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Where Worlds Collide and Galaxies Sing...




Frankly, I ignore most people's craptastic Mary Sue/Gary Stu OC's because they are so badly written/designed it makes me utterly sick as a long time RPer in live action and tabletop RPG's. This crap people are doing on DA and calling it Role Playing, that's childish BS compared to what I've grown up doing. And sorry to burst people's delusional bubble here, but yes, your whatever-its-name-is characters are Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters. Want to know why?  The traits that define all Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters include the following:

:bulletred: Making a character that is a carbon copy clone of a canon character's appearance in an established fiction.
:bulletred: Making a character that is a bastardized, masculinized, or feminized clone of a canon character's appearance in an established fiction.
:bulletred: Making a character that has the exact same physical and/or special abilities as a canon character in an established fiction.
:bulletred: Making a character that is more powerful than a canon character with the same powers/abilities from an established fiction.
:bulletred: Making a character that is more powerful than any canon character from an established fiction.
:bulletred: Making a character that is pivotal or irrevocably important to the story.
:bulletred: Making a character that is perfect or flawless (having no flaws, fears, weaknesses, etc).
:bulletred: Making a character that is unstoppable, unhurtable, and/or unkillable compared to the other characters in the story (canon or otherwise).
:bulletred: Making a character that is the only key to the resolution of the conflict in the story.
:bulletred: Making a character whose actions, marriage, or death have drastic repercussions to both sides of the conflict.
:bulletred: Making a character whose actions, marriage, or death being the cause of the conflict ending in the story.
:bulletyellow: Making a character with a bastardized, masculinized, or feminized name of a canon character from an established fiction.
:bulletyellow: Making a character that is related to, mated to, or otherwise directly connected to a canon character from an established fiction.
:bulletyellow: Making a character that is connected to both sides of the conflict in the story (child of someone from both sides, the child of one side and mated to someone on the other side, etc).
:bulletyellow: Making a character whose strengths and weaknesses are not in balance, are contradictory, or make no comparative sense in the context of the character.
:bulletyellow: Making a character whose strengths and/or weaknesses that are out of context or illogical for the character's background or design.

There is more, but these 16 traits are the main ones that scream "Mary Sue" of any given OC that people have created.  The traits marked with a :bulletred: are glaringly blatant Mary Sue/Gary Stu traits.  If your OC has any one or more of the traits marked :bulletred:, you've got a Mary Sue/Gary Stu character and frankly, the more of these traits your character has, the more disturbingly Mary Sue/Gary Stu the character is.  You need to just scrap the character and start over from scratch.  The traits marked with a :bulletyellow: are common mistakes that young fans make when creating OC's connected to an established fiction and while they are obvious Mary Sue/Gary Stu traits, they are less glaring than the ones marked by a :bulletred:.  If your OC has any two or more of the traits marked :bulletyellow:,  you've got a Mary Sue/Gary Stu character, but while the character may be a Mary Sue/Gary Stu, a little reworking to remove these traits is possible and will improve the character.

However, one flaw often mistaken for a Mary Sue/Gary Stu trait is when writers spend excessive amounts of time describing a character's appearance or certain features repeatedly in the story.  This is a common flaw in young writers and easily fixable by going through the story and editing the work, reducing and/or minimizing subsequent descriptions in the story after the character's initial description is included when said character is introduced into the story.  If someone is describing characters, actions, and physical features excessively, don't cry "Mary Sue/Gary Stu!" at them.  Instead, give them an honest and constructive critique of the story and help them see where they can remove a few redundant and wordy descriptions to greatly improve their writing.

You can find further reading regarding characters and Role Playing in my RP Rules and Etiquette journal.



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:iconsaina-chan:
saina-chan Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I know this is an old entry etc, but I got here just today by jumping from one page to another. Whole article is really nice written and gives a few points to think for people but I've one question about one point:
Making a character that has the exact same physical and/or special abilities as a canon character in an established fiction.

