Things To Avoid In Writing: The "Mary Sue" Story

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Things To Avoid In Writing: The "Mary Sue" Story

Postby JaNell » Tue Mar 02, 2004 7:25 pm

A great entry from Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog on the mistake of writing your personal fantasies instead of an actual story:

"MARY SUE (n.): 1. A variety of story, first identified in the fan fiction community, but quickly recognized as occurring elsewhere, in which normal story values are grossly subordinated to inadequately transformed personal wish-fulfillment fantasies, often involving heroic or romantic interactions with the cast of characters of some popular entertainment. 2. A distinctive type of character appearing in these stories who represents an idealized version of the author. 3. A cluster of tendencies and characteristics commonly found in Mary Sue-type stories. 4. A body of literary theory, originally generated by the fanfic community, which has since spread to other fields (f.i., professional SF publishing) because it’s so darn useful. The act of committing Mary Sue-ism is sometimes referred to as “self-insertion.”"

So, if you're writing vampire stories or LOTR fanfic or Harry Potter or whatever where the lead is yourself with a different (cutesy, historical, or symbolic) name and you're SO beautiful/handsome and wonderful and OF COURSE you're one of the lead characters...
It's a Mary Sue.

There's a really funny cartoon about this (mostly set in the Harry Potter world) here.
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Postby Lost Traveler » Wed Mar 03, 2004 12:30 pm

When I first saw this I was going to complain about them be pretentious (sp) again (I think most authors project them selve into their stories in some ways) but then when I saw the examples, I was oH! I see what your saying, Good article.
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Postby Lost Traveler » Wed Mar 03, 2004 2:28 pm

let me MS my self into this thread.

First off let me say this has been most educational, I didnt realize that Fan Fiction was so prevelant (I've only seen it once or twice) that a bad aspect of it could result in so much...err writing, discusion etc. wow.
Also it seems to be primarly done by females (maybe this is why there are not more female Authors, they're all busy writing fan fiction)

Interesting thing I noticed was in the area's that this problem seemed to be most prevelant (sp), ie Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry potter, Magna stories etc., are actually based on Mary Sues and that only complaint should be that the MS character is reduntant (sp). In SW everyone is the best, fastest, only, evilest. Think about Princess Amadala and Leia (sp) are these two not Classic MSs. ANd ST every captain was alway the best captian to ever graduate the academy, someone on the ship is always the best shuttle pilot ever (though they never seem to do it on a regular bases) the alien who grew up with the humans is always the best of his race. etc. and Magna well we dont need to go there. (the article on the link: Shameless Setteis and Mary Sues, covers this well). ANd since the very basis of these universes are MS can any story writen about them be anything other?

Just my obv any counter points?
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