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An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 06:57 PM
I recently put a character of mine through an online litmus test, and to my horror, I found out that he was a Marty Stu!
Oh no!
How do I know if my guy is a real Marty Stu or if the test is a load of bollucks (my personal theory)?

Dr.Epic
2010-12-28, 07:04 PM
Could you provide a link so we can check it for ourselves?

Also, describe the character here so we can give feedback and verify the claim?

DeadManSleeping
2010-12-28, 07:44 PM
This being a writing issue, I think it belongs in Arts&Crafts.

Anyway, most Mary Sue tests come with a handy disclaimer: getting a high score on them does not mean that your character is definitely a Mary Sue, nor does a low score mean that they are definitely not. You will find that many well-received characters in popular media get huge scores on those tests.

That said, if your score is high, you'll do well to lower it. Try giving plot-important tasks to other characters. Try not focusing on how unusual your main character is (and if that's a central theme, try to keep it down to a small number of very important differences, as opposed to a large number of differences with little relevance).

WarKitty
2010-12-28, 07:51 PM
First time I ran a D&D character through one of those tests, it flagged her as a marty stu for knowing 6 different languages. I took the languages off and it was fine.

Don't know if this is a D&D character or a story character, but shows that what is natural in one setting might be a flag in another.

DeadManSleeping
2010-12-28, 07:53 PM
First time I ran a D&D character through one of those tests, it flagged her as a marty stu for knowing 6 different languages. I took the languages off and it was fine.

Don't know if this is a D&D character or a story character, but shows that what is natural in one setting might be a flag in another.

Ah, right, that reminds me: most Mary Sue tests ALSO have a disclaimer that you shouldn't count something if it's usual in your setting. For instance, if you were making an Avatar fanfic, you wouldn't check off anything involving feline ears, blue fur, animal empathy, or slitted pupils, because Na'vi are assumed to be the norm of the setting. That sort of thing really changes your totals.

For'Ninniach
2010-12-28, 08:06 PM
Description please? And what was the test exactly? CAUSE I would love to know.

Mando Knight
2010-12-28, 08:25 PM
For instance, if you were making an Avatar fanfic, you wouldn't check off anything involving feline ears, blue fur, animal empathy, or slitted pupils, because Na'vi are assumed to be the norm of the setting.

Unless the Avatar fanfic you're making is about The Last Airbender, in which case they aren't. :smalltongue:

Anyway, there is no surefire litmus test for Mary Sue-types. Especially since a litmus test (in the "political" fashion) is technically a single pass/fail question.

Especially for "Sues," the issue is more subjective and has to be felt around to get a grasp of. Though if the character acts anything like this (http://www.interrobangstudios.com/potluck/index.php?strip_id=1027), or is described like this (http://www.interrobangstudios.com/potluck/index.php?strip_id=992), then all I have to say to you is: "Ensign Sue MUST DIE! (http://www.interrobangstudios.com/potluck/index.php?strip_id=988)"

PhoeKun
2010-12-28, 08:26 PM
The test is bunk.

Writing is not an exact science, and there is zero definitive way to state one way or another whether or not a character qualifies for "Mary Sue" status... or, in fact, what a Mary Sue actually is. Ask ten people, and you'll get ten different vague dances around a general idea, but nothing highly concrete. It's not even necessarily a bad thing - some characters fit nearly every agreed upon definition and still wind up being good parts of an enjoyable story. Others are decidedly not Mary Sue in any way shape or form but absolutely suck as characters. What's important is not dodging a label, but having the right character for the right story.

And while I'd love to tell you what's right for what and what's just right in general, I'm afraid I can't do that either. For every ground rule I could lay down for you, I can think of at least six brilliant authors who made careers out of flaunting that rule. But if you're worried about your character and the quality of your story, here's something you can do: show it to people. Open up your writing to the eyes of others, be it strangers on the internet, or just a select group of friends whose opinions you trust (or first the latter then the former, or to a school of fish, or to highly important businesspeople - you decide!). Ask for their opinions, and take those opinions into account when you're rewriting or editing later. Exactly how much stock you put in these outside opinions is also your business. Depending on what you want out of the story, yours might be the only viewpoint worth anything (although be forewarned; if the story is one you want to go out into the public someday, what the public thinks about it is going to be the ultimate judge of how the story is).

Teal Deer: There's no such thing as a Mary Sue. Rather than worrying about an imaginary label, work to assemble the various parts of your character into a cohesive and identifiable whole. The less time spent on litmus tests and the more time spent on writing, the better. :smallsmile:

Water-Smurf
2010-12-28, 08:31 PM
Maybe he means this (http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm) litmus test? It's the most popular one.

But just to add in my two cents, I don't think you should be too concerned by the labels. Sure, there are some principles you could use as guidelines in writing, but that's what they are--guidelines. When it comes to writing, once you've gotten good enough, you can break every 'rule' and still come out with something awesome. Yes, even basic grammar rules. Just try to improve along the way, but don't be so harsh on yourself.

Mando Knight
2010-12-28, 08:55 PM
Maybe he means this (http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm) litmus test? It's the most popular one.

Fact: Samus Aran scores around 60 or so. Master Chief also scores near 50. If you're a badass, even if you've earned it, and especially if you're a solo fighter, you're classified as a Sue on the test.

Innis Cabal
2010-12-28, 08:59 PM
If your character lost her virginity unwillingly, does she find a way to restore it?

That test is hysterical. I had a really good long laugh at that particular quote.

Ytaker
2010-12-28, 09:07 PM
Maybe he means this (http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm) litmus test? It's the most popular one.

I did that test with one of my characters, who's a shaman. I got -2.

I did it with my other one, who's basically a fire/ air hybrid fairy, so slightly more suey material. She got 14.

It's really horrible roleplaying with mary sue characters. They're so full of themselves, and because you're trying to be sociable you can't mock them. I make sure all of my characters.

I remember a friend of mine who had a really suey character. A vampire, but with none of the flaws of vampires, who was stunningly beautiful, almost always right, and the centre of several major prophesies. She wouldn't believe the test, because, her character just couldn't be a sue. That was awkward.

Edit. Samus and Master Chief. Yes, they're overly powerful wish fulfilment characters with no flaws. It's fun playing a Mary Sue. It's just not so fun playing with them. They lack personalities too because they don't speak much, which means you don't experience too much of what they're like.

WarKitty
2010-12-28, 09:11 PM
I've never had much luck with that test. Most D&D characters I build register by virtue of being D&D characters, despite the fact that they've past the more realistic test of a couple of honest friends. Mostly the languages/pets, although I also have a habit of playing bards that tend to register for their music abilities and general charming nature (what else would a CHA 20 character be?). Plus every single character ever that I write (D&D or story) has a meaningful name, even the small farmer who's there for 2 minutes.

Edit: would probably work better if I had read the "ignore things that are common" the first time. Like the whole charming people with your music line - that's pretty much the definition of a D&D bard.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 09:52 PM
Yo. (http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm) Scoring above 50 means you are a Mary Sue. I got a 68.
Name: Desmond (no last name of any kind)
Occupation: Starship Captain
Gender: Male
Skin Tone: Sort of a dark Caucasian. Spanishesque maybe.
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Green
Age: 108 (looks to be in his early thirties)
Personality: Very very very cocky and somewhat self-centered. Tries to get along with those under his command, but is not afraid to make it clear when he does not respect you. Somewhat abrasive toward his superiors, but not openly defiant. The only people he truly cares about are family. As a captain, he has a somewhat cavalier attitude and is not afraid to pull out the big guns when there are still other options. He is a heavy drinker, a liar, and a slight hypocrate. He knows his flaws and he is entirely unashamed by them. In fact, he is quite proud of them. He is a member of a race called the Anasazi, a very long lived and magical (though only a select few are actually capable of performing magic) species but has joined another civilization of shortlived, nonmagical people (basically humans) called the Freyan Empire. Anasazi and Freyans look identical to eachother so he can blend in. Also, he may or may not have sold his soul to an immensely powerful omnipotent being giving him virtually unmatched magical power and eternal life. He is pretty much it's unwitting slave.

History: Desmond was born in an Anasazi worker colony. Basically like one of those company towns where the people have to pay the company for everything and can't leave until they no longer owe the company anything. In otherwords, never. He eventually escaped with his younger sister Krystianna and they made their way off planet and to the great Anasazi city of Aptera.

There he basically was a low life and he and his sister had a falling out. He worked as a servant for the leader of the Anasazi himself, Moros. He hated Moros and the fact that he worked for him and eventually stole his employer's personal space craft with the help of a mysterious woman who he would later learn was named Celine. They escaped into Freyan space crashed there, being found by a military patrol.

After being brought to the planet Odin, he and Celine split up and he began working as a thug for a crime boss. When this fell through, he decided to join the military as a starship officer. During his term at the Academy on the planet Tyr, the Freyan Empire went to war with another space empire, the Allutian States.

The rest of his training was rushed through and he was put on the Battlecruiser, Pale Horse, one of the most powerful ships in the fleet. Interestingly, Celine also happened to be on board the ship. After several years, Desmond finally became the ship's First Officer and then after a few more years, it's captain. He remained in that position for a long time, during which he developed a relationship with Celine and the two became lovers, a major violation since she was his subordinate.

He helped win the war against the Allutians and was sent on many missions into unknown space, discovering many primitive cultures, almost all of them strangely Anasazoid (humanoid. In fact, identical to humans in almost every respect). He brought back many aritfacts from his missions (and kept quite a few of them, getting a not unsubstantial amount of money for them).

Eventually, he discovered a horrbile weapon that Moros had secretly created and attacked Aptera directly, hoping to disrupt Moros' plans, using a special kind of missile that had the ability to phase directly through the Anasazi's energy shields. This began a war between Freya and the Anasazi that resulted in Moros using the aforementioned weapon on the Freyan homeworld (Freya), wiping out every organism on the planet, down to the smallest microbe.

Hera, the leader of the Freyan Council blamed the incident on Desmond and declared him a traitor. He tried to escape by jumping to an uninhabited planet, and was shot down over it(taking down the other ships in the process), the entire ship crashlanding in a desert. After a short few days, it became apparent that the crew was not alone. Millions of alien insectoid creatures they would later name terramites attacked them, slaughtering almost the entire crew of the ship.

Desmond and the others found an Anasazi named Janis who had fled to the planet after almost being killed trying to oppose Moros. They were attacked by a second wave of terramites and Janis attempted to use his considerable magical ability to control the minds of the terramites. The task was too great for him, but he managed to open something up in Desmond, unleashing an incredible wave of magic that gabve him control over all the terramites. He turned them on eachother, letting them kill themselves. He then fell unconsious and when he woke up, did not remember a thing about what he had done.

Eventually a group of soldiers sent by Hera came to the planet to see if Desmond was still there. They killed everyone except for Desmond who they planned to deliver to Moros in the hope that his vengance would be sated, the first officer Michael Torres who gladly betrayed his captain (the two did not get along by any stretch of the words), Celine who Torres had a perverse fascination with, and Janis who was able to elude the soldiers. Desmond was taken to the planet Loki where he was put in a dark cell for an unknown amount of time. Michael spent a week or two torturing Celine for no real forseeable reason and eventually killed her, but not before she was able to tell Desmond the truth about her.

She was an Anasazi research worker who had been involved with a project to see if stressful situations could bring out latent magical power in people who had never before shown any supernatural ability. Desmond had been an unknowing participant. He and the other subjects were made to suffer horrible hallucinations and physical torment. Desmond was the only one who survived. During the experiment, something had happened. There was a magical force of unimaginable strength, but it did not seem to come from Desmond. It was almost as if there were another being in the room. Desmond fell to the ground, his vitals completely dead. Then, inexplicably, he stood up, his body engulfed in a raging inferno, but he did not burn. the machines he had been hooked up to were completely destroyed and several of the workers involved were killed. Then, just like that, Desmond seemed to return to normal and fell into a brief coma.

Celine had been assigned to observe him and see if such an event would happen again, which is why she had always been with him wherever he went. After she was taken away and killed, Desmond was visited by a being called a Seraph, a legendary being thought only to exist in myth. It calls itself the Blood Angel. Apparently, it was the force in the laboratory that gave Desmond his latent power in exchange for him to serve it in the future. Once again, it bestows Desmond with it's power and he escapes the prison.

He then goes on to serve under the Empress Yvonne, who believes that since he was the one who could get through Aptera's shileds in the first place, he would be a useful ally. He convinces her that she wants him to lead her military forces, manipulating her mind a little with his magic. He offers his services on the condition that she take him as her husband, making him not quite Emperor, but in a position to become emperor.

Hera, seeing this arrangement as a threat to her power over the Empire, she launches a campaign agaisnt the Imperials, starting a rift that tears Freya in two, with the Imperialists fighting the Republicans.

After recieving a dream from the Blood Angel, Desmond takes a one-man spacecraft to an unkown almost dead planet. There he ecounters a long forgotten city filled with undead monstrosities. He eventually finds a seemingly young man who seems to be incredibly old. He turns out to be Ares, the legendary man who conquered the galaxy in the distant past and formed the Third Empire of the Anasazi(for more information on that, check out the link in my signature). Ares gained his power and immortality by taking up the mantle of Champion of the Blood Angel, a mantle that Desmond was sent to this world to take from him. The two men duel and Desmond manages to kill him, gaining vast magical power and immortality as a result. He returns to Freyan space afterwards.

Desmond leads his forces against both the Anasazi and the Republicans, and Yvonne is killed by a planted bomb, along with several other Imperialist leaders. Desmond finally launches an assault against Aptera, aided by Janis, who escaped from the terramite planet. Freyan forces take the city and Desmond and Janis manage to kill Moros. With his forces in full control of the city, Desmond decides to keep it as a Freyan conquest, going back on his promise to Janis that he would return the city to the Anasazi once Moros was defeated.

With Moros out of the way, Desmond can focus his attention on the Republicans, and defeats them militarily and then personally kills Hera and the rest of the High Council, restoring the title of Emperor to it's former glory.

Is that Suish?

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 09:53 PM
I did that test with one of my characters, who's a shaman. I got -2.

I did it with my other one, who's basically a fire/ air hybrid fairy, so slightly more suey material. She got 14.

It's really horrible roleplaying with mary sue characters. They're so full of themselves, and because you're trying to be sociable you can't mock them. I make sure all of my characters.

I remember a friend of mine who had a really suey character. A vampire, but with none of the flaws of vampires, who was stunningly beautiful, almost always right, and the centre of several major prophesies. She wouldn't believe the test, because, her character just couldn't be a sue. That was awkward.

Edit. Samus and Master Chief. Yes, they're overly powerful wish fulfilment characters with no flaws. It's fun playing a Mary Sue. It's just not so fun playing with them. They lack personalities too because they don't speak much, which means you don't experience too much of what they're like.

