Who And what is Mary Sue?
A Mary Sue is an idealized self or character who lives out the writer's fantasies of sex, wealth, status, power, glory, romance, or any combination of these. Another name for this type of character is 'avatar'.
Often, a Mary Sue quickly becomes a main character who outdoes all other characters, including those from whatever book or movie the fan's story or role play may be about.
Some people make the mistake of believing that self-insertion into a story makes it a Mary Sue story.
This is not always true.
You can write yourself into a story about your favorite characters from a show or book as long as you don't put yourself in a romantic or sexual relationship with, or write yourself as related to the regular (canon) characters. You can avoid secondary Mary Sue traits by not making yourself absolutely perfect and better than all other characters.
If you made up the character, it's a fan-made or original character (one not found in the actual book/show/movie.) If it's a canon character, it's one that appears in the series/book/whatever. And Mary Sues are characters that may take over the spotlight and wow every other character to the point of absurdity.
Some claim that just using your name or internet handle as a character name makes it a Mary Sue.
This is not always the case.
For that to happen, your internet handle would have to bear the last name of some canon character, showing a connection as a made up wanna-be relative or lover of that canon character. Your name or internet handle could be 'Tracy' but you could write a story with a character named Tracy, without her being a Mary Sue. But call yourself 'Tracy Malfoy' write a character with that name and a connection to the Malfoys in Harry Potter, and that's a Mary Sue.
Mary Sue Descriptions - Neverwhere
A Mary Sue character has one or more of these traits:
1. gets the romantic interest of the character the writer usually has a crush on. Any original character that becomes a love interest to a canon character is a Mary Sue without exception. Doesn't make for a very interesting read if that is the bulk of the story, and the reader does not have a crush on the same character as the writer. The reader is not likely to develop one by reading the story, and may not care one way or another for the romance.
2. is a made up sibling, child or other unknown perhaps long lost relative of an established character. Again, there are no exceptions. In some cases, the story ends up being about the child/sibling/relative rather than the established character. A Mary Sue can even have it both ways, by being related to one established character, and in love with another. One or both of those points are all it takes to determine whether or not you are writing Mary Sue.
3. Name Giveaway. Some Mary Sues and Senna Maries tend to have names which are often unusual or strange by the standards of reality, yet very common and overused in the fantasy genre. I.E. 'Raven' or anything with 'Raven' in it, 'Angel' or Angelica' 'Anya' or anything with the letter 'y' somewhere in the middle of it to make it look special, I.E. 'Cyllia' 'Tylia' Kysha' 'Sylke' 'Lycia' you get the idea. The names may be very long, pretentious or just trendy/cliche. I.E. 'Aurelia' 'Topanga' ' Cassiopeia'.
This is not always the case, though, there are Mary Sues with very average names by everyday standards.
Depending on the relation of the Mary Sue to the other characters, she may bear the last name of a main character and/or a noble title. Even fanfic writers and readers who claim to hate all Mary Sues, are Mary Sues themselves every time they refer to themselves as such things as "Indianna Potter" or "Indianna Malfoy" depending on which character in "Harry Potter" I would have a crush on. If I was a HP fan with a crush on Harry Potter, the from line on my emails might look like: From: "Indianna Potter" Or even: From: "Harry Potter's Girlfriend"
if I claimed to hate Mary Sue writing or that I wasn't a Mary Sue, those email headers alone, showing my longing to be with Harry Potter, would prove me to be:
A. In denial
B. A liar
C. a hypocrite.
D. a combination of any of the above. Unless my last name really was Potter.
Why? Because I would be guilty of Mary Sue-ism myself. The name factor is often a good indicator of the two Mary Sue qualifications stated in the above paragraphs.
Yes, there are Mary Sues who flatly deny that's what they are. Here are some examples.
Denial 1: I AM NOT A MARY-SUE!!!
Denial 2: LeoMcGarry.net On Original Characters
Here's the Sarah Sue's Top 10 List written by the Mary Sue character, claiming why she thinks she's not a Mary Sue.