How to play with it if:
In Canon Title X there is a character that is canonically quick with speed of the light- can use it whenever and whatever long they want to use it. And then some fan comes with idea of let say some technology/ science thing (let say a pedant with button to push) invented in their story (of character?) that allows their OC to be like quick like Canon character but let say...just for 5 seconds and then there is 1 hour colldown.

Would it be also counted under this?
( I'm really sorry, sorry for a really bad example (pedant...ugh, idea good like I don't know what ==), last days were a mess and I'm a bit unable to think of anything good right now, but I hope you know what I meant ^^").
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That would fall under "character gadgets" and "limited ability" rather than "having a special ability that's the same as a canon character" to be honest.
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:iconsaina-chan:
saina-chan Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for the answer~ :)! I was just curious of what you think about possibility like this :).
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome.
Reply
:iconnovanplz:
Novanplz Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013
For me, MS involves meaning your character is God in all but name! Perfect and all-powerful.
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
That's one extreme, yes. But it does vary a bit too.
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:iconnovanplz:
Novanplz Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013
I've only made one of those, but it is locked up under several metaphorical meters of mental blocks.
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
XD
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:iconnovanplz:
Novanplz Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013
:) Most of my characters start out perfect, but then I start throwing flaws and stuff at them. Power blocks, sexual orientation, genetic quirks, anything to make them imperfect.
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
**nods** I start with a basic concept and build the character around that concept, being careful to keep things well balanced. We all go about character building and development differently, though. **smiles**
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:iconnovanplz:
Novanplz Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013
Cool.
Reply
:icontechnijui:
TechNijui Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My character applies to " pivotal or irrevocably important to the story", "key to the resolution of the conflict in the story (At least in the beginning)" and "directly connected to a canon character from an established fiction (mated)". Should I be concerned?
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Depends on how deeply those two are set to changing things. I'd say use your best judgment. I can't say either way because I don't know the story. But you can use this as a general guideline for fan fictions with OC's. **smiles**
Reply
:icontechnijui:
TechNijui Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
His name is Scorchrust. He's naturally shy, humble and intelligent. He's clumsy and not very strong, though he's quick. (You can easily compare his fighting to Scout, only imagine that instead of a baseball bat, he's holding a fluffy pillow and he tries to avoid hitting anyone because he literally tries to avoid any sort of fight.)

His progenitors went to war and never returned. He was a Decepticon seeker, but since he had a sight problem and because of his gentle attitude he was discarded of, but the Autobots discovered him. He works as a tactitian and aerial support of the team. His best friends are Smokescreen and Bumblebee, though he prefers Bumblebee since Smokescreen is a little too 'ecstatic and active' for him. Just like every other Autobot, he looks at Optimus like a father. (An adopted father, that is.) As a Decepticon he has a purple/red paint job. As an Autobot, he has a orange/red one.

Originally he was meant to be killed off during the darkest hour, because he was too much of a good person. He also didn't have any sort of romantic relationship with anyone since there were no fancharacters. When I mentioned that he and Bumblebee would be a cute couple but it'd never happen, Scorch/Bee happened and instead of dying, Scorchrust took a (un-deserved?) place as a Prime (Extreme sue alert!).
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oops. Sounds like a little reworking might be needed. Not a bad start, though he's a bit too timid to have survived the war for very long.
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:icontechnijui:
TechNijui Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I sorta see him as a mouse. You don't really see him swooping by, snatching what he needs and running off again.

I think the only times he defends himself is panic and rage. Fun fact, the thrusters on his feet can do more damage than his weapon, depending wether or not the target is close enough.
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
XD That's actually pretty funny. **chuckles**
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:icontechnijui:
TechNijui Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Is it that bad D:
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No, the bit with the boosters being more dangerous than his weapons was amusing. XD
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconloreshaper-kethal:
loreshaper-kethal Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012
I got rather annoyed when people said that my OC was a gary stu when I specifically mentioned that he had a paladin arch type.