Read the Halo books. You gain a lot of insight into the mind of the Master Chief.

WarKitty
2010-12-28, 10:00 PM
That...does kind of sound sue-ish to me. Would depend on the setting a bit. But it sounds like he only does wrong or bad things when someone else is deceiving him. Has a lot of powers, far beyond that of anyone else. His flaws don't sound like real flaws. Try giving him a flaw or two that aren't benefits in disguise, something he wouldn't be proud of but that seems reasonable for him to have. That and let him get rescued or have a problem solved by someone else.

PhoeKun
2010-12-28, 10:03 PM
Is that Suish?

Once more, for emphasis:

There is no such thing as a Mary Sue. The quality of a character is determined by the story they appear in, by their words and their actions, and the context of the world around them. There is no quick and easy answer, and anybody who puts your mind at ease with a 'yes' or a 'no' to the question you asked is either mistaken about writing, or lying to you. There is. No. Such. Thing.

Am I coming in clearly?


That...does kind of sound sue-ish to me. Would depend on the setting a bit. But it sounds like he only does wrong or bad things when someone else is deceiving him. Has a lot of powers, far beyond that of anyone else. His flaws don't sound like real flaws. Try giving him a flaw or two that aren't benefits in disguise, something he wouldn't be proud of but that seems reasonable for him to have. That and let him get rescued or have a problem solved by someone else.

I know you mean well, but a character can't be fixed in a vacuum, and offering this sort of criticism is more likely to send An Enemy Spy down a more difficult road to improvement than not. How we talk up our characters doesn't reflect what they actually do in the worlds around them, and it is the story that defines whether they are well constructed or not. No synopsis is good enough. Good critique, good editing, and good help comes from the long, hard work of sitting down with the whole work and combing over it to the best of our abilities.

Mando Knight
2010-12-28, 10:05 PM
Mind breaking that wall-o-text up a bit, maybe into paragraphs with a blank line between each new paragraph? I find it hard to read a continuous block of dozens of lines of text.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 10:07 PM
That...does kind of sound sue-ish to me. Would depend on the setting a bit. But it sounds like he only does wrong or bad things when someone else is deceiving him. Has a lot of powers, far beyond that of anyone else. His flaws don't sound like real flaws. Try giving him a flaw or two that aren't benefits in disguise, something he wouldn't be proud of but that seems reasonable for him to have. That and let him get rescued or have a problem solved by someone else.

Well the point of his powers are that their kind of on loan, and he's going to have to either pay big time for it, or outlive not only everyone he knows, but also the empire he creates and his own legacy, ending up as a forgotten relic of the past, alone on some long forgotten dying world waiting for the next shmuck to come and kill him.
Also, the immortality thing, just to be clear, doesn't mean he can't die, just that he can't age.
I wasn't very clear on this also, but the reason people don't like him is purely because of his own arrogance and dismissiveness of other people, not out of jealousy or anything like that.

Gorgondantess
2010-12-28, 10:07 PM
The test is good, but the numbers are stupid. I inputted an extremely un-suish character (lots of negatives) into the system, and got something like a 16. I wondered why, as I only had something like 4 Sue+ items tagged, so I fooled around with the numbers and found that naming your character a name that you would name your own child gives a whopping 10 points. While there's definitely a correlation there- many Sue characters would be named like that- it doesn't actually make one a Mary Sue, as that's only known to the author, not the reader.

WarKitty
2010-12-28, 10:08 PM
Well the point of his powers are that their kind of on loan, and he's going to have to either pay big time for it, or outlive not only everyone he knows, but also the empire he creates and his own legacy, ending up as a forgotten relic of the past, alone on some long forgotten dying world waiting for the next shmuck to come and kill him.
Also, the immortality thing, just to be clear, doesn't mean he can't die, just that he can't age.
I wasn't very clear on this also, but the reason people don't like him is purely because of his own arrogance and dismissiveness of other people, not out of jealousy or anything like that.

Ah that's not so bad then. I take it this is a main character? Main characters can have a lot more sue-ish traits than multiplayer rpg characters.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 10:11 PM
Mind breaking that wall-o-text up a bit, maybe into paragraphs with a blank line between each new paragraph? I find it hard to read a continuous block of dozens of lines of text.

broke it up a bit. I forget sometimes when I'm writing that someone is actually going to have to read it.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 10:13 PM
Ah that's not so bad then. I take it this is a main character? Main characters can have a lot more sue-ish traits than multiplayer rpg characters.

He's one of two main characters, the other one being Janis. I consider Janis to be the real hero of the story whereas Desmond could barely even be considered a 'good guy'. He's more of a villain protagonist, you could say.

Knaight
2010-12-28, 10:15 PM
Once more, for emphasis:

There is no such thing as a Mary Sue. The quality of a character is determined by the story they appear in, by their words and their actions, and the context of the world around them. There is no quick and easy answer, and anybody who puts your mind at ease with a 'yes' or a 'no' to the question you asked is either mistaken about writing, or lying to you. There is. No. Such. Thing.

Am I coming in clearly?

Have you considered the possibility that you are perfectly understood, yet disagreed with anyways? There are a great many ways for a character to be poorly written, but the Mary Sue archetype is a common error. There are situations where they work, and a yes or no is a simplification the question is worth asking. That said, looking at some online test completely detached from the surrounding narrative is useless, if entertaining.

Regarding this test in particular, and a character of my own, some of the questions are rendered completely counterproductive by circumstances. Fame and ability are not signs of a Mary Sue when the significance of them is the moral fall they inflict upon a character. An unusually ornate weapon can be a sign of a Mary Sue or a sign of inability to cope with loss from prestige. Loss of a lover or close friend could be a pointless Suish attempt at cheap angst, or something a character naturally brings upon themselves because of their flaws.

Given that the test fails as often as it does at a character chosen pretty much at random (though the ultimate total was a mere 9), and known problems with it, it can safely be ignored. Dynamic character in particular are not tested well, and any judgment the forum can really pass will have to wait for a more completed story.

One last note, regarding the particular test theorized to have diagnosed a Mary Sue in the first place. Some of the questions are simply hilarious in their inanity. Part 2, number 6 for instance, where checking it is more likely to indicate a hostile setting than anything relating to the character.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 10:17 PM
Yeah, I don't actually take the test seriously. It just made me worry that maybe I did make him a little too sparkly super special terrific.

averagejoe
2010-12-28, 10:19 PM
This being a writing issue, I think it belongs in Arts&Crafts.

The Mod They Call Me: I'm inclined to agree. This or Media, but I'd say A&C since it's about the OP's work specifically.

Non modly input: +1 to what Phoekun said. All of it.

The main thing those tests do is list traits that are common in badly written fanfiction characters. The main use for the list, I think, is to help you prevent your character being the sort of person that will cause people to knee-jerk go, "That character is a Mary Sue!" whether he is or not.

I'm going to go one step further than what Phoekun was saying; not only is Mary Sue not really a thing, but if you're too concerned about the labels that can be attached to your character, you're probably worrying about the wrong things. Even, for the sake of argument, if Mary Sue was a thing, if that's what you're worried about then you'll probably manage to create a character that's not a Mary Sue, but your character will suffer in other ways. Focus on making him a character, not making a bunch of labels.

Mr. Zolrane
2010-12-28, 10:27 PM
Just some friendly advice: you might want to spoiler that wall-o-text. :smallsmile:

PhoeKun
2010-12-28, 10:41 PM
Have you considered the possibility that you are perfectly understood, yet disagreed with anyways? There are a great many ways for a character to be poorly written, but the mary sue archetype is a common error. There are situations where they work, and a yes or no is a simplification the question is worth asking. That said, looking at some online test completely detached from the surrounding narrative is useless, if entertaining.

If I am disagreed with, I can open up a dialog about those disagreements, and both myself and whoever I am disagreeing with can both become enlightened. When I am ignored, and moreover when I am ignored on a subject I have a great deal of passion for and experience with, I find the best course of action is to repeat myself, lest I get lost amidst the chorus of voices.

In any case, I'm not wrong. Whatever value there may be in archetypes for the discussion of literature by the readers, they are stupid and useless for the writer. Any time spent creating a character based on those lines will invariably take time away from the writer's ability to work on what is important, which is the writing of the actual story. A writer concerning himself with archetypes while writing a story is a bad thing, and I am going to speak against it.

And no, Mary Sues are not archetypes so much as they are a compilation of complaints about weak characters. The term tells us nothing useful. Little in writing that can be summed up in a word or two is.

Ytaker
2010-12-28, 10:55 PM
Yo. (http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm) Scoring above 50 means you are a Mary Sue. I got a 68.
Name: Desmond (no last name of any kind)
Occupation: Starship Captain
Gender: Male
Skin Tone: Sort of a dark Caucasian. Spanishesque maybe.
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Green
Age: 108 (looks to be in his early thirties)


Green eyes and younger than he looks? Sounds Suish.


Personality: Very very very cocky and somewhat self-centered. Tries to get along with those under his command, but is not afraid to make it clear when he does not respect you. Somewhat abrasive toward his superiors, but not openly defiant.

Sounds horrible to roleplay with. Since a Sue is the centre of the universe, of course they are cocky. Actual people who are arrogant tend to have social problems because a lot of people resent them for it. The mark of a good leader is that they can listen to people's problems and resolve them- arrogance gets in the way of that. If he can insult his inferiors and get away with it, that's Suey. In reality, he'd just be knifed and airlocked.


The only people he truly cares about are family. As a captain, he has a somewhat cavalier attitude and is not afraid to pull out the big guns when there are still other options. He is a heavy drinker, a liar, and a slight hypocrate. He knows his flaws and he is entirely unashamed by them. In fact, he is quite proud of them.

Of course, even when a Sue is wrong they are right.


He is a member of a race called the Anasazi, a very long lived and magical (though only a select few are actually capable of performing magic) species but has joined another civilization of shortlived, nonmagical people (basically humans) called the Freyan Empire. Anasazi and Freyans look identical to eachother so he can blend in.

People of different cultures act differently. You have different tics, different ways of speaking, different ways of standing. No doubt humans would resent this race of space elves as the sues they are. And they would almost certainly be able to tell he was a Anasazi, even if he looked the same. He'd probably face racial stigmatization because he was holding back the secret of eternal life and magic from humans, or so they'd think. But then, he is a Sue, so no. Sues don't face problems from their super abilities.

The idea that people resent elves is a fairly common idea in fantasy and sci fi. It tends to make for better stories where they're overpowered.


Also, he may or may not have sold his soul to an immensely powerful omnipotent being giving him virtually unmatched magical power and eternal life. He is pretty much it's unwitting slave.

If he had, it would be pretty obvious. Letting a powerful and manipulative being control you would have severe... complications. Demon hunters chasing him for his immorality. Nightmares, burning around his soul. A fear of death, knowing that his soul is going to a very dark, dark place. But no, he has all this power and almost certainly will face no complications.

Unlike a certain elf in our comic, who faced quite a few problems when he made a deal.


History: Desmond was born in an Anasazi worker colony. Basically like one of those company towns where the people have to pay the company for everything and can't leave until they no longer owe the company anything. In otherwords, never. He eventually escaped with his younger sister Krystianna and they made their way off planet and to the great Anasazi city of Aptera. There he basically was a low life and he and his sister had a falling out.

S'ok. Sucky upbringing though. I mentioned the humans resenting him thing- he'd probably be resented by many Anasazi people too, as a peasant with peasant mannerisms and a peasant accent.


He worked as a servant for the leader of the Anasazi himself, Moros. He hated Moros and the fact that he worked for him and eventually stole his employer's personal space craft with the help of a mysterious woman who he would later learn was named Celine.

Indeed, is there anyone a Sue isn't better than? Certainly not the leader of the Anasazi. No doubt he faced no consequences from his thievery. In reality the leader would pursue him mercilessly and seek to destroy him utterly.


They escaped into Freyan space crashed there, being found by a military patrol. After being brought to the planet Odin, he and Celine split up and he began working as a thug for a crime boss. When this fell through, he decided to join the military as a starship officer.

So long as he didn't fail because he was just too good or moral, this would be a less suey trait. Sues always succeed.


During his term at the Academy on the planet Tyr, the Freyan Empire went to war with another space empire, the Allutian States. The rest of his training was rushed through and he was put on the Battlecruiser, Pale Horse, one of the most powerful ships in the fleet. Interestingly, Celine also happened to be on board the ship. After several years, Desmond finally became the ship's First Officer and then after a few more years, it's captain.

That's impressively fast. What abilities does he have that allows him to progress so fast, and against the human stereotypes against elves like him?


He remained in that position for a long time, during which he developed a relationship with Celine and the two became lovers, a major violation since she was his subordinate. He helped win the war against the Allutians and was sent on many missions into unknown space, discovering many primitive cultures, almost all of them strangely Anasazoid (humanoid. In fact, identical to humans in almost every respect).

No consequences from violating the rules with his subordinate, of course.

He's the centre of the story, so it's fair he made everything happen. What abilities does he have that make him such an effective spaceship captain?


He brought back many aritfacts from his missions (and kept quite a few of them, getting a not unsubstantial amount of money for them). Eventually, he discovered a horrbile weapon that Moros had secretly created and attacked Aptera directly, hoping to disrupt Moros' plans, using a special kind of missile that had the ability to phase directly through the Anasazi's energy shields.

No consequences from being a thieving elf. As all humans know elves are. They also eat children. I'm just making up stereotypes, but really, he hasn't faced any consequences of any kind yet.


This began a war between Freya and the Anasazi that resulted in Moros using the aforementioned weapon on the Freyan homeworld (Freya), wiping out every organism on the planet, down to the smallest microbe. Hera, the leader of the Freyan Council blamed the incident on Desmond and declared him a traitor.

True, he is a warmongering elf. The first consequence. He rather stupidly attacked the elven homeworld, and they retaliated severely.


He tried to escape by jumping to an uninhabited planet, and was shot down over it(taking down the other ships in the process)

Of course, a Sue can never truly be beaten.


...They were attacked by a second wave of terramites and Janis attempted to use his considerable magical ability to control the minds of the terramites. The task was too great for him, but he managed to open something up in Desmond, unleashing an incredible wave of magic that gabve him control over all the terramites. He turned them on eachother, letting them kill themselves.

Oh wow, the person with no training is greater than all other elves. What a surprise. Pretty sueish. Sues don't need no practise or "learning".


He then fell unconsious and when he woke up, did not remember a thing about what he had done. Eventually a group of soldiers sent by Hera came to the planet to see if Desmond was still there. They killed everyone except for Desmond

Of course, he is the centre of the universe so they can't kill him. They can't even cut him up a bit.


who they planned to deliver to Moros in the hope that his vengance would be sated, the first officer Michael Torres who gladly betrayed his captain (the two did not get along by any stretch of the words)

Given how you've described him, I can understand his betrayal. The man caused the deaths of millions of humans by being a war mongering elf. I'd imagine the Freyans started mass testing their armies for elves to purge their ranks of such betrayers.