But forget the top ten list, that's all just extra stuff that Mary sues may or may not have to some degree. Yes, they are tell-tale signs of a Mary Sue, but conspicuously absent from that list were the made up relative or lover factors.
The reason Sarah Cooper is a Mary Sue is abundantly evident. Sarabande and in another fanfic about Sarah Cooper's wedding to Leo McGarry, a canon show character in Foggy Bottom Blues.
Other Typical Mary Sue Characteristics
4. Mary Sue looks drop-dead gorgeous, appearance described in endless detail, to be mentioned again and again throughout the story.
Mary Sues rarely have normal hair and eyes, they have 'raven' 'golden' or 'flaming' hair that is not called just 'hair'. 'Tresses' or 'locks' are two favorite Mary Sue terms for hair, and it's always flowing, absolutely perfect, standing out as looking so much better than everybody else's hair.
Mary Sue's jewelled eyes can smile and dazzle, or if she doesn't get her way, those big beautiful 'sapphire' or 'emerald' jewels will weep 'crystal tears' and try getting the whole world to cry along with her out of pity for her. Or her eyes may be dark and luminous,yes, I have seen Mary Sues described as having 'dark, luminous eyes'. This type of gaze is designed to grab anyone who is unfortunate enough to glance at Mary Sue and be bewitched by their spell.
Her face is the finest 'porcelain' and always with perfect features that guys just can't stop gaping at.
She loves to bear tempting flashes of skin to make the guys crazy with avarous, and the girls crazy with jealousy.
Mary Sue has a slender build with lush curves, and she makes use of them fully whenever she is trying to get guys to notice her. Mary Sue sways her hips hypnotically as she moves with feline grace across the dance floor, lithely down a school hall, or anywhere. Yes, that hip-sway is a vital part of the Mary Sue gait. She wants all the guys, and the readers to notice her unusual grace and fall in love with her; and she assumes appearance is as important to them as to her.
With those eyes, locks, face, lush curves, swaying hips, catlike moves, Mary Sue is said to show up any and all other females, including those dressed in finer clothes than she.
When she is alone, she studies herself in the mirror, expounding on her beauty. And, Mary Sue is very modest, because the writer actually comes out and tells us "She is modest by nature" somewhere on page 2, or was that 3, just so we don't get the wrong impression from reading about her very coy, conceited actions concerning her perfect appearance taking up all of the previous page! Topanga is just one of many examples of this.
It is her looks that casts the first love spell on her romantic interest. The trouble with that is when the descriptions of the Mary Sue's appearance is over-done. It may sound like poetry to the writer, but can become tiresome to the reader.
And what does that say about the character who is stunned by the Mary sue?
Not much, especially If the established book, TV, or movie character already had a love interest, or simply is not the type to suddenly go ga-ga over someone, whether they look gorgeous or not. It gets utterly ridiculous when the Mary Sue is said to look so bedazzlingly beautiful that she turns the heads of all males, available and taken alike, besides the canon character she wants to hook up with, by walking into a crowded room. If this is the goal of the character, she's beyond hope of un-Mary Suing and all redemption as a character.
5. She hates characters of the same gender as her.
Mary Sue views other females as rivals to be stamped out so she alone can get all the guys bobbing to her tune. Often, Mary Sue claims to have been beaten down in her miserable past by a bunch of meannie girls, so, holds that "I hate you stupid girls" chip proudly on her shoulder. Or other girls are simply written in as silly little plot devices to be trodden over and outshone by this misunderstood, bitchy, beautiful, angsty Mary Sue. The other girls either fear, envy, or adore her, but whatever their attitude, Mary Sue typically views and treats them as vermin.
6. She Is claimed to possess a stunning array of talents.
This is so easily over-done and makes the character unbelievable, and hard to relate to. To un-Mary-Sue her, the talents need to be kept within reason. The character needs limitations as well to make her more believable.
7. She is said to have a disability, blindness, lameness, deafness, muteness.
This is meant to arouse sympathy so she can mistreat other characters around her with impunity. It is also a means of getting admiration for doing the slightest little thing for herself, or she'll have uncanny abilities that seem to cancel out her disabilities. Example, a Read more about Senna Marie Maxwell here.