Basically, it was as follows:
-strengths: durability, healing, and patience personality wise.
Weaknesses: a lack of speed (he can be out maneuvered rather easily) and the fact that he is a little gullible when it comes to disguises.

The reason why I annoyed was that he was supposed to be a genuinely nice guy, with a strong sense of compassion and justice,
with that being his motivations and goals, while he is also rather easily trusting of people, so is gullible because he does trusts people a little too easily for his own good.

Makes sense right? But no, they told me "oh he's too nice" or "being sturdy and able to heal/cleanse people is so ridiculous" when that's basically his job.

Also, apparently some people are unable to distinguish between "politically important" and "black hole sue" because while the former is a mary sue,
If the story itself is about the politics and the protagonist's relation to them, or if their role is as a king or leader of a group, than that is their frikken job!
I mean yeah sure, if the whole world revolves around them sure, but when it comes to royalty, having people do what they say makes perfect sense.
A good way to mention the conflict is by mentioning various aspects of the pressure leadership brings, such as feeling a lot stress at having the world on your shoulders.

Basically, all you need to do is write in a way that has the character be a person, and you're all set watsonian wise, then you can learn various doyalist styles later on.
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I'm a long time AD&D gamer and that sounds like a classic paladin archetype to me. I'd say just ignore the idiots since they clearly don't know what the hell they're talking about. As for the rest, most of what I posted in my journal is in regards to fan made characters inserted into existing fandoms and writing fanfics about them (such as Harry Potter, Transformers, Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc).

While some of this does still apply to original fiction, it all depends on how it is written. If it's written well, then it's just good original fiction. If it's badly written, it won't matter because most badly written original fiction (and fanfics) are ignored or ripped apart as bad fiction anyway, but in badly written works the Mary Sue/Marty Stu characters become really blatantly obvious really quick, as well as badly written characters in an otherwise good fiction (like Westley Crusher from Star Trek).
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:iconloreshaper-kethal:
loreshaper-kethal Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012
Yeah exactly.
Reply
:icon2ndmercwithamouth:
2ndMercWithAMouth Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012  Student Filmographer
[link]

Could you tell me some stuff bout him so i could fix him a little...
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Not sure about him Leading a team of all canon characters with him being an OC, but it'll depend on how the stories themselves are written. Also, need to fix the Cybrtronian town name: it's Polyhex (a settlement actually), not Perihex. [link] Other than that, for a really short bio it's okay. There's really not much to work with there, but then I'm used to much more in-depth bios like these --> [link]

Hope it helps. **smiles**
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:icon2ndmercwithamouth:
2ndMercWithAMouth Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Student Filmographer
Perihex is a real town, look --> [link]

I am working on an extended bio. I just need to finalize it.

Trickster is just a plain normal Autobot like everyone else. He drinks high grade when he gets really stressed and takes stress medication (they don't take pills do they?) during the day.
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
XD No, no pills. And okay, didn't remember that one in the locations list.
Reply
:icon2ndmercwithamouth:
2ndMercWithAMouth Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Student Filmographer
Its ok :)

Again normal bot.
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
**nods** He looks good so far.
Reply
:icon2ndmercwithamouth:
2ndMercWithAMouth Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Student Filmographer
Thanks, what about Laserburst?
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Sounds interesting from the half sentence that mentions him. Do you have a bio for him?
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconkatie0202:
katie0202 Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
very helpful, i'm indeed a young writer and this will be very helpful with any upcoming stories, thank you
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're quite welcome.
Reply
:iconcrimsonpelt:
Crimsonpelt Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this, I have it marked in my Important Info folder in my favorites for easy access, but for the most part these seem geared more towards the fanfics than anything else, and my own writing (usually with my co-author, *MasterAaran ) tends to be original literary work, not a fanfic or based on anything else.

