1. TheDarkWriter

    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    Are Mary Sues Appealing? If So Why?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheDarkWriter, Nov 3, 2016.

    I don't like mary sue characters. I find them to be insufferable and inorganic not too mention I find such characters to be very fake. That's why I write characters who are flawed and imperfect my MC for example would hit a girl-in a fight to the death he puts chivalry aside- and if he had to pick between siding with Charles Xavier or Magneto he would pick Magneto every time.

    That being said my MC is also the type to fall in love with the bad girls and the reason for this is that nobody is perfect and I like to write all my characters with serious real life flaws because I think that makes them more realistic.
     
  2. cydney

    cydney Banned

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    I like the idea of main characters falling in love with bad girls - the imperfection. But I draw lines at cruelty and deception. Those type of imperfections are not appealing to me. And I'll be honest. I've never understood men who are interested in women who purposely hurt other women for their own gain.

    And it hurts me that they are!

    Sorry, off topic! :)

    Will continue to watch this conversation.
     
  3. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    These days, it's a man's refusal to hit a woman that's considered a flaw (although a charming on).
    A man who would hit a girl, on the other hand, is despicable. Beating children does not make for a likeable MC IMHO.

    Tangent: Now, it's likely you meant to say woman, not girl. And if the word is coming out of a character and it fits the character, calling a woman a girl can be OK. But for a 3rd-person narrator to call a woman a girl, or to say that an adult hit a girl, could be misinterpretted. So don't be slack about selecting the right words to use. Every word matters - even something as trivial as changing "the" to "a" can make a big difference.
     
  4. TheDarkWriter

    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    I could say the same about women who fall in love with jerks lol. I agree though bad girls who are only slightly on the bitchy side are certainly appealing.
    I meant woman apologies if by using girl I was being miss leading. I find it dumb if a psycho chick is coming at a male character and he refuses to hit her.
     
  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I assume when you say "chick" you also mean "woman"...

    Mary Sues were very appealing to me as a teen. I was badly bullied in school and I desperately wanted everybody to like me - no, to be awed by me. And anyone who was mean to me would suffer for it. The first character I created (in my head, I didn't write her) was very much a Mary Sue. Women were jealous of her and men fell in love with her. I read YA books with Mary Sues (e.g. Fearless, featuring a very beautiful woman who didn't know she was beautiful and could also karate kick anybody into submission). Maybe this is why I understand the appeal of Twilight when so many adults are bewildered by its success.

    Once I grew out of that, they lost all appeal. Now I just roll my eyes and look for a book with a realistic character.
     
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  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I said I write, didn't say good. :P Supporter Contributor

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    IDK, suppose to some they are.

    Mary-Sue sounds kinda boring...little Miss Perfect if you will.
    How dull can you go? Are they even a person, or a shell of what
    used to be a person. Sounds quite like a puppet on a string,
    forced to be driven by one trait that can define their entire
    existence in a nutshell.

    Think about it this way. If Mary-Sue were a physical being,
    by the time she hit her mid-late 20's to early 30's you can
    bet there is some really shady shit behind that ear to ear
    grin and feminine cheerful demeanor she displays.
    Just a slow festering until she snaps, and goes bloody
    postal. :)

    So great as a cornerstone for poorly thought out character
    in fiction. And a damn nuke on a timer in reality.
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Is there a difference in appeal between a Mary Sue who deliberately strives for perfection, and a Mary Sue who just ends up doing the right thing most of the time?
     
  8. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I think it's an intrinsic part of a Mary Sue that she's perfect without effort, and usually not even aware of how perfect she is (although everyone else can see it, obviously...)
     
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  9. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I said I write, didn't say good. :P Supporter Contributor

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    So what is the appeal of a person who is effortlessly perfect?
     
  10. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    I don't know that there is one, they're just not that interesting.

    Terry Pratchett did a reasonable spin on a 'perfect' character with Lord Hong, the antagonist in Interesting Times. The guy was presented as perfect, and he was within his own culture, but an outside-context problem like Rincewind and the barbarians caused his plans to fall apart. I don't think he was explicitly trying to write a twist on a Mary Sue, but it definitely felt like one to me. It worked in that case because the character was the bad guy, so his perfection was part of why he was a strong threat.

    No no, he's got a point. Psycho chicks are scary.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Totally missing the point here but... Does that emu have a filling??
     
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  12. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    It's not a question one can answer without defining Mary Sue better. Because Mary Sue absolutely can be defined and has been, to cover characters with mass market appeal: A female lead power fantasy who's light on flaws. Like Rey from star wars. I don't agree with that and I have a personal definition:

    1) Is the character entertaining to watch? Mary Sues do things in the most boring way. Instead of dazzling the audience with an action sequence, they just speak and the enemy sees the error of their ways. Or they win by simply being written to overpower any opponent in an boring way. Like they just cast an I-WIN spell. The end. The same goes for her dialogue, which is preachy and dull.

    2) Is morality defined by the character? Ie otherwise immoral or bad actions become good and lovable when she does it. Which she hypocritically condemns in others.

    3) Does she completely take over the narrative? Hog every "awesome" line and moment? Hog every interaction? Does she never put over another character? Does she have zero boundaries?