Tell-tale signs that Senna marie is in the building are: the seduction or attempt to seduce a character, and the distortion of main characters, weakening them, dumbing them down to make them give in to Senna Marie or just to give her the most action and dialog.
It is even possible to take sex out of the equation and have a child Senna Marie Mary Sue. This is the Lavender Sue
She is the angsty one who is most likely an orphan in search for her parents, who she insists are not dead. She may be said to have a disability in order to get the other characters feeling sorry enough for her to let her get away with atrocious behavior.
She is supposed to out-talk any grownup, making them appear bumbling and stupid next to her, or, at least, that is her goal. Honestly, it just comes off annoying as heck instead.
Sometimes the writers of these types of characters get all up in arms when other characters written by fellow writers didn't react as planned, having the nerve to stand up to the Senna Marie/Lavender Sue. They are more likely to respond to any attempts at reasoning with them by lashing out at the other characters' writers with stupid personal attacks.
I have seen this happen and my response to such egotists or thin-skinned people is - if you don't want your characters getting put in their place by other writers' characters, don't make them so irresponsible and bratty! Otherwise, expect your many-talented, good looking, or pitiful angsty disabled little demon to get flak from other characters.
Senna Marie, in child or adult form, is the summation of all the negative aspects of Mary Sue-ism. She only sounds like music to her writer's ears. She hits a sour note with just about anyone else.
Where Mary Sue is too common and can be annoying as a result, Senna Marie is as charming as a laxative, she is nothing short of hair tearing, tooth gnashing, stomach turning, nauseating. She is only welcome in parody writing, but all too often, she is stuck into what is supposed to be a serious effort, marring it beyond redemption.
If I wanted to write a Mary Sue sequel to the "Grinch" movie from 2003, I'd bring in a character of my own making, related in some way to Cindy-Lou Who, or the Grinch himself. She would likely save Whoville from some impending danger.
To take it a step downward and make it a Senna Marie story, I would have some character come along and completely overshadow and crowd out Martha-May Whovier, the movie's own Mary Sue. I would have the Grinch at least be tempted if not completely fall in love with the Senna Marie character, and maybe have her save Whoville from some kind of serious threat, single-handedly. I might even really weaken and dumb all the other established characters down to half-wits or pandering saps to this vile little creation in order to make the Senna Marie take center stage and shine, or rather, glare throughout the whole story. Can you imagine the Grinch losing all interest in playing practical jokes, and turning from his usual gruff self to a puppy-dog-eyed, star-struck Romeo, moaning around after a raving Beauty named: Nahid Leila Shirin Laleh Zahra Parvin Fatah Aishah Horacia Felicia Malicia Marlequisha Katisha Kaishusha Kiseiki Kiki Kitana-Melina Tina Anya Fartonya Aurelia Ophelia Olivia Angelyka Demonica Sanika Micah Miaka Miranda Fianna Fiore ragabashtule Ruri Yanni Komadori Frost Harper Rainbosun la Petite Redwolf CandypantsRose Greytattoo Madpirate Mossgreen Satine Eponine Deathbaker Dragonrider Dungpile Queenofgoths Bluestar Silverchild Silverstar Bluechild Silversloth Icebear Zella Jan Tora Chan Tamora Toxicseal Camo Commando Compuwhore Carmen R'Becca Jenny-Ko Senna Marie Maxwell Pahlavi?
No? I didn't think so! lol I wouldn't torture myself or any reader with such gross character mangling!
It's fine for people to take established characters and develop them further in ways that stem from something they saw in the original story, and as long as the development is done in good taste, without trivializing and subtracting from the established story character. That's a very tricky feat for a Mary Sue.
But character mangling is exactly what would happen in a bad Mary Sue (AKA Senna Marie) for the sake of making Nahid shine, no matter how insincere and glaring the glitter would be. Further more, Nahid would be excused for her short-comings, more than anyone else would because she could hero or cry her way out of taking responsibility. Now isn't that pathetic!?