But I've found that flaws for a character, whether for a fanfic or an original storyline, are always good to have. My own character in our current story-plotting will have a few flaws, starting with the fact that while she's good at hunting and riding horses, she has no clue how to use a gun, preferring handcrossbows, or knives for anything other than skinning animals. She also has no clue about what plants are edible or not, and she suffers a major trauma in the first day not once, but twice. This trauma leaves her only able to handle the gentle touch of one male. Three other females play important roles in the entire storyline, as do other males, but the first part of it is broken into four stories that all take place over the same week in time, bringing the eight people together, along with others, in the main story.
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It is meant more towards fanfics and fan characters for RPs, but to varying degrees it can still be applied to original fiction as well, though if written well, one or more of these traits can conversely be used as character plot points in the story (think of Superman and Batman). Also, be careful not to bring in too much tragedy onto one character, especially early on. It ends up reading as unrealistically tragic and your readers will get bored quickly. Try and spread things out over time or between multiple characters. It helps build a sense of cohesiveness between the characters and the story you are telling. And always remember, use the whole language to write your story. Grab a thesaurus and find new and creative ways to say things. It keeps your writing from being repetitive and boring to your readers. **smiles** I hope that helps, and feel free to ask me any questions you might have.
Reply
:iconcrimsonpelt:
Crimsonpelt Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, first, the story is a post-apocalyptic story, so that is the main obstacle to all the characters - surviving after the apocalypse. Which gives them a reason to all work together.

Tisha, one of the main characters, is used against her will, though she fights back, and is rescued. She then has issues with most males, even ones she's known most of her life. The only one that she doesn't have an issue with is the one that rescued her. She tends to flip out when her best friend's fingers innocently brush against hers as dishes are being passed after dinner. During the day, she handles things a lot better than at night, when her guard is down and her mind replays what happened to her.

That same day, she discovers that something has happened to her family, but she doesn't want to know until she and Marco make it to the cabin that her family owns up in the mountains. She catches herself starting to ask, but pushes it to the back of her mind, since Marco doesn't know where they are going. Once they get up there, and some rapport has been established between her and the readers, as well as a strong bond between her and Marco, she asks him to tell her what he found at the house. This is the one that is going to have a stronger impact on more of the characters in the story, since there is a lot of her family to support her on that event, but she still has issues about being touched.

The overall story is a survival based romance. There are actually quite a few pairings going on in the storyline, but they come in later on during the story.
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Good start there. To me the post-apocalyptic thing has been over used, but if it's well written it can lend a lot of background, conflict, and drama to the story without being excessive and unrealistic.

Sounds typical of rape trauma, though try to not over do her reactions. Most often victims don't freak out if someone just barely touches them accidentally like on the hand or fingers, it's when a guy put their arms around them, grab hold of them, or make any kind of body contact (bumping into them for example) that they freak out. So be careful of making her overreact to the slightest thing, it'll make her seem less like a trauma victim and more like a drama queen seeking attention. I've had friends who were raped so I know how most react; they either get overly sexual or they retreat from it completely and in both cases it's rather extreme but not to the level of just barely touching a finger will make them completely freak out, though they will pull their hand back if they don't know/trust the guy that touched their hand (worried he'll grab her usually). So be careful with that.

As for the "something happened to her family" bit, I think it might be better and more realistic if the two unrelated events did not happen the same day, maybe spread it out a bit. The only way I can see both happening the same day is if they happened at the same time in the same place; family attacked and she was raped as a byproduct by one of the killers but was saved by her friend because the rapists pulled her to a different area while the rest were killed though her friend couldn't save her family. Just a suggestion, but when you drop the "world" on one character all at once it tends to put off a lot of readers as overly and unrealistically tragic. That's why I suggest to spread it out some. Maybe her family was killed and they came after her weeks or months later when they found out she was still alive (because she wasn't there when they blew up the house?)? There's a lot you can do with it, but try to keep it more realistic and not in the realm of overly tragic drama-queenishness. **winks**

I think you have a really good premise going for this, and I really hope it goes well for you. It's not the kind of story I would normally read, but that's just a personal preference thing. Be careful regarding the points I mentioned and you should be fine though. **smiles**
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:iconcrimsonpelt:
Crimsonpelt Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Her whole family didn't die, we just hadn't decided what to do with her brothers yet. But her parents were killed while defending their home, and one of the thugs around the area got killed as well.

