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  1. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Villian as a Mary Sue

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Pythonforger, Jan 8, 2011.

    I know you all detest perfect characters fighting for the name of all that is good and holy, blah blah blah. But what about an evil mutant with tentacles for arms(or something) who's virtually unstoppable and although is defeated in a battle, wins the war in the end.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My villain and my hero are both Mary Sue's lol both immortal, they are sort of stoppable, both at the top of their game with magic and fighting skills. One is a handsome intelligent male, one is a beautiful intelligent woman. He is good because he was born that way, she is bad because she was born that way.

    I think it works because they are both like that.
     
  3. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Then wouldn't that result in them hammering at each other repeatedly? After all, the hero and the villian would just blast aside all other obstacles and fight to the death after around 50 pages.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    They have been hammering at each other repeatedly for over a century. However only recently has my hero discovered who the real villain is. But yes they will continue after this story with the villain trying to destroy the universe and him saving it. :)

    They are not the blasting kind, he only uses violence when he has to. She is fixated on destroying the universe and not the hero.
     
  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't understand. Is your evil character fighting for 'all that is good and holy'?
    or does your evil character win an unjust war?
     
  6. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Which aspects of being a Mary Sue are you talking about? It's a more nuanced term than some people think.
     
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  7. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, perhaps the most annoying aspect of a Mary Sue is that she is a stand-in for the writer - a vehicle for wish fulfillment. If you don't dream of being a powerful villain, I don't think it will turn into a Mary Sue.

    Generally, it's not a problem if the antagonist is very powerful, since the protagonist (main character) needs great obstacles to overcome. It's much, much worse if the protagonist is too powerful.

    The question is, is your villain the protagonist or the antagonist in your story? Whose point of view is the story written from? Whose successes and failures keep the reader in suspense? If it's the villain's, then the villain is really the protagonist, and can't be allowed to be too powerful.
     
  8. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Let me clarify-The point of the book is about how my protag manages to overcome impossible odds and defeat a superpowerful antag. So I was just worried if people might start going all "MARY SUE!!!!!" on me.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Hi,

    Actually, MarySue-ism is a bit of a complex disease. It's more complicated than simply a character that's too perfect. Let me explain.

    An author creates a Mary Sue when he/she tries too hard to shove the character down the author's throats. The writer can achieve this by making the MC too perfect, but there's other ways as well.

    For example, there are the klutzy Mary Sues, the tragic loner Mary Sues, etc. Sometimes the Mary Sue is idiotic, incapable and annoying in every situation he/she encounters, but no one cares because they all love Mary. Other times, the other characters all detest and pick on poor Mary, more so than any other character and without reason, because readers are supposed to think "oh, poor Mary" and automatically love her.

    Other times, a "Mary Sue" is simply "too cool." You know: kickass retro apartment, purple eyes, an ancient gemstone sword even though no one uses swords and it's not a practical way to fight; etc.

    In conclusion: Mary Sues are often too perfect, but not always. Similarly, it's possible to have a character who seems too perfect who is not technically a Mary Sue.

    Now to answer your question.....because there are lots of Mary Sue types, it depends on the one you'd use and for what purpose. It seems like it would work best in satire.

    To me, it seems like you're describing having a villian that's extremely powerful and nearly impossible (if not flat-out impossible) to defeat. This alone doesn't make a Mary Sue. Most villians are like what you describe; after all, if the antag could be taken down easily, he/she wouldn't be much of a threat to your protag.
     
  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Didn't see this post till after I posted, sorry.

    I think you'll be okay as long as you don't write it in a Mary Sue manner. If your protag goes through a horrific battle, give him/her some scars/burns/bruises/broken bones/disfigurations to show for it. Make your MC's strategy something logical.

    It will scream Mary Sue if your MC gets the chance to save the day through a mere stroke of luck, then walks away honored and unscathed.

    Hope I helped. :)
     
  11. Anonym
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    Being a cliche is not necessarily the same thing as being a Mary Sue. In that sense, I wouldn't designate your antag as a Mary Sue per se.
     
  12. Irontrousers
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    I think the most crucial aspect of a Mary Sue is the fact that she is the protagonist. Since she is so infuriatingly perfect, it's impossible to put her into challenging situations, and so no real tension can ever be established.
    However, applying that same "too-perfect" quality to a villain strikes me as a pretty smart approach. If your protagonist seems incapable of overcoming the obstacles the villain poses and then overcomes the hell out of them anyway, then you've got something engaging. Now that I think of it, this is probably the most textbook way you can make a villain.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That is not what a Mary Sue is. A Mary Sue is a surrogate for the author, so he or she becomes part of the story - an indulgence in wish-fulfilment.

    An example is Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was a character created by Eugene Wesley Roddenberry to indulge a personal fantasy of growing up in his future universe.

    A Mary Sue need not be a central character, but he or she will often end up in the thick of things for no good reason.
     
  14. Irontrousers
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    Okay, truth time. My definition of "Mary Sue" comes entirely from the ED page (http://http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Mary_sue, quite possibly NSFW) which deals pretty much entirely with the concept as it concerns fan fiction. The problem, as I understand this article to present it, is that it allows authors to be lazy, which is inexcusable. Wish fulfillment is obviously also an issue, but unlike laziness, it's really not necessarily a problem.http://http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Mary_sue
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Mary Sue label has been thrown about so much that few people understand what it really means. In my opinion, that's a good reason to avoid using it - it is so poorly understood to be useless.

    It has become a lazy label, a way of dismissing a piece of writing without any actual thought requred.

    Near-perfect characters are not the problem. One of the most popular characters in modern culture is a supremely intelligent, invulnerable character with super-strength, x-ray and heat vision, super-speed, and the ability to fly. Even so, for sixty of seventy years, the writers have managed to set him up with obstacles and dilemmas that present challenges even he is hard-pressed to overcome. In fact, much of the fascination with him is that despite all his abilities, his life is no easier than that of any of his readers.

    Forget Mary Sue. Focus on the role of obstacles and goals play in plot.
     
  16. Irontrousers
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    Yeah yeah, you're talking about Superman. And, not to start a nerdfight, but Superman sucks hardcore.
    Now hear me out. You say that the best stories about Supes are the ones that deal with his weaknesses, and that's true, and if Superman stories were only ever written by a single author, I might concede that your point is valid. But from what I've read, those few stories were penned by a handful of particularly inventive and daring writers who weren't afraid to break the guy down, disregard or subvert his established "rules" (comic book universes are pretty rules-oriented, amirite?) and make something interesting from what is otherwise a dull, frankly imbecilic character. And those stories are great.
    But those are the exceptions. For the most part, Superman is a perfect example of a Mary Sue (or Gary Stu, if you wanna go there) because, yeah, hey, he's goddamn invincible. When the majority of his stories involve foiling bank robberies and throwing cars at mofos, there's not a whole lot of drama to be built. Now Batman on the other hand...
    Okay but yeah, the point is, Mary Sues are essentially crutches for lazy writers. If OP doesn't feel they are being lazy by applying the typical Mary Sue traits to an antagonist, then they should feel perfectly comfortable with proceeding.
     
  17. Irontrousers
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    Though actually, I retract what I said about Superman being a "perfect example of a Mary Sue", due to the issue of author insertion. As hardcore as he may suck, he's rarely been a vessel for some pathetic would-be writer to live out his or her daydreams, and that's a key distinction.
    Still sucks big time though.
     
  18. Islander
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    So that's why he was such an extremely annoying character. You can rest your case :)
     

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