1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Mary Sue Test

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by peachalulu, Jul 18, 2015.

    I thought this was quite hilarious - http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm - check it out if you want.
    I had no idea there were so many traits to a Mary Sue but maybe they're exposing all the cliché stuff that comes with a Mary Sue.
     
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  2. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since I discovered this test in the context of fanfiction, nothing on the list really surprised me. :p
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I gave up, it was way too long. But by a quarter of the way down I think it was obvious my main character was not a MarySue. :D
     
  4. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Yeah I scored a ten with most of my characters. So they aren't :D
     
  5. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Alexandria's Genesis...
    I am sooo spreading that now.
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    *looks at the whole site*

    Wow, a treasure trove of information. Why did I not see this before? *bookmarks it*
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Some of my characters scored a bit. Mainly because of my hotties but I mean hellya I'm gonna harp about their looks - :) ( on the bright side I harp about their other traits too. )

    but I nearly spit my Coke out about the piercing stare bit as I have seen that so over done in romance fiction. Every hunk has his piercing stare.
    I did discover that I made a lot of these mistakes with my early fiction - I wonder if all writer's go through this the Mary Sue rite of passage.
     
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  8. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Funnily enough every character that has a piercing stare in my stories are usually murderers and are only thinking about the kill.

    And yeah most do. I did, stephen king sure as helk did: Aka the Langlioers. And many other writers go through this stage of making these super awesome bigger than life people. I mean most super heroes are mary sues.
     
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  9. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Seeing as SpringHole is the site that turned one of my mediocre Hero Protagonists into a terrifying Villain Protagonist, I'm going to have to say that you made a good choice ;)
     
  10. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Yeah another great website is TVTropes. Which will ruin your life. (Fair warning)

    I remember if I ever need help I just go on there and start researching on great ways to implement characters into a story.
     
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  11. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Until you look at the clock and it is 4:00 am and you have 200 tabs open.
     
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  12. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Don't remind me. I have binged that place for hours upon hours on end. I started with The Dragon Archetype and ended at Horny Devils!

    ugh that still boggles my mind.
     
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  13. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Well he exiled her from heaven for aiding humans... so... yes?

    This is a very interesting test I gotta say, I've never thought of some of these things
     
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  14. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Most forums have a ban on linking to TVTropes.com. I'm kind of surprised this one doesn't.
     
  15. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Out of curiosity, why would they? (Major tvtropes fan)
     
  16. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Man clicking the "planning on giving child this name" button adds 10 points. I just think it's a nice name to keep in mind >.> geez I'm not even planning having kids soon.
     
  17. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I think I'm okay
    [​IMG]
    Without the de-suifiers I'm at a 12. Looks pretty good for old Jack.
     
  18. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    The result of grading an extremely powerful telepath/villain. :( Sorry, Leonne.[​IMG]
     
  19. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    I've seen so many of those tests, and I think it's a little misleading. All this test really shows is if you balanced cliche traits with original ideas. It suggests that the best way to avoid poor character development is by avoiding the cliches and embracing originality. That's not entirely true. Twilight arguably had really original vampires. Were they interesting? Sure. Were the characters interesting? Not at all.

    In my opinion, this test confuses traits with character development, which is the exact same mistake that people who create boring characters make to begin with. When I read writers who create characters I just don't care about, I notice there is a pattern in how they create them: they develop their characters by "collecting" traits. The traits are not narratively necessary to be there, but the author puts them in anyway, hoping to garner interest in their character. Unfortunately, no one is going to say ohh and awe over your character's purple eyes, talent in music and bad kid persona.

    This test is helpful in seeing if maybe you went overboard with the number of traits. But even if you "passed" this test, doesn't necessarily mean your character is good to go. And if you "failed" this test, doesn't necessarily mean your character is hopelessly boring. Also, their role in the story can determine whether these traits are going to be problematic. I can draw up a character profile with all these "bad" traits, but if you see that character for literally only five pages, because they're not real important, who cares? You're never going to see where these traits to a point of being annoying anyway.

    Above traits, characters need a goal, a motive, and a conflict. Name any of your favorite characters from books and movies, and you'll be able to find all three of those in there. They don't have to be elaborate or expanded upon either. A bully might have the simple motive that he found it's much more fun to be a jerk and control people. That's a really simple motive, but it's a motive none the less that you can believe. We all like to feel like we're in charge, we just don't always want to resort down to bullying. Goals can also shift and change as the story progresses and conflicts don't have to be all that huge either. Conflict simply have to fit the story and the theme. If I'm writing a story about the will to overcome, I might use the sport's genre to tell it. And the conflict is that the team has to win this championship somewhere. That's not important as say, saving the world, but it works for the story.

