Who is Mary Sue?

Who is Mary Sue?

Mary Sue is the name given to a dull character found all too often in fanfic. She can be identified by the following traits:

1. She is usually beautiful, but may bear a striking resemblence to the author of the fanfic.
2. She may share the name of the author of the fanfic.
3. She frequently has special abilities.
4. She’s always saving the day.
5. At least one canon character falls in love with her.
6. She’s virtuous, lacking character flaws of any kind.
7. All the good characters in the story just seem naturally drawn to her.

If you have written a main character into one of your stories who possesses many or all of these qualities, beware! You may be the creator of a Mary Sue (or her lesser-known cousin, Gary Stu). Get a beta reader to look over your work, lest this infamous pest overtake you.

11 thoughts on “Who is Mary Sue?

  1. Benisse

    I’m currently reading William Morris’ The Well at the World’s End, an early classic of fantasy, but the hero Ralph has been getting on my nerves. Then I read this list, and I realized he is suffering from acute Gary Stu syndrome. I trust it will get better as I get farther into the book, but right now he is rather flat. Thanks for the diagnosis.

    Reply
    1. gwainesfriendgwainesfriend

      I haven’t read that particular book, but I feel your pain. You just want to jump in the book and shake that character up a bit.

      Reply
  2. Carrie

    Okay, I’m a writer, and I try to avoid making Mary Sue characters as much as possible. Does having special abilities automatically deem a character a Mary Su?

    Reply
    1. Ajnos GamgeeAjnos

      I’m not an expert in writing, but I wouldn’t say so. It’s a combination of these characteristics (and perhaps some others not mentioned) that makes someone a Mary Sue. It also depends on how you write her. If there are enough other characteristics that offset these, or you’ve developed the character well in other ways you can get away with some of these characteristics without having a full blown Mary Sue. There are some well known literary figures that have these characteristics but the author has been good enough or clever enough in writing the story as a whole, they’ve managed to get away with it.

      Reply
    1. LilLil Post author

      I’m afraid I disagree with you. Perhaps Movie!Susan in PC. But not book!Susan. Aside from Edmund her faults are possibly most obvious, I think.

      Reply
  3. Follower of Aslana_son_of_narnia

    Generally speaking, I don’t like Mary Sue fics. At all. That said, if the Mary Sue fic is well written, has a good overall plot and good character development, and satisfies the reader, I don’t really care all that much.

    Reply
  4. hobbit_of_narniahobbit_of_narnia

    But wait…how many of these does a character have to have before he/she is a Mary-Sue or Gary-Stu? Because one or more of them is often found in canonical characters: in particular numbers 1, 3, 5 and especially 7. Sometimes the others, too.

    Reply
  5. random-fangirlrandom-fangirl

    Well,if you read fan fiction based on Narnia and to be honest,I think that most of the OCs in the fan fiction are Mary-Sues.Not so much Gary-Stues because the fan fics are mostly based on love stories like this: (Narnia character)/OC.I only had one character in my Narnia fan fic,but I’m not making it into an OC/Narnia Character fic because I don’t want my character to be a Mary-Sue.Also,a Mary-Sue would like,immediately have a great title like being a Queen.

    Reply
  6. QueenoftheUnderground

    Legit question, is there ever a time that someone can write an OC/Character story without the OC being a Mary Su? I do like a good OC/Character fic. Perhaps if she is written well and doesn’t “steal” any hearts?

    Reply

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