Tags:
  1. R-e-n-n-a-t
    Offline

    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    2

    But this is different! Right?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by R-e-n-n-a-t, May 23, 2011.

    Two things bother me whilst reading, or when I'm on this forum. One, is when the antag is merely a hollow hateable shell that just kind of wants destruction because he's evil. Why? Because he's evil.

    The other is when a protagonist is somehow calm, confident, strong, intelligent,modest, ans good looking, then the author says "But it's not a Mary Sue! Really! I promise!"

    It's a Mary Sue.
     
  2. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    Okay well perhaps what you're speaking of is that in your opinion the author didn't have a good reason for the antagonist to be evil? So you want a reason for the antagonist to be evil. Got it.

    Protagonists can be calm, confident, strong, intelligent, modest, and good looking and still have flaws. Are you saying there are no people in the world like this? You've never met a human being like this? They can be confident in some things and completely insecure in others, calm on the outside and fighting anxiety about things in their heads. (I'm talking about real people of course). Now if the author didn't put that forth, okay. But if they didn't, did that character serve the story? Who cares if it's a "Mary Sue"? As long as there was a point. The term is beginning to grate on my nerves lately.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Jessica_312
    Offline

    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    337
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Florida
    /\ I agree
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I don't like the term (or concept) Mary Sue either. It doesn't seem to have much relevance. Many famous characters are Mary Sues or Gary Stus, or close to it. James Bond is probably a Gary Stu, as is Superman. And Jesus. So what?

    A too-perfect character is not something to be automatically avoided. Having a Mary Sue as an MC does not automatically make your story crap. If you write well enough, the character can work.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Jessica_312
    Offline

    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    337
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Florida
    Yep... I think really the only time a "Mary Sue" is negative is when the character is too "Stepford" (has no personality, acts like a robot, etc) - and even the "stepford" characters have their place. As long as the story is well written and the character fits the story, I don't see a problem either.
     
  6. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    It's not for me - I'm pretty much the opposite of all of those character traits. :p My Mary Sue characters are awesome. If I wrote a character like that, it'd be a foray into a strange, unknown land of character development. :p
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Sorry, I've only got enough of a mad on to cover "infodump". :D
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
    Offline

    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    3
    Just to add to what's already been said,

    The primary problem isn't with the Mary Sue / Gary Stu characters themselves -- it's when the other characters exist only to show how awesome the Sue is, or to worship them, or to get their commupance for failing to worship them.

    Simply having a character that doesn't come close enough to "anti-hero" for the reader's tastes doesn't automatically make them a Sue/Stu.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    LOL, Gary Stu? I didn't know she got married! :rolleyes:
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37
    Okay, I actually agree with the guy that made this thread, however I'm going to state the case a little bit differently.

    Villains should always have motivations besides just for evil. Now, gaining power can be okay if it's well shown. But even then, the villain should never something along the lines of, "All that matters is money and power." Or if they do, it should be part of a complex ideal. The point is, villains shouldn't be simpeltons. Unless said villain is tricked or what have you. The point is that villains need just as much depth as the main character.

    As for Mary Sue, this is a term people can misuse. It's okay for a character to be incredibly powerful IF they have opposition just as strong. The problem I have with Superman is that I find he doesn't have very many personal flaws, however that actually helps with regulating his powers. Otherwise, he could've long ago just killed all of his opposition. Ironically, his strong morals prevent him from forever removing a threat to him.

    To illustrate this further, superheroes would be the most overpowered characters ever, if it wasn't for that there opposition is just as powerful if not far more. It's okay to have a god as a character as long as they're fighting other gods, or beings just as powerful. The PROBLEM emerges when characters don't have opposition that can reasonably oppose them. If Superman only had to fight normal criminals, we would all call him a Gary Stu, and he would've faded with time.

