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Offline turncopper

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Mary Sue Education for Writers
« on: Sun, Dec 04, 2005, 04:54 PM »
Mary Sue Education for Writers.

By: turncopper

To begin with I would like to say that even I (*gasp* Try not to faint, Peeps.) at one point in my life have written a Mary Sue. *lol* Just about every writer does this when they're first starting out. I don’t want anyone to feel beaten down if, through this post, they come to find they are writing Mary Sue. That is not my intention. Writing a Mary Sue can be considered part of the learning process. It certainly was for me.

I love the writers here at VX, as they are wonderful ladies (I don’t think we have any male writers, but sorry if I’m wrong guys). My aim with this post is to teach the writers on VX who can’t seem to get past Mary Sue-ism in their fiction.  That is, those who want to learn to get past it.  I hope through this post that they can actually gain knowledge and grow as writers, thus making VX a place with exceptional fan fiction.  If you find you are writing Mary Sue, for Heaven’s sake, don’t stop writing and give up completely. Look at it this way. Now that you are able to identify what you are doing wrong, you can correct it.  In a short time, you could be the most popular author on VX, if you will only keep trying, learning, and improving your skills.  This post of mine is an educational tool. Please use it as such.

Note: I am not singling anyone here out for censure.  I will not use examples from this site to make my point.  On the contrary, I am using links, and I have personally written a short piece to use as my teaching example for this post. I will shred my work and no one else’s.  So don’t be afraid that I’m going to brand anyone with Mary Sue.  I believe I can make my point without being mean to anybody. I was not so lucky, but I still learned from my experience and didn’t give up.  I don’t see myself as a better or worse writer than any of the others on VX.  I simply want to help people from the knowledge I’ve gained over time and experience.  Just like you, I am always learning.

Second Note:  To those of you who intentionally write Mary Sues because you find it amusing, or because you want to act out your fantasies with a canon character while remaking yourself into perfection during the process.  This post doesn’t apply to you. You can read on for amusement’s sake.  But don’t be offended by the content. Fan Fiction is done as a hobby…for fun.  So you can write whatever you like.  Far be it from me to tell you differently.  Many people don’t like to read stories with Mary Sue characters, and find them extremely annoying (There is actually a Mary Sue Haters club, *lol*).  But there are some people that do like to read Mary Sue stories. So, have no worries; to each their own.

First, if you don’t know what a Mary Sue is, here is a link to the definition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue_fanfiction

If you simply want to know if your character is a Mary Sue or Marty Stu, and don’t feel like reading the rest to learn, here is a test you can use to find out.  This can be used for all fan fic genres.

http://www.angelfire.com/gundam/otto/gr ... -test.html

This is a very funny link that is also very informative.  Here you will get a basic understanding of the many types (Breeds) of Mary Sue through example and how to avoid writing them.  I highly recommend reading, even if you are not questioning whether you are currently writing Mary Sue.  At least you will get a laugh, because it is a well-written article.

http://www.fictionpress.com/read.php?storyid=1440163

Warning:  In keeping with the second note, I stress to all lovers of Mary Sue that this post will be offensive to you, unless you have a good sense of humor. If you question at this point whether or not you are going to get your feelings hurt, don’t read on.  If you write Mary Sue and feel I’m being too harsh on her, then you need to remember that I’m not pointing you out.  What I have to say about Mary Sue is tame compared to how most people deal with her.  I’m shredding my work here, not yours. This is a learning tool. Don’t read on if you’re going to get pissed at me because you write Mary Sue and see nothing wrong with it.  That’s perfectly all right, for you.  I’ll even say that some writers do so intentionally because they think of Mary Sue in satire terms, or they like to act out fantasies.  That’s all well and good for them.  But if you want to be taken seriously, especially if one day you want to be published, Mary Sue is off limits.  To express just how hated Mary Sue is, I will provide a link to a website that rips apart people’s fics and makes jokes out of them without the writer’s permission (and yes, they can legally do this).  This could happen to you if you write Mary Sue. Most seasoned writers, if they read a fic of yours with Mary Sue or Marty Stu, will remember it and never even glance at your future works because they will assume that you will always write Mary Sue. Sadly, many writers never learn.  Mary Sue can be a funny issue. However, she can also be a very serious issue for a writer.  By telling you this, I’m trying to save you criticism in the future and in some cases ending up on sites like this one where your work will be mercilessly scorned:

http://www.godawful.net/

Note on Feedback: You will find that if you keep learning and improving your writing, you will receive more feedback. Unless you write Mary Sue and your readers are also Mary Sue fans, then you would do best to cast her aside and write a character with depth.  You will find that the amount of feedback you receive will expand, and I’m not the only one who will tell you this.  This is plain and simply good advice.

All right, now this is my piece that I have written for teaching purposes.  First I will give you the piece in all its Mary Sue glory.  Then I will go back through, quote lines, and point out what is wrong with it in Mary Sue terms.  For those of you able to recognize as you read the Mary Sue-ness, this should be somewhat funny.  For anyone who can’t recognize initially what is wrong, have no fear.  I will help you learn as best I can.

When I decided to write this piece, Kriszta suggested that I should write a Riddick story.  I agreed. I think that the majority of the Mary Sue incidents on VX tend to be in the Riddick section.  I believe that’s because it’s so very easy to write Mary Sue in sci-fi or fantasy genres, if you’re not careful.  So, here we go with mine:

Author: Mel (aka turncopper) turncopper@yahoo.com
Title: Destiny My Love
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer:  I do not own Riddick or Pitch Black/TCOR.  I am not profiting from this story.  This is a learning tool.
Summary: In this story, Riddick meets his Destiny. *giggles*
Archive: Sure…but why, I don’t know. *lol*
Feedback: If you feel like it. But this is a learning tool, so there is no need…unless you have questions, which I will be happy to answer.  
Author’s Note:  I’m going to try and make this as obvious as I can. In fan fiction, sometimes Mary Sue or Marty Stu may be a little more difficult to identify.  But this will give you an idea of the basics.  This is a short story, as short as I could make it, but long enough to make my point.  As such, you will find it condensed.
_________________________________

Destiny My Love

Riddick had landed his stolen merc ship on the planet Canon Minor two days ago.  The little known planet was located in a small galaxy neighboring Helion Prime’s.  This seemed the perfect place to rest for a few days, before he needed to move on and take care of business.  Cryo-sleep never did sit well with him, and he needed to be at full strength for what awaited him on HP.  

