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Old 2010-03-25, 19:14   Link #1
Marcus H.
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The Mary Sue Discussion

I have just filled out a test whether an original character I created is a Mary Sue or not. As it turns out, I got a score of 26 (a Mary Sue goes from 30 and up). After checking out what I filled out, I wondered if it is truly wrong to have a Mary Sue character. The fault I'm seeing is that the quiz is pointing out many traits that are most likely going to occur in a character.

So I'd like to open a discussion on the Mary Sue-type character and if it is a bad thing to exist in a fictional universe.

Here is the actual test.
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Old 2010-03-25, 19:58   Link #2
coren
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I'd say a Mary Sue is almost always bad unless you're intentionally writing some kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy (or a parody).

On the other hand, the fact that a character scores high on the test doesn't mean they are definitely a Mary Sue. If they're well written, fit into the story, and don't feel like they have author favoritism, you can have a perfectly fine character despite scoring very high.
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Old 2010-03-25, 20:03   Link #3
Wrath88
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According to wikipedia,
Quote:
Most such tests include a disclaimer noting that even characters with extremely high scores can be executed well enough to yet still avoid being considered a "Mary Sue." The test is primarily meant as a guide for better characterization.
I don't think it's that bad of a thing unless the writer is being too over-the-top with stressing how pro the character is. However, the term is already categorized as something bad, so there's some biasness.
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Old 2010-03-25, 20:09   Link #4
RWBladewing
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I agree with you on the faults of that quiz. I don't write fanfic or RPGs but I decided to take it anyway using my completely generic and personality-less character from the console RPG Demon's Souls. I gave up about a third of the way through but then looked at my score and was pretty shocked to see I already had a 21. For a simple character in a console game that was not made to represent myself in any way. And that was just from the fact that he had a few special abilities and a funny name/hair color.
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Old 2010-03-25, 20:37   Link #5
Archon_Wing
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I think the main thing that is bad about a Mary Sue is that they are written with the attention of "d00d this character is totally awesome!". And the author will pile everything they like onto them. A Mary sue comes into the show and steals it. If it appears that the their actions and consequences make no sense besides by virtue of plot, that would be very annoying.
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Old 2010-03-25, 21:05   Link #6
Wrath88
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Am I right to say that a true Mary Sue would have:
1. Unfair level of success in anything (most important)
2. Revolving of plot around the character
3. Distinction that sets the character apart from anyone else

By the way, does anyone know of a story where the character has Mary Sue level ability, and actually jokes about it in a way that puts himself down?
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Old 2010-03-25, 21:41   Link #7
babohtea
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Hm. Mary Sue's are okay as long as they're not the focus of the plot. It's easy for a lot of people to appear to be "Mary Sues" from a distance, so it's not that big a deal if a side character seems flawless. However, if it is a main character, or a character that we are meant to know well, the flawlessness feels so artificial.

What's the point of watching somebody win all the time?
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Old 2010-03-25, 22:00   Link #8
Ichihara Asako
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I had never heard the term "mary-sue" until very recently (within the past year), despite the fact I've been writing for over twenty years but I find the concept amusing. I used to play tabletop RPGs, and saw a lot of these sort of super characters; but I always had fun in giving my characters weaknesses and flaws. Most of my chars in my fiction have pretty major flaws, too. I just did that test for some of my mains, and the highest scored a 20. So I guess I'm doing pretty well.

I don't see anything wrong with super characters, exactly... I just prefer to give mine flaws that can be played on to make stories more interesting. eg. requiring somebody else to save them, not being able to get out of any situation automagically.

But yeah, the test does seem a bit biased. Some things on there are normal for any sort of anime/game (fan)fiction, I think. So it seems easy to really rack up the points.
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Old 2010-03-25, 23:15   Link #9
Marcus H.
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The only series I think which has the Mary Sue aspect is To Love-Ru or similar harem series with harem endings. To Love-Ru is enjoyable, but I do feel bad when the "real-life basis" aspect backfires disastrously.
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Old 2010-03-26, 02:05   Link #10
Xacual
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The main character in the manga Record of the Fallen Vampire could be considered a mary sue, but in the context of the story if he wasn't then almost none of what happened would have happened. I think the manga executed it really well.
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Old 2010-03-26, 02:26   Link #11
Keroko
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The most important thing to remember is that there is a difference between a main character and a Mary Sue.

