literature

Take me seriously. Don't take me too seriously.

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Did you read "Extrasuperfabulous" and worry because a few characters of yours had traits on that list near the beginning? Slow down, take a deep breath, and then keep reading. There's no need to take my resource too seriously. So before you panic, consider this: my characters exhibit warning signs. And I'll prove it. Here's the list, written in bold and annotated with notes about which characters fit which parts of it.

I'll put in a quick chibi of each character so you can visualize these people. From left to right are Rose, Dark, Zaen, Kirrah, and Athryl.


Sitting Zaen by MissLunaHost Sitting Athryl by MissLunaHost


Here are some warning signs of a Mary Sue or Gary Stu. While you can have a non-Mary Sue character with them, a pileup of too many can be a bad thing.

~ Heterochromia iridum (eyes with different colors, for example, one blue eye and one brown eye) or eyes of an unusual color, such as violet, very bright blue or green, red, or gold (Sorry, Edward.)

—>All of my characters have typical eye colors for their respective species.

~ Hair of an unusual color and/or length (Hair beyond the waist is extremely impractical; please see the hair resource linked to in the artist's description) It's okay to have a character with, say, purple hair if the character is an alien and it's natural for that race. The same goes for eye colors.
—>Everyone has a normal hair color except Zaen, whose blue hair is somewhat important to the plot. (It's Athryl's fault.)

~ The character is very attractive.
Rose: could be called pretty/adorkable, depending on your definition
Dark: quite handsome (is noticed by other characters)
Kirrah: her body attracts unwanted attention from a suitor; considered ugly by human standards
Zaen: cute
Athryl: awkward-looking, but has been called cute by readers

~ A tragic past, which is often concealed
—>Athryl lost his mother after 5-6 human years, and his only remaining family is an estranged older brother. He prefers not to reflect on his past.

~ The character is an orphan. (Extra points: The character witnessed his/her parents' deaths, and perhaps even blames him/herself, even though the blame is mostly or completely unjustified.)
—>Dark is fatherless and Athryl is missing both parents (although he doesn't know if he's an orphan or not).

~ The character discovers that he/she is related to a villain. Luke, I am your father... Sorry.
—>Athryl is related to his half-brother... but he always knew that.

~ The character named him/herself and/or has a name that fits perfectly
Rose: her name was chosen idly, but it turned out to be a good fit
Dark: uses an alias
Everyone else: generic alien names with no stated meanings

~ Multiple characters or a very beautiful or popular character show romantic interest in your character
—>Dark attracted attention from a group of single girls. Kirrah had to fend off Tanko, who was interested only in her body. Rose mentions having past boyfriends, but was less popular among the boys than most of her peers.

~ In fan fiction, the character intrudes on a canon pairing
—>Does not apply

~ The character is highly skilled in multiple areas (examples: technology, intelligence which he/she may hide most of the time, martial arts, music, cooking...)
Rose: computer genius, good at piano and singing, good grades, tries to paint
Dark: very strong fighter, speaks 1 foreign language proficiently
Kirrah: strong fighter, good at childcare, proficient in cooking and wilderness survival
Zaen: general intellectual, knowledgeable about history and other cultures, fluent in 1 foreign language
Athryl: general intellectual, technology/genetics genius, 1 foreign language, decent knowledge of history/other cultures

~ The character suffers from amnesia
—>No lost memories of any sort

Other things not directly from the list



~Centered around one or two main "desirable" traits
—>Rose: very smart, kind, naive—no
—>Dark: sarcastic, sense of humor, lone wolf, complex personality—no
—>Kirrah: intense, introverted, dignified, protective of loved ones—nah
—>Zaen: genius, curious, altruistic, innocent—no
—>Athryl: genius, hypersensitive, shy, idealistic—no

~Lack of real faults
—>Rose: very privileged perspective that impedes her understanding, naive, overly specialized
—>Dark: sarcastic, aloof, rude, sadistic sense of humor towards enemies
—>Kirrah: overly self-sacrificing, needs sense of control, ignorant, secret inner warfare
—>Zaen: totally naive, has judgment-overwhelming curiosity, annoyingly curious, misses social cues, overestimates himself
—>Athryl: too submissive, lacks confidence, cries at the drop of a hat, terrified of conflict, dismally poor judgment, immobilizingly shy, fragile, both overestimates and underestimates himself (Oh, gosh.)

~Mostly "cute" faults
—>Rose: black-and-white privileged thinking isn't cute, especially when it leads her to dismiss important perspectives
—>Dark: rude
—>Kirrah: her self-sacrifice became self-sabotage. Not cute.
—>Zaen: his lack of judgment can annoy his friends who have to deal with the consequences
—>Athryl: if you call panic attacks cute... :stare:

Note that cute faults are by no means a problem unless they are the only negative traits the character has. Adorable clumsiness is often the chosen fault for Mary Sues. Cute faults are often endearing and good, but they should be used with real faults that cause actual problems or emotional pain for the character.

~Luck seems to constantly favor or consistently desert a certain character.
Rose: mixed luck (depends on your interpretation of "new alien friends and enemies appear in her backyard")
Dark: had a rough childhood, but is doing much better now
Kirrah: mixed (had good standing within tribe, but had to run away thanks to Tanko)
Zaen: all his bad luck is his own doing
Athryl: very bad luck
The gods do not seem to favor or dislike any particular character throughout the book, although I admit that the author-goddess can wax a tad sadistic when looking for plot turns.

~Is very similar to the author
—>Rose is the closest to me, but I ensure that she has her own personality and doesn't come to represent me, so she can stand on her own. I share some traits with all the other characters, but not an unusual amount.

~Looks strange
Rose and Dark: very normal-looking
Kirrah: unusual to us, but fits within her tribe
Zaen: normal except for his odd hair & eye colors (thanks, Athryl)
Athryl: definitely odd-looking (disabled and can't walk well, skinny, short, pale, large-eared) but this is a minor point in the book. He doesn't think much about it, indicating that it doesn't affect him much.

~Shining moral example or follows own rules
Rose: very sweet and kind, but her black-and-white privileged thinking can be dangerous
Dark: follows his own moral code (hurting bad guys is okay, protect the weak, etc.) It is not recommended for others.
Kirrah: very focused on morals and doing the right thing
Zaen: altruist
Athryl: well-meaning but morally confused and easily manipulated

~Author completely loves them
—>Well, duh.

***

Pretty varied, huh?

As you can see, I'm not holding up my characters as the pedestal of non-Mary Sue-ness. They're all somewhere on the spectrum, as all characters are, but I don't see them in places where they bother me. To me, they are well-rounded enough.

Anyhow, did you notice that I had something "Sue-like" to say about a lot of characters? Dark is rebellious and handsome. Zaen has blue hair. Rose is a cute geek. Kirrah stands up for her beliefs. Athryl is an incredible genius with an unfortunate past. Yet I'm not running around in circles wailing about my horrible writing skills or demonstrating concern in some slightly saner fashion. Sure, I worry a little at times, but that's natural for an author.

If you want a balanced character, you need some of these traits. That's why we call the character balanced. The thought process "trait = connected with Mary Sues = evil" is not a legitimate one.

So loosen up! If you love your characters, you have a good enough reason to write about them right there. So quit reading my annoying ramblings and get working!


Written as a companion for "Extrasuperfabulous," an unfortunately misinterpretation-spawning resource on Mary Sues (no matter how many times I edit the accursed thing)

If you're curious about my characters, think you might like one of them, or are simply bored enough to click a link, check out my characters!
© 2012 - 2022 MissLunaRose
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