Episode 526 A return to Mary Sue!

Apr 12, 2021

Mary Sues are always a fun topic! There are some misconceptions about them though… Mary Sues aren't all female, they can be any gender. Being super powerful or super popular or super pretty etc doesn't equal a Mary Sue, not even if your character super stands out next to all the others, those things ONLY indicate they might possibly be one. What equals a Mary Sue is a character that doesn't have to struggle very hard for anything, a character that is almost universally admired, and or loved (even by the enemy), a character that masters hard skills with ease and ends up teaching the teachers and beating the masters, a character that's destined to succeed and does in spite of internal story logic… All these things and more can add up to make a Mary Sue.

Topics and Show Notes

It's why Batman and Superman are NOT automatically Mary Sues even though they stand out and have super powers/abilities/skills. They have a million stories about how they face challenges, how they get people killed, how they lose powers, how people hate them etc. They could be Mary Sues only if they had bad writers.

Rei from the new Star Wars movies is a classic Mary Sue, although very well acted by the awesome Daisy Ridley, she doesn't face any serious struggles in her straight line trajectory to success, she defeats all enemies with ease, masters every skill better than all masters, and is destined to win. So even though she doesn't stand out aesthetically or physically, she qualifies. Similarly, Rick from Rick and Morty can be a bit of a Mary Sue in some stories in that he rarely faces real challenges because he's worked out everything beforehand. Whenever things seem to be going wrong for him you realise he's already engineered the situation so he can win, this makes him less compelling as a character, less immersive and believable.. You find out that even the social challenges he seems to face in some episodes were actually pre-engineered by him to reach exactly the conclusion they did.

The important point there is that it's only in SOME stories. Any character than be a Mary Sue if the writing fails them. but that doesn't mean that's what they always are! The classic story characters from the late 19th century Sherlock Holmes the super detective and Raffles the gentleman thief can be Mary Sues: over-powered and working to imbalance their story environments, but only at times.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Last Child of Gluttony: White lines flash past as your knee comes close to the road… your bike roars as you lean into the curve. The road is a blur of speedlines. Red lights flash bright in front of you, tailing off behind as you whip past them. You’re king of the road, no one can catch you. This music evokes speed, night, racing, roads and heat!

Topics and shownotes

Banes' Mary Sue newspost - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/apr/06/the-bestest-evar/

Our old Mary Sue Quackcast - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/quackcast/episode-211-how-mary-sure-are-you/

Featured comic:
Hierarchy - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/apr/06/featured-comic-hierarchy/

Featured Music:
Last Child of Gluttony - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Last_Child_Of_Gluttony_/ - by Cdmalcolm1, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Pitface - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/banes

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Episode 525 - Sexual Tension

Apr 5, 2021

5 likes, 0 comments

Sexual tension between characters is a great way to augment the conflict that drives a story. The audience really wants that to resolve into a relationship or at least an assignation of some sort… The longer it goes on though, the bigger they want the coming together to be, which can be dangerous for the creator because it's so easy to disappoint. it's usually better to resolve the tension earlier than later, OR keep it going forever but keep it interesting and don't ever sour it or make it turn stale.

Episode 507 - Say my name again!

Nov 30, 2020

4 likes, 1 comment

Coming up with character names isn't easy. It can actually be really, really hard! Tantz did a couple helpful Newsposts about it and we decided to spin that into a fun Quackcast about naming and names! The names behind stuff often has interesting stories, the Quackcast itself is no exception. When Wowio told us we had to do a podcast back in the day we tossed around a few names and the one they came up with was “Quackcast”, because of the whole “duck” theme we have going here. I protested because there was a highly regarded skeptical medical podcast with that name already run by Dr Mark Crislip, but I didn't have any real say and so the name stuck! When I DID have the power to change it, it was already way too entrenched.

Episode 496 - titular titularity!

Sep 14, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Titles are surprisingly important for your comic! We don't often realise that when we first start them, but a title is one of the very first ways people come across your work. You have to sell it to them and give them an idea of what to expect in only a very few words. You can take a lot of different approaches to that, like teasing and intriguing them with a title that suggests something interesting or mysterious, character names are great for that. You can be completely literal and obvious. You can use a pun… you can take an existing popular title and alter it in a slight way… There are so many things you can do!

Episode 494 - No antagonist is the best antagonist?

Aug 31, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

Does a story always need an antagonist embodied in the form of an active character? I don't think they do! We chat about examples of stories without antagonistic characters that work just as well, if not better than the reverse! This is based on Bane's newspost from last Thursday (link in the notes). Tantz and I have a long argument about what the main antagonist in Wall-E was! I think that a lot of the better Pixar movies don't have their main antagonising force embodied in characters- Inside Out, Moana, Coco, Wall-E etc, and we they do they're not quite as strong or as touching. Even in Up the villain in that only plays the main antagonist for a short time. What d you think?

Episode 481 - Fun with history?

May 31, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Today we're chatting about using historical stuff in your story and knowing how to use it right! Sometimes it's good to change stuff and sometimes it's not. The thing is that you should ONLY change it if you know what you're doing and why you're doing it. A good example is A Knight's Tale- It has a historical setting and there are a lot of deliberate historical anachronisms in it, and they're all very obvious, they do not pretend to be anything but what they are.

Episode 479 - Big ideas in fiction

May 18, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

My original idea for this Quackcast was: “Genre fiction is the best place to explore ideas, straight fiction doesn't do it as well” What I meant was that diverting from straight reality in fiction makes it easier to conceptualise, simplify and explain complicated ideas to a general audience for a whole number of reasons. There was some disagreement between Tantz and I because I expressed myself poorly so she'd thought that I was saying it was much easier to write SciFi and fantasy (Genre fiction), and it was easier to write about big ideas, while straight fiction wasn't good for that- Which is fair enough! My initial statement is so badly worded that's a valid interpretation! Fortunately Banes and Pit were on hand to smooth things out and explain things properly. Pit mediated between us and Banes conceptualised my concept FAR, far better than I did! Unfortunately you don't get much of that disagreement on the Quackcast. You DO get a bit of it on the PATREON only video however ^_^

Episode 467 - Adaptions and Transmogrification!

Feb 23, 2020

2 likes, 0 comments

The process of adaptation is quite interesting. Stories go through all sorts of changes when they're transferred from one medium to another. A lot of the time we bemoan that as “not staying true to the original” or “the book was better”, but there are many times where the adaption is really interesting in its own right, even though it's quite different from what it started out as.


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