1. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    What makes a "Sue" a "Sue"

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ungood, Aug 25, 2008.

    I suppose the title says it all. But in the end, we have list that say "this is the trait of a sue" but then we can find limitless examples of MC's and Secondaries that have those traits and they are not "Sue"s in their world.

    So this brings me to ask the question.

    What makes a Mary Sue/Gary Stu... a Sue/Stu?

    Discuss ;)
     
  2. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I don't know...just wanted to be part of the thread...LOL
     
  3. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Well it is something that has gotten to me a bit.

    I have come to realize that it is more then simply skills, or traits of the MC that makes them a "Sue" and that the author is as much to blame for HOW they write the MS just as much as what they give or bestow upon the MC as far as talents and abilities go.

    I realized that someone like "Superman" would be the Apex of a "Gary Stu" yet he is not looked upon as one. He is a hero, and something about how he is written and how he comes off makes him not some 'unrealistic Can-do-no-wrong little miss perfect'

    Which leads me to wonder if the Stu/Sue problem does not stop at Character creation but seeps its way into the very fabric of how the author themselves teats the MC.

    I am wondering what other people think about this idea.
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Personally I think Gary/Mary Sue's come from not putting enough time into developing your character.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Or perhaps the whole Mary Sue/Gary Stu is just another way of labelling a character "cliche."

    If there is a problem, it may be a general weakness in portraying the character, rather than a problem with the character's design.
     
  6. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I thought of this and it does not seem to fit. You can have a MC that is VERY cliche and not a Sue/Stu at all.

    Then again at the same time you can have a MC that does not seem to be cliche at all, and yet be very Sue/Stu.

    Which leads me to believe it is something other then just the traits of the Character.

    There is some "Other" factor involved.

    This might be something to consider.
     
  7. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    A Sue is a character that exhibits many or all of these factors

    -So powerful as to make other characters insignificant
    -Incredibly good-looking, smart, etc...
    -No noticible flaws
    -Everything good happening to this character (example, getting the hot girl/boy)

    That's how I see it.
     
  8. katzklaw
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    katzklaw Senior Member

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    long and the short of it? a Sue/Stu tends to be a poorly written character, usually leaning toward utter perfection in some way. They sail thru life effortlessly making friends and/or defeating enemies and never really worry about any obstacles in their way... they can miraculously surmount them. if the Sue/Stu in question is written into a fanfic, there is also usually the aspect of the Sue/Stu 'taking over' the world they are written into, easily making friends with and/or sharing special abilities (if any) with the MC of the world the fanfic is written from, and making all the canon characters act completely out of character.

    The lack of true character development leads to an unrealistic, and ultimately uninteresting, story.

    I have more thoughts on this... but I can't think of anything else at this moment. Most of my experience with dealing with Sue-ish characters is in the fanfic world.
     
  9. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I would say that is a fair assessment, except the first statement can cover a story that has just one main character and no supporting characters...
    :cool:
     
  10. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Didn't knew what you were talking about... So, a Sue/Stu character is bland, uninteresting character? Then, why Disco Stu is a Stu? (you know, the one from The Simpsons...)
     
  11. katzklaw
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    katzklaw Senior Member

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    Mary Sue/Gary Stu aren't 'bland' per say... they try very very VERY hard to be REALLY colorful and interesting. they end up being too perfect, and turning off their audience. Disco Stu is not a "Stu" character. *chuckle*
     
  12. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Yes, but there are characters, IE: Superman, who exhibits these traits, and yet he is not a Sue/Stu.

    At first I like everyone thought it was the "Character" that made the Sue/Stu what they were. Their traits or abilities.

    But I have come to realize that there is something more.

    Something beyond just the character in the book.

    I suppose -Everything good happening to this character (example, getting the hot girl/boy)

    This seems to really light up what I am looking for.

    This is not a Character Trait, so much as it is a situation device. (Hence why I did not put this into Character Development)

    Ore-Sama saidthe overuse of "deus ex machina was also a trait.

    Which gives me something to think about.

