I'm going to throw this book right across the room. I don't feel bad if it hits somebody. (That last part has nothing to do with anything except my disdain for people, I confess.)

Memory already went over a lot about the character development that can give them the personality of a Mary Sue, but a lot of it can also come from the environment--both in the story and in the writing itself. We'll start with the environment's reactions to her.

So Mary walks into a room full of people. Many of them are chatting amongst themselves, perhaps some are dancing to the music set by the DJ in the corner. None of them should really notice her existence. However, as soon as she is revealed in the doorway, the records screech to a halt and all the heads turn. She shyly blushes and tries to slip away like a good little innocent girl, but immediately the boys hound her, asking for dances and to buy her drinks. The girls turn away, immensely jealous for her stealing all their attention.

. . . And those with a few brain cells are really, really sick of her.

One of the trademarks of a Mary Sue character is how the world seems to literally revolve around her. People do not get to sneeze without begging at her feet to do so. It's one thing to have a character destined to save the world--Harry Potter, for example. Most stories revolve around something very akin to that plotline, and of course in the end, the story will depend vastly on their actions. This is okay. What is not okay is every little thing going their way, destiny-given or not. Mary needs to encounter problems on her way to saving the world, or even to simply going out in public.

People also need to react realistically to her. If people like her, why? It can't be just because she's perfect, and nor can characters love her in spite of how mentally and/or physically abusive she is. It just does not work that way. Nor can they immediately love her.

I'm going to use one of my characters as an example: Taiju. Some of his most dominant personality traits run with narcissism, social awkwardness, and an egotistical, intellectual attitude. Put simpler, it means he's intelligent, has an ego, does not like people, and has difficulty communicating with people. People usually don't like to be around him because when he does speak, the words out of his mouth are usually derogatory and short, and he doesn't like to be around them anyway because they are beneath him. Simply put, he often isn't a pleasant guy to be around and it takes some work to get used to his attitude. Narrel, of the current roleplay he is involved him, couldn't really stand him at all. It took her saving his life before he even began to look at her differently, at which point he gave an apology and was a little nicer toward her. Now, this isn't to say Taiju is totally antisocial; if someone can strike up a fairly interesting conversation, he'll reply, and as long as they're polite, he'll try (though, again, it doesn't always work and he tends to insult people without noticing, and nor will he particularly enjoy it). Otherwise, though, people have to work hard to earn his trust and get him to open up and be kinder--something he doesn't even know how to do.

Tl;dr version: He's a big character, yet people in the environment aren't happy with him.

This makes the character infinitely more interesting. He's a bit complicated, and when you look at his reactions to how people act and how they act around him, you get a little more insight into how his mind works. Mary Sue characters for whom everyone falls at their feet don't have any insight at all. They're flat, boring, and unoriginal, having little personality to call their own because their is no interaction. People need to react realistically to your characters. When Taiju's an ass, Narrel gets insulted. When Narrel starts trying to give Taiju friendly nicknames, he is properly confused and unsure of what to say. When Cal acts annoyed at Taiju for hanging around Narrel, Taiju is still confused. These interactions between primary and secondary characters are most of what make the characters in any good story, and they have to be realistic.

I think that's quite enough on environment. Now let's take a look at Mary Suedom in the author's writing.

The primary sign, in the writing, of a Mary Sue is how much obvious praise the author heaps on her and how much detail goes into her in comparison to the other characters.

Now, I'm doing you a favor here in showing you a bad example from arguably the worst Harry Potter fan fiction ever (so many of us pray that this was a troll), "My Immortal." Some editing went into this to make it readable, and I cut out the useless author notes, but all the descriptions are quite the same.

Quote :
Hi, my name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that’s how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips
that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot
of people tell me I look like Amy Lee . . . I’m a vampire but my teeth are
straight and white. I have pale white skin. I’m also a witch, and I go
to a magic school called Hogwarts in England where I’m in the seventh
year (I’m seventeen). I’m a goth (in case you couldn’t tell) and I wear
mostly black. I love Hot Topic and I buy all my clothes from there. For
example, today I was wearing a black corset with matching lace around it
and a black leather miniskirt, pink fishnets and black combat boots. I
was wearing black lipstick, white foundation, black eyeliner and red
eye shadow.

Ignoring the painful writing, discontinuity, and bad choice of name that Memory already smacked your knuckles with a ruler for even thinking about, look at the description. Even first-person perspective should not heap info dumps into the story like that. It breaks the story flow and shows heavy author preference toward the character in question.

Once is somewhat forgivable. More than that and everyone will hate your character. So no more continuing like:

Quote :
The next day I woke up in my bedroom. It was snowing and raining again.
I opened the door of my coffin and drank some blood from a bottle I
had. My coffin was black ebony and inside it was hot pink velvet with
black lace on the ends. I got out of my coffin and took of my giant MCR
t-shirt which I used for pajamas. Instead, I put on a black leather
dress, a pentagram necklace, combat boots and black fishnets. I put
on four pairs of earrings in my pierced ears, and put my hair in a kind
of messy bun.