So here he was, standing on the beach in his black cargo pants and matching wife-beater.  In the darkness of night, he had removed his goggles to take in the surroundings. This planet was made up of a series of islands and a whole lot of blue water. Thus far his stay here had been quiet and undisturbed. Tomorrow it was back to civilization and everything he hated.  But right now, life had paused.

Quite suddenly he sensed that something was different in the background.  Then he heard the sand shifting a distance behind him, which confirmed his suspicion.  Carefully, he slid the shivs from his belt and waited with his senses tuned to the possible threat.  When the intruder was about ten feet from him, he did a swift about face, clutching the shivs tightly.  

In his line of vision, a beautiful girl, who appeared to be about twenty-two, waited and smiled at him knowingly.  His jaw nearly dropped from the sight of her in the combined light of the three moons.  Looking her up and down with a slow appreciation, he took in everything.  She was a vision of shapely curves, a perfect face with full, luscious lips, and large doe-like eyes. The flowing locks of her pale, probably white, hair reached her hips, unbound in all its glory.  The outfit she wore looked to be a dark, ankle-length skirt, and something like a black bikini top which flattered her ample breasts. He could tell that she was fit and muscular, with her six-pack abs and solid, but womanly, arms. “Who are you,” he asked with a low growl.  It came as quite a surprise to him that she could speak his language.

In a sultry voice, she replied, “My name is Destiny.  And your name is Riddick.  I’ve been looking forward to our meeting.”

Shaking his head disbelievingly, the normally unruffled male was trying to form words in order to speak.  “How…how did you know I was here? Where did you come from?”

“I’m the princess of Furya…the last living female of our race, and I’m a seer. So I would know you anywhere. Come…sit with me.”  Gracefully, she took a seat on the sand with her legs folded under her.

Riddick sat down where he was, still wary but distracted by her beauty.  Seeing that she was unarmed, he relaxed a little.  “What do you know about our race?”

“Not as much as I’d like.  My mother was pregnant with me when she fled our ruined planet.  She too was a seer.  She told me that our people were almost wiped out, and that one day a man named Riddick, who will be the Alpha Furyan, would come to this planet.  You do realize that it was fated we meet.”  There was a pause as she dropped her gaze to her lap. Sadness flitted across her features for a moment and then she continued. “My mother died when I was ten, and since then I’ve been living here among the natives of this planet. I think they’re afraid of me, you know…afraid of my gifts.”

“What gifts?” Riddick questioned skeptically.

“Since I could speak, I’ve known every language I’ve come across.  I’m a born warrior.  I could easily slit your throat without getting a drop of blood on me.  And I’ve already told you I’m a seer.”

There was a moment of silence, and then Riddick burst into laughter.  “What a load of shit, Lady. Let me guess…this is the planet of the lost nut jobs?”

Destiny merely smiled and raised a graceful hand.  Only when she did so, Riddick was lifted off the ground and floated suspended in the air.  “I forgot to mention I also have telekinesis.  Believe me now?”

“What the Hell is this?” he demanded, unable to do anything as he was hovering some five feet off the ground. She lowered her hand, and he found himself in the sand once more.  Jumping to his feet, he shook with restrained anger. “If you do that again, I’ll ghost you!  I don’t care how beautiful you are!”

Smiling at his words, she stood up as well.  Brushing the sand from her skirt, she bent and twisted in the process of cleaning, seemingly unafraid of his death threat.  “You think I’m beautiful then?”  She straightened slowly and met his eyes.  With certain leisure, she began walking towards him, her arms at her sides.  Her hips swayed seductively with every step.  


Riddick remained where he was, though he replaced one shiv at his waist and kept the other in hand.  When she was within reach, she halted with the sand shifting between her toes.  He couldn’t help but admire her nerve.  “Beautiful.”

Beneath the thick lashes, her eyes were filled with emotion. Knowing what she needed to do, she placed her palm to his chest over his heart.  Instantly, Furyan energy passed through her into him, allowing his transformation into the Alpha Furyan to be complete.  His teeth were gritted as he groaned aloud at the pain and dropped to his knees.  She went with him to the ground, never taking her hand from his chest. All at once the final burst of energy occurred and she was tossed onto her back away from him.  

Minutes passed.  When Riddick awoke he was a little disoriented…for a moment. He blinked a few times and saw that Destiny was leaning over him, her angelic face appearing concerned. During the passing of energy between them, their souls had touched and he now felt as though he knew her intimately.  There was a strong invisible bond between them. Carefully, he sat up.  She was so close he could smell her unique scent of exotic flowers.  Without a word, he placed his sand-covered hand on the back of her neck and pressed his lips to hers, kissing her passionately.  Then she wrapped her arms around his neck and inched closer.  

A long moment later, he eased back from the kiss and studied her face.  “Do you believe in love at first sight?” he inquired quietly.  The sounds of the waves, and the wind rustling the vegetation beyond the beach entered his consciousness.  Despite the majestic beauty of nature, all he could really concentrate on was how she felt in his arms.

Sighing, she intertwined her fingers behind his neck.  “I’ve loved you for a long time.  We’re meant to be together. It was prophesized.  And I know I’m supposed to help you through the trouble ahead.”

Riddick nodded his acceptance and kissed her again, briefly.  “It’s destiny.  You’re Destiny…my love.”

