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Old Aug 17 2009, 03:26 PM   #2
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland
Gender: F
Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Default Re: Gary-Stus/Mary-Sues. Could some help to understand this?

The Mary Sue/Gary Stu phenomenon is, at its root, merely poor characterization. The fandom likes to make up lists saying, "Your character might be a Mary Sue IF" and you check off boxes if your character has purple or yellow eyes, if they're a genius at music or magic or whatever, if they're a prince/princess/whatever, if their parents are dead, or abusive, or whatever, and add the totals up, but it's a load of bull. Strong writing can shore up fantastic premises...you just need to keep mindful of the little details, so your character is grounded and rounded.

As to how to avoid it...practice, mostly. It's all in the little details of how you present a character, and how you drive them forward through a story, how you work their chains of logic. Sure, you might *want* some high-placed person of authority to be just thrilled by your character, and go out of their way to help them get what you want your character to have (either because they pity your main character, or think the character is a genius, or whatever), but if you do that too much people start to disbelieve you. An author absolutely needs readers to trust them...once readers lose trust in you, it's hard to get it back. The less trust you have, the less you can pull off in a story.

To avoid poor characterization, a lot of it is being aware of how the real world works, and borrowing just enough from the real world that your readers trust you know what you're talking about so you can shove the more unusual things down their throats.
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Read my Pern and Talent fanfic on Archive of our Own.

Fanfic WIPs: The Day Benden Went to War (Pern/Talent); Slosh (Pern); Weyrbred Lads (Pern); When You Fall Asleep /Between/... (Pern)

Completed Fics: Flight (Pern), Flight v2 (Pern), Golden Glow (Pern)

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