    Now, that was talking about the character external conflicts, and their power levels. Now, lets go into flaws/perks with personality. Okay, being morally perfect, can actually be a bad thing. Trigun is an excellent example of this, with a hardcore pacifist as the main character, yet it's still quite a deep story. The reason the character works is because is that his morals actually hinder him. Being a ideal pacifist means you can't kill your enemies, which results in massive injury for him, and he would've been killed long ago had it not been for him being superhuman. Also, he still has flaws in his personality. He's incredibly naive, he sacrifices too much, and feels overly guilty over any failure.

    Now, lets talk about villains. Specifically, how one can make a black/white villain deep. Lets take one of the most hated people in history, Hitler. Hitler still had a complex idealogy, if childish at times, that he used to justify his actions. His ideals were horrid, yes, but they still existed. Not only that, in many ways, his black and white attitude is actually quite similar to heroes in many fantasy tales, showing us the danger of black and white morality.

    As for their physical power, there is a lot more leeway. Basically, as long as what they do isn't, "cheap," i.e. they didn't just pull it out of nowhere, they can do whatever they want power wise. That's because the stronger the opposition, the more obstacles that our hero has to overcome. Even one between a kid and a god could work if the way the kid beat the god was well explained.

    Hope this helps guys.
     
    2 people like this.
  11. Kio
    Offline

    Kio Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    270
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Southern Water Tribe
    The term Mary Sue can be over/misused, but the ones that actually fit the definition are boring and flat, at best.

    By the way, Superman's popularity is already fading. Everyone's going for Batman now. It's been happening for about a decade now. People like characters with flaws because everyone has them. To be honest, I wouldn't read a book based on Superman or James Bond. Jesus though... maybe Jesus. Actually, no, not even Jesus.

    I'm not saying a perfect protagonist ruins a story, it just hinders it. Imagine having to read a book where the MC was liked by everyone, envied by the villains, unable to be stopped/injured, possessed almost every single power that a man/woman of their status was unable to achieve, incapable of making mistakes, and basically had a happy-ending handed over to them rather than properly suffer for it. Personally, that's incredibly annoying.

    As for villains only made for the sake of being evil, that irritates me too. First of all, evil is completely relative. What is evil to one could be an act of God to another. For example, to many sane individuals, Hitler was a monster. To many Neo-Nazis, he was a god. A prime example of relativity. Secondly, every villain has a reason to be "evil". I'll shift the focus to another corrupt dictator; Stalin was known for wiping out villages and people from records to make it look like they had never existed. However, Stalin had a history of paranoia and his past was less than glamorous, much like Hitler and Mussolini. There is a reason behind every action. No one is bad for the sake of being bad.
     
  12. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
    Offline

    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    3
    Agreed. (Unless it's intended to be pulpy/campy)


    And here we're back into the-rest-of-the-cast-and-world-existing-just-to-make-the-protag-look-good. Which is as much as (if not moreso) a problem with the world and supporting cast as it is with the protag.

    Agreed.

    I would argue the protagonist really needs to have an internal struggle as well as an external one (again, with the exception of something intended to be pulpy/campy). This internal struggle doesn't need to be based on flaws, but it can be.

    No one wants to read about someone that just gets everything handed to them without having to fight for it.
     
  13. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    When I mentioned Superman, I was not thinking of his power. I was thinking of his personality - he's usually portrayed as a goody-goody Boy Scout type, endlessly full of "Truth, Justice, and the American Way." Superman would never do anything bad, would he? He wouldn't even think of it.

    To me, being a Mary Sue has nothing to do with power level. Not all stories are about fights between heroes and villains. It seems that most people use the term Mary Sue to mean a character who is too perfect, who has no flaws, and who is clearly the author's wish-fulfillment self-projection.
     
  14. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
    Offline

    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    3
    Yup. Which is why I consider it more of an issue with the rest of the world then the character themselves. To me, the sign of a Mary Sue is if the story's universe revolves around them.

    If the world doesn't revolve around you, then no matter how "perfect" you are, things aren't always going to go your way, sometimes people are going to not like you and yet not be evil or horrible, and so on and so forth.