The End
_______________________________

Ok.  Now I will quote lines from this piece and point out the whys of Mary Sue-ism.  One thing first though.  Destiny is not the ideal of me, the writer.  But if your character is the ideal of you, the author, then she is most definitely a Mary Sue. That is an automatic.  She may have a name and many other things you always wanted in and of yourself. If your lead character is a vehicle for you to act out your fantasies, then your character is a Mary Sue...no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Also, if your OFC is the focus of the story, as in the world revolves around her, she is extremely likely to be a Mary Sue.

In my teaching method, I use sarcastic humor to give the readers a laugh while they are learning.  At least, I hope they will laugh. *lol*  

On to the quoting:

Quote
In his line of vision, a beautiful girl, who appeared to be about twenty-two, waited and smiled at him knowingly.  His jaw nearly dropped from the sight of her in the combined light of the three moons.  Looking her up and down with a slow appreciation, he took in everything.  She was a vision of shapely curves, a perfect face with full, luscious lips, and large doe-like eyes. The flowing locks of her pale, probably white, hair reached her hips, unbound in all its glory.  The outfit she wore looked to be a dark, ankle-length skirt, and something like a black bikini top which flattered her ample breasts. He could tell that she was fit and muscular, with her six-pack abs and solid, but womanly, arms.


There are many clues here that tell you the OFC (Destiny) is a Mary Sue.   First, an entire paragraph is devoted to her appearance.  Second, she is apparently perfect...abnormally beautiful even. Third, her outfit is obviously not fitting with the Riddick Universe.  Fourth, her hair color is unusual. Fifth, Mary Sue is almost always a teenager or in her early twenties. If she is older, she miraculously looks like she is a teenager or in her early twenties.  Sixth, the canon character, Riddick, suffers awe upon seeing her.  Now when have you ever heard of Riddick being in awe of a woman?  I can answer that with, NEVER.  This would obviously be the writer making the canon character, no matter how unheard of it may be, instantly enraptured with the OFC.  Mary Sue characters are often instantly adored by whoever they come across.

Quote
In a sultry voice, she replied, “My name is Destiny.  And your name is Riddick.  I’ve been looking forward to our meeting.”


First, note how every action she does is sexy, or graceful, or...perfect.  No one is like that all the time...except for Mary Sue.  Second, her name is Destiny.  The name of your OFC is very telling. I've already said that if your OFC is named after you, your nickname, your online name, or just a name you always wanted, she is very likely a Mary Sue.  This OFC, Destiny, is an unusual name, especially in the Riddick Universe.  Also, her name is in the title of the story. Even the closing comment from the canon character uses it in both ways: as her name and as what her name means. This is a good sign of a Mary Sue.  Third, even from the beginning she seems to 'just know' everything.  This is a very irritating Mary Sue trait.

Quote
Shaking his head disbelievingly, the normally unruffled male was trying to form words in order to speak.  “How…how did you know I was here? Where did you come from?”


Once again, I will say that the canon character, Riddick, would never be so in awe of a woman that he would have trouble speaking and/or stutter. Riddick doesn't become 'unruffled' for such a stupid reason.  But Destiny is Mary Sue, and every male, probably even homosexual ones, would be gaping in adoration of her beauty. *lol*  You get my meaning.

Quote
“I’m the princess of Furya…the last living female of our race, and I’m a seer. So I would know you anywhere. Come…sit with me.”  Gracefully, she took a seat on the sand with her legs folded under her.


First, usually when the OFC is royalty, she is automatically a Mary Sue (the exceptions to this are very rare).  Once again, this is because it’s the author's fantasy, and that author is making her/his poor readers suffer through that fantasy. Second, Destiny states that she is the last female of their shared race. So at that moment the reader says to their self "Oh, I know where the plot is going. They are obviously destined to be together, repopulate, and rule the Furyan race." *gag* "Your Mary Sue is choking me with her predictable cheese!"  Third, once again we see that she 'just knows' everything.  She explains this by being a seer.  In the Riddick Universe there are seers, so we might, had she not had so many other Mary Sue qualities, have been able to let that one slide. But if your OFC is in a universe where seers are unconfirmed, then it's a no go.  A Mary Sue usually 'just knows' everything and it's particularly annoying. Often, she is exceptionally intelligent as well. Fourth, once again we see her being graceful in everything she does...ladylike even.  *chokes on Mary Sueism and goes into a coughing fit*   I can’t stress enough how irritating perfection is in a fictional character.

Quote
Riddick sat down where he was, still wary but distracted by her beauty.  Seeing that she was unarmed, he relaxed a little.  “What do you know about our race?”


First, Riddick is never distracted by a woman's beauty to the point where he starts letting his guard down around a total stranger.  He didn't survive this long by letting his hormones rule him.  Riddick plays games...he's not the one who gets played with.  The canon character should always be true to its self (be that Riddick, Dom, Sean, Taylor, etc).  Second, Riddick doesn't do what he's told unless he has a motive.  Here, Riddick sits down when she asks, and so makes himself a bit more vulnerable.  Our Mary Sue has Riddick's universe revolve around her from the start.

Quote
“Not as much as I’d like.  My mother was pregnant with me when she fled our ruined planet.  She too was a seer.  She told me that our people were almost wiped out, and that one day a man named Riddick, who will be the Alpha Furyan, would come to this planet.  You do realize that it was fated we meet.”  There was a pause as she dropped her gaze to her lap. Sadness flitted across her features for a moment and then she continued. “My mother died when I was ten, and since then I’ve been living here among the natives of this planet. I think they’re afraid of me, you know…afraid of my gifts.”


First, we see that once again, Destiny and Riddick are 'meant to be'. In this instance, it comes by way of a prophecy.  Second, Mary Sue almost always has a sob story in her past that is the writer's attempt to gain the reader's sympathy for the character.  Destiny lost her mother at a young age, her father is assumedly dead, and she's been ostracized by the people she lives with. And yet, Destiny is not phased by this sad past, beyond a brief sad look when she is speaking with Riddick.  You see none of the influence of her past on her present behavior.  Third, her reason for the ostracized life is these people fear her 'gifts', or in other words, her power.  Mary Sue very often has rare or unheard of 'gifts'. And the other characters are almost always afraid of her for this, or they worship her for it.  The writer's usual motivation for this is because she/he has fantasies of power.  Mary Sue is the writer's tool for fantasy. Remember that and avoid it.