She was an Anasazi research worker who had been involved with a project to see if stressful situations could bring out latent magical power in people who had never before shown any supernatural ability. Desmond had been an unknowing participant. He and the other subjects were made to suffer horrible hallucinations and physical torment.

Of course, he no doubt has severe mental disorders from this torture, and many scars making him very unattractive. Because torture is not just a papercut.


Desmond was the only one who survived.

Suemuch?


Desmond was visited by a being called a Seraph, a legendary being thought only to exist in myth. It calls itself the Blood Angel. Apparently, it was the force in the laboratory that gave Desmond his latent power in exchange for him to serve it in the future.

That would make him pretty unique.


Once again, it bestows Desmond with it's power and he escapes the prison. He then goes on to serve under the Empress Yvonne

He's serving very important people.


who believes that since he was the one who could get through Aptera's shileds in the first place, he would be a useful ally. He convinces her that she wants him to lead her military forces, manipulating her mind a little with his magic. He offers his services on the condition that she take him as her husband, making him not quite Emperor, but in a position to become emperor.

This seems a bit... improbable. The queen has no magical advisors or scientific advisors who can detect his manipulations? I'd imagine as the queen she'd have some pretty powerful protective artifacts too. And I'd imagine what with him facing all those lower class stereotypes and with him attacking their homeworld earlier, elves en masse would be angry.


Hera, seeing this arrangement as a threat to her power over the Empire

The man who tried to kill us all, who allied with the deceitful inferior humans who suck compared to us elves, is about to become our emperor? You wouldn't need much reason to say no, even if you were a very patriotic elf. Sueish btw, him having quite this much power.


, she launches a campaign agaisnt the Imperials, starting a rift that tears Freya in two, with the Imperialists fighting the Republicans.

Is there anything this man can't destroy? He's killed the human home world, and now he's caused a devastating civil war among the elves.


He turns out to be Ares, the legendary man who conquered the galaxy in the distant past and formed the Third Empire of the Anasazi(for more information on that, check out the link in my signature). Ares gained his power and immortality by taking up the mantle of Champion of the Blood Angel, a mantle that Desmond was sent to this world to take from him.

So he's destined to become ruler of the galaxy? Because he's just that awesome. Sueish. And of course, this blood angel thing is totally awesome and has no consequences.


The two men duel and Desmond manages to kill him, gaining vast magical power and immortality as a result.

He's totally perfect and utterly overpowered.


Desmond can focus his attention on the Republicans, and defeats them militarily and then personally kills Hera and the rest of the High Council, restoring the title of Emperor to it's former glory.

Absolutely perfect. Yay, for the return of the monarchy and the end of democracy! I mean, what better way to decide you're da king than by killing everyone who opposes you.


Is that Suish?

Just 68?

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 10:58 PM
Green eyes and younger than he looks? Sounds Suish.



Sounds horrible to roleplay with. Since a Sue is the centre of the universe, of course they are cocky. Actual people who are arrogant tend to have social problems because a lot of people resent them for it. The mark of a good leader is that they can listen to people's problems and resolve them- arrogance gets in the way of that. If he can insult his inferiors and get away with it, that's Suey. In reality, he'd just be knifed and airlocked.



Of course, even when a Sue is wrong they are right.



People of different cultures act differently. You have different tics, different ways of speaking, different ways of standing. No doubt humans would resent this race of space elves as the sues they are. And they would almost certainly be able to tell he was a Anasazi, even if he looked the same. He'd probably face racial stigmatization because he was holding back the secret of eternal life and magic from humans, or so they'd think. But then, he is a Sue, so no. Sues don't face problems from their super abilities.

The idea that people resent elves is a fairly common idea in fantasy and sci fi. It tends to make for better stories where they're overpowered.



If he had, it would be pretty obvious. Letting a powerful and manipulative being control you would have severe... complications. Demon hunters chasing him for his immorality. Nightmares, burning around his soul. A fear of death, knowing that his soul is going to a very dark, dark place. But no, he has all this power and almost certainly will face no complications.

Unlike a certain elf in our comic, who faced quite a few problems when he made a deal.



S'ok. Sucky upbringing though. I mentioned the humans resenting him thing- he'd probably be resented by many Anasazi people too, as a peasant with peasant mannerisms and a peasant accent.



Indeed, is there anyone a Sue isn't better than? Certainly not the leader of the Anasazi. No doubt he faced no consequences from his thievery. In reality the leader would pursue him mercilessly and seek to destroy him utterly.



So long as he didn't fail because he was just too good or moral, this would be a less suey trait. Sues always succeed.



That's impressively fast. What abilities does he have that allows him to progress so fast, and against the human stereotypes against elves like him?



No consequences from violating the rules with his subordinate, of course.

He's the centre of the story, so it's fair he made everything happen. What abilities does he have that make him such an effective spaceship captain?



No consequences from being a thieving elf. As all humans know elves are. They also eat children. I'm just making up stereotypes, but really, he hasn't faced any consequences of any kind yet.



True, he is a warmongering elf. The first consequence. He rather stupidly attacked the elven homeworld, and they retaliated severely.



Of course, a Sue can never truly be beaten.



Oh wow, the person with no training is greater than all other elves. What a surprise. Pretty sueish. Sues don't need no practise or "learning".



Of course, he is the centre of the universe so they can't kill him. They can't even cut him up a bit.



Given how you've described him, I can understand his betrayal. The man caused the deaths of millions of humans by being a war mongering elf. I'd imagine the Freyans started mass testing their armies for elves to purge their ranks of such betrayers.



Of course, he no doubt has severe mental disorders from this torture, and many scars making him very unattractive. Because torture is not just a papercut.



Suemuch?



That would make him pretty unique.



He's serving very important people.



This seems a bit... improbable. The queen has no magical advisors or scientific advisors who can detect his manipulations? I'd imagine as the queen she'd have some pretty powerful protective artifacts too. And I'd imagine what with him facing all those lower class stereotypes and with him attacking their homeworld earlier, elves en masse would be angry.



The man who tried to kill us all, who allied with the deceitful inferior humans who suck compared to us elves, is about to become our emperor? You wouldn't need much reason to say no, even if you were a very patriotic elf. Sueish btw, him having quite this much power.



Is there anything this man can't destroy? He's killed the human home world, and now he's caused a devastating civil war among the elves.



So he's destined to become ruler of the galaxy? Because he's just that awesome. Sueish. And of course, this blood angel thing is totally awesome and has no consequences.



He's totally perfect and utterly overpowered.



Absolutely perfect. Yay, for the return of the monarchy and the end of democracy! I mean, what better way to decide you're da king than by killing everyone who opposes you.



Just 68?

Wow. That was brutal. Kinda mean too.

WarKitty
2010-12-28, 11:01 PM
Sounds horrible to roleplay with. Since a Sue is the centre of the universe, of course they are cocky. Actual people who are arrogant tend to have social problems because a lot of people resent them for it. The mark of a good leader is that they can listen to people's problems and resolve them- arrogance gets in the way of that. If he can insult his inferiors and get away with it, that's Suey. In reality, he'd just be knifed and airlocked.

Out of curiosity, are you evaluating this as a RPG character or as a story character? As a story character, he still has strong sue traits but he's not so bad. It is a tendency of main characters that the world revolves around them, because it does - we're interested in watching the main character succeed, not in the rest of the world. And main story characters don't typically lose permanently, because then there wouldn't be a story.

Knaight
2010-12-28, 11:05 PM
And no, Mary Sues are not archetypes so much as they are a compilation of complaints about weak characters. The term tells us nothing useful. Little in writing that can be summed up in a word or two is.

The original use of the term very much qualifies as an archetype. While it is fuzzy, that is more the nature of language -particularly anything that could be qualified as conversational shorthand- than an indication of uselessness. As such, while there is no definition with perfect consensus, that of a perfect or near perfect character upon whom a narrative focuses is at least widespread, as well as worth classifying as an archetype.

The matter of usefulness is another one, while the concept is only marginally useful in most cases, if that, there are exceptions. Much advice in writing comes in that of a short phrase, and while all of it should be disregarded in some circumstances the advice does have a place among novice writers. "Avoid Mary Sues" is among this advice, as well as better known statements along the lines of "show, don't tell".

Ytaker
2010-12-28, 11:09 PM
And that's in the test. You get offended when your character is attacked.

My main problem with sues is they don't face consequences. They do all sorts of horrible crap and no one calls them on it. They are really immoral, horrible characters, and the universe bends around them. That's what I'd call a Mary Sue. A character who just, bends the universe around them. They do everything, and nothing truly bad can ever happen to them.


Out of curiosity, are you evaluating this as a RPG character or as a story character? As a story character, he still has strong sue traits but he's not so bad. It is a tendency of main characters that the world revolves around them, because it does - we're interested in watching the main character succeed, not in the rest of the world. And main story characters don't typically lose permanently, because then there wouldn't be a story.

Both. A lot of sueish elements in the story. He is the ultimate elf, from humble upbringings, who is possessed by an angel to make him an even better elf, and becomes the emperor of all elves. After being the best human ever, and winning them lots of wars and artifacts.

Darklord Bright
2010-12-28, 11:10 PM
Gonna have to agree here that "Perfect or near-perfect character upon whom the narrative focuses" is how myself and everyone I've known has used the term, with a healthy addition of "Badly written", because a character can be considered to have "Sue-ish" qualities and still be well written enough to get around them.

Still, the tests are to be taken with a grain of salt, since they're not wholly serious most of the time.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 11:17 PM
And that's in the test. You get offended when your character is attacked.

My main problem with sues is they don't face consequences. They do all sorts of horrible crap and no one calls them on it. They are really immoral, horrible characters, and the universe bends around them. That's what I'd call a Mary Sue. A character who just, bends the universe around them. They do everything, and nothing truly bad can ever happen to them.

First off, I'm not offended. I just thought that was a brutal list. Now I am offended because you're putting words in my mouth. Don't do that.
Secondly, Desmond is a horrible immoral character and virtually everyone calls him out on it, and tries to either arrest or kill him. I don't know where you got the whole 'nobody calls him out thing' from. People hate him. They just recognize that he can be useful to them.
Thirdly, why are you calling him an elf? He's not an elf, and he doesn't look younger than he actually is. For an Anasazi, 108 is not very old. That goes for absolutely every member of his entire race, not just him.
Fourthly, Stop putting words in my mouth. That annoys me.

PhoeKun
2010-12-28, 11:24 PM
The original use of the term very much qualifies as an archetype. While it is fuzzy, that is more the nature of language -particularly anything that could be qualified as conversational shorthand- than an indication of uselessness. As such, while there is no definition with perfect consensus, that of a perfect or near perfect character upon whom a narrative focuses is at least widespread, as well as worth classifying as an archetype.

The matter of usefulness is another one, while the concept is only marginally useful in most cases, if that, there are exceptions. Much advice in writing comes in that of a short phrase, and while all of it should be disregarded in some circumstances the advice does have a place among novice writers. "Avoid Mary Sues" is among this advice, as well as better known statements along the lines of "show, don't tell".

Even if I concede the point that a Mary Sue is a valid archetype, the existence of archetypes and the discussion of them are things best left to the arenas of literary analysis and critique. They're useful for the reader, but they don't exist until after all the writing has been done. For a writer, particularly a novice writer, to focus on avoiding them carries an extremely strong risk of placing the emphasis on the wrong point. I've seen so many stories crumble to dust because the writer bent over backwards trying to keep her character from becoming a Mary Sue.

More to the point (and this is the last I'm going to post here), any writer regardless of their skill level is going to learn more from the actual act of writing and the earnest discussion of the completed work then they are going to learn from some random online quiz and a bunch of forum members' responses to said quiz. An Enemy Spy's time is better spent continuing work on his story. He should write and he should not care about Mary Sues or any of that stuff because he has to write to get better. And he must be allowed to write a bad story if he is ever going to have a chance to write a good one. The way the thread is trending, it threatens to cut him off from that.

Ytaker
2010-12-28, 11:27 PM
Ok, so, you're not offended.

Ah, I was basing my words on what you said. If people don't just accept him as who he is, that's good. Still, in story, he should face more direct consequences from his actions. People hate him, and so they should try to get revenge on him, and that should be a major part of his story.

I'm calling him elven because your race sounds pretty elven. Immortal long lived creatures with magical powers? Humans but better? That's elves. In space.

Yeah, it's a suey thing for people to be old (and so, wise, knowledgable) yet look young (because old people are unattractive and not athletic). Elves are inherently Suey. They're a race of Sues. Elves were originally made, by Tolkein, as pre fall humans- superior in every way. Magical, long lived, wise, and physically more fit. Are the... whatever they were called, at all more fit or smart on average than humans?

Edit. There are several ways that knowing about Sues can help. It can help you recognise that you're making your character too perfect, and you can add some flaws. Flaws drive stories. It can help you recognise that you're making your character too perfect, and you can stop them or you being arrogant. If you're waxing lyrical about their beauty and amazingness that will piss of readers. You can make a perfect character, but you have to make sure you play them right.

It can also help you realize you need to make the story have more consequences. Consequences cause conflict, conflict drives good stories. If your sue faces no serious consequences for what they do then your story will lack conflict and so will be boring.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 11:40 PM
No. In fact, their civilization is rather stagnant. It has an outward appearance of being shiny and utopian, but if you look deeper, you'll see that the Anasazi are in fact very flawed. Their ruling class is made up of people who consider the Anasazi to be perfect and are completely dismissive of almost any outside threats, which was partially the reason why Desmond had such an easy time attacking Aptera in the first place. The injustices that exist in many different areas of their culture are ignored because to fix the problems, the Anasazi would first have to admit the problems existed. The people are also rather like sheep, just doing what they are told without ever really questioning why. And due to their superior technology, the Anasazi look down their noses at all the other races too.
Of course, this is still one of the better civilizations to live in.
Also, the Anasazi don't always look young. Desmond is young. Other characters such as Janis and Moros are much older (I'm talking by a few centuries here), thus, they look much older.
Edit to respond to your edit: There is lot's of conflict in the story. What you read was simply a rather limited synopsis, only showing what this particular character was doing, There are other characters in the spotlight.

Knaight
2010-12-28, 11:43 PM
Even if I concede the point that a Mary Sue is a valid archetype, the existence of archetypes and the discussion of them are things best left to the arenas of literary analysis and critique. They're useful for the reader, but they don't exist until after all the writing has been done. For a writer, particularly a novice writer, to focus on avoiding them carries an extremely strong risk of placing the emphasis on the wrong point. I've seen so many stories crumble to dust because the writer bent over backwards trying to keep her character from becoming a Mary Sue.
There is focus and then there is background awareness. One who has read a lot, particularly if they have written will have useful knowledge of archetypes. Actively focusing on archetypes, whether through implementation or aversion, is asking for trouble*. They simply allow one to learn a little faster.