Basically, all she knows was something happened to her family, and that Marco didn't want her to walk through the lower floor of the house, going so far as to close the blinds as she walked around the house to the pool to clean her legs up.

Tisha has an inner strength that is being drawn out of her, despite her completely fragile appearance. (Appearances can be deceiving, XD) But something will happen to her later in the story, but most of what I have seen for post-apocalyptic settings, they tend to take place 100+ years after the world crashes. This one will be right after, so it's more of a survival-based storyline.

Most of her vulnerability tends to come out at night when her guard comes down, while during the day, she has to keep doing this or that to survive, her mind unable to dwell on the incidents. But I'll keep an eye on anything that seems to be too much and smooth it out some.
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
**nods** Okay. Just remember, too much tragedy all at once especially early on and too much overreaction in a character, especially main characters, can put off a lot of readers, so bear that in mind as you write your story. Good luck with it. **smiles**
Reply
:iconcrimsonpelt:
Crimsonpelt Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
We will :) And thanks :D
Reply
:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome. **smiles**
Reply
:iconsheibkroeker:
SheiBKroeker Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hmm. I really like this piece--mostly because it's so well written. You've got real talent (sorry, I tend to praise the writing a little bit before I get to the "debate"--I'm a student of Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail U).

Now, while all of these points are quite true, it's really not fair to the young people trying to write these stories to say "you should kill your character" (which I will note is NOT what you said, but rather one of the replies to this piece). These characters, these "Mary Sues," are stepping stones for inexperienced writers which--if they so choose--they can go back and modify to their little heart's content and possibly use them in an original work of writing rather than a fan-fiction. Unfortunately, it should also be noted that "Mary Sues" are present in original writings, too, and not just the work of fan-fictions. Take the entire Dragonball series for example. Or Twilight. Granted, Goku's is still a better love story than Twilight, but all the facts are still there.

Back to the stepping stone point. If you go back and look through my art from--oh, how long has it been? Almost 15 years?--you WILL find fan-fiction OC's that can be classified as Mary Sues on the lowest to medium level. You will even find me vehemently defending them from both serious people trying to help and jerks who just wanted to complain. BUT you can also find those very same characters (well, the ones I've completed) in their own original settings. I've written or partially written about 20-ish fan fictions, about 75% of the lead OC's have Mary Sue status (remember, I was 13 when I started) and 25% were completely off the beaten path of the characters of the fiction they were written for with maybe a random encounter or two with those characters and/or story lines. 100% of them are now reconstructed--not dead, not ignored--and integrated into new, original concepts where they are not entirely the sole hero of the story.

Here I am now, 27-years-old, in college for my writing passion, one novel near completion and being considered for publication, and still writing the occasional fan-fiction to keep in practice. I have less Mary Sues, though one Yellow dot appears every now and then...of course, now it's purposefully planned and less easy to find those dots ;)

What I'm saying is that future readers for this piece on Mary Sues/Gary Stus (I thought it was Marty Stus?) don't get discouraged by it. Learn from it. The cold, hard fact is that it is very difficult for young writers--and even experienced writers--to avoid ANY of the "bad signs" in your work. It's not impossible.

I have read VERY well-written fan-fictions with characters who have up to three characteristics of Sues, but it was hard to spot them. That's good writing. I've also seen fairly well-written stories that the signs really are blatant, but the story was either too funny for me to be annoyed or it did not constantly act upon those characteristics.