    Humm what do you all think?
     
  13. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    any particular stories you're thinking about in question?
     
  14. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    :p :p

    True that.

    Umm... No. Nothing "Specific" just a vague idea like a flood of all the different kinds of Stu/Sue's I have seen, and compared them to the other really well done MC's I have seen

    And now I am just trying to ponder the age old question "Where is the line drawn"
     
  15. katzklaw
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    katzklaw Senior Member

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    another thing to consider... Sues come in varying degrees... some still count as Sues, but are *just* believable enough, or the story itself is just entertaining enough, that it works. Example, the Star Trek novel, "Uhura's Song"

    I first read it many years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. i found out about sue-characters only about two years ago, and now with that knowledge, i can see that the main OC of this story is a total Sue, but it's still an enjoyable story. Dr. Evan Wilson was a very short spunky woman who was underestimated due to her child-like stature, was an expert at using the sabre and the quarterstaff, had a quick enough wit to confound Spock AND Kirk, excelled at hand-to-hand combat, knew how to climb a tree the hard way (no handholds... wrap your arms around and shimmy up), was an excellent pilot, and rivaled Spock in programming skills. At the end of the story, she turned out to not even be who she seemed she was, but was similar to "Catch Me If You Can"... only pretending to be a doctor (but she did that so well, she even had Starfleet fooled) and she ended the story dressed like a pirate, flying away into space. she basically stole the show... but despite that, the story itself was so well written, I considered it to be a good book.
     
  16. Ore-Sama
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    Ore-Sama Senior Member

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    Actually Superman is indeed considered a mary sue in some circles, especially in comparison with other comic book heroes. Of course there will always be debate over who is a sue or who isn't, however it's not like Superman not being a mary sue is anywhere close to universaly acepted.
     
  17. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    What about the endless stream of other "Heros"?

    All of them are no better or worse then Superman in their own way. Are all of them "equally on the fence"

    As it stands I would say if people adopt that mentality then there is no line drawn for Original Fiction as such a Mary Sue cannot in effect exist in such an environment.

    There is a distinct line drawn for Fan Fiction.

    I suppose that answers one question.
     
  18. Palimpsest
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    Palimpsest Senior Member

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    Main characters are supposed to be special and different somehow-- otherwise, why follow their story instead of someone else's?

    I think the "Earth's Children" series is the best illustration of this. In "the Clan of the Cave Bear" Ayla is a Cro Magnon among Neanderthals. She can think abstractly, swim, has a powerhouse totem... but was not a Mary Sue yet. She had to learn things like how to speak with her hands instead of using words like she's used to. She had difficulty studying herbs, because Neanderthal medicine-women have this genetic memory that Ayla does not. She was constantly being beaten down in the rigid caste system. It baited my sympathy as a reader, and the intensity of the conflicts made it an engrossing read.

    Then comes in "The Valley of Horses" and every book afterwards. Free of the Clan, Ayla goes on to invent the needle, domestication of animals, genetics, trauma counseling, and probably invents the nuclear reactor after "Shelters of Stone". Sure, she whines a little about being so "ugly", about having two guys wooing her, and her past being far too interesting for some random two-dimensional evil guy who doesn't actually get to do much about his hate because of all of Ayla's sycophants... or, what's this about tricking her into dressing in underwear or boy's clothes or something? Oh, no, wrathful revenge!! But with what poise she handles it, says everyone else... yeah, Ayla's getting pretty darn annoying.

    Another example: Cedric Fauntleroy. The narration tells us that he's good and perfect. The story shows us that he's good and perfect. Other characters say out loud that he's good and perfect. And they are, all three of them, about the same instance. There is some slight conflict between his grandfather and his mother, but precious little Ceddie is protected from it so he never grows as a character, AND he's nobility. His friends who are for democracy forgive him immediately. There is no real conflict, and I'm choking on the kid's saccharine perfection being crammed down my throat.

