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 The dreaded Mary Sue...

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HannaHeyes

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PostSubject: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:50 pm

Howdy. I've got a request. I know what a 'mary sue' is and frankly, I'm paranoid of writing one. My current story calls for a female character, so to make me feel better, could someone give me a good example of a 'mary sue'? I have in no way, based this character on myself! And she's not the center of the plot, she's just got a part in it. ('Mary sues' are the reason my stories don't have very many female characters. They make me nervous!) Shocked

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:00 pm

I know what the term "Mary Sue" means, but find it difficult to describe. However, Wikipedia has a nice article on same. Hope this helps.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue
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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:06 pm

As well, here's a discussion of "Mary Sues" from an old board:

http://beejay.forumco.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=107
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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:12 pm

Hannaheyes - I know exactly what you mean. I know that lots of people thought I'd written a Mary-Sue in Abi - they probably still do. All I can say is that I think the story needs a good plot and the character should be salient to storyline, which shouldn't be all about romance. Could you swap the character with a man and would it work; or does your female character take the story to places a man couldn't (and I'm not talking heaving bodies in a fleshly boudoir - did they have those in the old west, or did they lie back and think of fast draw)?

Anyway, I think what I'm trying to say, is that the females in the series, whether they were romantic interludes or not, were part of the story and it would have been a completely different episode if they weren't there; or a if they had been dealing with a male character. Is that what your character is going to do? If so, write it.


Last edited by Silverkelpie on Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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HannaHeyes

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:21 pm

The way I see the story going now, it would have to be a female character. But she's not the main focus of the plot. Heyes and Kid are front and center of course ;) She just plays a part in the bigger storyline, and its not a romance story. I think I'll go ahead and write it and if it needs changed, then I'll do some editing.

Thanks for the input. I read the thread from the other board and it helped some.

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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:40 pm

Hannaheyes, I would just like to encourage you to NOT be paranoid or nervous about writing female characters into your stories! Approximately half the world's population is female! Why leave them out? Having a prominent female character in a story does not necessarily designate a story as a "Mary Sue" or even as a romance. Also, please don't be afraid to put a piece of yourself into your characters! I am certainly no expert, but for me, reading characters that display traits or qualities of their author, often feel authentic, personal, and touch my heart.

I think that writers should write what they feel motivated to write without fear of the criticism of others.

If I may, I would like to expand on your original question just a little bit, taking it one step further.

What's the matter with some romance in fanfic?

I think that sometimes writers shy away from writing romance because they fear that someone ELSE might label it "Mary Sue," or because they THINK that fanfic readers do not want to read romance. I strongly disagree with that line of thinking! Have you checked out the paperback section at your local grocery store lately? Not too many titles labeled something other than "romance" out there.

And c'mon ladies, which one of us didn't swoon just a wee bit during Hannibal Heyes' "log scene?" How many Curryettes wouldn't switch places with "Michelle Monet," even though she was irritating? And heavens, don't even get me started on the glories of being "Grace Turner" for just one day (or two)! sm I don't recall anyone ever complaining that those episodes were "Mary Sues." They were well-written, entertaining to watch and re-watch.

Think of "Bridget and Beth Jordan," who might be prime examples of the "perfect" female leads in ASJ, considering the viewing audience of 1971-73. The trick seems to be, (IMO) writing female characters that your readers can relate to. If your reader can place herself/himself into the shoes of your character, then your character is not "Mary Sue."

Characters that steal the limelight from the REAL heroes, Heyes and the Kid, those are the "Mary Sues" to be avoided.

Just my opinion. Thanks for listening!

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:01 pm

Was doing some more surfing regarding the Mary Sue question generally and came up with several tests regarding same. These look interesting and fairly general (see links). There are others more specific to other genres (fantasy, especially), so I haven't included them here. As well, there was one that seemed to be more male-oriented (for a "Marty Stu," etc.).

The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test: http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm

The Writer's Mary Sue Test: http://www.katfeete.net/writing/marysue.html

The Original Fiction Mary Sue Litmus Test: http://www.onlyfiction.net/marysue.html
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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:16 pm

sistergrace wrote:
And c'mon ladies, which one of us didn't swoon just a wee bit during Hannibal Heyes' "log scene?"

Think of "Bridget and Beth Jordan," who might be prime examples of the "perfect" female leads in ASJ, considering the viewing audience of 1971-73. The trick seems to be, (IMO) writing female characters that your readers can relate to. If your reader can place herself/himself into the shoes of your character, then your character is not "Mary Sue."

Characters that steal the limelight from the REAL heroes, Heyes and the Kid, those are the "Mary Sues" to be avoided.

Totally agree with you, Grace, about the "Mary Sues" that steal the limelight. Generally, if the boys are not at the heart of the story (with a few very definite exceptions), I likely would not be interested.

And interesting point regarding the Jordan girls appealing to we adolescents/teens of the early 70s. So makes sense! sm

But...I have been quickly reviewing episodes in my mind and cannot figure which one you meant with Heyes' log scene?? (Of course, I will be kicking myself once I find out...) scratch
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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:53 pm

Wasn't Heyes sitting on a log by a river in... sheesh I can't remember the title of the episode right now... when he kissed the "Nanny," ya know, what's-her-name! The "Nanny and the Professor" lady. The one who wasn't really married to whoever it was she was pretending to be married to. Was it The Man Who Murdered Himself?

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HannaHeyes

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:08 pm

Yep, it was 'The Man Who Murdered Himself'. Watched it just the other day :) And I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. Its made me less nervous! sm I think I'll go do some editing now...

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:08 pm

Ah, thanks, Grace and Hanna. Don't recall Heyes' being on a log, so I don't feel so bad. Guess that one escaped me.
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FrankieASJ

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:16 am

You can't beat a good 'log' scene!!!

Here's my 2 pennies worth .... I too have a fear of Mary Sue but there are a wealth of great female characters out there written by many of you ladies contributing here. If the character adds to the storyline and perhaps develops to the main character/s then there is not a problem writing them.

I have to admit to squirming a bit when the female characters really are too good to be true - I do like a bad girl! Not a big romance fan - like a bit of gritty action but if it's well written then it's fine by me.

And, hey - if you don't like it don't read it! But don't stop writing.

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skykomish

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PostSubject: Re: The dreaded Mary Sue...   Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:06 am

I'm going to agree with Grace, Remuda, and Frankie. A female character that steals the limelight, particularly when she is too perfect too be believable is the "Mary Sue" that makes me squirm.

I tend to prefer action stories, but a well written romance is always a welcome change of pace. I read somewhere that the key in romance is for the reader to identify with falling in love. When we are asked to identify with a character who is being worshiped, the Mary Sue is born. I don't know if that is always true, but it seems to make sense. The characters (and stories) which are off-putting for me are where the original female character is the object of adoration for Heyes and/or Curry to the point that they stop being themselves.

Committed and loving relationships do tend to change how we live as another person is incorporated into our daily routine, but they don't alter our basic nature. The worst of the Mary Sue stories I have started seem to change Heyes or Curry's fundamental character.

Hannah, I am also afraid that someone will think a female character is a Mary Sue. I haven't yet thought of a plot which includes any romance, but if I ever do, I hope to have the courage to write it anyway and let people think what they may. Of course, I would hope that a beta reader or someone on this board will let me know if the character and plot is really not working. ( I depend on you folks as a reality check. sm )

P.S. The "log" scene is lovely. Very Happy It also includes a beautiful pose of Heyes leaning against a tree. You've posted that one a time or two on the Pete site, Rem.
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