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I hear people throw around the term "mary sue" far too often when critiquing characters but what exactly is a mary sue. Seriously I feel like this term gets tossed around far too much to the point the meaning of the word has become vague and muddled. It's gotten to a point where I feel certain characters in media are wrongly accused of being a mary sue or at least by my definition of the term. However due to how often this terms gets thrown around and how vague it is another person may define it completely differently. So I ask what's your definition of a mary sue?

This video pretty much sums up my thoughts on this subject: 

 

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Basically an unrealistic character, perfect in every way, never goes through any real hardships, author fullfillment etc. Mary Sue is typically used for females and Gary Stu or Marty Stu for males.

This sums it up pretty well and I always recommend Springhole for anything writing related: http://www.springhole.net/writing/whatisamarysue.htm

Note that I didn't watch the video. May watch it later.

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58 minutes ago, Dragoncat said:

Basically an unrealistic character, perfect in every way, never goes through any real hardships, author fullfillment etc. Mary Sue is typically used for females and Gary Stu or Marty Stu for males.

This sums it up pretty well and I always recommend Springhole for anything writing related: http://www.springhole.net/writing/whatisamarysue.htm

Note that I didn't watch the video. May watch it later.

Basically this. I constantly fear that the original character I created for my fanfics would be bashef as a Mary Sue, so I repeatedly take the Mary Sue test to make sure he isn't. However, the test may not be 100% accurate, so it causes me to worry all the time.

Edited by Purple Mage

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Yeah, it's basically just a character that is really good at everything relevant to important events, who is just really good without really trying or sacrificing anything, one whose weaknesses/flaws are irrelevant to the plot (e.g. someone who is clumsy with everything but fighting in a story all about fighting and warfare), and one whose character is never actually challenged.  They remain static because not a single attribute of their personality is ever tested (e.g. a pacifist being faced with the choice of either killing someone or letting someone else they care about die), or if they are tested the story pulls a deus ex machina to pull the mary sue out of the fire or otherwise all the characters involved just don't react naturally or the mary sue's personality is unnaturally fluid.

The most common mistakes in labeling mary sues I've seen are with strong female characters and super heroes.  Basically, characters that, to the accusers, seem unnaturally strong.  Most often, it translates either to "I'm a sexist dick who thinks women should only be housewives", "I don't understand how a super hero can be compelling and don't care to ever understand it", or simply "I don't like this character!"  And it hardly ever is applied properly in these cases.

8 minutes ago, Purple Mage said:

Basically this. I constantly fear that the original character I created for my fanfics would be bashef as a Mary Sue, so I repeatedly take the Mary Sue test to make sure he isn't. However, the test may not be 100% accurate, so it causes me to worry all the time.

I'd just try to not heap too much love or hate onto one particular character.

Though honestly, you shouldn't focus too much on making a character not a mary sue, because then you might end up with a bland antithesis (an anti-sue, if you will) that has no interesting traits at all, or is so far opposite that they end up being ridiculous in a different sense.  The test is fine and all, but writing isn't a numbers game.  Just focus on making a compelling and/or likable character before all else.  Then go ahead and take the test and get rid of any "mary sue" aspects that seem superfluous or unneeded to you, and maybe even tweak other "mary sue" aspects that you feel are relevant, but maybe not quite there.

Plus, folks might call your character a mary sue even if they're well written, or might otherwise just not like your writing simply by virtue of your subject material/writing style not being their thing.  So it isn't something worth fretting over too much.  I think chances are, if you're really worried about it, you probably already avoided making a full blown mary sue.

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37 minutes ago, Ertrick36 said:

Yeah, it's basically just a character that is really good at everything relevant to important events, who is just really good without really trying or sacrificing anything, one whose weaknesses/flaws are irrelevant to the plot (e.g. someone who is clumsy with everything but fighting in a story all about fighting and warfare), and one whose character is never actually challenged.  They remain static because not a single attribute of their personality is ever tested (e.g. a pacifist being faced with the choice of either killing someone or letting someone else they care about die), or if they are tested the story pulls a deus ex machina to pull the mary sue out of the fire or otherwise all the characters involved just don't react naturally or the mary sue's personality is unnaturally fluid.

The most common mistakes in labeling mary sues I've seen are with strong female characters and super heroes.  Basically, characters that, to the accusers, seem unnaturally strong.  Most often, it translates either to "I'm a sexist dick who thinks women should only be housewives", "I don't understand how a super hero can be compelling and don't care to ever understand it", or simply "I don't like this character!"  And it hardly ever is applied properly in these cases.

I'd just try to not heap too much love or hate onto one particular character.

Though honestly, you shouldn't focus too much on making a character not a mary sue, because then you might end up with a bland antithesis (an anti-sue, if you will) that has no interesting traits at all, or is so far opposite that they end up being ridiculous in a different sense.  The test is fine and all, but writing isn't a numbers game.  Just focus on making a compelling and/or likable character before all else.  Then go ahead and take the test and get rid of any "mary sue" aspects that seem superfluous or unneeded to you, and maybe even tweak other "mary sue" aspects that you feel are relevant, but maybe not quite there.

Plus, folks might call your character a mary sue even if they're well written, or might otherwise just not like your writing simply by virtue of your subject material/writing style not being their thing.  So it isn't something worth fretting over too much.  I think chances are, if you're really worried about it, you probably already avoided making a full blown mary sue.

Well, I mean, I did have him knocked out to make sure he didn't interfere with a canon death... Plus, he has emotional issues. I gave him a legendary Pokémon, but restricted the usage so he doesn't win every single fight in the story arc. In fact, I saved the usage of the legendary for the final battle of the arc. Even then, it was still not enough to prevent another canon death.

Another thing is that, if left unchecked, he might use his abilities to cause harm to his allies (including himself). I gave him an emotional crutch to make his dynamic a bit more complex. He also isn't universally liked by everyone automatically. In fact, the second canonically-dead character had to warm up to him over the course of a few chapters. He also has a weakness in that he trades durability for mobility, which makes him a glass cannon. And although he has good aim, take away his glasses and he suddenly can't hit you anymore. I should really utilize that last one.

And again, the more I write about him, the higher the risk of him becoming a Mary Sue.

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@Purple Mage Well it sounds like your OC is going well. Just don't worry about it too much, is my advice. As long as he's not winning everything or looking like author's pet.

Word of advice: Don't create a world hopper, make new OCs for every fandom you write for. And make more than one. This should help you not create mary sues.

Edited by Dragoncat

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