Mary Sue is a term invented through and for fanfiction. Calling the main character of a show a Mary Sue for having the plot revolve around him is beyond silly. Of course it does! He's the main character!
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Old 2010-03-26, 02:30   Link #12
Marcus H.
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But not all main characters do get the perfect lives they want, do they?
Just like how Makoto gets the headache of his life in School Days.
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Old 2010-03-26, 03:22   Link #13
Ash Falls Town
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keroko View Post
Mary Sue is a term invented through and for fanfiction. Calling the main character of a show a Mary Sue for having the plot revolve around him is beyond silly. Of course it does! He's the main character!
Being a Mary Sue or not is relative to their position in a story.
The threshold for Mary Sue in fanfiction is extremely low while the threshold for the main character of a work being a Mary Sue is extremely high.

To take a character who is often accused of being a Mary Sue as an example Berry Shirayuki from Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode is a good example.
Why is Berry called a Mary Sue? Because she immediately becomes leader after becoming a Mew Mew, is fused with two animals (while everyone else is fused with one.), is considered the strongest Mew Mew, the other Mew Mew's like her straight away (Mint and Zakuro originally didn't get along with Ichigo), is lighter than Ichigo and has a French grandfather unimportant to the plot.

As you can see except for the last point she's a Mary Sue because she's immediately better than the previous heroine at everything. If she was the main from the beginning though she would be pretty standard.

The main thing about being a Mary Sue is other characters or the author treating the character as better/more important than they are. Being better than they reasonably could be is part of the author treating characters better than they are.
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Old 2010-03-26, 03:58   Link #14
Keroko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Falls Town View Post
Being a Mary Sue or not is relative to their position in a story.
I am well aware of this, but I've seen many main characters being accused of being a Mary Sue for their obviously central position.

Your example is one of a proper 'official' Sue, and one I can fully agree with. But calling Batman a Mary Sue because he is the central to every episode and has a dark past?

Ehh...
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Old 2010-03-26, 04:08   Link #15
Xion Valkyrie
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Remember, a good writer can make anything work. However, most people are not good writers. If you're still a fledgling, this is actually a pretty good guide on making sure your character is somewhat realistic and not super good at everything. Sometimes when you're heavily invested into something you're creating, you can't see the mistakes you're making with it. Having this allows you to at least look at your character somewhat objectively.
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Old 2010-03-26, 04:22   Link #16
Syntron
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minus 6 ... although my char has some pretty ridiculous abilities, comlex past and isn't really human after all... Maybe i should add more spaceships.
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Old 2010-03-26, 11:04   Link #17
justsomeguy
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"Mary Sue" is getting to be a generic smear against characters people don't like for whatever reason. I'm sure if someone were to write a story about: a prostitute simply struggling to get through life, a female murderer on the run who manages to evade police once before getting cut down in a fusillade, or a children's story little girl who wants to dance and sing and have fun all the time, that these characters would be criticized as "Mary Sues" no matter how realistic and believable they are.

As far as I'm concerned, a real Mary Sue would have several the following traits: 1) inconsistent with the setting, 2) make other characters act OOC, 3) is automatically objectively better in every way than every other character, 4) no explanation or effort expended (or forced explanations) to achieve 1,2,3.
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Old 2010-03-26, 14:41   Link #18
Krono
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus H. View Post
I have just filled out a test whether an original character I created is a Mary Sue or not. As it turns out, I got a score of 26 (a Mary Sue goes from 30 and up). After checking out what I filled out, I wondered if it is truly wrong to have a Mary Sue character. The fault I'm seeing is that the quiz is pointing out many traits that are most likely going to occur in a character.

So I'd like to open a discussion on the Mary Sue-type character and if it is a bad thing to exist in a fictional universe.

Here is the actual test.
Generally they're a bad thing to have. However I've found that such quizzes are very poor indicators, particularly when it comes to original characters. That quiz for example pretty readily marks any character that's powerful, talented and/or charismatic as being a Mary Sue, or close to it.

It does little to account for how they got that powerful, and even punishes them for some of the tragedies they might have suffered along the way. It also fails to account for various possible character flaws that would go a long way towards mitigating any "Mary Sue"-ness.
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Old 2010-03-27, 06:59   Link #19
Socke
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Which one you rather have? Mary Sues(usually in shounen and seinen shows) or dumbass girls from shoujo anime(but more often in mangas) who get raped by their boyfriends over and over again and yet they still loves their boyfriends?

Yes I looking at you Mayu Shinjou!
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Old 2010-03-27, 07:31   Link #20
Sheba
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socke View Post
Which one you rather have? Mary Sues(usually in shounen and seinen shows) or dumbass girls from shoujo anime(but more often in mangas) who get raped by their boyfriends over and over again and yet they still loves their boyfriends?
That's quite a poor question. It's like asking someone to choose between shit or vomit. That someone would rather not have to be confronted to that choice.

Last edited by Sheba; 2010-03-27 at 07:44.
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