Take Leathurkatt's advice at the end of this piece o heart. Those of us who give critique to your work are not trying to undermine you. If you have a dream of writing in the future, we want to help. If you're just having fun, politely say so, and I'm sure the critics will water down their reviews. We don't want you to "kill" your characters because of a flaw--that's a waste of work. But characters are people, and people change ;)

In the end, fan-fictions are just for fun. But if you are moving towards professional writing, use what you learn from people who critique your fictions to avoid your original work being overly "fantasized". This piece is a very good reference guide to help writers of all types. Happy writing!

-Shei B. Kroeker, aka =AjdehaAbdullazadeh
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much for your long and very nicely written comment. You had me chuckling as couple times while I read it, and I do thank you very much for your complimentary appraisal of my writing.

The main thing I think people should really take from this is that "Balance is the Key", whether in character creation for role play or whether in writing fan fiction or original fiction. Yes, even in established and well published fictions there are some Mary Sue/Gary Stu (I've seen Marty Stu used as well, they're pretty much interchangeable terms really) characters, but in well written fictions, the author makes it work in the way they write about the character and the world they move in.

Take Drizzt Do'Urden from R.A. Salvatore's writings, for example. He's a very strong character, he's fast and hard to kill, yet that character has grown and developed over more than two dozen books into the legendary character he is now. All the events in those books have helped to shape Drizzt into what he has become. Is he a Gary Stu character? Some would think so, especially in the later books. But if you take into account the world in which Drizzt lives and the entirety of his story, he is real to that world, and he fits where he needs to be. He has his flaws, his weaknesses, his imperfections, he stumbles and even falls, but he gets back up and keeps moving forward, learning from his mistakes and miss-steps as he goes. Thus he is a legendary character, and a very good one, not a Gary Stu. R.A. Salvatore is a really good writer, and I learned a lot about how to write good stories from reading his novels, along with other writers like Anne McCaffery, Terry Goodkind, Piers Anthony, Robin Hobb, and many, many others.

No one should be discouraged from writing or creating characters just because they had a hickup or three and ended up with a blatant Mary Sue/Gary Stu character. Characters are just that, they're characters, and they can be rewritten very easily, often with much better results in subsequent iterations. Thus why I said start over and try again; in fact I very strongly encourage people to try again and again as many times as they need to until they are happy with their creation. Every piece of writing is a stepping stone towards the next piece of writing, and people should definitely use them as such.

We all make mistakes when we're young, then we grow and learn from those mistakes, most often ending up with a better understanding of things and our works improve with that understanding. I am very glad to see that you were not discouraged by your early writings, no matter how good or bad they might have been. **smiles**

As I said, "Balance is the Key" and while the Mary Sue/Gary Stu character can be difficult to avoid, it's all in how they are written that makes the difference. While this does apply itself well towards writing fiction, it applies even more so to Role Play characters where such traits become a serious hindrance to others and to the RP itself. It is there that these traits really make a huge difference between a fun RP and a cumbersome annoyance, and they're often much more obvious. Thus why you see more people cry Mary Sue or Twink characters at those which exhibit the traits listed. I've seen it happen and it's not pretty.

Thank you again for your comments, they were a very enjoyable read.
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:iconsheibkroeker:
SheiBKroeker Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I couldn't have said it better myself :) and I'm glad the sense of entertainment came out of my comments as well as the point.
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
**smiles** Thank you. And you're quite welcome.
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:iconfangirlmary:
FanGirlMary Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
Thank you very much for posting this journal! I'm currently working on a Transformers story on fanfiction.net and am trying to make my OCs in that story likeable as well as believeable and I am going to use this as a guide; thankfully, my human characters have scored very low on the mary sue litmus test for them. ;)
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That's cool. I wish you luck with your story and please feel free to utilize this as a tool to help in your writings. **smiles** That's what it's here for.
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:iconfangirlmary:
FanGirlMary Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
Thank you. :) :huggle:
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome hon. **hugs**
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:iconamenrenet:
Amenrenet Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
Mary Sue and Gary Stu... Oooh this is a tricky subject. There are several points on here that, in my opinion, do NOT automatically scream SUE/STU if they are played right. Some of these points are more subjective. Sue-ness is not a clearly defined, black and white thing. There are grey areas. Some traits that may SEEM like they only belong to Sue/Stue characters can sometimes be balanced properly. Truely complex characters cannot simply be written off as a Sue/Stu just because they might seem to come close to some of the 'red flag' traits.

