You’ve heard it all before. “Princess to a lost kingdom who has eyes that shimmer like the moon due to her being blessed by the Moon Goddess. Her name is ‘Andria Luna’ and she doesn’t know anything about her past, she was raised by a poor family and is the only hope to civilization due to her having magical abilities that no one else in the land has or can explain. She is also 16, the kindest person known to anyone, and animals can’t resist trying to be friends with her.”
What do you call that? Why does it sound completely stupid? Is that a… Mary Sue?
Technically that is about a 7/10 on the Mary Sue Richter Scale.
For those unsure of what I am talking about when I say “Mary Sue” I mean the literary term for a character that works as a kind of wish fulfillment for the Author by being an Author Avatar. What do I mean? You’ve heard of Bella Swan right? Let us say you were writing a story on an idea you have had that sounds awesome. Now the inevitable question boils to the surface. “Who will I get to lead my story?” “Who is the main character?” Well… who better do you know than yourself? Well, a little bit better and more powerful yourself. The you that you wish you could be, in a world that you wish you could live in. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t blame you for something I myself am extremely guilty of.
Mary Sues are a very common occurrence in literature, especially for new/young authors. They are extremely prominent in fan-fiction, which is where this idea started.
Now, before we start pointing fingers, let’s have a look at common Mary Sue (or for men Gary Stu) memes. (When I say Meme I mean the actual definition, which is an Idea. Not the lame comics and pictures posted on this putrid place called the Internet.)
- Women as Mary Sue: Mary Sues are commonly women, but can be men. So before I get into the really big thing about this topic, let me just say this is a generalization due to the name of the literary term as well as the first ever example of this term. This is not me being prejudice towards the opposite gender. A Gary Stu can happen. The problem with this topic is the fact that it is called a “Mary Sue” and the next topic will go on to explain why most women are considered as Mary Sue.
- Unable To Fail: You know what happens, things. The ships engines blew out, the pilot died, and you’re being boarded by fuschia colored man-eating tentacle monsters that eat through their anus. Lucky for you Chaos, the dastardly handsome fellow who showed you his special tattoo that gives him special powers after he came aboard your ship (but we will discuss all of that later), studied how to kill Fuschia aliens in his youth (By the way: He is only 22.) and also knows how to fix the engine due to his father owning a ship, and can fly better than any pilot in the galaxy. Good thing too. If not you would all be doomed! See, this is what the problem with Mary Sue’s are. You can’t win against them. They show almost no flaws, and when they do it is only to hype up another great thing about them or keep them interesting. This is also why more women characters are considered Mary Sue’s than men. Readers have hard times believing that a women could be this powerful. A powerful independent woman character, while already being cliche’d to hell, could already be looked at as an unstoppable tyrant Mary Sue. Anyway…
- Your name is what? Brilliant! Yes, it is sometimes seems that some characters have extremely odd names. Some are even clever. Bella Swan. I wonder how long it took Stephanie Meyer to think that one up. Sounds flowery and pretty. This is the biggest problem I have with Mary Sue’s. Their names are always something weird. Not like a fantasy character weird. It is always some word, that normally isn’t a name, being used as a name with a pretty old world sounding name. Even sometimes being a name that is a recreation of the author/creator’s name, even sometimes just using their creator’s name as a nickname. Remember Chaos? Yup. Names like that. No one can use names that are normal anymore. Always something that makes their character even better than belief. Gives them a sense of being better at whatever they do than anyone else. Just keeps ringing that bell of “I’m better than you for some unknown reason.”
- They are attention whores, and love to talk. Basically, most Mary Sue’s will always be the center of attention in a story. I understand being the main character, but when you make it useless to have side characters because you are so great at everything you do… what is the point of even having them? On top of always being good at everything, and making side characters pointless. They do have another talent that makes side characters have some point. They can convince anyone that they are right, are always right, or have some extreme level of cleverness that the author wishes he could of had against that bully that beat him up 3 hours ago. They are always able to talk well. When they don’t talk, it goes to show they are “Mysterious” and they end up always doing something that makes people look at them afterwards and be all “I understand now, you’ve changed my life with your good looks!” … Speaking of which…
- Weird … but(t) Fuckin’ Beautiful Bro: Another problem with Mary Sue’s are that they are always good looking. If they aren’t good looking, then they are somewhat unattractive or average looking. Either way, everyone can’t seem to not fall in love with the character or be completely over taken by the characters actions. Let us take up the image of Bella Swan in one final stab at the book series I hate with a passion. Bella is of average attraction. Not possessing any sort of admiring physical characteristics… She is near to the same image of her author, Stephanie Meyer. Even though she doesn’t possess any sort of storybook beauty… Every person in their insane mind has to have her for no ungodly reason! Ugh… Anyway. I’m done with that. Still looking at physical characteristics, they usually have something beyond strange about them. A strange thing like a birthmark, tattoo, strange hair color, eye color, skin color, and even something that makes their character possess something no one else has. The worst, and strangely really common, thing I’ve seen is when the character has something that changes color with their mood. Hair that shifts from blue to green when they go from calm to jealous, green to red when jealousy ends and anger begins. Most times it is eyes or hair. Either way it is ridiculous.
- I got the power in me! This is the summing up. I’m already an awesome weirdo that is super good at everything, weird hair and physical beauty, and now on top of all of that you have some really cool powers. Usually tied to your back story. If not, you just have some really cool powers for no reason and they are there just to make you awesome. This can also be replaced by a tie to supernatural creature such as vampires, werewolves, witches, wizards, etc.
There are so many more things that clarify a Mary Sue that I could bore you with. These are just my favorite 6 that annoy the living shit out of me.
Now where I tell you where this came from.
I have a Mary Sue, or… well… a Gary Stu. He isn’t as flamboyant as most are, or even as bad as some of the ones I have seen. Maybe that is just me with my delusions of “Oh, he isn’t that bad of a mary sue… he is salvageable…”.
I just need to let my character be himself. Get rid of some of the things that make him how he is.
I’ve been working on that. Though… I would hate to change his name…
I never realized how much of a Mary Sue name that was until now.
Yorick – The scene from Hamlet with the Skull. Alas, Poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio. Yeah. Favorite scene. He was the jester and a good adult friend to Hamlet.
Sofer – A name meaning “Writer”
… That just screams Mary Sue.
Anyway, enough talk. It tires me.
Have a great rest of your day.