    Protagonists and other lead characters need to have an arc. They need to change. This is huge. They have a starting point, they have a few bumps along the road, they suffer set backs and defeat, they might start to question things, and then they learn and grow like real people. A good question to ask yourself is how your character changed from beginning to the end. If you can't figure it out, maybe you need to look at your character's story again. That's a sign that you created a certain "perfect" persona of your character, and refused to let them go. And to me, that's the real defining mark as to whether or not your character is a Mary Sue or not.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2015
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Very entertaining and thought-provoking—albeit slanted towards fantasy characters rather than real ones. And no, I'm not revealing my score! :whistle:

    The test caused me to spend time this morning thinking about the whole idea of character creation, and what makes a compelling character and story. Obviously tastes vary, but I'd hate to think that awareness of Mary Sue characters would result in writers deliberately creating the opposite type of character all the time, or artificially sticking-on traits that make them less of a Mary Sue.

    Let's see ...you'd end up with a person whom nobody thinks is attractive, who has no particular talents, no past traumas to overcome, no friends, no satisfying sex life, no ambition, no focus, no enemies, no friends.... Ummm.... well, maybe some people would like to read about this kind of character, but I know I'd struggle. While I like my stories to be believable, I don't want them to read like a reality TV show about no-hopers either. Unremittingly gritty stories, scenarios and people can become just as much of a cliche as 'perfect' ones are. Life is a combination of all sorts of factors. As @Kallisto pointed out, it's character development, not a list of character traits, that makes a story work.

    There are many real people out there whom other people feel attracted to and who have bags of personal charisma. Some have had lucky lives thus far, and their story can be about how their luck suddenly runs out. Some have suffered traumas that make us like them even more when we learn how their traumas still affect them. Their story can be about how they work through the trauma and come out the other end in better (or worse) shape. We have all known people like this. So creating a character with a compellingly sad or incredibly lucky past isn't necessarily unrealistic, and does not automatically make a Mary Sue. The reason some of these kinds of characters can become cliches is because they ARE popular with readers.

    I think the point of this test is a good one. I think it's aimed at making writers aware of how 'easy' they sometimes make impossible things happen for their characters. I loved the one about the character always having the right kind of tool for every task, hiding away in a pocket or handbag. (I'm that person myself, although it takes forward planning!) However, creating a character whom many people find attractive, whom another person finds perfect and loves unreservedly ...that's not a Mary Sue. There will be perils in that scenario, of course—usually having to do with how easily the person breezes through the story's plot complications—but to deliberately create the opposite sort of character is also fraught with peril as well.

    I think somebody said once that the opposite of love isn't hate, but indifference. If you deliberately create indifference with your characters, then I think you risk creating it in your readers too. Unless, of course, your readers are grit fanatics, who love going away from any story secure in the notion that hey, nobody is special, love is never real and nothing ever goes right for anybody ever.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
  21. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I mean even though a couple of my characters scored high on the test they just have features like that that make them the character they are. One of my characters I listed above is an extremely powerful and dangerous telepath and it gave her a 76 without de-suifiers.

    The idea of some characters being a "mary sue" shouldn't discourage you. If you writing a dynamic character that changes over the course of a story then it makes not much a difference how they are starting off.
     
  22. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    I think the point is to show the cliched characters and them basically being unknowing gods.

    Most of my characters got a score of 12.

    But I have always been aware of making mary sue characters.

    And I actively avoid them.
     
  23. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    *running his fantasy MC through the machine*

    - You've got a trinket that means something to you.

    - You're an orphan on the streets cared by people who are either rich or of another race.

    - Has a job that is frowned upon.

    - Saves the day. A lot.

    *checks score*

    Hmm... Got an 8. Eh, not bad actually.
     
  24. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is hard to take the test for a character who cannot be remembered by anyone, since so many of the questions are about the character's interactions with other characters.
     
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  25. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Amnesia is often a common thing to be used in video games for major characters, its a pretty old trope, but when done it is pretty ingenious such as in the Machnist with Christian Bale, which is still one of the best movies he has ever done.
     

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