More to the point (and this is the last I'm going to post here), any writer regardless of their skill level is going to learn more from the actual act of writing and the earnest discussion of the completed work then they are going to learn from some random online quiz and a bunch of forum members' responses to said quiz. An Enemy Spy's time is better spent continuing work on his story. He should write and he should not care about Mary Sues or any of that stuff because he has to write to get better. And he must be allowed to write a bad story if he is ever going to have a chance to write a good one. The way the thread is trending, it threatens to cut him off from that.
This I agree with entirely. Chatting about theory on a forum isn't really all that useful, and is ultimately a break time activity, not one at all related to the task of writing.

In all, I suspect our philosophies regarding writing are extremely similar as relates to the current discussion. It is a few relatively minor points upon which we are currently conflicting, and even then we appear to agree about more than we disagree. Its been a fun chat; I would argue that it may have some small value as unconscious background knowledge to any who read it.

* There are exceptions to this; broad generalities are never perfectly accurate or all encompassing. For that matter, even very narrow generalities are the same in both regards.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-28, 11:54 PM
Even if I concede the point that a Mary Sue is a valid archetype, the existence of archetypes and the discussion of them are things best left to the arenas of literary analysis and critique. They're useful for the reader, but they don't exist until after all the writing has been done. For a writer, particularly a novice writer, to focus on avoiding them carries an extremely strong risk of placing the emphasis on the wrong point. I've seen so many stories crumble to dust because the writer bent over backwards trying to keep her character from becoming a Mary Sue.

More to the point (and this is the last I'm going to post here), any writer regardless of their skill level is going to learn more from the actual act of writing and the earnest discussion of the completed work then they are going to learn from some random online quiz and a bunch of forum members' responses to said quiz. An Enemy Spy's time is better spent continuing work on his story. He should write and he should not care about Mary Sues or any of that stuff because he has to write to get better. And he must be allowed to write a bad story if he is ever going to have a chance to write a good one. The way the thread is trending, it threatens to cut him off from that.

Can I get in a word here? I'm not gonna change a darn thing about my writing because of some stupid internet test. I took that thing purely out of curiosity and I don't really care about the results of it because I know the reasons why my character is what he is, and he is no Sue. I just like having second opinions.

Ytaker
2010-12-29, 12:01 AM
Sounds pretty elvish. Mildly Vulcan. Anyway, just because they are elvish doesn't mean you shouldn't do them. Elves are a well loved and copied stereotype throughout fantasy and sci fi.

Yeah, but the character who is evil and is pissing everyone off should have conflict because he is pissing everyone off and being bad. You have conflict when something overwhelming happens to a character which they probably can't overcome, and they then overcome it. He wins everything and has a deus ex angela come save him the only time he's in a really bad situation, after soldiers capture him.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-29, 12:09 AM
The "Deus Ex Angelica" is the one of the main bad guys of the setting. He doesn't just come in because it's conveniant to the story and offers me an easy out. I came up with that part to set up the Blood Angel, not the other way around.
Also, I would like to reiterate that this is a limited synopsis. The story doesn't even end where I ended it. I was just sick of writing that post. There is plenty of conflict to go around, not just bad guy does something EVIL! and good guy punches him in the face.
At the risk of sounding long winded, Desmond is not the good guy. He is the not-quite-as-bad-guy. The true hero hero of the story is Janis. I could write an entirely different synopsis of the exact same story if you want to see it from his perspective, but I don't want to.

Mando Knight
2010-12-29, 12:14 AM
No. In fact, their civilization is rather stagnant. It has an outward appearance of being shiny and utopian, but if you look deeper, you'll see that the Anasazi are in fact very flawed. Their ruling class is made up of people who consider the Anasazi to be perfect and are completely dismissive of almost any outside threats,
Honestly, for more recent interpretations of Elves, this does sound rather space-elvish. Not a bad thing in and of itself, but can be troublesome when the main character is a space-elf that acts like a more ambitious, developing race... that is, combining a space-elf's abilities and long life with a human's capacity and desire to develop and change things.

In the end, this kind of space-elf works best as a dying race that in these last millennia of its existence pass on the torch to a younger race they respect, in my opinion.

Over all, your character has done a lot, and you haven't discussed much of his own personal setbacks: how being bound in servitude to an Ancient harms him, how his caustic personality makes it so the only reason people work with him is because he can get things done, and so forth. Your description of his history doesn't discuss his comeuppances as much as his successes, which make his listed anti-social behavior and string of victories relatively unbelievable. Even being branded a traitor only nets him a crash landing, which then leads to the events that causes his potential to awaken.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-29, 12:26 AM
Honestly, for more recent interpretations of Elves, this does sound rather space-elvish. Not a bad thing in and of itself, but can be troublesome when the main character is a space-elf that acts like a more ambitious, developing race... that is, combining a space-elf's abilities and long life with a human's capacity and desire to develop and change things.

In the end, this kind of space-elf works best as a dying race that in these last millennia of its existence pass on the torch to a younger race they respect, in my opinion.

Over all, your character has done a lot, and you haven't discussed much of his own personal setbacks: how being bound in servitude to an Ancient harms him, how his caustic personality makes it so the only reason people work with him is because he can get things done, and so forth. Your description of his history doesn't discuss his comeuppances as much as his successes, which make his listed anti-social behavior and string of victories relatively unbelievable. Even being branded a traitor only nets him a crash landing, which then leads to the events that causes his potential to awaken.

I'll consider that as I go on. Thanks.

Ytaker
2010-12-29, 12:34 AM
The "Deus Ex Angelica" is the one of the main bad guys of the setting. He doesn't just come in because it's conveniant to the story and offers me an easy out. I came up with that part to set up the Blood Angel, not the other way around.

Not just because it's conveniant to the story, but it is pretty conveniant that he chose to come in there, wasn't it. Your character written into a corner, and oh look, Blood Angel!


Also, I would like to reiterate that this is a limited synopsis. The story doesn't even end where I ended it. I was just sick of writing that post. There is plenty of conflict to go around, not just bad guy does something EVIL! and good guy punches him in the face.

I'm basing what I said on the story. There was a lot of story, and not a lot of conflict. When I was reading what you wrote nothing came back to bite him, and the only time I was actually worried he might die an angel came to save him. Oh, and that time when the termites attacked and he suddenly developed a new ability to save him.

That's a problem in the story. I should be on the edge of my seat, wondering whether he's good enough, whether the much more bad guys are going to overcome him. Afraid for his death. I wasn't. I knew he'd succeed at everything that was thrown at him, and that he was never in serious danger.

That's the big problem with Mary Sues. Not that they're perfect, or that the story warps around them. That you know they can't lose, and so the story just doesn't draw you in.


At the risk of sounding long winded, Desmond is not the good guy. He is the not-quite-as-bad-guy. The true hero hero of the story is Janis. I could write an entirely different synopsis of the exact same story if you want to see it from his perspective, but I don't want to.

Janis, he faced conflict. He tried to use his magical powers and... they weren't enough. He failed.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-29, 12:43 AM
You're right on a few points there.

Unfortunately, I can't fully illustrate my case due to the fact that I haven't written everything up yet. The version I have here is simply the latest in a long line of evolutions I've gone through, the first being that Desmond is a comedy villain constantly suffering though pratfalls do to his own stupidity, while his far more competant subordinates do all the real work while he takes the credit. That was before I actually cared though.

Ytaker
2010-12-29, 01:01 AM
I've found this idea helpful in writing individuals like him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byronic_hero

"mad, bad, and dangerous to know"

A powerful socially dominant man with many severe and controversial flaws. A jerk, but with a strange magnetism to them. Self centred, self destructive and morally very suspect but often with a strong code of honour that binds them.

When reading about them or seeing them you often wonder why they are called heroes.

Examples in modern culture would include Gregory House, Kratos from God of War, V from V for Vendetta, Tony Montana from Scarface.

Water-Smurf
2010-12-29, 03:17 AM
I think that Mary-Sues are vaguely defined and it's unfair to slap the label on a character based on isolated character traits or separate story occurrences. The best definition I've ever come across for a Mary-Sue was that it's a character that not only can do no wrong, but the entire universe and all the other characters are only written through their relationship with the Mary-Sue character, and said character either has no flaws or has no flaws that are acknowledged realistically by the world and the rest of the cast. And even with that definition, I can think of ways for a character to match that description and still not be a Mary-Sue. The label is arbitrary at best, just a knee-jerk cheap shot towards fanfiction writers at worst.

Yes, while there are certain traits associated with the archetype (eyes that change color, unrealistic amount of power, being a woman and still being able to kick ass, etc. etc. etc.), those traits shouldn't make the sue. The way it's written should. And even then, the Mary-Sue label shouldn't be the bane of your existence--sometimes, a little wish-fulfillment is okay, especially in a protagonist. Part of the reasons stories were made in the first place was so humans could think of something better than they had.

onthetown
2010-12-29, 06:45 AM
There is no such thing as a Mary Sue.

A thousand times this. Besides what else PhoeKun said, a writer can't spend all of their time obsessing over whether or not their character fits into a certain category. You just write, and if you don't like the character then you fix him or her.

Since a "Mary Sue" is considered to be a bad thing, does that make Hermoine from the HP series bad? Lots of people love her despite the fact that she fits into the category.

yldenfrei
2010-12-29, 07:27 AM
A thousand times this. Besides what else PhoeKun said, a writer can't spend all of their time obsessing over whether or not their character fits into a certain category. You just write, and if you don't like the character then you fix him or her.

Since a "Mary Sue" is considered to be a bad thing, does that make Hermoine from the HP series bad? Lots of people love her despite the fact that she fits into the category.

I don't think Mary Sues botch a potion and become a ridiculous catgirl thing, or manage to trap themselves in a bathroom with an ogre, to name a few. :smallconfused:

True, the Mary Sue concept can be too over-generalizing, but keeping it in mind doesn't hurt in avoiding common protagonist pitfalls. Hermione is a prime example of an averted Mary Sue. Her potentially unappealing overcompetence is tempered by situations that definitively knock her off a peg or two.

Kaytara
2010-12-29, 07:35 AM
Hermione does not fit into the category.

You need to look at how Mary Sues come to be. They are created by a writer who is writing that character for wish-fulfillment and to self-project, not because that character has a place in the story. All the things the test and the definition ask about are simply the most common manifestations of such wish-fulfillment-driven writing. They're symptoms. And some of them are more telling than others.

If the character is not like a black-hole in the story, sucking all plot importance towards themselves and trivialising all other characters regardless of logic or story drama, then it will be very hard to dub them a Mary Sue even if they fulfill many other conditions.

So yes, a character who is simply overpowered or poorly balanced is not automatically a Mary Sue, especially since having great skills does NOT guarantee success - that is where plot comes in, e.g. Hermione getting knocked down a peg as mentioned above. That does not mean that there is no agreed-upon definition, even if some people are ignorant of it.

I also disagree with the stance that the label of Mary Sue is useless for writers. Some Mary Sue authors are completely and utterly oblivious of how their character comes off. General and standardised tests, though they be imperfect and potentially misleading, may be the only way to get through to them. A writer skilled enough not to write Mary Sues, on the other hand, will generally have little reason to even care about the test.

Quincunx
2010-12-29, 08:04 AM
. . .In any case, I'm not wrong. . . .


. . .Of course, even when a Sue is wrong they are right. . . .

I have got to stop being so easily amused. :smallamused:

For once, I appreciate the line-by-line quote rebuttal form of reply; Ytaker did the work of breaking up An Enemy Spy's description and it's much easier to digest now. There wasn't any sort of hook in the character history, even after it was formatted--which in itself is the sign of a problem which isn't Mary Sue, but related. There was insufficient conflict, no uncertainty about who might triumph (not win, triumph) and no incentive to continue reading the great block of writing. Even the later posts of rebuttal of that idea are you telling us there's opposition and violating the "show, don't tell" maxim. Therefore, it isn't this character you need to spend time on, but his nemesis. Deduct a handful of gifts from this character, particularly those ones he suddenly discovered when needed, and give them instead to the nemesis. I want to be able to read the nemesis and think, "If it had been this guy in that situation instead, he wouldn't have struggled! It must be a show of strength that our protagonist had to struggle to win!"

Imrix.
2010-12-29, 08:22 AM
Just a note, but most of the tests include a note about how the qualities that make a Mary Sue are relative. The good ones will encourage you to not tick items which are fairly common in the world you're writing for- such as knowing many languages in D&D, or having a weird hair colour in Exalted.

Ytaker
2010-12-29, 11:22 AM
http://www.accio-quote.org/themes/hermione.htm

Hermione is a "caricature of what I was when I was 11."

If JKR needs to tell the readers something, she lets Hermione or Dumbledore say it.



The author has admitted Hermione is an author insert and her voice in the story. That's pretty Suey.

Luckily though she didn't have other suey abilities. Hermione wasn't a great duelist, and she rarely gives speeches. Most victories in the book are due to Harry or Ron. Hermione's main purpose is a tool, supplying advanced magic to Harry and Ron. If she was an amazing fighter then she'd dominate the story, warping it around her.

The author did have another self insert warrior character- Ron's mom Molly. Molly defeated Bellatrix, the most skilled of all Voldemort's fighters and one of the most skilled of all duelists. The author said she gave Molly that victory because she wanted to show that working class mothers (like herself) didn't suck. Those two slightly suey elements weren't combined. Also, Molly was rarely a major character. This is because JK Rowling is a skilled author. She writes really good characters, which is why she sells so many books.

You can normally tell when a canon author is making a sue. Outside their books they'll wax lyrical about that character, say how amazing they are. And they'll say they want to be that person or want to marry that person or are that person.

Also, thank you Quincunx.

RabbitHoleLost
2010-12-29, 12:28 PM
Most victories in the book are due to Harry or Ron. Hermione's main purpose is a tool, supplying advanced magic to Harry and Ron.

Are we reading the same Harry Potter books?

CrimsonAngel
2010-12-29, 12:33 PM
Are we reading the same Harry Potter books?

The same books, but I also read the fanfiction. :smallyuk:

So, I'm taking the test using one of my characters... Is being short a physical handicap? :smallbiggrin:

RabbitHoleLost
2010-12-29, 12:37 PM
The same books, but I also read the fanfiction. :smallyuk:

So, I'm taking the test using one of my characters... Is being short a physical handicap? :smallbiggrin:

No, otherwise all my characters would count.

I ran Rabbit from FFRP through. Interestingly enough, before I use the desue-ifiers, she ranks pretty high.
But then its all "selfish?"
Check.
"Needlessly cruel?"
Check.
And etc, and its all fine.

