Hi guys. This is Rue's Guide to Mary Sues by yours truly. ;) I spent some time on this, so I really hope it helps! Please do not be offended by anything I say. I also want you to know that I know I am not the best person to be saying this, I am aware I have submitted Mary Sues/Gary Stues of my own!
CONTENTS IN THIS CHAPTER
Step 1- Naming
Step 2- Personality
Step 3- Appearance
Step 4- Backstory
Step 5- What to do if You Receive a Mary Sue
Step 6- My Mary Sue Example
Naming is always a difficult task for story-writers. In the Hunger Games, luckily Suzanne Collins gave us some basic guidelines to follow.
First off, no matter what District, long names are not acceptable! 'Danielle Rosie Marcia Sophie Waterlilly Butterfly' is not adequate. Fine- throw in a middle name if you want, but make sure it isn't cliché or super girly.
Now, for the District guidelines-
District One, Luxury- These names are either qualities of luxury items, or the items themselves. Pretty simple, really.
NFTB (some names from the books)- Glimmer, Marvel, Gloss, Cashmere
Names for you to use- Pearl, Velvet, Emerald, Satin
District Two, Masonry- These names are similar to the ones in the Capitol. Both use Latin, Roman, or Greek names. I suggest selecting a trait you want your D2 tribute to have and then searching 'Greek names meaning …' on your browser and choosing a name that way.
NFTB- Clove, Cato, Enobaria, Brutus, Cray, Lyme, Darius
Names for you to use- Acacia, Styx, Romulus
District Three, Technology- These names come from technology. This time I'd suggest looking up parts of your television or computer or naming anything off the top of your head that relates to technology. Most of these names are either misspelled or tweaked a bit. Take Beetee for example, which comes from 'TV'. Collins changed the letters a bit and the spelling. Wiress is another example.
NFTB- Wiress, Beetee
Names for you to use- Dayta, Bolt, Plugg, Bug, Cable
District Four, Fishing- The names from this District all relate to water. I would suggest looking up names that relate to the sea on a baby naming website.
NFTB- Finnick, Annie, Mags
Names for you to use- Nimi, Maria, Curent, Coral
District Five, Power- I don't believe there are any 'canon' names for District Five unless you count that Caeser called Foxface 'Finch' (he did, trust me). But I'm not counting that as Suzanne Collins did not write it! :) So there's really two ways to go here, industry related, or I've seen people choose old-fashioned names which I think work well.
Names for you to use- Fuze, Watt, (or, old-fashioned) Hattie, Rosa, Elanor
District Six, Transportation- I've seen lots of things done here. Some people name their tributes after auto-mobiles and other industry related topics. But, if we take Titus into account we have a Capitol/District Two name, so this could work as well.
Names for you to use- Acacia, Styx, Romulus, Mercedes, Ford
District Seven, Lumber- This one is a little more difficult. You'd think tree related names would work until you think of Johanna and Blight… neither relate to trees or lumber. So, I would either go old-fashioned names or maybe choose an interesting tree related name.
NFTB- Johanna, Blight
Names for you to use- Hattie, Marshal, Grover, Barkson,
District Eight, Textiles- District Eight is far more simple. These names are industry related, so maybe search some sewing related things, fabrics, etc.
NFTB- Paylor, Cecelia, Woof, Bonnie, Twill
Names for you to use- Calico, Lace, Threadd, Neadle
District Nine, Grain- Agh! Another District without any canon names to base off of! I think names pertaining to the industry would work here as well as old-fashioned names.
Names for you to use- Hattie, Roland, Rye, Wheat,
District Ten, Livestock- I suggest using names that relate to the industry for this District once again, or natural sounding names.
NFTB- Dalton, yes I had to look this one up…
Names for you to use- Sable, Stye, Myra, Mazie
District Eleven, Agriculture- This District is pretty simple. These names relate to nature/plants or to the industry, which I suppose mostly is nature and plants.
NFTB- Seeder, Chaff, Martin, Thresh, Rue *holla*
Names for you to use- Pepper, Till, Barely, Chive
District Twelve, Mining- Now, in the books a lot of these names seem random when put together, but most of them are related to nature. So I suggest going off of this or maybe even the main industry- mining.
