Tips, Tricks, and Do's and Don'ts
Every writer may need help from time to time, whether its trying to conquer writer's block or creating realistic OCs. This Forum will have some tips, tricks, and some of the Do's and Don'ts centered around writing fanfiction.
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Anime4everKitty

This is the first time I've payed attention to a Mary-Sue character and now I'm a little worried because of the story that I'm working on. So that I can tell my OC for this story is a Mary-Sue, I'll list off what's going on for her...This is a Sword Art Online Fanfic BTW.

She's pretty and considered desirable because she's a little "busty" (She doesn't like it because it brings unwanted guys and such). Her past isn't too bad besides mom leaving her and her father, causing him to become a bit of a drunk, which she doesn't dwell on too much. That part was for the plot later in the story. Her personality...she acts friendly at first and tends to go with the flow, but also tends to get jealous or hot-headed when something unpleasant happens. She's pretty rash often too. A lot of this wasn't even planned out, she just happened this way. At first, she was a bit of a powerhouse because her character's level carried over from the beta, but she's now only slightly higher-leveled than average. When it comes to other characters, she's easy to get along with, but she looses it a little when she's messed with. So far, she hasn't really made any enemies, but not too many friends either.

If anybody is into SAO, I'd appreciate if they could read the fanfic because I'd like feedback. I need to farther develop my character-making skills. I know I've come quite far because of the fact that I used to be super-into making characters with a terrible past and bad/super-perky-bubbly attitudes who usually cut themselves. Yeah, those times were embarrassing. ///

Anywho, does the character I described sound like a Mary-Sue?

11/24/2013 #31
MaiWishes

Not at all, she sounds like a real person. Now if she was the most talented/powerful and you harped on her gorgeousness to much which makes everyone either jealous or love her (ie: an entire paragraph worshiping her clear jade eyes, perfect figure, blah), then she's a Mary Sue. While there are very attractive people, who do have brains and are likable with talents here and there, its when you go on about it thats when it feels Mary Sue. Take the Mary Sue litmus test?

11/25/2013 . Edited 11/27/2013 #32
Anime4everKitty

Thank you very much c: Yeah, I think I only even talked about her actual looks once and, since it's from her POV, it's more focused on the love interest than anything. Thanks though!

11/27/2013 #33
TheMagicManWithThePlan

Question... I am thinking about writing an O.C. for Naruto in my story for Naruto Revolution and I am unsure on whether or not he will be a Gary Tsu.... I'll describe him first....

He is not the main character in any way; he is an important side character that pops up at key areas throughout the story.

He looks exactly like Naruto and his name is just a reversed version; Oturan.

He comes off as bit of a cold asshole that you can't warm up too no matter how hard you try to socialize with him.

Problems that I feel might make him a Gary Tsu.

He's incredibly smart, above what most Naruto Characters are capable of.

Super hard to kill.

One of the strongest characters in my story.

And his back story ties in with the main characters. Would you classify him as a Gary Tsu?

12/9/2013 #34
PimpedOutGreenEars

Maybe. Is there a reason that he looks just like Naruto and does the name reversal have any significance? Also, with his back story, how tied in to the other characters is it? LIke, is he Naruto's long lost twin, or something else? Is there a reason he's super hard to kill? What's his training been like?

12/17/2013 #35
TheMagicManWithThePlan

He is completely based off of Naruto. In my story, the Uzumaki has a bloodline (Family Ability) and that is your own life force will grant you your most inner desires. The catch is however it can't do it whenever an Uzumaki feels like it and Uzumaki's have no actual control on what they get. Because Naruto is an orphan, his inner most desire was for a friend, so through a combination of his chakra and life force, Oturan is born. Naruto has no desire to be a Shinobi so neither does Oturan. After living together for a year they find a little girl, and because Naruto's a nice guy, they divide to take care of her. Villagers think that Naruto is trying to corrupt Konoha's youth at the time because of their deep seated hatred of the Nine Tails at the time so they raid his house, murder the little girl, beat Naruto into a Coma and leave Oturan to come home from the store and have a panic attack.

