We all know them. We all hate them. We all rant about them. And yet, what are they? Obviously, they’re a bland perfect self-insert that gets all the guys (or girls), but can we be more specific please? Here is my (incomplete) list of Mary Sues, Clichés, and unoriginal plotlines.
But of course, I will add that to an insecure teenager like I was, Mary Sues are lifesavers.
The self insert is one of my personal pet peeves.
Author: Hi my name is Elizabeth, I have shoulder-length brown hair and blue eyes that looks green when the lighting’s bad. I love horses.
Character: Hi! My name is Elizabeth Exalt and I am the top student at my school! I have glowing silky auburn hair and blue eyes that turn green when I’m excited. I’m five foot four and *one hundred* pounds. I’m the best horseback rider in the world and I’ve gone to worldwide championships despite being underage. I’m also super fit and good at dance, figure skating, and gymnastics! I run marathons as a pass-time!
Angst prone are super goth emotional people who wear bondage leather all the time. Example:
Character: Hi my name is Raven Slit Onyx and I have obsidian black hair and eyes that are grey or black or red depending on my mood. My parents were murdered when I was five in front of my eyes so I was sent to an orphanage and then to a prison-like boarding school. I only wear stuff from hot topic or kinky sex shops and it’s totally normal that I wear leather thigh high boots and fishnets and plastic lingerie to show off my cleavage. One of my favorite activities is cutting myself with my friends and crying and talking all depressingly with my boyfriend who is goth but still hot. I hate my life. And did I mention everyone wants to **** me?
Princess rebels are people born to royalty who are really “caged” by their horrible life. Example:
Hi, My name is Princess Ruby Sapphire and I’m extremely beautiful and talented at everything that I do. I have glossy golden blonde hair and rainbow eyes that sparkles and glow and change color. I’m six feet tall and one hundred pounds, and everyone tells me that I’m so skinny I look anorexic (in a good way). I’m actually just naturally a model, and I wear no makeup. I’m so sad because I long to be free from the cage that is my wealth and power! So I decide to go out into the big bad world, where I meet this sexy bad boy (probably named Damian), who instantly falls in love with me. And so, I decide to abandon all my friends and family and join a normal life. Also, I totally adapt to normal life in like, five seconds. It’s cause I’m so amazing at everything!
SECRET ROYALTY/PROPHECY GAL
People who thought they were “normal” but it turns out they were the heir to a throne/ the person destined to save the world. Example:
Hi, My name is Victoria Thistle and I’m a normal high school student. The only thing that’s not normal is that the authors spends pages describing how gorgeous I am and how good at everything I am. Or so I thought. This mysterious guy shows up at my school one day and tells me I’m the heir to the super rich and amazing fantasy-land throne/savior of the world. At first, I don’t believe him and I’m super reluctant to be a rich and famous princess/immortal warrior, but than I become super amazing at being royalty/super-powerful girl.
So there’s the self-insert and unoriginal plotlines, but what about unoriginal and perfect characters. In other words, Mary Sues?
Normal: Julia Mary Tide (nickname Jules)
Mary Sue: Reuby Sparkel Obsidien Anjelika Blak (nickname dark angel)
Maximum four names. No sparkles. No obsidian. Try to keep it spelled normally.
Normal: 5’7″, brown hair, freckles, hazel eyes, round face, looks mid-twenties
Mary Sue: six foot, shiny auburn hair, glistening rainbow eyes, looks super skinny, is ninety pounds,perfect nails, never had acne, looks nineteen
Real people aren’t perfect. Period.
Normal: Is twenty five. Looks twenty five. End of story.
Mary Sue: Is actually only fifteen but she’s super mature so she looks twenty
People generally look their age. People who are not yet fully grown generally look out of proportion. They typically have rounder faces, are shorter, have less developed bodies, etc.
MAGICAL ABILITIES (for fantasy/sci-fi)
“Normal”: can manipulate water, can cast basic spells, her specialty is healing
Mary Sue: Has every type of magic as her element. Can cast every spell. Has every ability. Every time she faces a new opponent, she gains an ability that she can use perfectly without training. She is basically invincible. People older than her aren’t as good.
Flawless characters are nonexistent. Magical abilities, in most story universes, generally require training and practice to master. Typically people are stronger in one suit then another.
Normal: is good at maths and sciences, works better at night, procrastinate a lot with work
Mary Sue: is good in every subject without working and is every teachers’/boss’ teacher’s pet. This doesn’t annoy anyone however.
See concept and Magical abilities
see above for more detail.
DEATH OF PARENTS IN BACKSTORY (It’s okay to have a dead parent, but…)
Normal: mom died of lung cancer, wants to become doctor because of it
Mary-Sue: Parent killed right in front of face. Angst, angst, angst!
Don’t add in a parental death just to give some depth to your character. Make it relevant please. Does it affect their personality (other than angst)? Do they DO something because of it?
Anyways, this is just the beginning of my rant, so if you read this far, don’t fret, there will be more jaded postings coming soon to a blog near you!