How do you avoid writing Gary Sue's/Mary Sue's?

#1DiayamondoPosted 3/31/2013 9:43:27 AM(edited)
Okay, for example:

Character #1:

My character is intelligent, kind-hearted, and always wants to save people. He has strong resolve to do what's right, and this drives him to be a hero.

He's gifted intellectually, and is quite smart.

Flaws: His primary flaws are his temper and lack of better emotional control. When he disagrees with orders, he'll go off on his own and usually ends up in a bigger mess than what's he's already in.

His urges to save others can be a weakness due to his the responsiblity that is placed on his shoulders, juggling the many problems of a teenager with being a superhero.



Character #2:


She is bubbly and upbeat, and is never really sad.

Her past is kinda deep, and it involves being bullied and picked on.


In the guild where she lives, she was shunned due to having ADHD and thus, a lack of an ability to pay attention, which is crucial to being a wielder of a magic.

In order to use it, you have to be able to focus. She can't sit still for more than 2 seconds, and this gets her laughed at by the other children.


However, she overcomes this somewhat, and still works hard to be a wielder of magic, surprising everyone.


Character # 3:

Her mother is abusive, and she would often beat her in her drunken haze. This has caused her to not trust others as easily and as open as she normally would, in fear of being hurt once again.

She, like the main protagonist Character 1, is bright.

During her time away from home, which was quite often when her mother got into a drunken haze and took out her problems on her teenage daughter, she would go to the library, where there was a broken computer.

She, being bored and all, decided to work on it. Over time, the computer and herself both got repaired and fixed, just over a long duration of time.


She's a tomboy, and is strong willed. Despite her rough exterior, she has a golden heart on the inside.




Sound good? ;3; Or too perfect?
#2thompsontalker7Posted 3/31/2013 10:21:37 AM
#2 sounds cliche, but not Mary Sue.

#3 doesn't sound like Mary Sue material either, but you better elaborate as to why she is still able to have such a golden heart despite all she's been through.

#1 is close to it, maybe have him miscalculate something once that caused him to royally screw up, and he's still feeling regret over that mistake?
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#3ArgentumVirPosted 3/31/2013 10:56:34 AM
Really its all about giving characters specific flaws and a distinct personality.

For instance, my main character, Silver, is a skilled archer, swordsman, and magical specialist. This leads to overconfidence that actually kills him. He's indecisive and without help, he often takes forever to make a choice. At the same time however, he's a very kind person. He understands others, and tries to help with their problems.This leads to him ignoring his own life and causes more trouble for himself.

His wife, April, is very decisive. She is easily frustrated and handles anger poorly. She shows a very different side around children however and has innate motherly instincts. She has a tendency to be manipulative and likes to keep secrets.
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#4Diayamondo(Topic Creator)Posted 3/31/2013 11:46:32 AM(edited)
thompsontalker7 posted...
#2 sounds cliche, but not Mary Sue.

#3 doesn't sound like Mary Sue material either, but you better elaborate as to why she is still able to have such a golden heart despite all she's been through.

#1 is close to it, maybe have him miscalculate something once that caused him to royally screw up, and he's still feeling regret over that mistake?




#3 meets #1, who is the first person to see through all of her problems and attitude.


And I forgot to mention that at the start of the story, #1 is a less confident and all that.

While smart, he can't figure out everything, which leads to the death of one of his closest friends.


He feels guilt after that, and quits being a superhero for awhile, due to feeling hopeless and unable to protect those he cares about.


He is prone to impulsiveness--



And he doesn't get everything handed to him, he's just gifted.


He has to get a job at age sixteen to support his aunt because they have to pay bills and she can't afford it all on her own.


So he has to help out, which is hard because the job isn't easy and he has to work super hard to impress his boss.



How is he a Gary Stu? :0
#5OzymandiasIVPosted 3/31/2013 11:56:03 AM
Mary Sue's are characters who are perfect, who do no wrong and are completely good; they're loved by everyone except the evil characters, they're super-awesome at whatever they put their mind to, they're quick learners, and they're quite often inherently special in some way. They are also more often than not an author's projection of their ideal self, so they usually know the right answer and can solve anything. Others typically depend on them to save them.

Here's a Mary Sue Litmus test:

http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm
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#6ArgentumVirPosted 3/31/2013 4:13:02 PM
How is that thing scored?
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#7OzymandiasIVPosted 3/31/2013 9:46:28 PM
Here's a different one that I like better:

http://www.onlyfiction.net/ms-test.html

And one more, because why not:

http://www.katfeete.net/writing/marysue.html

What I like about the katfeete test (I think the other two might take this into account as well) is that the lowest score isn't the best. It warns you from being too far removed from your character or making them too uncaring about the world around them.

From: ArgentumVir | Posted: 3/31/2013 7:13:02 PM | #006
How is that thing scored?


I'm not sure how they tally the votes, but if you scroll to the bottom, they break it all down into point brackets.
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#8Diayamondo(Topic Creator)Posted 4/1/2013 11:35:23 AM
OzymandiasIV posted...
Here's a different one that I like better:

http://www.onlyfiction.net/ms-test.html

And one more, because why not:

http://www.katfeete.net/writing/marysue.html

What I like about the katfeete test (I think the other two might take this into account as well) is that the lowest score isn't the best. It warns you from being too far removed from your character or making them too uncaring about the world around them.

From: ArgentumVir | Posted: 3/31/2013 7:13:02 PM | #006
How is that thing scored?


I'm not sure how they tally the votes, but if you scroll to the bottom, they break it all down into point brackets.





Alright cool, thanks.


How do the characters sound? Sorry if I'm being annoying, but I'd like some feedback. ^^
#9some09guy IIPosted 4/1/2013 1:59:42 PM
OzymandiasIV posted...
http://www.katfeete.net/writing/marysue.html


I have to play with it some more, but this is a good one. It doesn't judge based only on a single simplistic score, but in multiple parts. For instance, it separates how akin you are to the character as well as if the character is actually a healthy one despite that. For instance, if I were to stick in both Eragon, Bilbo and Tyrion into the aforementioned tests (as well as testing the characters against the authors who created them) Eragon would fail all three horribly while Bilbo and Tyrion would fail the first two and likely be recognized in one I quoted as being promising despite certain similarities to the author.

It also works the other way as well, though, which is all the better. So you can have a character than is nothing like you, but is good/bad despite this based on their own merits.
#10Bazooka_PenguinPosted 4/1/2013 9:47:35 PM
From: Diayamondo | #001
Okay, for example:

Character #1:

My character is intelligent, kind-hearted, and always wants to save people. He has strong resolve to do what's right, and this drives him to be a hero.

He's gifted intellectually, and is quite smart.

Flaws: His primary flaws are his temper and lack of better emotional control. When he disagrees with orders, he'll go off on his own and usually ends up in a bigger mess than what's he's already in.

His urges to save others can be a weakness due to his the responsiblity that is placed on his shoulders, juggling the many problems of a teenager with being a superhero.


Don't twist the plot so that his foolishness and naivete is constantly rewarded

The other two sound cliche and a little unrealistic too.
#2: I wouldn't really expect a person who grew up being bullied or essentially segregated to be bubbly and cheerful. I would expect them to have trust issues and be self-isolating.
#3: I also wouldn't expect a person who grew up being abused to have a heart of gold. I would expect them to have anger issues, emotional weaknesses, and behave in a similar manner as their abuser.

As far as dynamic characters go, I think it would be more interesting to see characters with bad personalities overcome their problems and better themselves, instead of starting good and becoming Jesus.
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