Making a character that is a carbon copy clone of a canon character's appearance in an established fiction.
If character development is done correctly, this does not have to make a character a Sue/Stu. Let's say Bob starts life when a wacky scientist decides to clone Joe. By your point, Bob is a Stu. But what if Bob grows and develops his own personality as the story or roleplay progresses? He becomes Bob-with-his-own-identity instead of just Bob-aka-Joe's-clone. The only thing the same about them is physical appearance, and even that could change if Joe gets a haircut or Bob wants a tattoo. The way he started out does not mean that Bob is Forever A Stu.

Making a character that has the exact same physical and/or special abilities as a canon character in an established fiction.
If you're placing a character in a setting where they need powers and abilities (physical or special) then the choices are already limited by the rules of the fictional setting. If Claire is a canon water-mage, and you want to have your character Alice to join the water-mage guild, then Alice is going to have to have very similar powers as Claire (if not some of the exact same powers). Alice can't join the water-mage guild if she uses fire-based spells. Or let's say Steve is a canon Marine, and you introduce your character John to his unit. They're both Marines. They both went through the same training regimen. It's NATURAL to expect them to at least be trained in the same skill set. How good they actually ARE at various skills is another matter (like if John is a better marksman but Steve has more stamina). The way I see it, having identical abilities isn't a problem because different characters will favor and/or be better at different aspects of those abilities.

Making a character that is more powerful than a canon character with the same powers/abilities from an established fiction.
The big issue I have about this one is...what about CROSSOVERS? Say that Ann from Fiction Setting X makes a living fixing computers, and Maggie is an FC from Fiction Setting Y, and Maggie is part of a group of professional hackers. Now stuff happens and Ann meets Maggie. Both girls are good with computers, but Maggie's background makes her specifically a better hacker than Ann. Is that alone enough to make Maggie a Sue?

Making a character that is more powerful than any canon character from an established fiction.
Like the last point, the big question mark here has to do with crossovers. Few Fictions have the exact same measure of power. So what is 'average' or even 'weak' in one setting could easily be overpowering in another Fiction. If your character Billy is a wizard at Hogwarts, and he ends up in another setting where all of the canon characters are unable to use magic...then Billy is going to have an advantage unless you strip him of his powers. Or what if you have a dragon character who ends up crossed over into a world where dragons are thought to be fiction and all the canon characters are human? No matter how weak that dragon is, he's almost certainly going to be more powerful than most of the canons he's now meeting.

Making a character that is perfect or flawless (having no flaws, fears, weaknesses, etc).
This one could be iffy too. Some characters could have a personality that causes them to do their very best to hide any signs of what they consider weakness. That personality in itself would be a flaw, but if they do a good enough job at trying to hide everything else, it could easily look to another person like the character is perfect. But the perfection is really just a mask that shatters if you bother to probe deeper.

