Mary Sue – Who Is She and Why She’s Bad News For Your Story

She’s got your favorite name, she’s got soulful eyes that change color, she’s the most beautiful girl ever. Everybody loves her – pets, kids, parents and all the guys (even the bad guy wants to sleep with her and falls in love with her and might even change sides for her.) She’s Miss. Perfect, and anyone who dares to insult her must pay. She’s the perfect version of you.


mary sue - why we hate and love her

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Mary Sue concept comes from fan fiction and is a self- insertion of the author into the fandom. She have of course existed in original fiction long before fan fiction. Only in fan fiction she is often much more obvious and annoying.

Mary Sue is often named things like; Raven, Hunter, Saphira, Serena, Arwen, Ivory, Alexandra, Glory, Violet, Elisabeth or any combination of these and similar names. Sereabeth or Elexandria or maybe Ravshpire. She also has a lot of names –(Like: Raven Serenbeth Holyadria Samson Black) like five or six of them and they all mean something that has to do with her character.  At least one of the names is one the author call himself or wish she was called. Or maybe one of her/his screen names…

She of course is stunningly beautiful and the author spends A LOT of time describing her with difficult words no one really knows what they mean but they sound pretty. She has purple or maybe golden hair (or Raven black with pink high lights works too), emerald, violet or even color changing eyes and probably a special birthmarks or tattoo.  Also, she’s got a sad past, mostly with dead parents and abusive (half of the time sexually abusive) step-dads or boyfriends. She is a tortured soul and everyone must agree that the way people have treated her in the past is awful.

She not only exceptional in the looks department, but she also has a special destiny and powers far beyond anyone else. When she goes to fight the bad guy she defeats him without any real problem – or if she fails she angsts about it for several paragraph and a minor character (since everyone but Mary Sue is minor character) has to tell it wasn’t her fault and she doesn’t have to worry because everyone still likes her.

She can also sing and play lots of instruments for no good reason and has lots of money also for no real reason.

Now you’re starting to worry – if you can’t have a nice, lovable, attractive character with a special destiny, named something cool, what fun is your book going to be? You don’t want your hero to have crocked teeth (of course guys can be Mary Sues – or Gary Stu as they are mostly called,) lots of zits and average powers. You want her to be a superhero.

Don’t worry. Everything is okay in moderation, and most heroes have some Mary Sue attributes.  The trick is not to let them take over.

Your hero can be attractive – just don’t let the whole first page be about just how awesome his muscles look or how expensive all his clothes are. She can be an orphan raised by mean people, but don’t let them be horrible abusive people that are out to get her because you want the reader to feel bad for her. If they are mean there has to be a reason. Your hero can have special powers and an odd scar (you remember Harry Potter right?) but he has to have flaws (but being clumsy like Bella Swan is not a flaw – sorry S. Mayer –it’s a semi-cute quality. Being blind, anger management problems, being dishonest, a germaphobic, uncontrollable blushing, having a fear of commitment or just being very selfish, are flaws.)

There are lots of Mary Sue test you can take, but a lot of characters in fantasy will score high because most of the time in fantasy there are prophecies about chosen ones and special powers and marking. You can mostly ignore a high score, just as long as your character still is a character not a stereotype or the perfect you. Just make sure you’re being honest with yourself!

Did you enjoy this post? Here are some others that might interest you.

How J.K. Rowling changed the world! It’s all about timing.

All Best Selling Book Series Have This In Common

Inside the head of a boy…(How to write from a guy’s POV)

Writing Promt 3


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Inside the head of a boy…(How to write from a guy’s POV) | The Plot & Other Problems
  2. Trackback: All Best Selling Book Series Have This In Common | The Plot & Other Problems
  3. Trackback: How J.K. Rowling changed the world! It’s all about timing. | The Plot & Other Problems

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