And I read fanfiction, too, but I was commenting on the statement that Ron ever does anything helpful after the first book. IMO, he was kinda just a tagalong for Hermione and Harry after that.

CrimsonAngel
2010-12-29, 12:39 PM
We still need somebody around to get Hermione pregnant.

CrimsonAngel
2010-12-29, 12:45 PM
My character scored 30. I think it might be because of her alcoholism and tattoos.

Damn you, monk.

Kaytara
2010-12-29, 12:45 PM
Eh, let's not get into a book debate, shall we? I mean, I even refrained from mentioning Twilight or Eragon as an example of bestselling Mary S-.... Oops. Well then:

The HP world doesn't revolve around Hermione, even though she's part of the Power Trio. A Mary Sue Hermione wouldn't have spent half of book 2 petrified into stone. Alternately, a Mary Sue COULD have spent half the book petrified, but she would've been petrified despite looking the Basilisk directly in the eye and not dying, seemingly for no reason at all, which everyone would make a big deal of and worry about her safety, and she would then have been the only one able to defeat the BigBad by projecting her consciousness and involving him in a psychic battle, or something. That's how things might have gone if Hermione were the significance black hole a Mary Sue always is.

Anyway, +1 to Ytaker. That's exactly it. These characters are, in some way, based off the author, but they aren't wish-fulfillment avatars the way Mary Sues are, which is evidenced by how they lack OTHER important things symptomatic of Mary Sues.

Ytaker
2010-12-29, 12:59 PM
Are we reading the same Harry Potter books?

Book 1, she can't defeat the troll and Ron saves her. She supplies fire magic for the plant monster thing.

Book 2, she doesn't defeat anyone and she makes the polyjuice potions that drive much of the book. She is defeated by the basilisk and uses advanced magic to stop a bludger. She lost to Millicent Bulstrode I think.

Book 3. No major fights here. Sirius and Snape do some fighting. She uses her magical knowledge to deduce that Remus Lupin is a werewolf. I think maybe she curses or punches Malfoy at some point.

Book 4. She helps Harry Potter with the magical aspects of the tournament, and uses wit to capture the reporter.

Book 5. She gets defeated by Antonin Dolohov. Not much really happens in this book. She makes special badges for dumbledore's army with her advanced magic. Oh, and she stunned one npc death eater.

Book 6. She researches the book of the half blood prince.

Book 7. She with the aid of Moody fights and defeats two death eaters. She researches the tale of the bard, does all the logistic stuff for Harry Potter's trek to find horcruxes, she managed to repel Nagini at the cost of breaking Harry's wand, she disguises harry before they are captured, makes polyjuice potions, and gets defeated by bellatrix. She also destroys a horcrux, a big accomplishment.

So in total- she beats a plant and two npc death eaters. She is beaten by a troll, a violent girl, a basilisk, two high level death eaters. She had a pyyric victory against Nagini.

There may be some more npcs somewhere that she defeats, or some minor weak magical creatures that she stuns. But she really does not dominate the story with her amazing fighting prowess. That's a good thing. She has amazing magical strength and if she was really good at using it she'd overpower everyone else. That's why she didn't get an O in owls datda.

Quincunx
2010-12-29, 02:21 PM
Maybe he means this (http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm) litmus test? It's the most popular one. . . .

I wish it included a "clear all boxes" button, but other than that, it seems solid. I'm testing its calibration with characters from 20th century literary fiction through it, and getting scores between 11 and 27 so far. To answer the earlier objection, I don't have any war novels on hand* to test how badly realistic combat prowess warps the results, but I can see that the few questions about combat prowess have many sub-categorized chances to run up a score. . .and that they're not likely to be clicked.

This test punishes self-insertion hard. Answering as though I'd just transplanted myself to the story earned 36 (!) points--and that was 40 until I realized I had misclicked and checked a single revenge-fantasy question.

Now to run self-written personae through it. . .

25. Do think of your character as an ideal role-model?
. . .I have got to stop being so easily amused. Also, we need the rolling-on-the-floor-laughing animated smiley.

I. 17. II. 19. III. 19. IV. 6. V. 1.

IV is a vampire not of the Twilight sort and lost several points because of it.

*Odd. I thought the WWI novels would be out of copyright and digitized by now. Project time!

@V: But did you check the box for Trog as an ideal role model? :smallbiggrin:

Trog
2010-12-29, 02:27 PM
I ran the character of Trog through that test (as role-played in the Town and on the Talk Show and other forum appearances) and scored an 18, so I'm safe. :smalltongue:

*insert here an amusing tale of how Trog pokes his head in and says a bunch of stuff that raises the score dramatically.*

EDIT: Though I also scored him as an original character, not realizing there was an rpg section later. Otherwise I would have come out as a... 13. Darn resurrection cost me 5 points that one time. o.o

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-30, 02:04 AM
I think it might be conducive to the discussion if we had a clear definition of what a Mary Sue/Marty Stu actually is.
Is it a character who's very presence seems to warp the rules of the setting wherever they go, with firmly established parameters shattered simply because they would hinder what the character is trying to do? Is it when the other characters of the story are reduced to mere bystanders as the Sue solves all the conflict on their own? Or is it simply somebody who has many positive attribrutes, and is able to overcome obstacles? If a character wins in the end without the proper amount of suffering that you see fit, does that make them a Sue?
Would Indiana Jones or James Bond be Sues simply because they always win all the time?

yldenfrei
2010-12-30, 03:13 AM
There is no better way to define it, actually, than this. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue)(WARNING: The link goes to TVTropes, which might possibly squander a significant amount of your time. You have been warned.)

The Mary Sue/Marty Stu term has many interpretations, both from the reader and the writer's perspective. Some of its interpretations are:


A Protagonist You Do Not Like - this, while the most widespread, is also the most misleading. I am not surprised if this is how PhoeKun percieves the term, so much that she vehemently denies its existence. This is mainly a readers-only perspective. Not very informative as well.
A Poorly Written Character - when a character has contradicting, inconsistent and generally incoherent traits that stick out sorely from the story.
A Clichéd Character - a poor lad, destined to be King, given power by a magical sword and the help of a wizard. If it fits the Hero's Journey to a tee, this could be invoked.
Author Avatar - when the character is visibly the writer's self-projection on the story. This one's becoming less used, as the term Author Avatar takes its place.
An Idealized Character - so beautiful, so perfect. So Mary Sue.
A Power Fantasy - when the character is ridiculously powerful, even when the story does not give a precedent for such acquisition of power. When he conveniently obtains new power As the Plot Demands.
An Infallible Character - when in-story he is always right, even if he's wrong.
Center of Attention - When everything in the plot requires his assistance or participation.


There are more, but these are the most pertinent interpretations of Mary Sue/Marty Stu. At first glance, your Desmond is guilty of being a Power Fantasy. He acquires abilities and competence in a manner incongruent with his performance and effort. And while you give elements such as power-lending, it is insufficiently integrated into the story. It seems to be a one-shot or two-shot mention, and nothing else.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-30, 04:39 AM
I wasn't very descriptive on this, but there is precedent for Desmond's level of power. He is the latest in a long line of people who were offered similar power before him. With the exception of Ares, they have all been long forgotten by history and all were killed by the next guy down the line who then renewed the cycle. Desmond knows what his fate is in the back of his mind, he's simply too pig-headed to ever admit it, thinking that he will be the one who is smart or strong or crafty enough to keep his position forever. He's dead wrong of course. And at the end of his long and lonesome life, he will spend the rest of eternity in the keeping of the Blood Angel. The afterlife is a very real thing in this story, and in very, very, very rare and special cases, there is no such thing as resurrection.
Also, other characters prove many times throughout to be more competant, and more skilled than he is, particularly Janis and Moros. Moros is in fact even more powerful than Desmond and both he and Janis are infinitely more skilled with their use of magic, rather than Desmond who uses it more like a cudgel.
Is he powerful? Yes. Yes he is. Shattering the fabric of the universe powerful? No. Not even the most powerful character in the story, but close to it.
Does this invalidate anything you said? No. Am I beginning to sound like a whiny brat desperately trying to avoid looking facts in the face and accept that he sucks at writing? Maybe.

yldenfrei
2010-12-30, 05:29 AM
The matters that sent me red flags are the following:

The rest of his training was rushed through and he was put on the Battlecruiser, Pale Horse, one of the most powerful ships in the fleet. Interestingly, Celine also happened to be on board the ship. After several years, Desmond finally became the ship's First Officer and then after a few more years, it's captain. He remained in that position for a long time, during which he developed a relationship with Celine and the two became lovers, a major violation since she was his subordinate.
A rushed training followed by an assignment to one of the most powerful ships in the fleet. I don't think it became powerful by accepting improperly trained personnel. Have him earn his keep in some substandard ship before transferring him to the elite one.
The relationship with Celine, being pointed out as a major violation, but without real consequences. Were they found out? If not, why? Were they exceptionally good in hiding their relationship? I expect this major violation to at least have an impact either on Desmond's/Celine's military position or the quality of their relationship.


Eventually, he discovered a horrbile weapon that Moros had secretly created and attacked Aptera directly, hoping to disrupt Moros' plans, using a special kind of missile that had the ability to phase directly through the Anasazi's energy shields. This began a war between Freya and the Anasazi that resulted in Moros using the aforementioned weapon on the Freyan homeworld (Freya), wiping out every organism on the planet, down to the smallest microbe.

Hera, the leader of the Freyan Council blamed the incident on Desmond and declared him a traitor...
If I read it right, Desmond attacked Aptera directly using a special kind of missile that had the ability to phase directly through the Anasazi's energy shield? Where did this missile come from? The Pale Horse? Why do they have such a thing in their arsenal? How did Desmond manage to use one? Didn't anyone notice the missing missile? What happened to Desmond right after his guerrilla attack? I would've expected him to be declared a traitor right after his solo mission, long before Freya was annihilated.


Desmond and the others found an Anasazi named Janis who had fled to the planet after almost being killed trying to oppose Moros. They were attacked by a second wave of terramites and Janis attempted to use his considerable magical ability to control the minds of the terramites. The task was too great for him, but he managed to open something up in Desmond, unleashing an incredible wave of magic that gabve him control over all the terramites. He turned them on eachother, letting them kill themselves. He then fell unconsious and when he woke up, did not remember a thing about what he had done.

How exactly did Janis manage to open something up in Desmond, if he can't defend themselves from the terramites? Why Desmond? Couldn't it have been a latent power in Janis himself? Better yet, can't they have just found a fortuitous tunnel that gave them a successful escape? Was there really a need to decimate the terramites?


Eventually a group of soldiers sent by Hera came to the planet to see if Desmond was still there. They killed everyone except for Desmond who they planned to deliver to Moros in the hope that his vengance would be sated, the first officer Michael Torres who gladly betrayed his captain (the two did not get along by any stretch of the words), Celine who Torres had a perverse fascination with, and Janis who was able to elude the soldiers. Desmond was taken to the planet Loki where he was put in a dark cell for an unknown amount of time. Michael spent a week or two torturing Celine for no real forseeable reason and eventually killed her, but not before she was able to tell Desmond the truth about her.
Was the killing of everyone required? Can't they just kidnap Desmond? What gain do the Freyan Council achieve by killing everyone in a nondescript planet? This little incident causes undue "marty stu" points attributed to Desmond, just because they had to kill everyone to capture him.

Then there's the Blood Angel thing. By your explanations, it seems to be a curse. But Desmond's story says otherwise. It turns out to be this very cool very powerful being that can willfully bestow power on someone. So far you have only shown a "Cursed With Awesome" element. Try to show how dreadful it really is to become a Blood Angel, and how Desmond is constantly besieged by this image everytime he exploits his powers. And do not end it with Desmond securing the Emperor title. Have the Blood Angel collect on Desmond right after his victory. A Faustian conclusion for a Faustian character. Bonus points if he is dragged kicking and screaming.:smallwink:

So there. You might end up not heeding this altogether, but at least you know that it can be fixed. :smallsmile:

Tengu_temp
2010-12-30, 06:54 AM
Ran my currently longest-running character through the test, got 25 points. Not bad, considering that some of the points were a result of the game's setting and premise.

Really, characters from many settings tend to score a lot on this test, even when they're well-written and not without faults. Just try running a superhero through it, or an Exalted character.

Trazoi
2010-12-30, 07:13 AM
I think it might be conducive to the discussion if we had a clear definition of what a Mary Sue/Marty Stu actually is.
There are many different definitions, but to me a Mary Sue is when the author loves a character more than the need to tell a good story. The classic Mary Sue traits all stem from this - the overpoweredness, the author wish fulfilment fantasies etc. As long as the story is sound then anything goes; if the character doesn't weaken the story then they aren't a Sue IMO.

There used to be a TV Trope called "The Westley" (that's Westley with a 't', after the hero in The Princess Bride) which described characters that have the traits of a Mary Sue but aren't due to them working in their stories: Westley, Superman (in some stories), Captain Carrot. I'm not sure what happened to the trope; it was a good one.

Basically as long as whatever traits you give your character are there to generate interesting conflict, drama, comedy or what have you instead of purely making your favourite character "special" then it's fine.

Ytaker
2010-12-30, 09:52 AM
I wasn't very descriptive on this, but there is precedent for Desmond's level of power. He is the latest in a long line of people who were offered similar power before him. With the exception of Ares, they have all been long forgotten by history and all were killed by the next guy down the line who then renewed the cycle. Desmond knows what his fate is in the back of his mind, he's simply too pig-headed to ever admit it, thinking that he will be the one who is smart or strong or crafty enough to keep his position forever. He's dead wrong of course. And at the end of his long and lonesome life, he will spend the rest of eternity in the keeping of the Blood Angel. The afterlife is a very real thing in this story, and in very, very, very rare and special cases, there is no such thing as resurrection.

That makes it worse, actually. Not only is he the embodiment of destiny, a dark and terrible destiny, but he's facing no mental consequences from it. At least not yet.

It doesn't stop the sueyness if you reserve some pain for the sometime in the distant future. It's a fairly common suey weakness. Maybe, possibly, sometime in the very distant future my character will face some consequences. Probably.

Also, this should go without saying- maybe the other god emperors were mary sues too. Maybe that was why they were overthrown, because people hated them for being too perfect and pure and sparkly.


Also, other characters prove many times throughout to be more competant, and more skilled than he is, particularly Janis and Moros. Moros is in fact even more powerful than Desmond and both he and Janis are infinitely more skilled with their use of magic, rather than Desmond who uses it more like a cudgel.

Desmond is the embodiment of a being of infinite power. Is he less powerful than moros before or after that?

He doesn't seem to face any consequences from him being weaker than some individuals. He becomes emperor, kills Moros, steals Moros' ship. Show and not tell. Janis' skill never proves more useful than Desmond's sheer power in Desmond's story.