Making a character that is unstoppable, unhurtable, and/or unkillable compared to the other characters in the story (canon or otherwise).
Here is another one that is especially subjective when it comes to crossovers. I believe it's perfectly fine to have very powerful characters, if they are balanced out by sufficient weaknesses. However, those weaknesses may not always be obvious and thus cause a character to SEEM unstoppable. Let's say your character Zac is a dragon, facing some canon humans armed with machine guns and a few grenade launchers. At a glance, it seems like an uneven fight. Zac is a big dragon, and his scales make a natural bodyarmor. But if the humans are clever enough, they can find some unprotected areas that would do serious damage if shot at, such as the point where Zac's wings connect to his body or his eyes.
Another example I'd like to mention here is from my own roleplay group. There is a character who, because of her parents, is a goddess. She does have incredible powers over the earth, but this does not make her a Sue for several reasons. First, her body is mortal. Even though her soul would survive to reincarnate, her physical body can still be harmed and killed. Second, she is not "all-knowing" and must figure out a solution before she can actually solve a problem. She can also be distracted just like anyone else. Third, she is specifically an Earth Goddess. So her powers can't do squat if you throw her on a boat at sea. She also cannot swim well and prefers to keep her feet on solid ground. Fourth, because she is a goddess of the earth, there are ways to hurt her without actually directly attacking HER. If you dump toxic waste on the grass or cut down one of her trees, she feels the pain from that. And last but not least, her full powers put an enormous stress on her physical body. This causes her to have two forms: a full-powered "goddess" form and an energy conserving "child" form. If she stays in her goddess form for too long, it WILL kill her body, so most of the time she stays in her child form. And her powers are passive when she's in child form. She sacrifices control for efficiency. The fact that she is a goddess of any kind automatically makes her more powerful than many canon characters she could encounter. But does that automatically make her a Sue when you also factor in all the restrictions?

Making a character who's actions, marriage, or death have drastic repercussions to both sides of the conflict.
Take 3 characters who are not Sues/Stus on their own. Have them all meet, and a love triangle pops up. If played right, it makes for awesome drama, but does it really also turn them into automatic Sues/Stus?
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:iconleathurkatt-tftiggy:
Leathurkatt-TFTiggy Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Balance is the Key. I've said that before many times. **smiles**

1. The clone thing can only go so far and is often overdone. While yes, it can be well written, it is most often badly blundered. Better to avoid cloning another character's appearance for your OC, especially when dealing with in-fandom RPs and Fan Fictions. Taking a canon character's appearance to make their OC is honestly the lazy route and I see it far too often in Transformers OC's especially. Many even go so far as to use the same bio for their OC that the canon character has. That is where it gets into the realm of the disturbing.

2. While having the same abilities due to similar training is not a bad thing and is even expected, it's the "special powers" or "unique abilities" that, when directly copied, makes it glaringly a Mary Sue/Gary Stu character. Again, I see this far too often in fandoms like Transformers where the characters have a specialty or special ability that is very rare or unique and someone makes their OC with the exact same ability simply because they like that canon character or their ability. In this it is a case of "if it doesn't make sense for the character to have the same or similar abilities as another, don't do it."

3. Crossovers with canon characters from completely different worlds, while improbable, can be fun. However, making an OC for one fandom and insisting on making their character stronger than the established "strongest canon character" or "faster than the fastest canon character" or "better at something than this canon character who specializes in it" is where you get the glaring Mary Sue/Gary Stu annoyances. Thus the point I was making.

4. Again, crossovers with canon characters from different settings is not the issue, it is OC's created for that fandom that are the issue here.

5. Thus you prove my point. While a character may appear perfect to other characters in the story, the readers know about the very real flaws and fears of the character. Again, balance is the key.

6. Again, crossovers with canon characters is not the issue, it's the OC's made for a given fandom. Superman is seemingly impervious to harm and can even fly in space without a suit or obvious means of propulsion. But he has a very serious weakness, several in fact. He is somewhat naive, has people he loves, can be fooled into believing lies told to him by others, and is crippled by Kryptonite. While to other characters he seems "perfect", the readers are made aware of his flaws and weaknesses. That is the point. Again, balance is the key.

7. What I'm talking about is not per se a "love triangle", but where an OC's actions, marriage, or death is used to end a war between two races (or two sides of a race) that has raged for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years simply because that OC is "just that awesome and both armies who hate each other to the point of genocide all love this character and will end the war just for this OC" kind of scenarios. It's these blatantly unrealistic scenarios that make a Mary Sue, not a random love triangle that only affects those directly involved.

I hope that helps to clarify my meaning for you a bit better. **smiles**
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