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QUACKCAST 208 - Testing Your Writing

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, March 3, 2015
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Image by Ozoneocean

Content:
In this Quackcast Banes and I discuss some methods for testing your writing, well mainly your characters, to see how well you really know them. We use a comedic character creation template that we have found is perfect for testing and learning more about your established characters, no matter how serious they are. It consists of four interrelated elements: Point of view; Exaggeration of the point of view; Faults; Relatability / Humanity. We also talk a little about the dreaded dangers of the Mary Sue… you never want your writing to fall in that putrid, cancerous hole of smelly excrement where your main character is perfect and all the others worship them. And lastly the very useful Bechdel test for seeing how rounded your female characters are. There are 3 rules: You have to have at least two named women; They who talk to each other; It's about something besides a man.
We were both a bit sad about the death of Leonard Nimoy. R.I.P. Mister Spock.

Topics and shownotes

Featured comic:
Sweets and Giggles - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Sweets_and_giggles/

Character template:
Point of view
Exaggeration of the point of view
Faults
Relatability / Humanity.

Mary Sue - http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue

Bechdel test:
It has to have at least two named women in it,
who talk to each other,
about something besides a man
More info - http://bechdeltest.com/
Wiki definition - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel_test

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace Costansa, musician - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Banes Newman, Co-host - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/

The theme song by Gunwallace this week was for:
DeadFingers - http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/DeadFingers/ - by Peipei.

comment

anonymous?

Call Me Tom at 12:58PM, March 5, 2015

I think all my characters in the understanding are Mary Sues! Thats probly why no one has read it since I restarted it.

Ozoneocean at 7:36PM, March 4, 2015

"Gary stu" is as pointless and unnecessary as "Jamal stu" for black people. There's zero need to tailor conventions like that. I see why people say "Mary Sue" is misogynistic now- if people feel the need to separate between sexes then it is.

bravo1102 at 3:44PM, March 4, 2015

Authors call males Gary Stu so you'd know it's a male without any gender confusion. When discussing writing mechanics sometimes it helps to be specific so people know what the hell you're referring to. I may do shitty comics with dolls and boobs and do some the worst characterization ever but I do know that Gary Stu is used to specify a male variant of a Mary Sue because the genders are NOT identical. Plenty of pro writing has Mary Sues. Don't read too much genre fiction do you? Male action, Romance, Romance, young adult... In fact some pro-writers use Mary Sues because they're easy to get their targeted readership to identify with. It's a way to sell the manuscript. There are plenty of shades of Mary-sueness to fit in lots of characters.

tupapayon at 8:58AM, March 4, 2015

I have in process a design for a Mary Sue character… intentionally perfect but that would work like a nemesis for my main character… I know… gotta post more pages soon…

tupapayon at 8:55AM, March 4, 2015

this reminds me... I read a very long time ago that once Isaac Asimov was talking to a girl fan of him. She asked why there were so few female characters in his stories. So he tried to explain that he used to be a shy boy growing up, and he didn't interact enough with girls, so he didn't know how to portray female characters in his writings. To this she responded: that's no excuse...

KimLuster at 7:26AM, March 4, 2015

Yeah, the Bechdel Test is pretty important, as it is an attempt to break a dreaded way of thinking! It's a mindset in our culture - even female writers tend to fall into that trap!

Ozoneocean at 6:38AM, March 4, 2015

Mary Sue is universal, you don't need the male name for it to apply to males. It works better without it. Basically: self insertion characters that're too perfect, but it's context based so strict definitions in "tests" are not useful. You know them when you see them. Pro writing is unlikely to have any, unless it's early work that was re-released later after the Author got famous.

bravo1102 at 4:59AM, March 4, 2015

I consciously design all my stories to pass the Bechdel test.

bravo1102 at 4:37AM, March 4, 2015

The Mary Sue definitions are way too stringent. If you really try to go against Mary Sue you could end up with something worse. I had this discussion at length back years ago on the Anti-Shuturgal and other writing forums. I don't think they were archived but everything was hashed out at great length. And I mean great length. Mary Sue applies to male characters too. Eragon in the book series Inheritance is a classic male Mary Sue sometimes called the Gary Stu.

Ironscarf at 3:34AM, March 4, 2015

Or a competition: create a one page comic featuring a character called Mary Sue and have her be the most Mary Sue-ish character possible. Then find a Mary Sue to judge it.

HippieVan at 9:08PM, March 3, 2015

Hmm, I think I might put together a newspost on the topic of Mary Sues!

Banes at 2:30PM, March 3, 2015

Haha! I agree, by the way, that Kim is not a Mary Sue

KimLuster at 1:49PM, March 3, 2015

@Banes: I've never wanted to write a Mary Sue, but a Penelope Sue... not that's something...!

Banes at 1:32PM, March 3, 2015

That Mary Sue test is interesting, KL! I had a chance to run Oscar through the test and did okay (adding in some things I've been planning to do later put him in the "Total Mary Sue" range...haha). Without that stuff, he's moderate. Gonna run the other characters when there's time...one or two might be quite Sue-ish...

KimLuster at 11:23AM, March 3, 2015

@Hippie: Thanks... I guess enough negatives will kill the positives and balance the Mary Sue karma wheel :) ...before starting the Godstrain, I was aware of the Mary Sue muddy waters and really wanted to avoid them (I actually do care more than I said so in my first post). I think...I may actually bring this theme more to the fore later in the story, have it mentioned, produce a sort of deconstruction of the Mary Sue by calling it out in some way... we'll see!

HippieVan at 10:26AM, March 3, 2015

That Mary Sue test definitely isn't foolproof for determining if your character is well-written. I ran both Izzy and my new character Dee through it, and they both came up low although neither is particularly innovative, and they're not really well-rounded or anything. I think the main reason is that I'm a bit masochistic with my characters. Izzy is just a jerk who no one likes, and Dee is constantly having bad things happen to her - apparently I get points back for that. I think the real purpose of the test is just so you know your character *could* come across as cliched if you're not careful with them...I don't think Kimber Lee does, though!

KimLuster at 5:00AM, March 3, 2015

I once took a Mary Sue test for my character Kimber Lee, similar to one found here: http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm. Even though I've gone to great lengths to make Kimber Lee seem real, with plenty of faults, she scored surprisingly high on the Mary Sue meter - kinda pissed me off lol... . I think the 'Mary Sue' thing is too stringent, and people are too quick to call it out, especially against females... I've read about women who just stopped writing female characters as leads because they always got called out as Mary Sues. . Plus, some of the greatest characters ever were Mary Sues (or Marty Stus). Anne Rice has straight out said Lestat is who she'd like to be if she were a man! Conan is Robert Howard's wet dream! And compare Anita Black vs her author, Laura K Hamilton someday...! And Roland the Gunslinger looks and awful lot like Stephen King... . I decided I don't care if I'm writing a Mary Sue (I don't think I am, but if I am, I don't care haha)


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