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Monday, June 20, 2011

Cultivating Characters: Do you Mary Sue/Gary Stu?

Words from the CLab - Authors are stubborn and fiction authors are equally stubborn if not more. At one time or another, every budding fictional author becomes fixated on cultivating tailor-made characters for a specific story’s plot.

Example of a Tailor-Made Character:

  • A character’s personal and/or physical flaws are generic, minimum and/or rarely cause the character to suffer any consequences (i.e. abandoned/kidnapped child, the outer space superhero, mysterious prophecies).
  • The plot is centered and constructed to display the character’s more appealing personal and/or physical traits (i.e. “naturally” gifted at advance physics/fighting, unknown nobility, extremely handsome)
  • The character is seldom wrong, hardly subjected to limitations, (endless resurrection, instant healing, god-like powers and immortality) or is the last of their clan/race/species.

These sort of tailor-made creations are known as Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters. Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters are in a sense “perfect in every way” and are easily recognized as part of the fantastic. These characters are the manifestation of their author’s wish-full subconscious or personal beliefs. A Mary Sue/Gary Stu is created to achieve in fantasy what the author can’t in reality.

During the cultivating process of defining a character, budding authors are often overly protective and somewhat defensive against any allegations of a potential Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Through my personal observation of reading various fictional pieces, many online authors are unaware of how Mary Sue/Gary Stu their character is.

Below is an objective but analytical questionnaire that determines if a newly cultivated character is Mary-Sue/Gary Stu like. This questionnaire is best for determining how and where your character fits on the Mary-Sue/Gary Stu scale. The questionnaire doesn’t question the author’s skill in character development his questionnaire references certain points that provides comments if the character is believable. It is up to the author to objectively decide how the results apply.


Take the test at The Writer's Mary Sue Test!

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