Quote :
She flipped her long waist-length raven black hair with pink streaks
and opened her forest-green eyes. She put on her Marilyn Manson t-shirt
with a black mini, fishnets and pointy high-heeled boots. We put on our
makeup (black lipstick white foundation and black eyeliner.)

I will hunt you down myself if I find you making these descriptions so often and repeatedly and badly.

But really, don't do it. It makes it obvious how much you want the character to be perfect because of how much praise you heap on them. People will quickly get extremely sick of reading about every little detail of your character's outfits, make-up, hair, thoughts, actions, how everyone else thinks she is just the shiznit, and all that junk. Nobody likes it.

Leave some details out. It lets the reader imagine what the character looks like for themselves. Now, that doesn't mean leave them totally ambiguous (unless that's your intent) but you need to be careful. Casually toss in a few details about the kinds of clothes they wear and how their hair and eyes look. A better example:

Quote :
Devon laughed softly as she watched her friend over the top of her glasses. Casually, she ran a hand back through her long bangs as she picked up her book, then, as she dusted off the front of her t-shirt, asked, "Is this really a normal day for you?"

Okay. There. Now we know that she has long bangs, wears glasses, and likes to wear t-shirts. That isn't to say that you can't describe your character's appearance, but you have to be careful. It's generally more acceptable to go into more detail about a secondary character's appearance than your main's. Do not have an Ebony. (Dark'ness Dementia Raven . . . yeah.) Do not go overboard in your descriptions either way. Limit yourself at times. There's a difference between descriptive adjectives and going overboard.

And, for the love of god, speak through actions, not words. Do not tell us what she is thinking at every moment. Let her speak and act, and let the reader interpret. If you do it right, you'll convey the exact thought that you want. If you continually tell us what's going on, you'll eventually just start saying exactly what we're supposed to think about her, which makes reading near pointless. It's no fun to read if you're given no room to imagine.

Phew . . . I think that's enough of my tirade for now. :3 I hope this is a little helpful too.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:03 am

Thanks for adding that example Syl! I approve. Good little extra bit for people. Hopefully we helped someone with our long lesson here. Took me forever to write it all down, so it better help someone!

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:13 am

Haha, well, I put effort into making my characters unique and I want to see more of it. So I had to put something.

And you're right, it had better be beneficial to somebody. :v

Ooh! Another thing. If you're not sure about the Mary Sue level of your character, there are so-called "litmus tests" online you can use. Just Google "Mary Sue litmus test" and you'll get a bunch. Now, even if the results are high, it doesn't necessarily mean your character is horrible, but it can be a sign that you should go back and make a few tweaks. Even small details changed can make an impact.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:24 am

I actually have a link to one of the tests. I used it for my characters.

http://www.katfeete.net/writing/marysue.php

Just click 'take test again' and it will take you to the beginning.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:15 pm

ROFLMAO I remember reading My Immortal one day, and I couldn't decide whether I should be screaming in pain or laugh really hard. I think I laughed until it hurt my eyes to read any more. I think that fanfic is infamous.

I also remember reading Face The Strange, which is also absolutely horrible and killed me.

Going one way (everything about someone is perfect) is Mary Sue, but going the other way (parents died, orphaned, no one likes him/her) also infringe on Gary Sues, too, right? My character's going to be practically worthless when it comes to battle, but gee, I sure hope my characters don't end up like Mary Sues.
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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:22 pm

lol I am sure your character will be fine. ^^ (By the way, I realize there are typos in it. Please ignore them. I read it twice and didn't catch them at the time because I wrote it late and I do not want to go back and re-read it. XP)

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:41 pm

Going the opposite of Mary Sues is still a Mary Sue; often referred to as an Anti-Sue, they are just as freaking obnoxious. Like Ebony What's-Her-Face, having the absolute antithesis of a Mary Sue is common because people try too hard to make them not Mary Sue, so they just fall into another stereotype, such as goth/emo/whatever the frick that was.

So yeah. Making them not liked isn't bad either, just be careful.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:58 am

Frozen you gave me a headache with the skeleton thing.

But yeah that does help, And also please kill me if I start doing over descriptive post or perfect characters.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Sat May 22, 2010 8:24 pm

Wonderful post, but I think I should add that as a general rule of thumb, when it comes to characters you have to keep only one thing in mind: Every character must be believable. Not necessarily realistic. But believable. This means that people must be able to look at your characters, and the world around them and think 'yeah. I can believe that this characer would be this way.' You don't want people to look and think 'this is stupid! I hate this character! I want to punch them in the face for being so stupid!' Okay, people don't actually think that way [rational people, that is, I can't account for Twilight fans]. You just do not want people to feel that your character couldn't pheasably work in the world you've put them in. And THAT is the best way to avoid the stigma of mary sue. Even if your character is infact a mary-sue, if they are well crafted, believable, likeable, and readers can connect with them in some way, then they will not care. The best example of this I can think of is Harry Potter. The kid is a classic mary sue example yet people just con't care. Why? Because they like him, he's a good, strong character with a powerful personality and a believability.

