1. LibbiShannon
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    LibbiShannon New Member

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    Is my character a Mary Sue?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by LibbiShannon, Feb 25, 2014.

    She is a 16 year old , living in Melbourne, Australia. In the rich suburb of Toorak, which is just a 5 minute drive to the CBD of Melbourne. Her family are a classed as a rich family and live in a massive 8 bedroom house in Toorak, which is classed one of the biggest houses in Toorak. She goes to a elite all-girls school in the CBD of Toorak. She has a older brother and a younger sister, her parents work most days and to late hours. Her mum is French and her dad is English descent, her mum moved to Australia when she was 5 years old but French is used in daily life with her family.

    When she was three years old, she was diagnosed with Leukaemia and had a three year battle with it, when they thought it was over she was diagnosed with a different type of cancer at age 7 and had a two year battle. Well she was in and out of hospital from age 3 to 14, she fell in love with music and it was her way of get away. When she was 14 years old, after years of treatment her doctor’s told her to think about having a child soon as all the treatment she has had could stop her fertilisation at a young age. So at age 16 she has a 6 month old baby boy, the father of the baby who she had been dating him for 2 years, he passed away when she was 7 months pregnant.

    Yes or no? Explain... Also I have thought about her name, and I was thinking I might give her a French name.... Yes or no?
     
  2. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Normally name wise i would say that it's not terribly important as long as its not plot driven. But Mary Sue, does make me think of down south USA. I may be looking stereotypically at it but cant help it lol.
    Story wise sound s like you got what you need. I and prob everyone here cant really say if it will work as we are not as involved or invested as you....yet.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    From your description, there's nothing 'Mary Sue' about this character. In fact, she seems to have had extreme difficulties to overcome.
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    What doctor would advice a 14-year-old to become pregnant as soon as possible? I'm sorry if I focus on wrong things here. I don't think there's anything Mary-Sue'ish about this character, why do you worry about that?
    As for the name, I don't see why not.
     
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  5. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    not all doctors are ethical i suppose, or she could have been told to have kids soon in near future and in a panic gets pregnant asap.
     
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  6. LibbiShannon
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    LibbiShannon New Member

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    I have heard, seen doctors in Melbourne tell someone at 13-18 have a kid due to medical conditions, but I know thats not the same in every country and isnt really normal in Australia, but as the doctors in Australia are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Asia, Europe, they all have different views on when the age is right to get pregnant.
     
  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Really???? :eek: That's terrible!
     
  8. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Does this girl have any flaws?
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I, too, was thrown by the pregnancy advice. Many, many years ago, my wife's cousin, who suffered from Endometriosis, was told by her doctor that she would have difficulty conceiving, and that these difficulties would grow worse as she got older, and, moreover, that pregnancy itself might actually combat the effects of the disease. She was in her early 20s, and already engaged to be married. She turned that into "I have to get pregnant now!" and rushed into a bad marriage that ended 10 years later in divorce, and she never did get pregnant. I'm not saying your idea can't work, but I think you will face a bit of a challenge to get past a "Get real!" reaction by the reader.

    Which leads me to my second point: how well versed are you in the medical issues you plan to describe? I note that you are 16, which suggests that either you have chosen this story line from some personal experience - perhaps a friend or relative - or else you chose it because it seemed so compelling. And it is. But if you want your story to be a success, you will want to be as realistic as possible in the portrayal of medical issues. I'm an accountant, not a doctor, but I did spend nearly 10 years in medical insurance claims administration. The treatment of two different kinds of cancer in one so young suggests that they are probably related, and so the treatments would have to have been extremely aggressive, with multiple serious side effects, both physical and emotional (I'm wondering if maybe @GingerCoffee could shed some light on this). I'd have to wonder if having a baby would even be on such a girl's radar screen, but maybe it would.

    Finally, the definition of "Mary Sue" is "an idealized representation of the author". So, only you know if your character is a Mary Sue. At this point, I wouldn't worry about it. Just write the story, which sounds like it could be compelling.

    Oh, and welcome to the forum.
     
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  10. Wyr
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    Wyr Active Member

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    To me it sounds more like you are more worried about your character being a "Sympathy Sue" rather than a classic Mary Sue. At least that was the impression I got from your explanation. As with most stories, it comes down to the execution rather than the ideas it is based on. As the others have stated, make sure you do your research and know about the subjects you are trying to portray, the emotional side of things as well as the medical. You'll have to make sure the character and her personality are realistic as well.