Side note: The worst type of Mary Sue has been raped and is a trusting, happy, care-free person in spite of that.  This is an insult to anyone who has been raped.  Rape is a serious issue, and should only be written about when you can do it proper justice.  

Quote
“Since I could speak, I’ve known every language I’ve come across.  I’m a born warrior.  I could easily slit your throat without getting a drop of blood on me.  And I’ve already told you I’m a seer.”


Often, Mary Sue can speak more than one language fluently and without logical reason.  She didn't study for years...she just has 'gifts'.  Destiny is a Mary Sue that could speak every language there is from the beginning.  I ask how believable is that?  And no one is a 'born warrior'. It takes at least some practice.  Granted, she is supposedly Furyan, of a warrior race.  But even Furyans have some training…not our Destiny.  And even the most elite warriors would have a great deal of trouble not getting any blood on themselves when slitting someone's throat...not Destiny.  Lest we forget, she reminds us that she is a 'seer'.  Isn't our Mary Sue talented?  *sarcastic laugh*

Quote
Destiny merely smiled and raised a graceful hand.  Only when she did so, Riddick was lifted off the ground and floated suspended in the air.  “I forgot to mention I also have telekinesis.  Believe me now?”


Telekinesis is one of those 'powers' or gifts' common to Mary Sue.  Once again we see Destiny toying with Riddick.  And I say Riddick is the one that toys with people, not the other way around.  I stress once more that canon characters should remain in canon.  For Ex:  Riddick would not work at a daycare, or have a 9 to 5 job, or go to church, etc.  This would be taking Riddick out of canon.  Just like in other fandoms you wouldn’t be able to boss Xander around, or have Taylor convert because his girlfriend wants him to, etc.

Quote
“What the Hell is this?” he demanded, unable to do anything as he was hovering some five feet off the ground. She lowered her hand, and he found himself in the sand once more.  Jumping to his feet, he shook with restrained anger. “If you do that again, I’ll ghost you!  I don’t care how beautiful you are!”


At this point, Riddick would have likely thrown his shiv and killed her, or something to the same result. No one screws with Riddick like that. So we can conclude that Riddick would only allow a person who screws with him to live if it's Mary Sue.  He just can't kill her.  "Oh God in Heaven!  Not our beloved Mary Sue!" the writer cries.  And I say, "Oh please kill her Riddick, before I choke to death on her poisonous cloud of Mary Sue-ness"  *lol*

Quote
Smiling at his words, she stood up as well.  Brushing the sand from her skirt, she bent and twisted in the process of cleaning, seemingly unafraid of his death threat.  “You think I’m beautiful then?”  She straightened slowly and met his eyes.  With certain leisure, she began walking towards him, her arms at her sides.  Her hips swayed seductively with every step.  


First, ever the Mary Sue, she has to be clean and presentable no matter the circumstances.  If your character, for example, is stranded on an abandoned planet for any period of time, then she is going to have bad hygiene.  Someone with no access to a shower is going to stink.  Someone without mouthwash is going to have bad breath.  Think about it.  Second, it seems she has no fear of a convicted killer. Here they haven't known each other for five minutes and it's looking like she's going to seduce him...and he might go along with it.  This is not very realistic, nor does it keep with the Riddick canon. So now, I as the reader have been pushed to the point where I say, “Your Mary Sue has given me a nosebleed.  Please, please, stop!  I’m begging you, no more!  Don’t torture me like this!”  *throws up a little in her mouth*

Quote
Riddick remained where he was, though he replaced one shiv at his waist and kept the other in hand.  When she was within reach, she halted with the sand shifting between her toes.  He couldn’t help but admire her nerve.  “Beautiful.”


We see the canon character acting out of canon again.  Riddick lets down more of his guard. And we see that he admires Destiny's 'nerve'.  Already he is completely under the Mary Sue spell. *wipes nauseated cold sweat from her brow*  “Oh no, not my beloved canon Riddick under the Mary Sue spell!  No, don’t let him be a whipped man! What did I ever do to deserve this?” the reader cries.  *lol*

Quote
Beneath her thick lashes, her eyes were filled with emotion. Knowing what she needed to do, she placed her palm to his chest over his heart.  Instantly, Furyan energy passed through her into him, allowing his transformation into the Alpha Furyan to be complete.  His teeth were gritted as he groaned aloud at the pain and dropped to his knees.  She went with him to the ground, never taking her hand from his chest. All at once the final burst of energy occurred and she was tossed onto her back away from him.  


Of course our Mary Sue has the power to transform him!  How predictable. What would we ever do if Mary Sue wasn’t around to help the world turn?  *gag*  

Quote
Minutes passed.  When Riddick awoke he was a little disoriented…for a moment. He blinked a few times and saw that Destiny was leaning over him, her angelic face appearing concerned. During the passing of energy between them, their souls had touched and he now felt as though he knew her intimately.  There was a strong invisible bond between them. Carefully, he sat up.  She was so close he could smell her unique scent of exotic flowers.  Without a word, he placed his sand-covered hand on the back of her neck and pressed his lips to hers, kissing her passionately.  Then she wrapped her arms around his neck and inched closer.  

A long moment later, he eased back from the kiss and studied her face.  “Do you believe in love at first sight?” he inquired quietly.  The sounds of the waves, and the wind rustling the vegetation beyond the beach entered his consciousness.  Despite the majestic beauty of nature, all he could really concentrate on was how she felt in his arms.


Destiny's great power has allowed our poor canon Riddick to instantly fall in love with her.  I might add that in the normal passing of Furyan energy, love is not a factor.  But that didn't stop our Mary Sue. She has the ability to change the Riddick Universe in the palm of her hand. *sarcastic laugh*  With Mary Sue, almost everyone falls in love with her, no matter the circumstances, and especially the canon character that the writer most covets.