Is he powerful? Yes. Yes he is. Shattering the fabric of the universe powerful? No. Not even the most powerful character in the story, but close to it.

Didn't he become the god emperor of the elves? He certainly feels overpowered. If he's not that powerful then he should lose. Other people should be able to beat him. Then he can overcome them with tricks, skill, wit, luck, friends, whatever. A conflict resolution cycle is the core of any book.


Does this invalidate anything you said? No. Am I beginning to sound like a whiny brat desperately trying to avoid looking facts in the face and accept that he sucks at writing? Maybe.

I don't know if you suck at writing. You're poor at writing this one character since it never feels like he's in danger. You may be better with less potent characters. There are also many other factors in writing.

leakingpen
2010-12-30, 12:59 PM
I have a very clear test.

Is your character based on yourself or a friend?
Is your character powerful, and able to do things no one else can, and thus always saves the day?

if both are yes, mary sue she be.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-30, 01:09 PM
I have a very clear test.

Is your character based on yourself or a friend?
Is your character powerful, and able to do things no one else can, and thus always saves the day?

if both are yes, mary sue she be.

He is neither. If I were to base a character off myself, he would be Indiana Jones with the ability to fly.

Frozen_Feet
2010-12-30, 01:51 PM
I personally don't get any useful information from Mary Sue tests. Usually, if I need to appraise whether one of my characters is getting annoyingly dominating, the best way to do that is re-read what I've written.

One of the biggest flaws I see with most Sue tests is that they either don't include or give much weight to their "de-suefiers". I've personally found out that I can fill in most all of them with all of my characters, but the impact on the overall verdict is often lesser than checking in whether the character has a name similar to mine.

Indeed, even my side-characters (!) tend to score high on the tests just because of detail I put into them. Putting enough thought into personality and past of a character usually cause them to become non-average enough that outside the scope of the story, they'd seem Sueish.

littlekKID
2010-12-30, 03:50 PM
I just Ran a few of my characters (my D&D character, a few from my webcomic, a few from a webcomic I'll do when this one is over and a few Fan-characters I've done), that's what I got:
Lidia (my PC): 5
Susan (from my webcomic): 12
D (from my webcomic): 14
Em (from my webcomic): 12
Black Angel (from my webcomic, not yet appered): 13
The Patchwork doll (from my webcomic, not yet appered): 3
Zarra ( from the webcomic I'll do when this one is over and my avatar :smalltongue:): 7
Tefa (from the webcomic I'll do when this one is over): 12
Angela (from the webcomic I'll do when this one is over): 25
Lily (from the webcomic I'll do when this one is over): 14
Rose (from the webcomic I'll do when this one is over):16
Alair (from the webcomic I'll do when this one is over):12
Loarie (from the webcomic I'll do when this one is over): 1
Freakagirl (Freakazoid OC):23 (not bad for a copy-cat character :smallsmile:)
Blen (invader zim OC): 2
Slij (invader zim OC): 9
FS (danny Phantom OC): 18

I'd say that I'm pretty good, but I still need to work on a few things here and there :smallsmile:

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-30, 04:12 PM
The main problem I had was that many of the questions they were asking me had answers like "yes, but..." or "I guess technically..." or"Yes, but so can everyone else.."

Prime32
2010-12-30, 04:38 PM
The main problem I had was that many of the questions they were asking me had answers like "yes, but..." or "I guess technically..." or"Yes, but so can everyone else.."If everyone can do it it doesn't count.

I tried running Yukari Yakumo through the test linked earlier and got 22. It would have been way higher if everyone in Touhou didn't have hax magic powers, odd hair colours and the ability to fly.

An Enemy Spy
2010-12-30, 04:45 PM
If everyone can do it it doesn't count.

I tried running Yukari Yakumo through the test linked earlier and got 22. It would have been way higher if everyone in Touhou didn't have hax magic powers, odd hair colours and the ability to fly.

That might explain the insanely high number.

Just_Ice
2010-12-30, 04:45 PM
Enemy Spy:

To take the risk of over-generalization and term-spewing, your character's a mary sue, bro. This is perfectly acceptable in a story or in a campaign of these sorts of characters, assuming they're fairly even.

This would be a horrible character to roleplay along with normally, however, for reasons I'm sure you can think of. He'd be a jerk that causes horrible things to happen but gets away with it because he's awesome and can pay by doing things that end up making him more powerful and then wiping the floor with everyone with the few people that will try to bring him to justice. Then he revels in this, and is ultimately rewarded with immortality.

He's totally a medium-to-heavy sue- but, hey, sounds like it works for his universe. Just maybe keep him in there.

ThirdEmperor
2010-12-30, 04:48 PM
I ran my favorite FFRP character through two different tests, got a 3 and a 13. Largely because he's an average looking, one handed, crippled ex-mad scientist. And a couple of those points are from the fact that he was given a katana (which he doesn't know how to use) and sold his memories. So I think I'm safe from Mary Sue-ness.

*hides other character who got over a 70*

Teln
2010-12-30, 04:55 PM
The main problem I had was that many of the questions they were asking me had answers like "yes, but..." or "I guess technically..." or"Yes, but so can everyone else.."
Which demonstrates why context is so important in deciding whether or not a character is a Sue, or even if that's a bad thing. There is simply no way to tell without doing a thorough review of the work in question.


And about a character being both a Sue and a good character, I just ran the Doctor through that Mary Sue test. 76, after the de-suefiers.

dragonsamurai77
2010-12-30, 05:04 PM
Just ran my favorite D&D character through: 80. However, this is entirely justified as he is a literal god in a campaign where we are supposed to be literal gods.

Trazoi
2010-12-30, 05:57 PM
And about a character being both a Sue and a good character, I just ran the Doctor through that Mary Sue test. 76, after the de-suefiers.
Well to be fair, I sometimes find the Doctor to be too Sueish for my tastes. :smalltongue:

Silviya
2010-12-30, 06:24 PM
And about a character being both a Sue and a good character, I just ran the Doctor through that Mary Sue test. 76, after the de-suefiers.

My younger brother ran Gandalf and Frodo though the quiz. Frodo got a 36, and Gandalf got a 55.


I ran one of my OCs through the quiz, and she got a 21. I'd rank her below 5. She's a pretty messed up character, but the way the test works, some of the things that made her messed up (Death of her parents, partial responsibility for the death of her mother, the bad guys being responsible for the death of her father [which made her become irrationally obsessed with revenge], and the fact that she watched her mother die), and the things that are evidence of being messed up (Running away a few times, getting banished), actually add to the Mary Sue points.

Also, according to the quiz, the fact that this character is pointlessly cruel at many points, had her weaknesses used as plot devices, is cowardly, and faces situations she has no hope of overcoming without help from other characters is all canceled out by her having an out of the ordinary hair color :smallconfused:
That doesn't really make sense . . . . .


Just for the heck of it, I tested a race of shape shifting Lovecraftian Eldritch Abominations on the quiz. They got 99, making them the ultimate Sue race :smalltongue:


I agree with everyone who's saying that the best way to figure out if your character's a Mary Sue is to read through your story or examine your character if it's an RP character. Or better yet, get an honest friend to do it.
The test is still very amusing though . . . . .

The Glyphstone
2010-12-30, 06:59 PM
I think it might be conducive to the discussion if we had a clear definition of what a Mary Sue/Marty Stu actually is.
Is it a character who's very presence seems to warp the rules of the setting wherever they go, with firmly established parameters shattered simply because they would hinder what the character is trying to do? Is it when the other characters of the story are reduced to mere bystanders as the Sue solves all the conflict on their own? Or is it simply somebody who has many positive attribrutes, and is able to overcome obstacles? If a character wins in the end without the proper amount of suffering that you see fit, does that make them a Sue?
Would Indiana Jones or James Bond be Sues simply because they always win all the time?

I 'blame' the rising popularity of authors like G.R.R. Martin for this, for popularizing gritty, 'realistic' fantasy, and in the process spurring the movement of denouncing any character who saves the day, gets the girl, and doesn't end up with a Phyrric victory to be a "Mary Sue". For centuries, people listened to/read stories about heroes because they wanted the heroes to win, not lose or win but end up crippled.


That said - on-topic, I have to agree with the fact that this Desmond is throwing off a lot of Sue flags. Unlike some of the others, though, I wouldn't immediately denounce the entire written work because of such. Many of my favorite books and series have characters who would be horrific Sues if they were made into RPG characters, but work well within their own stories because of nuances you can't fit into a character sheet.


EDIT: Apparently the 'top score' is 717.

chiasaur11
2010-12-30, 07:25 PM
Yeah, the Doctor is sky high. Just ran him. Same with Captain America. Hawkeye got 35, and he's one of the most down to earth comic superheroes.

On the other hand, ran the Scott Pilgrim cast, and the only one who broke 30 on a quick check is Todd Ingram. Scott and most of the rest were fairly low end, interestingly. Seems longer form stuff is a disadvantage here, as are superheroic sorts.

Also, ran a couple characters from my NaNo. Got 0 and in the negatives. Seems I don't have some bad habits. Probably have others in their place.

Ytaker
2010-12-30, 11:33 PM
I 'blame' the rising popularity of authors like G.R.R. Martin for this, for popularizing gritty, 'realistic' fantasy, and in the process spurring the movement of denouncing any character who saves the day, gets the girl, and doesn't end up with a Phyrric victory to be a "Mary Sue". For centuries, people listened to/read stories about heroes because they wanted the heroes to win, not lose or win but end up crippled.

Erm, see Othello, The Knight's Tale, Heracles, Antigone. People read and listened to lots of tragic tales, and tales. See the original version of little red riding hood. There were a lot of stories where heroes ended up crippled, dead, or in a horrible situation. The original concept of stories was to teach people. The easiest way to do that was to have someone do something stupid and die horribly.

The Glyphstone
2010-12-30, 11:35 PM
Erm, see Othello, The Knight's Tale, Heracles, Antigone. People read and listened to lots of tragic tales, and tales. See the original version of little red riding hood. There were a lot of stories where heroes ended up crippled, dead, or in a horrible situation. The original concept of stories was to teach people. The easiest way to do that was to have someone do something stupid and die horribly.

I'm talking about public perception more than the reality of stories. There were no accusations of Shakespeare writing Mary Sues.

Though now I'm curious - *goes off to Mary-Sue-test Hamlet*

EDIT: Somewhere between 40 and 45 depending on interpretations.

onthetown
2010-12-31, 06:25 AM
I'm talking about public perception more than the reality of stories. There were no accusations of Shakespeare writing Mary Sues.


That was kind of my point with Hermoine. It's public perception. The fact that I consider her to be a bit of a Sue doesn't mean I don't like her, and the fact that you guys don't think she is doesn't necessarily mean that you love her. People will like or hate characters no matter what they're considered to be.

Ytaker
2010-12-31, 09:40 AM
Yeah. Sues can be popular. One of the reasons the term sue is so widely known now is due to very famous canon sues which sold millions of copies- Eragorn, Isabella, Alice from resident evil (being the director's girlfriend has its perks) Richard Rahl from the Sword of Truth... Or even back in the far past, the green then white power ranger. Sues can fulfil many people's fantasies.

They have to be written well though. All of those heroes have faced enemies who are better than them, even with all their sueyness, enemies who are incredibly powerful and do beat them and make you fear for their lives.

The Glyphstone
2010-12-31, 10:07 AM
Yeah. Sues can be popular. One of the reasons the term sue is so widely known now is due to very famous canon sues which sold millions of copies- Eragorn, Isabella, Alice from resident evil (being the director's girlfriend has its perks) Richard Rahl from the Sword of Truth... Or even back in the far past, the green then white power ranger. Sues can fulfil many people's fantasies.

They have to be written well though. All of those heroes have faced enemies who are better than them, even with all their sueyness, enemies who are incredibly powerful and do beat them and make you fear for their lives.

Yeah, the author's writing style and skill can go a long way towards dulling or amplifying Sue-ity, even in two otherwise identical characters. You can hide an incredibly blatant Sue in quality narrative, make your otherwise unremarkable character look like the biggest Sue ever in bad writing, or anywhere between the two extremes.

Just to throw a particular and somewhat controversial example on the boards, Honor Harrington from David Weber's sci-fi books. I managed to get her up to a 44 on the Sue scale, which is pretty bad; but one of the problems Weber has with his writing is that while Harrington has bad things happen to her (and quite frequently, the man is a sadist towards his characters), all of the repair/healing/recovery that she goes through is between books. Even though it's up to a year or a more of time in-universe, it gets skipped over in a blink of an eye - because spending 200 pages watching someone talk to a shrink or practice physical therapy is boring, so he falls heavily into the bad side of show, don't tell. Weber tells us that Harrington suffered a lot, went through a bad bout of depression, was almost permanently disabled, but secondhand, through narrative or other characters talking, and it greatly lessens the impact.

Ceric
2011-01-01, 08:01 PM
The Mary Sue/Marty Stu term has many interpretations, both from the reader and the writer's perspective. Some of its interpretations are:

<snip>

Best description I've ever seen :smallsmile: In fact, I was reading through this thread thinking "There's no succinct way to define a Mary Sue," because so much is dependent on the story and writing style and how the character is percieved than by any concrete characteristics. Some characteristics appear more often than others, sure, but symptoms don't indicate the cause.

Personally, I dislike needing to avoid characteristics that "define" a Mary Sue, like unusual hair or eye colors. Special and superhuman abilities are more fun to roleplay, as long as they fit in with the rest of the world anyways. And it's perfectly reasonable to pass a weapon to descendants, since swords are expensive! I think the best way to see what makes a Mary Sue is to read bad fanfics :smallwink: (Well, sporkings, because I think my SAN's not strong enough to read the raw fanfics.) Use Rose Potter as a checklist for everything your character shouldn't even come close to doing and you're set.

Trazoi
2011-01-01, 10:32 PM
I think the best way to see what makes a Mary Sue is to read bad fanfics :smallwink:
Or for a take on the classic fanfic Mary Sue, you can read Ensign Mary Sue Must Die! (http://www.interrobangstudios.com/potluck/index.php?strip_id=988) :smallsmile:

The Glyphstone
2011-01-01, 10:47 PM
Or for a take on the classic fanfic Mary Sue, you can read Ensign Mary Sue Must Die! (http://www.interrobangstudios.com/potluck/index.php?strip_id=988) :smallsmile:

If we're talking classic Mary Sue, there's nothing worsebetter than the original (http://www.fortunecity.com/rivendell/dark/1000/marysue.htm).

Earl William
2011-01-02, 10:58 AM
I would say the best definition of Mary-Sue is a character who breaks the "rules" of a universe unnecessarily. ("The nasty vampires kill anyone they see except her, because she's SO special!) So, a character who can use magic from a different work, or has natural green hair for no reason is a Mary-Sue.

