Mary Sue Characters

Mary Sue Characters

The Mary Sue. Who is she and why is she such a problem? Let’s find out. The Mary Sue character is often a perfect or idealized version of the author. However tempting it may be to write an awesome version of yourself, it makes for a flat character and a cliché. The Mary Sue is so special that nothing can defeat her (which makes her and the story boring because why do we need to read on if we know she will win in the end) and so perfect (again making her boring), not to mention gorgeous and beloved by all, and she becomes unrelatable and dull. There’s no tension, no conflict, no suspense, and no character growth. These are all big no-nos when it comes to writing a dynamic story. We’re supposed to write what we know, but creating a character that is a wish-fulfillment for yourself is not the way to go about writing a compelling story.

Characters need flaws and weaknesses to make them more human and well-rounded and also to grow in their character arc. No change in your characters equals a boring story. We want interesting and dynamic main characters, not Mary Sues because we want tension and suspense and not to know that our protagonist will win handedly against the baddie or rival. Also be wary of giving your super special Mary Sue likable flaws that aren’t really flaws at all, like being clumsy or endearingly dorky. Give her a real weakness and add suspense and real conflict to your story. Your character’s flaw needs to impede them from getting their goal.

You can draw from your own life and have similarities between yourself and your character. Just don’t make them too idealized or too bland (real life doesn’t always translate well as drama). And don’t think Mary Sue only applies to female characters, there are Marty Stus with the exact same problems.

Now that you know what makes a bad Mary Sue you can write stronger characters that may or may not have some similar attributes to yourself. After all, we writers put a little bit of ourselves in every character. Just be aware of what doesn’t work and why. What’s your take on Mary Sue characters? What’s the worst Mary Sue you’ve ever read? Comment below and happy writing.


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