While Naruto is in a Coma, Danzo takes Oturan under his wing, so for months he trains with Danzo, but he doesn't get any better. The gain in ability is when Naruto wakes up, believing himself to be weak, he makes a promise to himself that he will get strong enough to protect everyone close to him, but because his blood line was used earlier, and is in another location, Oturan's ability activates, making his chakra incredibly potent, his will to protect Naruto super human and his will not to die so Naruto can stay safe until Naruto is strong enough to fulfill his dream on his own.

He won't be a super Important Character until later in the story and he won't be taking hours, upon hours of screen time from Main characters; (I mean you'll see more TenTen for the first half). But his role will be essential to the story line, because in essence, he is Naruto's bloodline.

What do you think?

12/17/2013 #36
TheMagicManWithThePlan

Oh! And when Oturan is involved in the story line, which will be later on; most humanity in him will be lost and he will only have one goal in mind, which is to protect Naruto, and nothing else really; so throughout his character design, he will be trying to find his humanity which he will continually show throughout the story is lost through the use of violence and murder all in the name of fulfilling his duty.

12/17/2013 #37
Breech Loader

I always figured that all these "What does your character look like" tests were superficial.

Mary Sue is a state of mind, not the appearance. Scars and a big nose don't make that much difference in a medium that involves reading, like fanfiction. And mentioning them every few words just comes off as trying too hard. And if people do care about these things, they come off as jerks and make Mary Sue just look like a dear, sweet thing for putting up with those bullies, so they can actually backfire.

It's all about how people react to her.

2/3/2014 #38
Hydroxide

Hello my good friends, a greenhorn Fanfiction writer checking in. I am currently writing an OC for a Frozen fanfiction, and would like your advice.

As you well know, Elsa the Snow Queen has been paired, of date, with dozens if not hundreds of OC suave debonairs, Jack Frost expys, six-foot tall Casanovas, high school sweethearts, and Dracos in Leather Pants. I do understand, based on my own reading and your comments, that it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. So before I bring my OC to life, I would like to submit him to your scrutiny. Should he be found guilty of being a Marty Stu or Gary Stu, I will terminate his existence myself.

My character is a prince of a distant island in the Frozen universe, banished and disowned as a 'witch' at eight years old for possessing the power of fire, and now subject to a constant and fanatical witch hunt that has dogged him through adolescence into adulthood. He has fled across the ocean from island to island all through his youth, and through this time has sharpened his powers as a matter of necessity since his pursuers are elite troops from his home kingdom and he needs to defend himself on more than one occasion. He is highly skilled in evading his pursuers, has acquired mastery of shipping as a result of his ocean travels, and synergises his powers with a martial art unique to his hometown, though these qualities are far from innate and have rather been acquired out of necessity. He arrives in Arendelle in the aftermath of the original movie's ending, and is hoping to find safe refuge when he meets the protagonists Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff in less-than-fortuitous circumstances.

I understand that perhaps no fewer than a hundred fire-princes and variants thereof have graced the OC market for Frozen. In no way am I seeking to demean, blindly emulate, or devalue the work of their respective authors, as I understand that writing is highly subjective and so is the enjoyment thereof. However, I have sought to give my OC a defining characteristic that also serves as a major flaw. While Elsa's struggle is with hiding her emotions and 'not feeling,' my prince wrestles instead with 'lack of vigilance,' which he attributes to weakness since he can manifest his powers uncontrollably with nothing more than a stray thought. As a result of this, and also because of his desperate and life-long flight and never resting in one place, he has become single-mindedly obsessed with control. I have gone out on a limb here and saddled him with insomnia, a common feature of most forms of mood disorders, and an inability to form any sort of meaningful relationships as he has been deprived of normal and conducive social interaction during his formative years.