Of course, it would be very easy for me to write Nahid into Whoville, even interacting with the Grinch, but without making a Mary Sue out of her. She'd just be a made-up character with no special status or characteristics, but more than likely a wanna-be; and the Grinch would kick her sorry butt all the way to kingdom-Come, and that would surely be a day for celebration all over Whoville! That Grinch movie was already stupid enough.
13. Mary Sue in Literature
Established book, TV, and movie characters can have some aspects of Mary Sue.
the "Anne" books, and the first two "Anne" movies with Megan Follows have endowed Anne with some Mary Sue-like qualities. She does turn the head of a young man, who really had to work hard to win her love. Yet, Gilbert Blythe is no drooling or pandering sap. He tells everybody like it is, and Anne is not excluded from his candidness. She always seems to know the right things to say to people, and situations work out for the better with her help. She becomes the heroine to many people within the stories. Her childhood was miserable.
Those are all things typically found in Mary Sue. However, Anne is by no means conceited, and her looks are made fun of by several characters. Anne does not take another girl's man, and in fact, she suffers occasional doubts of being good enough for her Gilbert. She is not talented to the point of unbelievable. When she makes mistakes, she must own up to them just like anybody else, and she is just as scared when she does. Anne Shirley is a well-balanced character who is meant to, and comes across as good old human and not some lofty goddess.
However, there are full blown Mary Sues in famous literature.
Harry Potter for instance, had a very forsaken childhood, and unusual magic abilities. At Hogwarts, he was treated like a celebrity by his fans, and absolutely hated, probably viewed as a threat, and envied by his rivals.
Isabella Marie (Bella) Swan-Cullen, and Edward Cullen from Twilight are Mary Sue and Gary Stu.
TV and movies can be Mary Sued, even Senna Maried, and it can result in very strong feelings of disappointment, even outrage from fans of the genre. Not only when there is a Mary Sue or Gary Stu brought in to take over the story, but when the established characters are made into canon-sues. That's just another way of calling character distortion, mangling and butchery for what it is. When you see a character in a show, suddenly acting very out of character for the benefit of a Mary Sue that's being brought in, that character is being canon-Sued.
The Tenth Kingdom is all Mary Sues with Virginia who is supposed to be some sort of strange version of Little Red RidingHood I think, and in love with Wolf AKA used to be the Big Bad Wolf and they either become preggers or are working on it, I can't remember. The main villain of the story is Christine, Virginia's mom. She not only breaks Virginia's heart by rejecting and abandoning her own kid, but eventually her Virginia has to kill her to save herself, the world, something... The Swamp Witch is supposed to be the wicked former step-queen from the Snow White Story. But she somehow got not-dead after being cast down into the swamp, and Snow White, Cinderella, and Bo-Peep are all either long dead, ghosts or very old, and the movie is mostly about their strangely contrived little Mary Sue descendants. The thing was really anti-climactic in my opinion and the whole setup just left me cold.
Now that the differences that set Mary Sues and Senna maries apart from other original characters have been addressed, it should be clear that Mary Sue is not just any original or self-insertion character. She is written in as a relative, lover, or lover-wanna-be to some established character. She may have only her unbelievable looks going for her, or an abundance of talents that help her save the day and dazzle all other characters. She is intended to steal the spotlight by design and won't settle kindly for a mere supportive role.
Why do so many people write Mary Sue?
I have three theories, and one or more applies to any given Mary Sue writing.
1. On the analitical end of things, they may be inexperienced, not having read any other writing to realize that the porcelain doll with the sapphire or violet eyes and raven black tresses or golden hair that lights up the world has been written by so many others. They don't realize how common it is to over-do the description of a character's appearance, especially when they keep repeating it in endless detail throughout the story.
2. On a personal level, they want a very strong association or connection with an established character, but they are not satisfied with simply writing their characters as strangers who eventually meet the favorite famous ones, and even going from strangers to acquaintances to friends with famous characters isn't good enough. So they make up relatives to famous characters in order to get that need for a close bond with famous characters going in an instant.
3. Last but definitely not least, they have a mad crush on some established character, and writing an idealized version of themselves is a way to live out their fantasies and boost or show their ego.
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