Quote
Sighing, she intertwined her fingers behind his neck.  “I’ve loved you for a long time.  We’re meant to be together. It was prophesized.  And I know I’m supposed to help you through the trouble ahead.”


Of course you do...Mary Sue. Uhmmm…I mean, Destiny. *lol*  Here we see an example of the writer's fantasy being acted out by the canon of her/his choice falling in love with the Mary Sue OFC.  The lesson to be learned here is: that it’s all right for this to happen between an OFC and a canon character over the course of appropriate time and circumstances.  However, it’s never all right between a Mary Sue and a canon character.

Quote
Riddick nodded his acceptance and kissed her again, briefly.  “It’s destiny.  You’re Destiny…my love.”


This is obviously cheesy.  But the point of learning from this quote is:  Riddick has instantly fallen in love with and now pledged to spend, presumably, the rest of his life with Destiny.  Our non-romantic canon Riddick has suddenly turned into Romeo.  To top it all off, her name is in the title and his final lines...with double meanings, no less.  The double meaning names are always Mary Sue, especially when the double meaning is used in the title itself.
___________________________

All right, I'm done shredding my work.  That concludes the quoting.  If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them.  I hope I was of some assistance and that the writers learned and/or were entertained by this post.  Remember, a good writer is always learning and improving their craft.  Don't give up, keep working toward your goals, and you'll get there :)  Lastly, I remind you that I wrote this post to help writers.  I care about the writers on VX and want to help them if I can.  My intentions were and are for those who want to improve, to have some help.  I did this without criticizing anyone but myself (and Mary Sue *lol*).

A final note:  Great original characters have depth.  They are flawed and complex, like you and me, so the reader can associate with them.  Everything they are and do has a basis, and doesn’t happen ‘just because’.  The writer and readers should be able to reason out in some manner, by logic, everything about them.  This can happen over the course of the story or from the beginning.  Great original characters are not the fantasy of the writer.

Copyright © 2005 Mel Skinner

Mel
(turncopper)
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline Montgomery Burns 13

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« Reply #1 on: Mon, Dec 05, 2005, 12:41 PM »
Thank you for posting this. Congrats for being able to write your Mary Sue story without giving in to the irresistible urge to letting her die an exceptionally ugly death ;)

I love reading fan fiction and unfortunately I've come upon sooo many Mary Sue stories, that I hope many writers will read your post and learn before writing new fan fiction. Actually, what irks me about TCOR is that IMHO the writers turned my/our beloved Riddick character into a Mary Sue too. Don't you think so?
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Montgomery Burns 13 »
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Offline Nicolina

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« Reply #2 on: Mon, Dec 05, 2005, 01:45 PM »
First, thanks Mel, really enjoyable. Where is that hate club? *looks around* No, I don´t hate Mary Sue´s, I just don´t read them, I lose interest very fast... like within half the first chapter! An for the love of God, I hope I am not guilty of writing ones myself! (But, to be honest, I don´t think so, I´m a grown woman!)

Second, Montgomery, do you mean in the movie? How Riddick all of a sudden can jump really, really far, never gets seriously wounded and more and more and more...??? I SO agree! It annoyed the hell out of me the first time I saw the movie, I barely could get past it and see the pieces of Riddick that I like.

Nic.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Nicolina »

Offline turncopper

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« Reply #3 on: Tue, Dec 06, 2005, 01:53 AM »
@ Monty... I'm glad you liked the article.  It was very tempting to kill Mary Sue, but I restrained myelf. *lol*   :)

Oh, I'll see if I can find the link to the 'Haters' club for you, if you like?  The 'Godawful' link in the article has some very funny reviews.  Well, they're funny if you're not the writer being made fun of.  You might check it out for a laugh.

And your sentiments on TCOR, I agree with.  I still love the movie. However, they were really pushing the limits.  Suspension of disbelief was almost completely absent.

Anyhow, I'm glad you both liked the article.  :)

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline Montgomery Burns 13

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« Reply #4 on: Tue, Dec 06, 2005, 12:05 PM »
Quote from: "turncopper"
In TCOR, Riddick did lean toward Marty Stu.  That can be attributed to many reasons, I suppose.  What were your theories on this subject?  I'd love to discuss them.



Oookay, here is why I think they turned Riddick into a Marty Stu in TCOR:

- He is a Furyan. Not only "a" Furyan but the last of his race.
- He is the only person (in the whole known galaxy) capable of overthrowing the Necromonger regime. There is even a prophecy about him.
- He's got special powers (in the director's cut you can see him on Crematoria, in front of the hangar, when he uses his powers to kill the Necromongers).
- He has memories of the Lord Marshal trying to kill him when he was only an infant (again in the director's cut). Hey, c'mon! Nobody remembers stuff from when they were babies!!!
- He fights all the Necromongers on Crematoria and never gets even a scratch.
- He is so good at fighting that a four man crew of mercs cannot overpower him.

I love the Riddick character from Pitch Black (it is one of my favorite films), but I think TCOR plainly sucks (both versions - the director's cut as well as the theatrical release, although I prefer the theatrical release). I am really disappointed by what Twohy and Diesel did to the Riddick character in TCOR.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Montgomery Burns 13 »
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Offline Nicolina

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« Reply #5 on: Tue, Dec 06, 2005, 02:06 PM »
Monty! Finally a sane person! Very well written and I agree completely! I adore Pitch Black and Riddick in it is a human, nothing more, nothing less... He hasn´t got super powers there! TCOR... well, I´ve seen it on DVD several times after I saw it in the theatre and I enjoy parts of it now... the director´s cut however... SUCH CRAP!!!  :mad It was like a beginner´s doing... like a child´s fantasies...

See, I could go on and on... I´ll stop here. Nuf said.

Mel. I´ve written a couple of more stories. I think you read my ficlet "When Darkness Falls", then I have a PWP over at TFATF section and a 20 chapter long Riddick/OFC fic.