Darklord Bright
2011-01-03, 02:48 AM
-Scratch what I said here, I misread and ended up agreeing with the quote anyways.-

Trixie
2011-01-06, 04:08 PM
Just to throw a particular and somewhat controversial example on the boards, Honor Harrington from David Weber's sci-fi books. I managed to get her up to a 44 on the Sue scale, which is pretty bad; but one of the problems Weber has with his writing is that while Harrington has bad things happen to her (and quite frequently, the man is a sadist towards his characters), all of the repair/healing/recovery that she goes through is between books. Even though it's up to a year or a more of time in-universe, it gets skipped over in a blink of an eye - because spending 200 pages watching someone talk to a shrink or practice physical therapy is boring, so he falls heavily into the bad side of show, don't tell. Weber tells us that Harrington suffered a lot, went through a bad bout of depression, was almost permanently disabled, but secondhand, through narrative or other characters talking, and it greatly lessens the impact.

It's worse than that. Damage? What damage? She ends up stronger than before, armed with non-removable weapon.

And, of course, she never loses. Never. Even when they captured her, it was for greater good, and the commander that did so behaved like an idiot to capture her. Every other time, she destroys 5000% more enemies losing only mooks, in very rare cases named mooks established book before for that purpose.

She had romance? He died? Bleh, a little wangst, and a few books later she jumps to a bed of married man, coupled with changing whole religion especially for her to make that legal. Oh, and her rich friends destroyed journalist who dared to report this.

What else? Oh, she finds out Treecats can talk, something that eluded centuries of efforts of best scientists, makes Haven officers not reporting her escape, and brutal StateSec operatives instead of terrorizing her in prison run away from her. They even retconned whole history of the Navy to let her have white cap. The only award she haven't gained yet is the position of the Queen of Manticore.

No sirre, not a MS at all.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-09, 11:16 AM
Exactly what I'm talking about with the 'timeskips dull things', plus a heavy dose of rather reflexive and severely inaccurate summary.


It's worse than that. Damage? What damage? She ends up stronger than before, armed with non-removable weapon.

The year of heavy physical therapy she endured after being shot with a sonic sledgehammer gun that destroyed her eye and part of her face? The two years of mental breakdown and physical depression after Paul was murdered? The two years she spent adapting to the fact that her arm had been involuntarily amputated with a gatling gun? The three additional years it takes for her to completely master her prosthetic replacement? Having (spoilered for most recent book)

A freak astroid strike from a terrorist attack wipe out every living relative she has for four or five generations save her immediate relative and half-a-dozen others?

Yes, she gets a cybernetic eye and a robo-hand with a built in blaster. But seriously, Weber is a sadist when it comes to abusing her. We just don't see it, because he blurs over the aftermaths to give more space for his super-protagonist blowing stuff up.



And, of course, she never loses. Never. Even when they captured her, it was for greater good, and the commander that did so behaved like an idiot to capture her.
So, you don't like pyhrric victories. And I'm not sure how Tourville 'behaved like an idiot' - the whole point was that he played a tactical genius card, exactly the sort of fool stunt that Harrington is known for and Manticore never believed Havenite officers could be capable of.



Every other time, she destroys 5000% more enemies losing only mooks, in very rare cases named mooks established book before for that purpose.

I'm sure Alister McKeon would be quite sad at your classification of him as a 'named mook', especially since he had been her friend since book 1. Except that he's...dead. And her bodyguards/armsmen - Jamie Candless, Timothy Mears,

Andrew Lafollet

They're all characters for two or three books before their untimely demises being bodyguards, exactly what they're paid to do. Well, except for the last one, and I consider that to be a blatant attempt at tearjerking that just annoyed me...the poor guy deserved a quiet retirement.



She had romance? He died? Bleh, a little wangst, and a few books later she jumps to a bed of married man,


The "couple books" you're talking about have a chronology jump of thirteen years. Would you mock a real-life person who went that long between losing their lover and finding a new one? Not to mention that she didn't jump in so much as get dragged in by the married man's wife, who also metaphorically made the bed and set out the champagne and chocolates (see bottom for the summary of why Hamish is as much a Mary Sue as Honor).


coupled with changing whole religion especially for her to make that legal.
Have you read the books or just aped the haters? No religions have been changed - the only thing that was changed was the Alexander wedding vows, which was noted as being legal already.



coupled with changing whole religion especially for her to make that legal. Oh, and her rich friends destroyed journalist who dared to report this.

Dared lie about it, technically. Their affair didn't start until after his dreamed-up rumors had already been quashed. Solomon Hayes the Reporter - in the sense that the tagline writer of the Daily World News for 'Bat Boy Kidnaps Elvis for Three-State Car Chase With Cops' is a 'Reporter' - wasn't psychic, just creative and malicious.



What else? Oh, she finds out Treecats can talk, something that eluded centuries of efforts of best scientists

That's a pretty slanted view of the Treecat Sign subplot, and rather rude to Dr. Arif, Miranda, Allison Harrington, Ariel, Hipper, and the characters who actually did any of the work on this. It wasn't even Honor who thought up the plan to teach treecats sign, it was her mother. She just bankrolled the project. For that matter, there weren't 'centuries of efforts' - the last attempt to get them to talk was...centuries ago, and failed horribly. No one had tried since then, because they all thought it was impossible (except Allison).



makes Haven officers not reporting her escape

You mean either Thomas Theisman in Honor of the Queen, or Warner Caslet in In Enemy Hands. The former is valid, though that could easily be interpreted as Theisman's own valid (and secret) belief that he could kill her, but he might die too. The latter...he's a human being in a ship full of the most ridiculous exaggerated uber-Nazi-Stalinist-Commie psychos in recent literature. Why is joining in her escape attempt evidence of the Mary Sue effect rather than just not being an utter moron?



and brutal StateSec operatives instead of terrorizing her in prison run away from her.
Fair enough. Though whether her prison guards were scared of her or scared of what their even more evil and crazy superiors would do if they hurt her before it was time for the big show execution could be argued.


They even retconned whole history of the Navy to let her have white cap.

Precisely another of the valid points you have - the existence of the Unconquered is a retcon, and why the test I gave strongly checked 'bends/breaks the established rules of the universe'.



The only award she haven't gained yet is the position of the Queen of Manticore.
No sirre, not a MS at all.

Empress of Manticore, please. Show some respect.:smallsmile:

Funnily enough, among people who read and like Weber's work, it's a hotly debated split between Benjamin Mayhew and Hamish Alexander (my leaning) for Weber's actual Author Avatar. Benjamin is an unquestioned autocrat of an entire planet with his own private space fleet who gets to spend his free time gardening instead of doing anything related to government. Hamish is the second-best tactician and strategist in the galaxy who's not an enemy, ends up married to the #1 tactician/strategist while being simultaneously married to his home planet's most beloved celebrity. Both of whom are incredibly beautiful, and the latter is the one who pressures him into his smoking hot love affair with the former. He's a decorated war hero in two star nations and the scion of one of his own nation's oldest and most respected noble families. When he turns polygamist, he actually increases in social status. And he never even gets a physical scratch on him in the process, or suffer any social humiliation worse than a stint on half-pay.


You managed three decent and completely accurate criticisms amidst a massive pile of distortions, exaggerations, and outright wrongs. I love the Harrington books, and recognize that the primary character does get increasingly loaded out with awesome. So does Weber (note his blatant lampshading of his tendency to make her survive impossible ship damage in Ashes of Victory, and earlier in Honor Among Enemies by one of the Genre Savvy named mooks you referred to). As a fanfic character, she is extremely Sue-ish...Weber makes it work though, primarily by horribly abusing her physically and mentally so he has an excuse to rebuild her better faster and stronger in time for the next crisis. But if you're going to critique it...at least have the facts straight. And you didn't even mention her own psychic empathy powers that she grows, which is probably the most damning Sue-trait she has.

An Enemy Spy
2011-01-13, 12:38 AM
Reran some of my guys through with more consideration to what was unusual in the universe rather than just checking off every box that they even tenuously could be considered qualifying for.
Janis gets a 22
Desmond gets a 29
Michael gets a 5
Celine gets a 10

I personally think this particular test is quite lousy. It seems to reward negative qualities like selfishness and stupidity while considering actual ability beyond anything an average joe could do "sueish".
For example, there is a section where it asks how many languages your character can speak. This story takes place in a galaxy with several different nations, all of them having many languages spoken in them. The main characters are in a position where knowing several languages is an important thing. How does this make them Sues?
Other questions I take issue with:

Does your character frequently carry knives, daggers, or other little sharp pointy objects concealed within his/her clothing for no other reason than that they might be come in handy?

Other than the fact that "they might come in handy", what other reason is there to carry these things around? And how does that make you a Sue?

Has your character ever lost a child/lover/close friend?

I can see this one if the only reason you included it was to inject some easy angst in, but does this include people who are killed over the course of the story too and in a way that makes sense? I have personally lost a good friend to cancer. Does this make me a Sue?

Do you feel insulted, attacked, or defensive when someone does not like your character?

If people don't like your character, do you believe it's just because they don't "get" him or her?

Did you feel that this test insulted or attacked you or your character so far?

These three questions are idiotic. Nobody likes having other peope tell them that a character they've written is crap. Sometimes people do judge a character with fully understanding them due to their own preconceptions. That doesn't mean you have a lousy character.

Do you ever poke fun at your character's faults/weaknesses and/or use them as plot devices?

Has your character ever been honestly selfish, petty, lazy, shallow, or pointlessly cruel?

Is your character really and honestly overweight, and stays overweight throughout the entire story? (A little bit of chubbiness does not count.)

Is your character honestly ugly, and stays ugly throughout the entire story?

Is your character out of shape, and stays out of shape for the entire story? (Not 'oh, man, I just don't think I can survive this triathlon,' but honestly, hinderingly wimpy?)

Is your character physically disabled, and has nothing to make up for it? (To quote Dr. Merlin, anyone who says "She's so pretty that it's like a disability because everyone hates her or wants to have sex with her" will be summarily keelhauled.)

Is he/she truly mentally disabled, IE, retarded, and has no powers because or despite of this?

Is your character human, 40+, and looks his/her age?
Older than 60?

Does your character have a truly debilitating phobia that does not mysteriously disappear at a crucial moment?

Has your character ever run away from anything simply because he/she was a coward?

If your character had a bad past with his/her parents, does he/she reconcile with them at any point?

Has your character ever been in a situation that he/she had no way of overcoming on his/her own?
Did he/she give up without trying?
Did he/she give up after failing?
If he/she eventually found a way of overcoming the problem, was it extremely difficult and/or took a really long time?

Does your character ever admit to being wrong, even if he/she doesn't really mean it?

Has your character ever ignored wrong-doings against him/herself and/or others because he/she simply didn't want to get into trouble?

If your character is all or partially non-human, does he/she react in very non-human ways or in ways more appropriate to his/her species?

Does your character act in odd and/or awkward ways that other people find strange and confusing rather than endearing, and these people aren't called or portrayed as foolish/stupid because of it?

If your character is vampire, is he/she...
A mindless killer?
Maybe not mindless, but has no significant moral or emotional issues with killing/murder?
Unable to have sex?
Unattractive?
Unable to overcome his/her dependance on blood?

All of these. Does your character suck? Is he utterly devoid of all positive qualities? Is he stupid, cowardly and petty? If so, he's a good character. Is this how superheroes in the nineties were created?

Do you view your characters more like tools than friends/children?

What does this even mean? That you don't care about your characters at all and see them as little more than words on a paper? If you don't care about your characters, why write them?

yldenfrei
2011-01-13, 01:58 AM
Quoting the springhole results:

0-16 Points
Most likely Not-Sue. Characters at this level could probably take a little spicing up without hurting them any.

17-21
Probably not a Mary-Sue, although a character can go either way at this point. Fanfiction writers should pay attention to ensure that their characters aren't getting too Sue-ish. For an RPG or original fiction character, however, you're probably perfectly fine.

22-29
Some definite Sue-like tendancies here. A little polishing might be in order to put original fiction and RPG characters back into the balance, especially if Kirking is involved. Fanfiction characters should probably have some work done.

So, I really don't know why you're railing against it. For an original fiction, your characters are in good standing. Except for Michael and Celine, though. They scored a little too blandly.

Keep in mind that the whole Mary Sue terminology traces its roots from fan fictions, usually referring to the non-canon characters inserted into the canon storyline. Their ensuing interactions and cumulative impact on the story are what defines their Sue standings.


Other than the fact that "they might come in handy", what other reason is there to carry these things around? And how does that make you a Sue?
It makes you a Sue if the hidden knife renders you immune to ambushes and surprise attacks, when they allow you to stab the Big Bad in the neck and kill him single-handedly. Basically, the test gives you a point for being "too awesome to be overpowered".


These three questions are idiotic. Nobody likes having other peope tell them that a character they've written is crap. Sometimes people do judge a character with fully understanding them due to their own preconceptions. That doesn't mean you have a lousy character.
Again, directed at fan fic writers who do self inserts. Being affected by such questions would assume you are basically writing about yourself, and the attack on your characters is also an attack to you. It shouldn't have bothered you if you're not writing about yourself, or if you're not writing fan fic. As for your 'nobody likes having other people tell them that a character they've written is crap', untrue. Otherwise, no student would have graduated from Creative Writing courses. :smalltongue:


All of these. Does your character suck? Is he utterly devoid of all positive qualities? Is he stupid, cowardly and petty? If so, he's a good character. Is this how superheroes in the nineties were created?

You're not required to have all those traits in a single character. And if you think you should put all those together to have a good character, then you're mistaken. The point of the said list is to balance out the awesomeness that you've written into your characters. Give them legitimate flaws that make them less awesome. Make them face obstacles that they couldn't handle, show their limits. It is this careful balancing of powers and flaws that make a character realistic and believable.


What does this even mean? That you don't care about your characters at all and see them as little more than words on a paper? If you don't care about your characters, why write them?

You write characters to tell a story. Your characters are the vehicles by which your reader can ride on to experience the tale you are telling. If you write characters simply to extol upon their greatness in the face of dangers, and when said 'story' is nothing but a series of obstacles piled in a neat line for the characters to bulldoze over, then I suggest writing a heroic saga or some such along the lines of Beowulf or Odyssey or Illiad. Then you can safely extricate yourself from the worries of being a Mary Sue, because in such stories, the argument is invalid.

averagejoe
2011-01-13, 02:13 AM
It seems to reward negative qualities like selfishness and stupidity while considering actual ability beyond anything an average joe could do "sueish".

Hey. I can do stuff. :smallfrown:

Kaytara
2011-01-13, 03:46 PM
There, there, averagejoe. ^^

+1 to Yldenfrei. No, having all those weaknesses and flaws doesn't automatically make for a good character. This is a Mary Sue test. If the test results indicate that your character probably isn't a Sue, that's still doesn't guarantee they're a good character. There are many other ways for characterisation to go wrong, but Sueishness tends to be the most widespread one among amateur writers.