    Under that definition, the appeal of a Mary Sue is the same appeal as a car crash. Morbid curiosity.
     
  13. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is interesting. I think I may have picked up the wrong end of the stick regarding Mary Sue characters. A Mary Sue isn't somebody who is effortlessly 'good,' apparently. A Mary Sue character is somebody who gets an unrealistically easy passage through the story, often based on wish fulfillment from the author. This person is often born with supernormal skills, or learns them so quickly and easily that the character's prowess is unrealistic. Mary Sues apparently overcome all obstacles without the kind of effort us normal folks would need to expend doing the same thing.

    There are such things as child prodigies, of course. But child prodigies don't find ALL things easy. Only their particular field of expertise.

    Here's a good article about it from Wikipedia.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue
     
  14. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    I think this is where most of the appeal comes from--either from the author who wishes he/she was The Very Best Like No One Ever Was (TM) or from the reader who wishes the same. Sometimes you just wish you could beat down any opponent who dares to challenge you in front of your gaggle of cheering suitors.
     
  15. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Supporter Contributor

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    Which also brings up the feminist POV!

    What I gleaned from that:
    -you shouldn't apologize if you're writing a Mary Sue because not writing them silences authors (I assume especially female authors who are now afraid to include female characters altogether)
    -Mary Sue is a character who doesn't confirm to the majority's expectations of what a woman should be like, so in this sense writing a Mary Sue actually benefits women everywhere as it dares introduce female characters that buck the norm and rebel against patriarchal (I assume) constraints
     
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  16. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    The wish fulfilment thing is the heart of it and the other usual features of a Mary Sue stem from that, though they vary depending on the author's wishes. She's nearly always physically beautiful, because who doesn't want to be beautiful? She nearly always has multiple men falling in love with her. Others envy her. Her enemies meet grisly or humiliating ends. She can do things other people can't, or can do things more easily and effortlessly than others.

    Ayla from the Earth's Children series is a classic Mary Sue. Stunningly beautiful but thinks she's ugly. Has at least one man head over heels for her at all times during the series, except for when she's a young child, and usually two or more. Can tame wild lions and wolves (ffs). Invents fire, sewing, medical stitches, among plenty else. Eventually, everybody turns on her enemies, even the enemies' own friends and family.

    Ginny from Harry Potter is JK Rowling's Mary Sue, as she's admitted (a bit of that in Hermione too). Ginny is beautiful, witty, several boys fall for her, including the hero, teachers admire her.

    Gaia from the Fearless series I mentioned earlier is another. Stunningly beautiful but thinks she's ugly. Both of the major male characters fall in love with her, and fight over her. She can beat anybody in a fight as well as being a genius with an off-the-scale IQ.
     
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  17. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You know, I read these when I was younger and didn't really give thought to this, but you're dead on about her. :) I guess it was easy to miss the first time since she was a homo sapiens in amongst all those homo neanderthalensis.

    Creb ~ "Look, I can count to ten. The rest cannot count this high."

    Ayla ~ "Oh, really? I can do algebra! And trig!"

    If we're to time-line it, you could say she was the original Mary Sue. ;)
     
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  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Did you read on from the first book? I don't recommend it, as the series gets steadily worse, and so does her Mary Sue-ishness. In the second book she meets the love interest and is the only woman in the world who can take the whole of his massive dick (I kid you not). By the last book she is teaching the rest of the Cro Magnons that babies are created through sex (something only she has worked out), she has domesticated horses, dogs, and cats, invented fire, she is the greatest healer the world has ever seen AND she's responsible for the ultimate extinction of the Neanderthals.
     
  19. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Can anybody think of Mary Sue characters in non-fantasy fiction? There must be some. This is an interesting concept.
     
  20. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I read up to, and including, The Mammoth Hunters. It started getting really repetitive. And yes, I do remember the monstrously hung Jondalar. ;)

    ETA: You forgot to mention she's also the world's best linguist/interpreter. How many languages does she learn? I remember the bit where she gets pissed that Jondalar teachers her a language that turns out not to be the language spoken in their general area, and she's like, "Well, it seems you keep your brain in that giant schlong too. Teach me a language I can use around here, asshole."
     
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  21. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I think Fearless would be counted as sci-fi rather than fantasy. Other than that... I'm struggling, but that's probably because Mary Sues tend to pop up in young adult books and I've never read many of those. Hmm.
     
  22. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Is Katniss Everdeen considered a Mary Sue? Or is she flawed enough to fall out of that category? Just curious.
     
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  23. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And to add to the question (I too would like to hear opinions on this...) no one is mentioning any Marty Stues. Are there examples to bring into the mix?

    (Reading through this thread I am looking over at my MC Tevin and starting to worry that his flaws may not be enough to save him from Marty Stueness)
     
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  24. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Edward Bloom in Big Fish. (Book not movie) But that's intentional and I think it works for the story. In the movie, they add some character flaw to Edward as an old man which is absent in the novel.
     
  25. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Does Dagny Taggert count? Not sure if Atlas Shrugged is regarded as alternate history or...
    (when it's regarded, that is).
     

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