I´ve been very cautious on how I describe my OFC´s in my writing. I think it is important that any reader can identify with her, put themselves in her position and get sucked into the story that way. That doesn´t happen with a Mary Sue unless you already are a super model with special powers... *LOL*

See ya! Nic.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Nicolina »

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« Reply #6 on: Wed, Dec 07, 2005, 10:58 AM »
I enjoyed the article, thanks, turncopper, and I think it's quite an open-hearted thing to share this with us.

As a fanfic story is most likely to be connected with the writer's own, personal fantasies, many fics tend towards Mary Sue, I think. I would be lying if I said I don't feel the urge sometimes to get my personal (and, strictly speaking, often ridiculous) desires, dreams and stuff into a story, but I'm trying to keep a balance and make everything as 'realistic' as possible.
There is always room enough for personal 'motives', and in my opinion allowing him-/herself to give in a bit without spoiling the fic or turning it into utter nonsense is what makes a good non-professional fanfic writer. We do write for our own pleasure but also - at least this is how the thing's with me - to kinda grow up in writing.

I didn't like the way Riddick was almost a superhero in TCOR, so I'm totally with you guys here. What I hated most about the movie (though I do love it on the other hand, and liked PB very much) was how Riddick's character never really got him into emotional trouble - at least not as much as I'd expect somebody like him...
Wow, this is hard to express in English.
For example, if a character is able to fight like Riddick, this does not make me curious because of the fighting itself but because of the possibility to imagine what it must be like to be a person who has been 'formed' in such a way... how such a person really feels, and this does include everything that person is missing and so on...
I'm fond of mental, sinister characters, but when they're being added too many qualities such as coolness, never failing humor, the ability to make the perfect cool remark always at the right time, (almost) invulnerability and so on, they just don't catch my interest for real, not as a more realistic character would do.
That's why I've started a fanfic, and I hope I will not mess things up due to the urge to press everything foolish into it I've been - of course - imagining while seeing the movie.

Greetz, Reeba
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Reeba »
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Offline Riddichic80

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Mary Sue Discussion
« Reply #7 on: Thu, Dec 08, 2005, 11:08 AM »
This is a really good article and I find it to be very helpful. I think my first story was a mary sue but I wanted to try writiing so bad so my friend told me to write about something I knew and I knew me so that's what I wrote. I'm steering away from that but at the same time not using the typical looks of a OFC.

I try to write as though somebody might be watching it play out. Is that a good thing?? But I'm glad that I'm getting this education and I hope to apply it to other stories cuz God knows that I do not want to find my fic on godawful.com. They rip people new ones over there...LOL
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Riddichic80 »



Offline turncopper

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« Reply #8 on: Thu, Dec 08, 2005, 11:41 AM »
@Monty....hmmm, you make a good debate.  You pointed out some things I hadn't thought about before.  I thought he was borderline Marty Stu, but now I think he's gone over the border, sadly.  I do love Riddick in Pitch Black.  And even though Riddick in TCOR is Marty Stu, I still like that movie.  Of course, maybe I'm partial.  *lol*  Anyhow, thanks for discussing your theories.  I love to talk about stuff like this.  :)  
Don't get me wrong, every character the author creates should have 'pieces' of him/her.  Mary Sue is when the character is the idealized version of the author, and/or purely a tool for the writer's fantasy (there are many different ways for this to happen).  There can be parts of you, as the writer, in your characters without that character becoming a Mary Sue.  In fact, it's almost a mandatory thing to include part of yourself in every character you create. Even the most evil characters have a piece of the writer in them. The writer is the mother or father of their character. Also, you should write about what you are inspired to write about.  If you want to write about a fantasy of yours, just be careful with the suspension of disbelief.  Structure your fantasy so people can associate with it, feel what the characters are feeling, and so that the readers can believe in it, if only while they are reading.  That is how you avoid Mary Sue.

That being said, some writers like to write Mary Sue.  As I stated in the article, fan fic is mostly  for fun, and few writers use it as a means to learn and grow in skill (I am one of the few who do).  As such, there are MANY Mary Sue fics, even here on VX.  As long as they understand and realize that they are writing Mary Sue, then there is no problem.  People are free to write whatever they like.  But Mary Sue writers should take note of the consequences of writing Mary Sue.  If they note those, accept them, and still want to write Mary Sue...by all means, they should go right ahead.  

By writing this article I wanted to help those who want help.  I remember being new to writing and making all kinds of mistakes with no one to help me.  To save writers some of that stumbling about in the dark and harsh criticism, I posted this article.  Also, I posted in the hopes of seeing less of Mary Sue.  Frankly, I'm tired of reading about her, and so are many other people.  I want to read fan fiction that draws me in, not bores me to death or annoys me.  I want to read characters that I can feel, not characters that I can't associate with because they are perfect. When reading fan fiction, I don't want to feel like I'm in someone else's fantasy, I want to feel like I'm part of the story.  Or, to phrase it differently, I want to feel like I'm watching a good movie in my mind. Finally, I want to see VX become one of the best, if not the best, places for great fan fiction.  That is why this article was written and posted.

I hope it was of help to someone.  :)

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline turncopper

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Re: Mary Sue Discussion
« Reply #9 on: Thu, Dec 08, 2005, 11:45 AM »
Quote from: "Riddichic80"
This is a really good article and I find it to be very helpful. I think my first story was a mary sue but I wanted to try writiing so bad so my friend told me to write about something I knew and I knew me so that's what I wrote. I'm steering away from that but at the same time not using the typical looks of a OFC.

I try to write as though somebody might be watching it play out. Is that a good thing?? But I'm glad that I'm getting this education and I hope to apply it to other stories cuz God knows that I do not want to find my fic on godawful.com. They rip people new ones over there...LOL



Thank you. I'm glad you liked the article.  Don't feel bad for writing a Mary Sue.  Like I said, just about everyone does when they are new to writing.  As for your question...writing so the reader can 'watch it play out' is a very good policy.  I think you're on the right track.  :)  And I don't think anyone would want to be on Godawful...they do rip people new ones.  *lol*

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline pickles78

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« Reply #10 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 03:28 AM »
Well... I took a few days to finish reading this article and specially to take all the important information from it. It's a very interesting article.
I had stopped reading a story after the first chapter and I just didn't know why... I think I found out: I don't like Mary Sue's characters.