NFTB- (I'm not listing them all) Katniss, Primrose, Madge, Leevy, Greasy Sae, Gale, Peeta
Names for you to use- Ash, Barely, River
Capitol- These names are like District Two- Latin or Greek or Roman. They all have an 'ancient-feel' to them.
NFTB- Cinna, Effie, Portia, Seneca (just to name a few)
Names for you to use- Gregor, Romulus, Rabio,
Now you have your tribute's name, we should begin to create a personality. The first step is to think of some traits they should have. Make sure your character has flaws. Because although to you, the author, it might seem necessary to make you character perfect, for the reader it gets awfully boring.
And who says, "Oh, I just hate Prim because she's so damn weak and too sensitive. She can't even use a weapon!" No one. No one says that. Flaws are beautiful. Think of some unique ones for your character, and follow through with them.
If you are filling out a form to submit to a story and you see- 'Personality' do not put this, as I have seen it a thousand times with Mary Sues.
"Personality- Princess Roseabelle Mary Spring is really nice. She's kind to everyone except when people are mean to her, then she gets feisty."
I can't even tell you how many times I've seen that.
Make your character unique! How am I supposed to feature a character when I only get those two sentences for her personality?
Here's a brilliant example. Nrrrd-Grrrl-Meg actually sent this character in to me, so this personality doesn't belong to me. Credit to Nrrrd-Grrrl-Meg for making a good character!
"Personality- Metric, in one word, is reckless. A true wild child that loves nothing more than to push the boundaries that others hide from and lives to make others uncomfortable. She has a strange sense of humor, finding humor in things no one else would dare laugh at, and likes attention being on her. She does what she wants, when she wants, and refuses to play by anyone else's rules. Underneath, she is a little girl screaming for her parents to realize she is there, begging to remember that they have a child left."
See the difference? There's a realistic quality to Metric that Princess didn't have. Also the personality is descriptive.
Another thing to have is depth.
Why was Metric reckless? Because she wants her parents to pay attention to her.
This, I find, is especially important in upper Districts like the Careers. No one's born knowing how to hate. Add emotion to your character that gives them a reason to hate, or to be bloodthirsty or have trust issues etc. Make sure not to go too far in this though, because super tragic backstories are Mary Sue territory.
So for personality, to sum things up, remember- Description, Depth, Uniqueness, Flaws, Follow through!Or I guess, DDUFF for short ;).
A super easy way to spot a Mary Sue is to look at their appearance. Sure, there are pretty people in this world, but seriously! It isn't necessary, or anywhere near necessary to make a gorgeous character. Focus more on the facts when describing a character- blond hair, brown eyes, freckles, skinny, short etc. rather than generalizing the character as pretty.
If you are submitting/ making a character- No author will kill off your tribute because they aren't pretty enough. The author merely asks for a description of appearance so they can bring your character to life. They aren't testing you or anything. Also make sure the appearance matches the District.
District One has typically blue eyes and platinum blond hair
District Two usually has brown hair and brown eyes
District Three's tributes are usually weaker-looking, have dark hair and dark eyes and some wear glasses
District Four has brown hair and sea green eyes
Districts Five through Twelve were not described as much appearance-wise in the books so I suggest making a character with simple features, nothing to extraordinary.
If you are writing for a character- When I say 'don't generalize a character as pretty, I mean in third person or the character's point of view. It's perfectly fine for other characters to describe another as pretty. Just no swarming crowds of the opposite sex ;). And for some reason a lot of author's think it's perfectly reasonable for a tribute's first impulse on entering the arena is to try to seduce everyone… this is unrealistic if you ask me…
Let's sum up appearance now- Be simple and stick to the facts more than opinions.
Oh sweet Lord, this is where a lot of people run into problems. Let me just get this out- NOT EVERYONE IS AN ORPHAN SUPPLYING FOR THEIR SIBLINGS! Alright? There's nothing wrong with the occasional orphan, but I suggest no more than two per story! Anymore gets cliché and predictable. Plus the orphans begin to become generalized and boring.