While I'm currently ruminating over Elsa/OC, I intend to never lose sight of how messed-up he is. He is damaged and bitter, but his redeeming quality is a moral compass he has not shed despite the years of being on the run, refusing to take lives even out of necessity, and deep inside is the willingness of a young child to learn how to function 'normally,' a privilege denied him. I will not ever force a pairing until all these have been addressed, as I understand the unpleasant real-world connotations of abuse, neglect, and psychopathy, and the last thing I want is to stick Elsa, or the reader, with the kind of person that you know should be locked up.

So there you have it. Should he be found worthy of your sight, please do let me know, and I would really appreciate any tips you guys can give on fleshing him out and making him authentic, relatable, and somehow likeable. Should he be found a Gary-Stu, I will abort him and begin anew. Thank you for your time!

2/28/2014 . Edited 2/28/2014 #39
AkiraRamsheen

I figured a Mary-Sue would be something like this. I am new to the Fanfiction world so I really appreciate these tips and suggestions. I prefer authors who keep their characters as true to the characters from the series as much as possible. If I did happen to meet a Mary-Stu or a Gary-Stu along the way I am sure I would be off put by their 'can do no wrong' personality.

5/14/2014 #40
Light Gaia
I hope my O.C isn't considered a Mary-sue. :s
6/3/2014 #41
PerspectiveDeveloped
If you're going to make an OC, make him or her temperamental, but keep it light. Not necessarily rude, but fresh/bold. In my first story, I created a Mary Sue, and only recently realized my mistake. I'm actually going to rewrite it to eliminate the Mary Sue effect.
6/8/2014 #42
maychewn

i just wanted to thank you for clear out what is marry sue, case not everyone know this Term or his Meaning.

7/1/2014 #43
inspibrain101

I've done a lot of research on Mary Sues, hoping that my own characters did not fit the bill. (I'm still not sure.)

Through my research, I've actually found where the term "Mary Sue" comes from. It seems such an arbitrary term; typically, Sues have super fancy-schmancy names, but Mary Sue sounds so booooring.

The term actually comes from a Star trek parody, about four paragraphs long. I think we can draw the proper conclusions:

*I do not own this!!!

This is the story that coined the phrase "Mary Sue". It appeared in 1974, in the zine "the Menagerie".

A TREKKIE'S TALE

By Paula Smith

"Gee, golly, gosh, gloriosky," thought Mary Sue as she stepped on the bridge of the Enterprise. "Here I am, the youngest lieutenant in the fleet - only fifteen and a half years old." Captain Kirk came up to her. "Oh, Lieutenant, I love you madly. Will you come to bed with me?" "Captain! I am not that kind of girl!" "You're right, and I respect you for it. Here, take over the ship for a minute while I go get some coffee for us." Mr. Spock came onto the bridge. "What are you doing in the command seat, Lieutenant?" "The Captain told me to." "Flawlessly logical. I admire your mind."

Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott beamed down with Lt. Mary Sue to Rigel XXXVII. They were attacked by green androids and thrown into prison. In a moment of weakness Lt. Mary Sue revealed to Mr. Spock that she too was half Vulcan. Recovering quickly, she sprung the lock with her hairpin and they all got away back to the ship.

But back on board, Dr. McCoy and Lt. Mary Sue found out that the men who had beamed down were seriously stricken by the jumping cold robbies , Mary Sue less so. While the four officers languished in Sick Bay, Lt. Mary Sue ran the ship, and ran it so well she received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Vulcan Order of Gallantry and the Tralfamadorian Order of Good Guyhood.

However the disease finally got to her and she fell fatally ill. In the Sick Bay as she breathed her last, she was surrounded by Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Mr. Scott, all weeping unashamedly at the loss of her beautiful youth and youthful beauty, intelligence, capability and all around niceness. Even to this day her birthday is a national holiday of the Enterprise.

