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Old Aug 19 2009, 03:53 PM   #7
D. M. Domini
D. M. Domini's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland

Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Default Re: Gary-Stus/Mary-Sues. Could some help to understand this?

For me, the biggest marker of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu character is unrealistic-ness. OK, is that even a word? What I mean is, the character is somehow finding themselves ridiculously fortunate windfalls that do not happen to real people.
I disagree with this, or at least, with how you wrote it. While you go on to clarify that yes, you do mean "unrealistic" characters in specific cases are ok, it still upholds the ridiculous idea that you CAN'T have a 14-year-old Starfleet officer, that you CAN'T have a preteen goldrider and Sr. Weyrwoman, even if you did not intend to have it read that way.

"Unrealistic ideas" by themselves are not an automatic marker of poor characterization. And I kneejerk when people imply, purposely or by accident, that they are, because that advice isn't sound. If it was, the entire world would write litfic about dead-end 40-somethings that never pursued their dreams and who are now working 60 hour weeks at the factory to feed their 8 kids.

It goes back to balance, like I said. For a 14 year old Starfleet officer I'd expect to see a depiction along the lines of how Ender was portrayed in Ender's Game. Or any child that started working at an early age, and having serious responsibilities.

There are certain ideas that are risky to write, yes. But if you borrow enough "reality" from the real world to balance your fantastic ideas, and you have enough skill so you know how to present it to your readership, you can pull it off.

Also, if a writer writes a story using what I'd call "high-risk" ideas, it would behoove them to not be upset if the readership doesn't swallow it...having extraordinary characters can be a mark against you, OR a mark for you depending on if the story works overall, and the story working/not working is a question of the author's skill at writing.

BUT, I would never tell someone to not use a specific premise.

(I don't really mean to direct this to you directly, Weyrlady, as I think we are on the same page, but the way you worded it makes it easy for someone to fly in, pick what they want out of it--see, yellow eyes are bad! So is purple hair and wings and magic! Never write about under-age heroes either!--and not "hear" the rest.)
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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