1. katdemon_ninja
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    katdemon_ninja New Member

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    Damage to repair

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by katdemon_ninja, Apr 7, 2011.

    My freind has taken up writing fairly recently, and she is terrified about her character being a Mary Sue. I know that a lot of people don't like that term, but I can tell that my freind has much cause for concern.
    We ran her through Springhole's Mary Sue test, and she got an eighty. Bella Swan only made a fifty-five. Knowing what I know about her character, I definitely can tell where a lot of those points came from. The character is pyrokinetic(in a world where this isn't too rare) but she's also very proficient with martial arts AND chakrams. I told her that she'll probably want to tone that down, but she doesn't want to change anything that would affect the nature of her character.

    Personally, I don't care. I may not like the story, but writing these sorts of characters is an important baby step in writing. New writers get it out of their systems when they start out, and they learn from experience, I would just tell her to keep going until she tires of the character, but she intends to post it online, and the reviews she gets could not only wound her feelings, but turn her away from writing for good.

    As far as quality goes, her description seems fine to me, but I can't really understand the story because it's a fanfic for a fandom I know nothing about.

    How do I help her tone down the character? How do I get her to listen to my advice? Should I just throw her to the internet wolves, or should I try to fix it?

    I don't think she's ready for the flaw insertion yet, by the way. I think the first step should be to remove her abilities and whatnot.
     
  2. Sidewinder
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    Sidewinder Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Throw her to the internet wolves. If she can't take it now, she's not cut out for it.
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Definitely the wrong way around. First time writers need to be encouraged to do what they love to do and taking the fun out of it is the worst thing you could suggest. Let her tone it down with time - working on character development is more important than whether the character's powers are believable or not.

    My first novel I was super proud of the main character (Melisende or Melzaar to her friends, ha ha) was rather over blown and definitely a Mary Sue, but of a different sort, since I was deliberately parodying and knew a fair bit about what I intended to do in that department. Didn't stop the characterisation being rather hit and miss, the character motivations so rubbish I still don't know how to write it so the characters behave in a logical way that still makes the plot happen, and Melzaar being something of a Mary Sue in her happy go lucky "I'm awesome look at me yay!" thing that totally undermined all the good work Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones did bringing me up right as a writer :p

    Now, if someone had told me to take away her magic axe, to say she couldn't have super awesome destiny powers just because she was my main character, etc, then she wouldn't have been my character. I know rather than just giving them to her because I wanted her to be the best but because I was rolling my eyes at that sort of thing gave me no excuse for some of the handling of it (ie: saying I was doing it for parody but still writing it in a way that if I hadn't been gurning over the reader's shoulder the whole time they might have thought I meant it seriously). The whole story would have fallen to pieces, and I'd have been pretty pissed off.

    Instead, though, I can't remember if I was told this or just worked it out for myself, as I re-drafted and re-drafted I added in more and more back story, made my writing more aware of the parody and the ridiculousness of her situation - and Melzaar more aware of it too - so even though it was still teenage self-referential "I want to be Terry Pratchett" rubbish, I developed tons as a writer and carried on writing, and made the character one that was really strong, even if the plot eventually let her down.
     
  4. Earphone
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    Earphone Active Member

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    Personally, I didn't find the Mary Sue test helpful. You can start with a seemingly obligatory character, and turn it into something great and unexpected. It just needs some thought and personality. I wouldn't change anything about it, unless it actually is unoriginal, but we'd need to see the character to know. Make it your own, then it'll truly be original, regardless of what internet-wolves try to tell you.

    I reiterate, don't change just because of the Mary Sue. There's no perfect character.
     
  5. Mr. Blue Dot
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    Mr. Blue Dot Member

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    Does she understand the concept of constructive criticism? If the community she's posting her work at acts mature about reviews it might not even be a problem. Writing is hard, she'll figure that out sooner or later with or without help :p But if the criticism she receives is good quality and not just 'you suck' it would soften the blow.

    I don't know, I would maybe try convincing her to get other people to read her stories that you guys know before posting it online maybe.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My most used character scores in the 90s on Mary Sue tests lol I am not about to change them and not sure characters can be toned down - mine create themselves.

    He is an incredibly handsome man, immortal, most powerful man in the universe, is brought up by an abusive mother and a stepfather than neglects him - his grandfather is also abusive. He is noble, good, kind. He doesn't start out a pauper he is a Crown Prince but he abdicates and becomes a schoolmaster - then goes from schoolmaster to Father-Abbot which in my stories is greater than a king - he inherits the position from his birth father.

    Not one person who has ever read him has described him as a Mary Sue in any of its guises. Several do find him sexy lol I know people he has made laugh, made cry, made go oh my goodness.

    As well as his Mary Sue qualities he has others that balances it out (scared of snot, tendancy to be clingy, black moods, oh is gay goes from being welded to one lover to sleeping around in one books lol)

    Your friend is welcome to read my character that the internet tests reckon is almost 100% a Mary Sue :) EDIT I just did that Mary Sue test Socrates scored 133 lol Think looking at it my first one Angus would scord more.

    There is nothing wrong with writing a Mary Sue well using either definition of the word. They can make for good characters - there are things I have done with Socrates that a none Mary Sue would not have managed.
     
  7. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Funny tests. I just did one for my current work, made a mistake and made the test for two characters simultaneously and got into the high 30s. Subtracted one character and they are both in the 10s to low 20s now. It's quite suprising, though, how many "clich├ęs" I have been using in some of my other stories, though.

    The "Kirk" test I find a bit silly. So the main male character of a story can never have sex? :eek: Not even with his wife!? :rolleyes:

    EDIT: As a test, I did myself. I excluded the questions which are automatically true (now, obviously I have my own hair colour), and, focussing only on abilities and perception by others, managed to rank up a personal score of 50. So there. I will from now on treat all characters below this mark as non-Mary-Sues. :p
     
  8. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I did the test using all my characters at their worst, and got a 72.
    None of my characters have all the listed items that I counted.

    For worst case scenerio I think thats a good number.
    worst case=
    Tannan has a mental ability, Aritae is a magical being and most men are unusually attracted to her, Dakara was orphaned by an uncle and became a petty thief, Delphi has a strong abusive nature...etc.
    Apart the characters are alot lower, but together they scored a 72.
    None are super humanoids, Aritae is attractive but she has to keep a secret that would change hers and her fammilies life if told, with the mental ability comes great discomfort and change, living in the street is tough and she has trust issues.
    I think to make an interesting character, they have to stand out, but they also must have human flaws too. They introduced Kryptonite to superman because he was to powerful, and nothing could harm him. IMO that isn't enough, superman can walk into a battle facing the worlds armies and flick each soldier on the forehead without any problem.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ok i am now off to try out Angus before i stop procrastinating and get writing lol He scored 86 lol

    Having read the questions properly no wonder lol How do they expect you to write a good fantasy novel without magic, other species, or an antagonist. Honestly I think the higher you score on the springhole's test with an original character the better.

    A lower score would mean for a fantasy character was a bit naff - what on earth is wrong with writing a handsome character with a nice body and great skills :)

    A book full of imagination, sexy characters, fun and magic does not mean your character is a Mary Sue.
     
  10. ProwerGirl
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    ProwerGirl Member

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    I would throw her to the wolves. Sure, they're harsh, but they are pretty efficient.

    On Mary Sue tests, the Universal one isn't that bad. My characters usually score anything from -4 to 21. I wonder if that means they're too boring...
     

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