8/28/2014 #44
PimpedOutGreenEars

Nice find! And to add to what you've said:

From the start the Star Trek fandom has been plagued by fans writing in their own female characters for love interests. And really it didn't seem that farfetched way back when. Star Trek had a habit of introducing love interests only to kill them off at the end of the episode. But, of course, the love interests were usually a muted version of that four paragraph story. That story is no doubt the same kind of satire we find written about Mary Sues today on this site. So it's kind of cool to see that some things haven't changed.

9/5/2014 #45
ariona.lbr

The guidelines you posted are a major help. Thanks so much :-)

9/22/2014 #46
DandyDonut

Thanks!

Now I can aviod making mary-sues!

10/7/2014 #47
fantasyeclispe

Would a character that is pretty but thinks herself as ugly or plain be considered as Mary-Sue? Also what about a character that is pretty but hides her self?

11/5/2014 #48
PimpedOutGreenEars

I'd say it depends on how much the story focuses on that, what other characteristics your character has, and how the character's self-esteem issues are handled by the end of the story. We see tons of female characters who are pretty, but think they aren't. But the reality is that there are a lot of girls in real life who feel that way. The thing you need to make sure you do is keep your character realistic. Make sure there's more to her than just that one aspect.

Also, a lot of stories with female characters with this issue tend to fix the issue by having a love interest come around to let the girl know she is pretty. I recommend steering clear of that. It's been overdone and it really doesn't make much sense.

Anyway, sorry for going off on a tangent. Did this help?

11/6/2014 #49
Menea111

I agree with you, the thing with a love interest who is just here to reveal how pretty the character is can be pretty annoying.

I also advise other writers who wants to make their characters attractive not to give them just fine features/body/hairs. Attractiveness also come from things like the way you laugh, you smile, if you're often smiling this can be attractive (except maybe if you're smiling like an idiot), making other people feel comfortable, self-confidence, elegance or gracefulness.

1/3/2015 #50
RandomFandoms14

I have a a question. How long should it take for an OC's flaws to come into play in the story? For example, I'm on chapter 5 of my L x OC fanfic right now, I intend for it to be very big, probably more than 20-25 chapters. I've tried not to make my character a Mary Sue; however, when I look her over, I see that she's exhibiting more traits of a Sue-like character than I'd like for her to. I do have flaws planned out for her, and I will put them into the fic, but how late is too late?

4/9/2015 #51
Menea111

Hi RandomFandoms, well it's only my advice but I think you shouldn't wait too much. In general it doesn't take so long to notice a person's flaws, especially if the other people around her are observant. The first chapters are essential for a reader to determine if they'll continue to read the story or not, if they have the impression to see a Mary Sue, they might stop. Now if you don't want her flaws to be pointed out in an obvious way, try just to show it from time to time, like for example if your character is vain, make her complain because she broke a nail or because her hair are messy and having another character telling her that it's not the moment to pay attention to that. It's not like saying directly that she is vain but it's showing it clearly.

4/9/2015 #52
wisconsinbigcheese

"Mary Sue" is nothing but a sexist term used to enforce the misogynistic ideals that female characters/authors shouldn't be allowed to fantasize or write anything along the lines of wish fulfillment. Its misogynistic qualities are exemplified in many ways, most notably being the fact that it's not a term dominated by the male counterpart despite existing in a patriarchal society, as well as the fact that the male counterpart is largely undecided upon in name and also undefined (see urban dictionary's Gary Stu entry which has no definition but to say "A Male Mary Sue", and the Marty-Stu entry which involves the "Mary Sue" definition to define it).

It's usually used on the whole to bully new authors out of writing female characters altogether, making the task seem so daunting to some that they now only write slash fictions with two male characters, also exemplifying the misogynistic qualities this term involves.