Anyways, I've written an entire paragraph here. That was a bit more than I intended to do...
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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Sun May 23, 2010 5:12 am

Well that was odd...Understandable but odd. I plumbed my two primary characters into the Mary Sueitmus Test: Tyro and Kyrios.

Tyro came back as a definite mirroring of myself only in a different place altogether with a different life. I could have told you that! I know Tyro is technically me, but at this point, over one hundred. And I know I might be too fond of him but I do try not to give him to free a ride. Unfortunately, its often as a result of the other character I've tested because so far, no-ones done a whole lot to Tyro. They've barely touched him despite the fact that I've never confessed that Tyro is an amazing swordsman or brilliant fighter. He could be beaten up with ease. And yes! I can resurrect him; its part of the creature I based him on. Its what a Kitsune can do, honest! Anyway, I try to fiddle with it so that it bites him in the arse. Like a zombie RP and the corpse he leaves gets up and wonders around. Soon, there's loads of them!

In conclusion, your honour, Tyro was my first character. When you start you can either become a pre-established character or you can implement a personality you already know pretty well: Your own.

Kyrios on the other hand came back with nothing but praise. I don't think its designed to deal with villains because it says he's not over dramatised. Really? I know he's not got the whole fantasising thing going on but I try to make him as ridiculous as possible usually. I had him create a girlfriend once!
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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Mon May 24, 2010 12:34 pm

@Psycho: True. I wrote realistic but meant believable lol. Thanks for clearing that up and adding your comment.

@Tyro: It is okay to base your character off yourself. Sometimes, characters are the person writing them. That's okay on some levels. Overdramatizing a villain isn't good either. lol. A villain can be a very complex character if you bring in a lot of different factors like psychology for example. Some villains/good guys create things. Look at Frankenstein! That is such a great book. I am not really sure what I am trying to say here lol. Maybe just that your characters will be just fine. Just distance yourself a little from Tyro.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Mon May 24, 2010 2:45 pm

The main bad thing I do with a certain character of mine, Is ill edit him to what ever Rp I am in. He will normally have the same physical features but his personality, Bio and powers will be different.

I have stopped doing this as much and am as we speak ment to be typing up a new character which I haven't had much time to do. The only problem with this is I can edit Alan in the space of ten minutes, While making a new character can take me days, And normally does.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Mon May 24, 2010 4:09 pm

I do try. Which here means that I keep poking and messing with Tyro's life like I'm a kid with a magnifying glass but I hope I make Tyro and soon to be Kyrios interesting enough characters. I never get feedback on how I'm doing as an RPer from anywhere, just a little reputation thing filling up. Although, Tyro hasn't arrived anywhere here yet. Everytime I tried, no-one was interested.
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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Mon May 24, 2010 4:11 pm

I think it's perfectly okay to do that. I do it all the time. I feel more connected to characters I've had longer, which makes it easier for me to play them and makes it more fun.

What I suggest is having a few characters that you do that to. I currently have two characters that I use for medieval roleplays (Taiju and Delinae) and two for more modern ones (Devon and Joey). I make other characters, but I like those ones and will tailor them in little ways to make them useful for a roleplay I want to do. It's not a bad thing to do, but my suggestion is not limiting yourself to one.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Mon May 24, 2010 4:18 pm

I tend to do that to Tyro as much as possible. I mean, I sculpted the character in a Multiverse and more often than not, I can get away with not having to do anything to him. Just don't ever show his tails. The few 'radical' changes I've ever made was to have him as a Batman villain, as a Geeky Skypirate, a human and a mutant. I have a few other characters for various other things but its usually Tyro first.
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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:28 pm

Sometimes, though, a huge cliche would be having an Eragon-type name. I try to give my characters real names. It's more believable, like what Psycho says.
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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:22 am

I tend to use Scottish or Irish names with a meaning that somehow secretly pertains to the character.

I also try to give them a few things for and a few things against them.

Like a character I'm thinking of using. He's ridiculous. I made him that way.
He cannot walk down stairs. He falls down them. Every time.
Then, he's typically quiet, but when he says something he's either a) being a jerk b) messing with you or c) you told him to be safe so he says something ridiculous.
After he says something, he cackles and runs off.
Why? I felt like it.
He also shrieks at people when they do something he doesn't like.
Other than that, more or less quiet.
Very special character though.
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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:22 pm

jajganker wrote:
I tend to use Scottish or Irish names with a meaning that somehow secretly pertains to the character.


Alan & Bella Pericoloso, They are my two favorite and main characters.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Translate from Italian to english.
vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

Alan & Bella Dangerous.


It was pure luck that that name worked so well.

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PostSubject: Re: To be, or not to be a Mary Sue   Tue Jul 06, 2010 6:23 am

I've done the same thing before but in Finnish instead. Except for Tyro which I found out later was Greek for 'novice'. Thank goodness for Google's translator.
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