    The pregnancy was the thing that struck me as really odd. Had some doctor told me to hurry up and get pregnant at that age, no matter the reason, I would have called him a quack and found someone else. I can't help but get the impression that you wanted her to have the stress of having a baby at that age but wanted her to still be a "good girl," so you came up with a medical reason and a doctor who basically gave her permission, rather than having her just be irresponsible with contraception. You also killed off the father, effectively making her a single parent without paring her with some deadbeat kid who wasn't ready for a baby. Your scenario isn't impossible or even, aside from the doctor thing, that unlikely; I would just be aware of how it looks and make sure you execute it properly.

    One more thing struck me as weird, or at least has the possibility to be weird. In spite of her rough childhood and the fact that she is a single mom and still a teenager, she goes to an elite school. Granted, you never said how she got into the school or how well she does there, but I would be wary of making her accomplish things too easy. A lot of young people who are chronically ill or spend most of their time in hospitals struggle to keep up with schoolwork. Single teenage moms often struggle as well. You did say her family is wealthy though, and money tends to make a lot of things easier. They could have bought her way into the school, or hired a full-time nanny for the baby. Again, it's just going to come down to how you write it.

    Good luck with your story. :)
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I agree, readers will balk. It would be better if the doctors merely told her that her ability to get pregnant would soon be nil and the girl goes forward on her own to get pregnant.

    It would also depend on the medical reason for the difficult pregnancy. You mention fertilization. If the issue were something with her ovaries, eggs could be harvested and saved. But that could be thwarted if hormones were out of the question as one needs hormones to make multiple eggs ready to be harvested. So it sounds like you are choosing a reasonable medical route to take.

    The medical scenario is realistic. Treatment for early childhood cancers do increase one's risk for later cancers. Cancer is often treated aggressively in children for obvious reasons. It's the doctor's advice to get pregnant at 16 that is not realistic.

    As for a teen wanting a child, that's all too common. I give vaccines to mothers and infants in a high school childcare program. The social scenario is one of low income not high, but kids sometimes see pregnancy as an emancipating event. That may surprise people but the teens see it as, now they are adults. They don't see it as, now I have responsibilities. They don't recognize that burden until they want to go out one night and Mom (Grandma) won't babysit.


    Additional medical notes:
    If the issue were a deteriorating uterus, I can't imagine any malady that in such a case a pregnancy now would be safe.
    As for endometriosis, that would be addressed with birth control pills currently, as they can suppress menstruation without pregnancy.


    I'm unclear in the scenario what about this character sounds like a MarySue. The opportunities for flaws and failures are abundant.


    And definitely, welcome to the forum.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014
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  12. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee - just to be clear, I introduced endometriosis solely as an analogy for medical advice suggesting pregnancy.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There was nothing wrong with your anecdote whatsoever. :)
     
  14. LibbiShannon
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    LibbiShannon New Member

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    What would you think if I just dropped the hole pregnant/baby thing?
     
  15. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    What about simply changing it? Say, rather than purposefully getting preggers because a doctor advised her to, the baby was an accident. That kind of scenario opens the door for plenty of conflict: How does she react? How do her parents react? I she going to keep it, or consider abortion/adoption? Is there the possibility of a miscarriage due to her treatments? Will her treatments affect her pregnancy in other ways? The options are almost endless.
     
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  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    ...and then, maybe, when she sees a doctor, she finds out that it will indeed get more difficult for her to become pregnant as she gets older, so she chooses to keep it. That is, if it's important for the story that she have this baby.
     
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  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It depends on where you were going with it. It didn't sound like such a minor story element you would just discard it. If it's not key to the story, drop it. If it was key to the story just take the 'doctor advised' element out.
     
  18. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bottom line is - the best stories are unusual ones. By asking for advice here, and changing the story based on feedback, you need to be careful you aren't letting yourself and your story down. By asking for approval of your story elements, you are choosing to 'write by consensus'. Whether this to ensure you don't offend anyone, or to ensure your story is completely consistent with reality, you'll end up with something that isn't necessarily as creative or as interesting as the original.

    I think it'd be much more helpful to try and find a way to make your idea plausible. For example, in most English-speaking countries you will find many doctors from all over the globe, and some of them are from the Middle East, India, Africa, all places that are much more permissive of 14 year old girls having babies. There are scandals occasionally, when some practice that is unethical by western standards comes to light, and usually we find out that it's been going on for ages. This can be because people didn't know to complain, or because the practice was normal in certain ethnic communities. That could be a way for your character to actually be advised by a doctor to have a child in this context. As misguided as it may be, it could work for her, or cause her more problems. In any case, it makes for an interesting story with lots of conflict, exploring difficult topics etc. Good luck with whatever you decide :)
     
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  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    And yet most everyone here thought a doctor telling an unwed teen to get pregnant wasn't credible. There were several suggestions how to keep the pregnancy story element without the doctor advising it. It's not about asking approval for story elements, rather one is getting feedback on how the readers might react to a story element.

