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Old Aug 17 2009, 07:05 PM   #3
Journeywoman Healer
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Here and There
Gender: F
Fan of: Pern, Ship Series
Now Reading: Girl Genius (read it!)
Default Re: Gary-Stus/Mary-Sues. Could some help to understand this?

The CLASSIC, prototypical Mary Sue was from the Star Trek fandom and was named Mary Sue (hence the trope name). She was beautiful and good. SO beautiful and good that the canon characters all loved her. Villains would change their wicked ways because of her goodness. She was THAT WONDERFUL A PERSON. As the reader was forcibly reminded every five minutes. The fanfic plot revolved around her even when it logically should not have. And to cap it off, she of course died in tragic and heroic circumstances, making everyone mourn her terribly and promise to be better people, yada yada.

Basically a Mary Sue, in fan fic, is an original character, frequently the long-lost daughter/sister/lover of a major character and/or is introduced as a love interest for a canon character. Mary Sue can do no wrong. The plot, even the fic universe, bends to suit her needs. Heroes love her, villains convert for her, even people who should be her romantic rival can't help but love her because, well, she's just so gosh darn wonderful! Often, she has a tragic past (dead parents, abusive family, psycho ex, whatever) but she has risen above it and is a better person for it, and often she will die in a self-sacrificial or otherwise suitably tragic manner. Gag.

The term's gradually become conflated with "self-insert." A self-insert is a (usually idealized) version of the author. Given about 80% of fan fic out there is self-insertion wish fulfillment, that makes for a lot of Mary-Sue labeling.

As one LJ community noted, "These days a Mary Sue is any female character under the age of seventy who can walk home in a rainstorm without drowning."
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