    At least Sara Crewe is eccentric, too proud to make friends, misspeaks sometimes and actually has something bad happen to her. That said, I can see how others can consider her a canon Sue. The narrator extols her virtues with the sense of proportion of a proud parent, and a common reaction of those who are not the parent go something like... how did Dahl put it? Yes: 'Bring us a basin, we're gonna be sick.'

    Mary Lennox has character development and isn't coddled by the narrator-- she's my favorite.
     
  19. Ore-Sama
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    Ore-Sama Senior Member

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    Incorrect. Superman recieves far more flack then most of other comic book heroes. I can't think of anyone other then Silve Surfer who rivals Superman in the ever expanding number of nay sayers towards their character. Most other comic book heroes are better written in mine and most other's view.

    As for your comment about mary sues existing in original fiction, I'm not sre where you get the idea people don't draw the line for characters in original fiction. Everyone draws different lines for what a mary sue is. While traits are generally agreed upon, there are other factors. For instance some may consider a character a mary sue if they have one highly cliched trait. Others consider a character a mary sue if they are perfect beings with overly tragic pasts. Mary sues are only talked about more in terms of Fanfiction because that's where a writer is more likely to create a mary sue.

    Making a mary sue among your own original cast of characters, while it does happen often, is often less likely to happen then in Fanfiction because Fanfiction with OC's often of times makes the story revolve around the OC. While that in of itself isn't an issue, some FF writers seem to have the idea that if their character is the main character, they need to blow all the other characters out of the water. It can almost be compared to the Olympics and wanting to be part of the winning country, while others just want to see some good games.
     
  20. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Without reading all the other replies, I don't think there's any one trait or some such that one can point out and say, "That's a Mary Sue!" For this very reason I never bother taking those stupid Mary Sue tests online because according to them just about ANY character strength means the writer is trying to create a perfect fictional version of themselves. The people who create those tests seem to be rather biased against other people's characters. I'd like to be like my MC, sure, but she's not perfect, and aside from our tempers and idealism we're not much alike. She's not me and I'm not her.

    Rather I think it's just the way the writer writes a character, how over-the-top they make the character in vicarious perfection (trying to live through their character as a perfect hero or some such), that makes a Mary Sue. It's wish-fulfillment. Plain and simple.

    I think far too often people spend too much time looking at the good traits of fictional characters and harping, "That's a Mary Sue!" when they don't really know either enough about the writer's relationship to the character OR about what makes up a Mary Sue. Too many people seem to think that just because a character has a lot of strengths they must be one. In some cases this is true, but not as much as some people think. And even if it is true, unless the writer in question is seeking critique, it's not really anyone else's business.

    Rather than focusing on finding Mary Sues in others' work, more writers should focus on not creating them in their own. That's harder than spotting them elsewhere.
     
  21. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I think that answered my question. Thank you VERY much for this. This puts to words and in a manner I can grasp what I was trying to find. That missing part beyond just arbitrary traits.

    I agree with all of this!

    Well said!

    and thank you!
     
  22. Ashley868
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    Ashley868 New Member

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    Mary-Sue's are generally the author putting themselves into a story as well. She often has the authors personality and looks, she is popular and she is everything the author wishes they were.
    I write Harry Potter fanfiction at sometimes when I have writers block. My very first Harry Potter fanfiction was a Mary-Sue when I was 14. I like the name Hannah, and that's what her name was. She was sorted into Gryffindor, she became friends with Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. When I was younger I always thought Tom Felton was hot... Hannah ended up dating Draco Malfoy. She was also very powerful and popular. I am shy but wish I had a lot of friends... Hannah ended up being what I wish I was, outgoing and friends with anyone. I was not good at school, Hannah ended up being good at muggle school and Hogwarts. She had a very bad past and was trying to escape it. I don't have that, but most Mary-Sues or Gary-Stu's have a terrible past and end up getting pity from other characters and everyone tells them they shouldn't feel guilty for it. Hannah had that...

    Now I am very careful about not doing that when I write original stories or fanfiction. Sometimes some of my traits end up in one of my characters, but I heard that's all right because a lot of authors do that.
     

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