In backstory, it's good to bring in the personality a bit. Here you can explain why your character has some of its flaw and add depth. But again, this is easily overdone. Don't worry about your character getting sympathy, if they are going into the Hunger Games, they already have it.
Go unique instead of dramatic.
Let's go back to a couple examples, shall we?
"Backstory- Princess Rosabelle Mary Spring has had a tragic life. Her mother died giving birth to her and her father was killed by some peacekeepers for no reason at all. Princess's older sister got a terminal disease and can't do much so Princess has to take care of her and her other five siblings who are all super adorable. Everyone loves Princess and feels bad for her. On reaping day Poppy, Princess's younger 12 year-old sister, was reaped. Princess volunteered. "
Let's go back to Nrrrd-Grrrl-Meg 's character, Metric, one more time…
"Backstory- As you can see above, her family life is no picnic. She watched her beloved brother Ty fought for his life, making the final seven before falling to the cunning girl from District Seven, who he thought was his ally, poisoned his food. He suffered slowly and she never took her eyes from her television set as he wasted away, but not before saying goodbye to her. Kincaid, who had wrote his son off as a rebellious child that he could not bend to his will prior to the games, pretended as though he never had a son, while Britta was to busy seeing colors to know her only son was gone. That was the turning point for Metric, who before Ty's death, was the perfect little puppet for her daddy. Now, she spends her day with the poor of District Six, learning to fix trains and doing whatever she can to piss off her father and remind her mother that she is alive. "
Now, although Metric's life has been tragic, there's a reason behind it and it shapes Metric into the rebellious daughter she is. And also, it shows in the last sentence that Metric is anything but perfect/ a Mary Sue. Now to Princess… she's the definition of cliché! And although it might seem like submitters and authors should be able to point out this Mary Sue, I've seen characters like Princess many times before. I've also seen reviewers rooting for this character to win the Hunger Games…
DO NOT HAVE THE CHARACTER VOLUNTEER FOR A SIBLING!
Yep! Steer away from it all together to run into problems!
And it's okay to have bits and pieces of Princess's backstory in your own tribute's. Like the sick sister- that's perfectly okay! And a father shot by some peacekeepers (although it is good to mention a reason the peacekeepers shot him). Just all clumped together it makes a bad backstory!
Summary- Be unique rather than tragic; Give reasoning; Make the backstory shape your character into who they are today.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE A MARY SUE
If you've ever had a SYOT (and I have, but I've made it so they are technically legal) then you know that Mary Sues are often sent in. Getting rid of a Mary Sue from your story can be difficult, especially when the writer who sent them in is your friend or an author you often talk to.
Here's what I would do.
Be gentle with the submitter. The authors who send Mary Sues in usually base them off of themselves so pointing out flaws critically will most likely result in a catastrophic bitch fight.
Instead of not accepting the character completely or asking for a new one, make helpful suggestions. Show the author the problem and offer to help fix it.
Before opening a SYOT to submitters, tell people to look at a helpful story explaining how to make a non-Mary Sue *hint hint* ;)
MY MARY SUE EXAMPLE (because right now this story is illegal)-
Hello, my name is Princess Rosabelle Mary Springs. I'm twelve years old and live in District One, but I don't like it. Killing people is scary and makes me feel sad. I hate seeing the people in training, especially when they hurt the Avoxs.
Luckily I don't have to go to training. I pretty much get to decide what to do around here since I'm the oldest child of five siblings. My parents died a long time ago. It was terrible.
I roll out of bed and check my hair in the mirror. Perfect. Like every morning. I just wake up with perfect hair. My hair's different from my District's though. It's red and fiery unlike the platinum blond hair I often see. My tan skin and bright blue eyes are less rare. Thankfully I'm in-between skinny and curvy! I have the best of both worlds I suppose!
I love being me!
Gag me with a spoon… this is all so wrong…
Now we come to a close! I hope you enjoyed my Mary Sue Guide and I hope it helped you!
Let me know in a review!
Also, if you want, give me an example of a Mary Sue name :)