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Writer Jones and the Mary Sue


We all heard of the Mary Sue character, right?  It’s that person who does everything well and all the guys want her and she’s so perfect.

The Mary Sue started out as a description from fan fic.  People would essentially write themselves into a story they loved and make the main character a more perfect version of themselves.  It was wish fulfillment.

Now, why is there a Mary Sue but there’s not an equally popular male Sue?  Don’t know, but does bug me, because we all know guys do it too.  It could just be because there are more female writers than male so you see more girly Sues.

Why is the Mary Sue so bad?  Here’s the question.  It’s because she’s unrealistic.  We want to relate to characters, to believe they could be real people running around in some alternate reality (wait, is that second one just me?) and we can’t do that if they aren’t realistic.

People aren’t perfect.  No matter who it is, they have flaws, maybe even one that’s fatal in the wrong circumstances.  So your characters should to.

A common thing (I’m not going to say mistake and I’ll get to why) new writers do is to write Mary Sue characters, maybe even take it one step further towards the old version of Mary Sue and write themselves into the story as a perfect version.  I did this in my first book.  Yeah, I’m not ashamed to admit it.  It’ll never see the light of day unless someone hacks my computer but that’s neither here nor there.

So why do I say this isn’t a mistake?

Because it’s part of the learning process!

You don’t have to be good out of the gate.  I can already tell you, you won’t be.  You don’t have to be.  Do lawyers go to one class in law school and then go tackle a trial?  (If you answered yes to that, I will slap you through the computer screen… and whatever TV show you got that from.)

So why do you expect to know everything when you’re first sitting down at a computer?  It’s okay to let yourself learn.  The point is to shape a story, get words down, and learn how to craft characters of substance, and you gotta start somewhere.

As a friend of mine likes to say, embrace the suck 🙂  Happy writing!

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