    I cannot imagine a doctor, foreign or not, would last long in an Australian practice advising an unwed teen to get pregnant now or never.
     
  20. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Time for my bridge metaphor.

    If you sail up the East River from New York Bay, you pass under two bridges in succession that link Brooklyn and Manhattan. The first is the Brooklyn Bridge, designed by John Augustus Roebling and generally regarded as one of the most aesthetically pleasing bridges in the world. The second is the Manhattan Bridge, an unremarkable structure, notable only for the fact that subway trains run over it next to vehicular traffic. It was designed by committee.

    Writing, like bridges, should not be designed by committee. We can give you advice on what may or may not be credible, but you have to decide on the story yourself. Good luck.
     
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  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The fact that you can get rid of the whole pregnancy thing makes me wonder which of these tragic elements associated with your character are important to the plot. If they're not important to the plot, I would be inclined to get rid of most of them--a character generally can't be made interesting just by bolting on lots of tragedy.
     
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  22. LibbiShannon
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    LibbiShannon New Member

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    So, should I just make a pregnancy but in a result that she is depressed or lost/ trauma from her childhood and she has sex with her boyfriend to see what its like...
    Sorry Im just trying to get some ideas.
     
  23. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @LibbiShannon: The whole point is that this is your story. You shouldn't be asking us what you should put in or leave out. It's possible that your idea is too mature for you, so even though it shows great creativity and a feeling for conflict and drama, you may not be mature enough to tease out all the issues and make it into something compelling. But asking us to determine your comfort zone within your own story is futile exercise. None of us know where you got your ideas from, whether there's an element of personal experience, or knowing someone who had some of these struggles, or was it just piling up interesting tragedies in order to make your protagonist more interesting, while the story is about something much more mundane. Is this premise meaningful to you at all? In any case, there's never anything wrong with the premise itself, the problems only ever arise from the lack of writing skill. It's worth remembering though, that we do best to write what we know, ie. things we can personally relate to in some way. Even if we can imagine how something feels, it's already writing what you know.

    From reading your original idea, the whole pregnancy and baby to a teen mother struggling with serious illness, seems pretty central not just to the story, but to the character itself. Like others mentioned, if you can so easily throw away the central struggle, what do you have left of the original idea? This is why 'writing by committee' is the worst thing any writer can do. You had an interesting idea. You should've ran with it, seen where it takes you. Instead, you haven't written anything yet and you are asking us for permission on what to write about. In my opinion, it's a futile exercise. You should write, not think about writing. Writing is a lonely business. You're really on your own, until you have something written down for others to review and critique. Everything else is just procrastination.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
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  24. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I've tried "writing by committee" before. It doesn't work. About a year ago, I had a character in one of my short stories, Casey, who had been kidnapped and held in captivity for several years, raped on a daily basis, and suffered numerous other tortures. Eventually, she was supposed to gather up the courage to murder her rapist and escape, breeding a new storyline about how she deals with her PTSD along with many other issues. I pitched the idea around and two people who, admittedly never read anything other than Cosmopolitan, referred to the character as "cliche'" and "Mary Sue." The story was never written. Had I just gone ahead and wrote what was in my heart it may well have turned out to be a bestseller. At this point, we'll never know. I've long forgotten ninety percent of the ideas surrounding the plot line, so it will most likely never be written.
     
  25. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @Alesia - In 1961, James Michener was working with his editor at Random House on what was to be his newest novel when the editor advised him to exclude a particular subplot, maintaining that it didn't really belong and might even be something of a distraction. Michener decided to halt the entire project. He would later describe the writing process as a "gossamer thread", pointing out that only with experience do writers develop necessary resilience. For the next 25 years, people who knew Michener and had known of his project urged him to go back and finish it, and finally, when he decided to take a look at it, he couldn't find his materials. Finally, a secretary did find them, and the resulting novel, Mexico, was published 30 years after Michener had declared it dead. It is one of my three favorites of all his novels.

    He also published a small book, My Lost Mexico, in which he described all of this, as well as his processes in researching and organizing the work as well as the publishing process. It is a fascinating read for any aspiring writer.

    Moral: Just because you gave up on an idea once doesn't mean it's dead. Don't be surprised if one day you start poking at the ashes and it springs back to life.
     
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