But, there is always a but, I think it depends on many things... I don't write many stories because I don't feel confortable to do it, since I'm not an english native speaker, but in those few I wrote I think I have created my own Mary Sue... But worst than create a Mary Sue character, is to TURN Vin's characters into Marty Stu...specially Riddick!

I almost stopped reading Riddick fics because of that... they are totally out of the canon... I'm fed up with them!! Riddick in love?? Riddick having a familly?? Riddick with kids?? Please... It's bad enough to see how he changed from PB to TCOR... but considering the whole new universe created around him... I can go with that!

I believe that the important thing is to realise what type of characters do you tend to create...if they are Mary Sue or Marty Stu, so be it, as long as you are aware of it and try to improve your writing! And specialy, it's important that you enjoy what you write...Sometimes I feel that most part of the stories are written for the others... I wish everybody could write just for their own pleasure...

I don't think that there is a recipe for a good story... but we can try to make them very good if we keep working and working... with a single goal: improve!!

(I hope it makes sense...  :think)
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by pickles78 »

Offline Silsin

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« Reply #11 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 05:22 AM »
It took some time for me too till I read through this article and to be honest this whole thing was totally new to me. But I enjoyed reading it.
For a moment I was very unsecure about the stuff I wrote, although and because I just started writing the (hopefully) last chapter of my momentarily abandoned story. And I started questioning myself about my story (its my first one) and wondering if it is Mary Sue style. It definitely is Marty Sue , but it's too late to change it now so what the h*'°. I literally blushed when reading part of your post and the additional info because I found myself caught in the action. *lol*
I take it with humour - I'm not a professional writer and I'll never bee as this is not my intention. I do it because it is fun for me and apparently there are some people who liked it too. Nothing more or less.
Anyhow thanks for taking the effort to post all of this, Mel! :hugs
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by silsin »

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Offline pickles78

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« Reply #12 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 06:07 AM »
Quote from: "silsin"
I take it with humour - I'm not a professional writer and I'll never bee as this is not my intention. I do it because it is fun for me and apparently there are some people who liked it too. Nothing more or less.



That's exactely the point Sil!!  :rule
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by pickles78 »

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« Reply #13 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 06:40 AM »
When I first read this I went through all my fanfics to check them against the Mary Sue quiz. Of course all my Taylor fics are Mary Sue's ( :b

So, the second time I read the article - I kept my tongue firmly in my cheek and giggled at my fics (yummy Taylor thoughts again).

Thanks Mel, you opened my eyes to a few ideas...
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Rachel »

Offline Montgomery Burns 13

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« Reply #14 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 07:43 AM »
Quote from: "pickles78"
[...]But worst than create a Mary Sue character, is to TURN Vin's characters into Marty Stu...specially Riddick!

I almost stopped reading Riddick fics because of that... they are totally out of the canon... I'm fed up with them!! Riddick in love?? Riddick having a familly?? Riddick with kids?? Please... It's bad enough to see how he changed from PB to TCOR... but considering the whole new universe created around him...

Pickles78, I am in total agreement with you. I know, the temptation is always there to turn our beloved Riddick character into a superhero or a loving husband (yuck), but if you do it, it's not Riddick any longer but somebody else. I usually stop reading when I discover that Riddick was turned into some Marty Stu character. I even scroll down to the end of the story to check how it ends before I go on reading.

Quote from: "pickles78"
I believe that the important thing is to realise what type of characters do you tend to create...if they are Mary Sue or Marty Stu, so be it, as long as you are aware of it and try to improve your writing! [...]

I don't think that there is a recipe for a good story... but we can try to make them very good if we keep working and working... with a single goal: improve!!


Yeah, I think, even if somebody writes fan fiction just for fun and does not intend to ever become a professional writer, his/her goal should be to improve their writing. So everybody should care about the characters they create, especially if they are canon characters from some of Vin's movies. I mean, you do want the readers to like your stories, don't you?
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Montgomery Burns 13 »
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Offline genny

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« Reply #15 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 09:44 AM »
After falling out of my chair laughing at the example fic (turncopper you hit the nail on the head b/c I couldn't even finish it. I had to go straight to your comments section after the first two paragraphs), I debated for a while before posting anything on this, because I don't write or post fanfiction here (and I'm always afraid I'm going to make someone mad at me), but after a great deal of thought decided "what the hey"... After all I do read the fanfiction so I would hope my opinion would count for something.

I really have to say THANKS to turncopper for the well written article. I think that it did a very nice job of clearing up some of the confusion of what is "Mary Sue" along with some good general writing pointers that always seem to go hand and hand with "her".

I'll be honest. The whole reason I came to this site in the first place is not my enjoyment of all things Vin (although it does fall a close second!). The main reason I came here is to read. You see, I read a lot and I go through books like water. It is nothing for me to pick up a brand new 400 page book and read it in a couple of hours. As our local library sucks and my checking account can't handle the number of books I would need to buy to keep my mind happy I have since turned to the sometimes joyous (and often disappointing) world of fanfiction to keep me happy in the dry spells.

I have read some wonderful fanfiction. Some in the Vin world, some in others. Unfortunately, the excellent stories are vastly outnumbered by the un-excellent stories - that so often seem to be written by some teen/preteen girl who has a huge crush on the actor and wrote the story, because she found an awesome site devoted to her handsome hunk and all the other girls there are doing it.  