    (I'm not saying it's impossible to have a character that's "too perfect" in their own right. But I've rarely seen that. Usually the bigger problem is that the world morphs itself around them.)
     
  15. mc1ate1mad1cow
    Offline

    mc1ate1mad1cow Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    1
    Yes, this bothers me as well. All the antagonists seem to always be attuned to the most deep, dark evil lurking withing. Of course, they need to be shown as repulsive, etc., but I hate that they appear, behave, talk as though they're invincible throughout the novel and in the end, they whimper before being destroyed.
     
  16. Rex
    Offline

    Rex Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Missouri
    Firstly, I believe that the Mr. Perfect protagonist has it's place. Clive Cussler's Dirk Pit is one of my favorites. He is the trite character that always wins, complete with the cliche Bond toss of hat to hat tree. I enjoy those sort of stories when all I am seeking is pure entertainment.

    The antagonist in my humble opinion is perhaps the most interesting character. To me the ultimate antagonist is the "really really bad guy" who truly believes he is the good guy. Dan Brown came close with his assassin in Angels and Demons. Only stray from this was the "bad guy" knew he was doing horrible things, but it was a sacrifice on his part all for good though. I thought that was pretty good stuff.

    I have a character in one of my stories who truly believes he is above being the bad guy. His belief is that he must do the evil, which no one else has the ability to do. I suppose I am partial to the conflicted antagonist perhaps. At least that way you can justify, coaxing the reader on some level actually empathizing with the bad guy, which I think always makes things interesting.


    I read sometime back that Superman is most definitely flawed, and I agree. He is the only super hero whose alter ego is not himself. What I am saying is, Clark Kent is Superman's alter ego. Whereas Batman is Bruce Wayne's alter ego. Clark Kent is the persona which Superman hides behind to assume a normal life, and what does he choose as an alien to represent a normal person? Someone Weak, timid, and clumsy and naive. To me that speaks volumes as to Superman's perception of those he valiantly protects.
     
  17. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Quentin Tarantino wrote about this in Kill Bill II. He had David Carradine give a big speech about how most superheroes are humans who put on costumes to become super, whereas Superman is an alien who has to put on a costume to become Clark Kent. He is a hero who has to put on a costume to be one of us, and the others are people like us who have to put on costumes to become heroes. It isn't really all that profound, nor unique.
     
  18. StrangerWithNoName
    Offline

    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    the waste lands, somewhere in Europe
    Jesus got angry very easily in certain circumstances, I wouldn't define him a Gary Stu, for the other character you cited, Superman and James Bond, they bore me to death. I'd like to be the villain and kill'em both.

    Perfect people in real life don't exist, therefore they don't have the right to exist in fiction! Death to Mary Sue and all her replicants!
     
  19. StrangerWithNoName
    Offline

    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    the waste lands, somewhere in Europe
    I've read the Mein Kampf and studied the Stalin's phenomenology, and I came to the conclusion that these people didn't consider themselves villains at all, it's quite the opposite, they thought to be the heroes of the 20th century bringing a new era of peace and prosperity. They didn't view their actions as evil at all, on the other side, they very paranoid about their "villains", the jews, the slavs for Hitler, the counterrevolutionary and Troskyists for Stalin, the "inferior races" and the communists for Mussolini.
     
  20. Kio
    Offline

    Kio Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    270
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Southern Water Tribe
    That's what I'm saying. As I mentioned, evil is relative and I used the term loosely to describe Stalin and Hitler. If people have reasons to do a certain deed, they don't consider themselves villains at all. They think that the people who go against them are the villains instead. Hitler believed that the Jews and the Slavs were "subhuman" and taking up space, so he thought it would be a good idea to wipe them up for the sake of Germany. Stalin wanted Russia to advance and so wiped out those he didn't trust (which was almost everyone, actually). Paranoia doesn't equal evil, just misconceptions that are later "justified".
     
  21. Rex
    Offline

    Rex Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Missouri
    Well then I suppose that makes me easily amused, what can I say. Thanks for the info though on where it comes from. I honestly have never seen that movie.
     

Share This Page