This newspost was inspired by this week's Quackcast on testing your writing and knowing your characters. In the comments, KimLuster posted a Mary Sue test and discussed her annoyance in finding that one of her characters scored highly.
So what is a Mary Sue? Everyone sort of knows one when they see it - it's that character who makes you roll your eyes so far they get stuck in the back of your head. Truthfully, there isn't a great definiteion because people use “Mary Sue” to mean different things. Generally, though, a Mary Sue is a character who is transparently the author's fantasy version of themselves. The most egregious Mary Sues are fabulously good-looking, universally adored, great at everything, and have special skills or powers.
Objectively identifying a Mary Sue is a pretty tricky business. I ran two of my characters through the Mary Sue test - Izzy and my new character Dee - and was surprised to see that both scored in the low range. I should say that I don't consider either character to be very well written - Izzy is completely single-faceted (he's just a huge grump all the time) and Dee's story is defined mostly by things happening to her rather than her personality or skills.
The problem with worrying overly much about this is that a Mary Sue isn't necessarily a bad character, and a bad character doesn't necessarily have Mary Sue qualities. Mary Sue tests don't account for overall good or bad writing. Some of the great classics have characters who are clearly “author inserts,” for instance! A Mary Sue can also appeal to audiences looking for escapism or wish fulfillment in their literature - I think the popularity of the Hunger Games books is evidence of this effect.
That being said, the test can still be useful for letting you know if you're relying on a few too many cliches in your writing. Run through the test here with one of your main characters and comment with how they fared! Do you think the test or the overall concept of a Mary Sue is useful?
This was ironscarf's idea, and I thought it would be really fun! Make a 1-page comic featuring a character who is as Mary Sue-ish as possible and send it to me via PQ or email. I'll feature all the comics in my newspost two weeks from now, and the winner will get a big ol' plug for their comic.
EDIT: Extending the deadline! Send me your Mary Sues by Thursday, March 19th!
I didn't have time to do a comic for this, but I drew a Hippie-Sue for you guys above. She's a much prettier me who leads the world with an army of cats (who she can talk to, because she speaks every language including animal and plant languages) and also has time to make amazing watercolour paintings. Plus her hair is never crazy, and neither of her eyebrows is weirdly lower than the other.
JOIN THE DRUNK DUCK FASHION SHOW
VinoMas is creating a fashion show for the site, and it's looking like it will be a lot of fun! Check out this newspost, and check out this forum section where the action will be happening!
Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see here? Do you have original art for our newspost image database? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at)gmail.com, or leave a comment below!
For more info on News, please check out this DD Help Site article: https://sites.google.com/site/theduckhelp/getting-started/news-and-getting-your-news-in-it
HippieVan at 12:00AM, March 6, 2015
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