The test asks about things like losing loved ones or tragic pasts because in 99% of fanfiction and often even published fiction, such events are less an actually significant part of the story and the character's background, and more just an attempt to poke the reader into feeling sorry for them, usually in some form of "OMG! After what she went through, it's a miracle she's even sane, let alone such a skilled *insert impressive rank or profession here*!"

Feeling personally offended by criticism at your characters means you identify with them more than what is appropriate for someone who ISN'T writing a self-insertion.

If you care too much about your characters, how will you be able to bring yourself to do horrible things to them if the story calls for it?

An Enemy Spy
2011-01-13, 08:04 PM
I may have been a bit harsh. I don't think the test as a whole is lousy, those specific questions just bug me, particularly the language one.
The one about whether you see them more as tools than children just plain confused me. Does that mean you would never let anything bad happen to them, so you just make everything work out? I really don't get it.

Glass Mouse
2011-01-15, 10:28 AM
The one about whether you see them more as tools than children just plain confused me. Does that mean you would never let anything bad happen to them, so you just make everything work out? I really don't get it.

Pretty much, yeah.

I'm not entirely sure I like that question personally, though. I tend to write character-driven stories where - you guessed it - the characters rather than the plot is the true center of the story. I can't do that unless I care about my characters in some way.
Of course, realising that characters are driven much better by flaws than by virtues is a whole chapter in itself.

Add to this that characters are the "window" into the story. They are where the readers' emotional investment lies. If the writer doesn't care for the characters, the readers won't either.
Treating characters merely as tools is actually something I tend to critisize other amateur writers for.


That test is all right for newbies, but as soon as you get some experience with writing, you realise how almost every one of those "bad" traits can be executed competently and interestingly. It's a great test for sparking my imagination, in that respect.

Of course, it doesn't stop me from running my own characters through and giggling like a maniac when one of my characters lands on the upper end of the scale. Oh, litmus test, if only you knew...
:smallbiggrin:

An Enemy Spy
2011-01-16, 11:00 PM
Can a villain be a sue? I mean, if a character is written with the intention of not being likeable, can they come off as if the writer wants you to think that they're perfect?
As I'm writing this, I realize what a dumb question that is. Of course they can.

Glass Mouse
2011-01-16, 11:03 PM
TVtropes has the answer! (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VillainSue) :smallwink:

Knaight
2011-01-28, 05:46 PM
I personally think this particular test is quite lousy. It seems to reward negative qualities like selfishness and stupidity while considering actual ability beyond anything an average joe could do "sueish".
For example, there is a section where it asks how many languages your character can speak. This story takes place in a galaxy with several different nations, all of them having many languages spoken in them. The main characters are in a position where knowing several languages is an important thing. How does this make them Sues?

Yes, it rewards negative qualities like selfishness and stupidity. Good characters have flaws, and that is part of what makes them interesting.

None of the traits are sufficient to make a sue on their own. Lots of them are, and hyper competence in a bunch of areas is indicative of a Mary Sue, particularly if they lack flaws. That said, the language one is odd, simply because it would make much more sense if the distinction between monolingual and bilingual were noted as more important than whether a character knows 7 or 8 languages.


Other questions I take issue with:

Does your character frequently carry knives, daggers, or other little sharp pointy objects concealed within his/her clothing for no other reason than that they might be come in handy?

Other than the fact that "they might come in handy", what other reason is there to carry these things around? And how does that make you a Sue?

Has your character ever lost a child/lover/close friend?

I can see this one if the only reason you included it was to inject some easy angst in, but does this include people who are killed over the course of the story too and in a way that makes sense? I have personally lost a good friend to cancer. Does this make me a Sue?
Again, individually these are fine. The "bunch of knives" trait does have a tendency to get attached to characters that aren't allowed to fail, and as such have preparations that are nonsensical. As for the losing of a child, lover, or closer friend, its not a very good question on its own. That should be "yes" for pretty much everyone in fiction, as it is in reality, and has no reason to be there.


Do you feel insulted, attacked, or defensive when someone does not like your character?

If people don't like your character, do you believe it's just because they don't "get" him or her?

Did you feel that this test insulted or attacked you or your character so far?

These three questions are idiotic. Nobody likes having other peope tell them that a character they've written is crap. Sometimes people do judge a character with fully understanding them due to their own preconceptions. That doesn't mean you have a lousy character.
I suspect these three were based on liking your character for who they are, as if they were a real person, not for their role in the medium. To use an example, Torvald Helmer in A Doll House is an example of an extremely good character for the purpose of advancing the themes and narrative of A Doll House. As a person, you want to strangle the guy by the beginning of act two, if not earlier.

More generally, if one takes the position that this refers to the idea that reasonable, decent people can dislike eachother, and as such people can dislike one's character from the "character as a person" perspective, which shouldn't be taken as offensive or indicative of ignorance. If the character is enough of a self insert however, or if the author is too sympathetic to their characters, it will pose a problem.


Do you ever poke fun at your character's faults/weaknesses and/or use them as plot devices?

Has your character ever been honestly selfish, petty, lazy, shallow, or pointlessly cruel?

Is your character really and honestly overweight, and stays overweight throughout the entire story? (A little bit of chubbiness does not count.)

Is your character honestly ugly, and stays ugly throughout the entire story?

Is your character out of shape, and stays out of shape for the entire story? (Not 'oh, man, I just don't think I can survive this triathlon,' but honestly, hinderingly wimpy?)

Is your character physically disabled, and has nothing to make up for it? (To quote Dr. Merlin, anyone who says "She's so pretty that it's like a disability because everyone hates her or wants to have sex with her" will be summarily keelhauled.)

Is he/she truly mentally disabled, IE, retarded, and has no powers because or despite of this?

Is your character human, 40+, and looks his/her age?
Older than 60?

Does your character have a truly debilitating phobia that does not mysteriously disappear at a crucial moment?

Has your character ever run away from anything simply because he/she was a coward?

If your character had a bad past with his/her parents, does he/she reconcile with them at any point?

Has your character ever been in a situation that he/she had no way of overcoming on his/her own?
Did he/she give up without trying?
Did he/she give up after failing?
If he/she eventually found a way of overcoming the problem, was it extremely difficult and/or took a really long time?

Does your character ever admit to being wrong, even if he/she doesn't really mean it?

Has your character ever ignored wrong-doings against him/herself and/or others because he/she simply didn't want to get into trouble?

If your character is all or partially non-human, does he/she react in very non-human ways or in ways more appropriate to his/her species?

Does your character act in odd and/or awkward ways that other people find strange and confusing rather than endearing, and these people aren't called or portrayed as foolish/stupid because of it?

If your character is vampire, is he/she...
A mindless killer?
Maybe not mindless, but has no significant moral or emotional issues with killing/murder?
Unable to have sex?
Unattractive?
Unable to overcome his/her dependance on blood?

All of these. Does your character suck? Is he utterly devoid of all positive qualities? Is he stupid, cowardly and petty? If so, he's a good character. Is this how superheroes in the nineties were created?
Question 1: Do a character's flaws actually hurt them.
Questions 2, 11, 15-18: Has your character screwed up in the past.
Questions 3-10: Does your character have imperfections.
Questions 12, 19: Was this character at some fault for their conflicts, and eventually able to accept that.
Questions 20-24: If this character is a vampire, does that actually have some downsides.

Characters should error. They should fail. They should succumb to their flaws, and their errors and failures should hurt them. And if this has happened to them and can happen to them, their triumphs against adversity, their success in rising out of what they were, their attempts to improve themselves, all these gain meaning. A flawless character who has never errored doing something successfully is entirely expected and boring. Furthermore, they are hard to relate to, screw ups and personal failings are part of being a human.


Do you view your characters more like tools than friends/children?

What does this even mean? That you don't care about your characters at all and see them as little more than words on a paper? If you don't care about your characters, why write them?
No, it means you view characters as means to an end, just like everything else in literature. The end being the work as a whole. Its a sensible enough viewpoint, people who hold it aren't likely to fall into the Mary Sue trap, though that doesn't mean they won't fall into the wider 2D character trap.

Neoriceisgood
2011-01-29, 03:49 PM
I've been following this discussion thread for a while, figured I might as well throw in my own two cents.

first of all, I really don't buy the "it's badly defined so there's no such thing"-argument, you could very well say the same thing about words like "hero" or "art"; The fact that there is no undeniable black and white definition for a "Mary Sue" is because the entire word is more meant to describe a group than a ]single character;

A Mary Sue can appear in any and every genre and, although they're often seen as "bad" for very good reasons, something could fit in the definition of a "Mary Sue" without actually being bad.

To cite examples;

Most game heroes are what you'd call "hypercompetent", sure, but in the end this "competence" is almost entirely driven by the player playing the game being good enough to play the game in such a way that the characters seem competent.

You could call a character like Mario a Mary Sue in a lot of ways, sure, but nobody would really take it seriously because Mario's "legacy of competence" comes entirely from the idea that a player will eventually beat the game he or she's playing.

I've seen some people use an argument in the line of "well that'd make a lot of game heroes a mary sue"; But I really think that such an interactive medium plays by entirely different rules, as the competence is entirely tied to your own.

On the other hand, of course, for very story driven games like the Final Fantasy games, one could make this argument, as there's a much stronger literary representation of the character discussed, they can be a "Mary Sue" outside of gameplay-related portions of the game.

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Taking this into account, I've seen a lot of people complain about various aspects of the Mary Sue Litmus test, often pointing out that one or several of the traits listed are in no way related to a Mary Sue character.

Now the test clearly states that all the individual properties aren't necessarily key to being a Mary Sue, but that they do add up to the whole;

The best example of one I could imagine finding questionable is the following:

Does your character frequently carry knives, daggers, or other little sharp pointy objects concealed within his/her clothing for no other reason than that they might be come in handy?

Now I saw that it got the following reply in this thread:

Other than the fact that "they might come in handy", what other reason is there to carry these things around? And how does that make you a Sue?

When I looked at that question, the "might come in handy" seemed to indicate that a character who with no real expectation of coming in a situation where it might be needed as a last resort still has weapons hidden all over his or her body just "cause they might be handy".

The phrasing of the question excludes all of the following and more:

1. a character who is actively trying to smuggle weapons somewhere, knowing full well that their non-concealed weapons might be taken

2. an assassin or rogue of some sort who relies entirely on surprise elements

3. a hidden dagger or weapon that's part of a preset uniform (say a military unit that always has a hidden spare in case of weapon malfunction or another distress situation)

4. A character who really expects to be kidnapped or in any other way tied, gagged or captured, who wants to have some sort of safety precaution.

5. A really really paranoid character who can't leave his or her house without weapons of some sort

6. A crazy prepared character who doesn't just take extra knives, but simply has a very clear character trait that'd push him or her, personality-wise, into concealed weapons and other little things cause they have an obsessive-compulsive need to do so.

The wording of the question excludes good or insane reasons a character would have an extra weapon, that's why it's phrased as "might be handy";

With "might be handy" I expect some sort of random princess who runs around with a dagger in her corset that allows her to escape from the unexpected clutches of a villain who decides to kidnap her (without her knowing that someone was planning to) just because she happened to think that she should carry a knife with her at all points.

If a character has some sort of OCD-related disorder it can be made logical, a perfectly normal person, however? Wouldn't just do it out of the blue.

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I don't feel like going into anything else in-depth for now, but I don't exactly see the big problem a lot of people seem to have with a test that, as far as I can tell, seems to be in good fun.

Though it might just be cause barely any character I've ever made scores high on that list. :smalltongue:

Prime32
2011-01-30, 02:54 PM
Curious about some of my characters, I entered a half-vampire catgirl with magical powers and got -1. I think I broke it. :smalltongue:

(said character is stupid, overconfident, racist, misinformed about much of the setting, and used mostly for comic relief)

Glass Mouse
2011-01-30, 06:09 PM
first of all, I really don't buy the "it's badly defined so there's no such thing"-argument, you could very well say the same thing about words like "hero" or "art"; The fact that there is no undeniable black and white definition for a "Mary Sue" is because the entire word is more meant to describe a group than a ]single character;

Ha, I hadn't thought about that! Good point.


None of the traits are sufficient to make a sue on their own. Lots of them are, and hyper competence in a bunch of areas is indicative of a Mary Sue, particularly if they lack flaws. That said, the language one is odd, simply because it would make much more sense if the distinction between monolingual and bilingual were noted as more important than whether a character knows 7 or 8 languages.

I disagree (about the mono/bilingual distinction). Most people who would know what a Mary Sue is would be bilingual - simply because English isn't their first language.
Same would be the case in most fantasy settings. Common exists for a reason.

Of course, throw in "more than most people in the setting" to the question, and this becomes moot.



More generally, if one takes the position that this refers to the idea that reasonable, decent people can dislike eachother, and as such people can dislike one's character from the "character as a person" perspective, which shouldn't be taken as offensive or indicative of ignorance. If the character is enough of a self insert however, or if the author is too sympathetic to their characters, it will pose a problem.

Spot-on!

Or, with a slightly different angle, if the character is too much of a self-insert, and readers dislike the character, the author will feel that the readers dislike him/her directly!


Characters should error. They should fail. They should succumb to their flaws, and their errors and failures should hurt them. And if this has happened to them and can happen to them, their triumphs against adversity, their success in rising out of what they were, their attempts to improve themselves, all these gain meaning. A flawless character who has never errored doing something successfully is entirely expected and boring. Furthermore, they are hard to relate to, screw ups and personal failings are part of being a human.

Amen.


No, it means you view characters as means to an end, just like everything else in literature. The end being the work as a whole. Its a sensible enough viewpoint, people who hold it aren't likely to fall into the Mary Sue trap, though that doesn't mean they won't fall into the wider 2D character trap.

I'm... actually not sure about this one. It seems you argue from a plot-first perspective.

I'm reading Stephen King's "On Writing" right now, and he says to treat writing like digging up a fossil. The story, the characters, everything is already there. Your job as a writer is just to uncover, carefully, more and more pieces until you've got a story. You can't do that unless you let the characters do their own thing and lead the way.
I know it doesn't directly contradict what you said, but still... For some writers, treating your characters as mere tools (or "means") is a whole trap in itself.

Writing is hard :smalltongue:

Geno9999
2011-01-30, 07:45 PM
Okay, I recently put Rakken (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=180372) through the test and found that he's... 11. Which is surprising, since I made him essentially an insane Canas (http://www.serenesforest.net/fe7/char3.html) look-a-like who claims to do things for "science." Like, for example, wondering if sharks drinking Pegasus blood will grow wings. I also think that the whole reason that a lot of people like him (outside the game) is because it's comedic insanity.