The Problem With Mary Sue

Originally at this link. Posted here without those annoying anime smilies.


The Problem With Mary Sue

by Meimi

Oh my gosh! It's another one!

You know it. You've heard of it. Let's face it.



She's our greatest muse and usually our biggest mistake. And trust me, there is nary a one of us who hasn't fallen into her gilded trap. Hey, even the professionals do it. Don't tell me Miaka or Relena or even half of the Star Trek characters aren't Mary Sues. And if you do, I'll just have a good laugh at your expense.

Uh... Mary Sue?

Mary Sue has been around since the dawn of creativity, but she wasn't given any sort of 'official' name until the era of the fanzines, or American-style doujinshi. There the darling finally came into her own and flourished like bad B movies. I believe it was a Star Trek fanfic that coined her infamous name. Ensign 'Mary Sue' who was perfect in every way and always got her man (usually Spock or Kirk... take your pick). Some of the time she had the good grace to die in her lover's arms... but most of the time she just did her best to annoy the readers.

Mary Sue can either be male or female, but she is always your version of 'perfect'. She can always figure her way out of a jam, gets whomever she wants as her love interest and basically becomes the star of the story. Most of the time she exhibits personality quirks that mirror her creator's a great deal... and sometimes she is the person her creator wishes they could be.

She is your most adored creation... unfortunately, you're probably the only one who likes her.

Let's face it, if you're writing a Mary Sue for an already established story and cast, most people aren't going to like her intrusion. After all, they're more interested in the characters already there... that's why they're out here reading fanfiction. Yep, Mary Sue is one of the most despised creatures you can find in the fan community. That's not to say that there aren't any good fanfic Mary Sues... but the majority, over all, tends to be bad.;

Frankly, when it comes to Mary Sue it's probably a good idea to keep your muse firmly corked in her bottle.

Buuuuuut, if you really want to try your hand at her... here are a couple of tips to keep in mind.

Tip #1: Try to keep your story from focusing on your dear Mary Sue. I know you adore her, but when the story focuses more on the Mary Sue and not the tried and true characters, most people won't even bother to read it... myself included.

Tip #2: Give her a healthy dose of those good old human faults. The more you try to make her less than perfect the more sympathetic she will become to your audience. Hey, they might even come to like her... Yes, it's true, Hell does actually freeze over every now and then.

Tip #3: Try to keep her from instantly falling in love and vice versa with one of the other characters. It gets annoying real quick. Instead, establish her more as a character (that we can actually like) before you get her involved with all sorts of people.

Tip #4: Don't just stick her in there because you feel like it. Give her a believable reason to be in the place you are putting her... and well, just having her be related to one of the other characters isn't all that good of a reason. Besides, it's already been done to death.

Tip #5: (And this one is important) Try not to make her suck. If you're having doubts about her and you fanfic... get yourself a beta reader... or something. It's always nice to have a second opinion... or three... or four...

Tip #6: (And this applies for ALL fanfic writers) Get yourself an editor... one who isn't scared to make suggestions. You're not perfect, you will make mistakes (hell, I make them all the time)... get somebody else to help you find them. It will make things SO much easier... especially when you find a good one. Trust me, in the end, you'll wonder how you managed without one.

The Do's and Don't's of Mary Sue

DO give her a personality... a REAL personality. ¬_¬

DO give her a believable reason for being in the fic (that doesn't make us laugh at the absurdity of it).

DO ask other people for their opinions on your Mary Sue... and your fic (Beta Readers or Editors are probably the best... don't put your friends on the spot... that wouldn't be very fair to them.)

DO all the right things that would make your fic, at the very least, a bearable read. The Spell Checker and Grammar Checker will help...

DON'T focus the fic on your Mary Sue and/or her relationship with one of the other characters... maybe later, after you've established her as a character... but certainly NOT in the beginning.

DON'T let your Mary Sue be the one to move the plot forward ALL the time... or BE the entire focus of the plot for that matter.

DON'T expect too much if you are going to write a Mary Sue. Alot of people will avoid Mary Sue fanfics like the plague. It's just how it is...


Mary Sue Page

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