If someone is serious about writing then I would sincerely hope they take the time to learn, so that the fiction is enjoyable for their readers, whether they have professional aspirations or not. That is not to say a person shouldn't have fun with their work - if you're writing Mary Sue for fun then so be it. That can still be an enjoyable read, because to me it is not just "Mary Sue", it's bad writing in general. I've read some fairly decent plots that were ruined by bad grammar. I've also read some things so bad, that nothing would fix it but a complete re-write. Sometimes it's as simple as taking the time to learn the difference between there/their/they're and its/it's, etc.

edited to revise  b/c I felt what  I wrote originally was not clear and came out not even close to what was intended, hopefully this is clearer.
« Last Edit: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 10:57 AM by genny »

Offline Rachel

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« Reply #16 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 09:50 AM »
Quote
(jumps off soapbox and ducks behind it, watching carefully for flying vegetables)



DUCK!!!
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Rachel »

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« Reply #17 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 09:53 AM »
Quote from: "38rachel69"
Quote
(jumps off soapbox and ducks behind it, watching carefully for flying vegetables)


DUCK!!!



I'm SORRY! I wasn't picking on you I promise!

edited to add: Ok this is obviously why I don't post often b/c nothing ever comes out like I mean it! After re-reading what I wrote I realize now that when I said I was using you as an example it may have sounded like I was using you as an example of bad fiction. So totally not what I meant. What I meant was that you write for fun and are satisified - hence the article wouldn't necassarily apply b/c you're are okay with those particular Mary Sue fics!
« Last Edit: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 10:11 AM by genny »

Offline Kriszta

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« Reply #18 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 10:01 AM »
You know proper grammar, all spelling and logical errors checked before posting a story is a must - let it be a serious flick or a Mary Sue one. If writers are responsible enough and proud of their work, they do it; or after a few remarks by readers, they'll do it. If you write something you have the whole txt in your head and skip the smaller mistakes as you look at the full picture. That's why professional writers have editors and that why fanfic authors have beta readers, to catch and correct them. If a story still comes w bad grammar, no breaks between or no paragraphs at all, then most pple will be set off reading the stories.

As of Mary Sues, it depends what's your readings purpose. MSs are good after a long and tiresome day when you need escapism and some time for yourself ~ think romantic books, movies and soap opers; you just cannot read Brett Easton Ellis 24/7 without going crazy one day. Living through your fantasies or getting lost in someone else's is fine when you need that kind of entertainment.

What's wrong though, when someone thinks higher of her story and does not notice that her work is not up to the standards. Breaking character chanon and enchanting heroes w unusal features, Fry with wings or Riddick w the power of becoming invisible over 20 chapters is where the problem starts. Like pointed out already, TCoR is a good example how can things go wrong even w the best intent.

As a reader all I can ask from you is to stick to the characters and basic mode of the movies. I am just as much for a Riddick/Johns PWP like a deep character drama w unhappy ends; as long as Riddick remains Riddick and not some kind of sissy husband :) He will just not moan the garder, no matter what you do to him.

K
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Kriszta »

Offline turncopper

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« Reply #19 on: Sun, Dec 11, 2005, 12:47 PM »
Oh wow, that was a lot of activity in one day.  Very cool.  ;)

@K....you added some very valid points.  Thank you for your input.  :)

Thanks Again, Peeps!

Mel
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« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by turncopper »

Offline x-fuse

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Mary Sue
« Reply #20 on: Thu, Dec 22, 2005, 11:03 PM »
Hello, I'm not even sure if I have posted since VX moved. I hate Mary Sue and haven't been shy about expressing my hatred in various discussions (I do believe that most of them were on ezboard and were whipped out.) I even wrote one on purpose for a contest, I gave her wings, and I hate her.

I loved Pitch Black and fell in love with Riddick at his first words. The Riddick in COR was not the Riddick in PB so when I write or read fics I don't want anything to do with COR. I agree that they made him a Marty Stu in COR (and Kyra). What made Riddick great in PB was what they seem to change in COR.

As for writing, fan fics for me are to answer the unanswered questions of the movie. The 'what' questions. What if Riddick met Fry before the crash? What if the guys didn't get killed in KG? What happened after Seth walked out of the building in BR? What was any of the characters like before the movie? I don't want to read anyone fantasy. They always turn old and boring real quick. I want to read stories. I want those questions answered or someone asking new ones.

There is very little of me in any of my fics. I like writing about different things in many different ways. I like evil Riddick (and no, not evil Riddick who falls in love with the girl and changes) and I like shippers' fics where twenty-five pages in the fic they are still not even close to falling in love.  What I don't like is when the original characters are a 'Mary Sue'.

I read a lot of books and also use fanfics to help me during those dry spells. I find that I am not reading those fanfics very often at all now.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by x-fuse »

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« Reply #21 on: Tue, Jan 03, 2006, 02:06 PM »
Ah, x, you do like to hate the Mary Sue.  We've disagreed on this before.  See, I like a good Mary Sue fic every once in a while and I think if done properly she can be quite amusing.  ( I loved that contest BTW. It was fun to write!)

I'm pretty sure I've written my share of MS's in my time.  

I can see where a steady diet of her can get boring, but as an occasional treat she's not so bad.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Harleywdo »

Offline x-fuse

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« Reply #22 on: Thu, Jan 05, 2006, 04:27 PM »
You know I had fun writing Nova. Mary Sue written with humour is fine. If someone wants to read something light, they are good entertainment. It's when Mary Sue is written over the top without the humour, that is when I hate reading her and find the fic sorely lacking.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by x-fuse »

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Offline x-fuse

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Mary Sue Link (humour)
« Reply #23 on: Wed, Feb 01, 2006, 05:08 PM »
I was doing some research and came across this wonderful link. http://piratemonkeysinc.com/ms1.htm I think it really captures Mary.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by x-fuse »

"It's always fun to torment people...under the guise of being creative." - James Morrison

Offline Bitten

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« Reply #24 on: Wed, Apr 25, 2007, 07:24 PM »
I was reading through this again tonight, and I see that the link to the Mary Sue quiz has changed. Here's the new link:  http://www.onlyfiction.net/marysue.html
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Bitten »

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« Reply #25 on: Thu, Apr 26, 2007, 12:10 AM »
Thank you both for the new links.
« Last Edit: Wed, Dec 31, 1969, 04:00 PM by Rachel »