7/9/2015 #53
Menea111

No it's not a sexist term, that an idea made up by people who understood nothing about it. Mary Sue was invented by a woman named Paula Smith, an she is not misogynist at all. She was just tired of every fanfiction written by teenage girls about Star Trek featuring a so perfect girl with so much talent, beauty, etc. That's why she invented the character named Mary Sue to parody that. That's all! Now she is the first to admit that the term had often been overused, and indeed sometimes people are using it because they are sexist but the basic intent is not to discourage girls or anything, it just point out a type of badly written characters. Now indeed Gary Stus aren't as pointed out, and that's why instead of screaming 'OH MY GOD MARY SUE IS A SEXIST TERM' we should just point out that both exist and both are annoying.

You obviously don't have an idea of what a Mary Sue/ Gary Stu is, so look at this:

7/10/2015 #54
maychewn

as long they won't decide for me that every girl character that you create for your own fun in the whole world are Mary Sue's, I"m fine with it. the problem is that many people do decide that, and I seen people just say "so I just need to stop writing at all!" cause everything is Mary Sue in "their" Definition, and that what I don't like in this term.

you can easily full for this "every girl you create will be marry sue", I"m fine and support guiding and fix "bad Character Design", but the way people handle "marry sue" are just bad for guiding any new writer's to fix their character. not everyone like that, and I"m glad they not, but you still have a lot of people that are using it like that with too much Generalize all the Female characters in the world. I seen them and I didn't like the way they think, I just didn't like how they use one term to stop you from writing and trying to write your own Character's.

7/10/2015 . Edited 7/10/2015 #55
Menea111

We agree on that, maychewn, the term Mary Sue is often used in a bad way, by people who are bullies, sexists or just stupid. That's why in my opinion it's good to have forum like this which explains what a real Mary Sue is, instead of just yelling out 'meh! Mary Sue is a sexist word!', to help new writers. More importantly to me, we need to show that Gary Stus exist as much as Mary Sues.

7/10/2015 #56
maychewn

So agree with you, Menea111, I always open for guiding and help with building characters in a way that does help you get batter as a writer then just be offensive.

7/10/2015 . Edited 7/10/2015 #57
Anime4everKitty
I wanna be a batter writer. I volunteer as tribute.
7/10/2015 #58
PimpedOutGreenEars

wisconsinbigcheese: I don't necessarily disagree with you. I know a big issue within the literary community is that there simply aren't enough well written female characters for young girls (or any age girl really). That leads to a lot if them inserting these over the top female characters in order to have a strong female character involved in the medium they love. Girls are starved for strong female characters and when they don't get them they make them themselves. And these characters aren't always good well rounded characters, but there's really no model for girls to base their characters off of because women don't usually get to play huge roles in literature.

Meanwhile Gary-Sues are left running around with no criticism. Characters like Batman, Superman (all male superheros let's be real), Sherlock, Indiana Jones, etc. They all have so many unrealistic skills and mainstream media loves them instead of criticizes them for being unrealistic.

It's a huge problem that women are held to standards of being realistic while men are able to be anything.

Personally I'd rather every character seem more genuine. I'd love to see the tragic back-stories cut out, and the skill sets scaled back. But I'm aware that men are not going to be held to those standards anytime sure.

I don't want girls to feel like they can't write. And I hate that we have to meet standards that are higher than our male counter parts just to be seen as just as good as them. I want girls to keep writing and to write the best characters they can. And I hope that's the point that's getting across on this forum. A checklist can only tell you so much. Just keep writing and try to make your characters feel real because that's good writing. And when men don't reach those standards call them out. And most importantly keep writing and encouraging others to write.

7/13/2015 #59
Menea111

If by Sherlock, you mean Sherlock Holmes, he is not a Gary Stu, at least not in the original books, not only he has drugs problems but no social skills either, John Watson is his only friend, and according to Watson, Sherlock is unable to have any romantic feelings toward anyone, and I might forget some other flaws. In fact the TV Show Sherlock might be one of the best portrait of the original Holmes.

Second, yes Batman and Superman aren't criticized, but I don't see many people calling Wonderman, Batgirl or Catwoman Mary Sues, in fact they are popular. But maybe that's because those character come from comics, which aren't know for their realism. And in fact some medias give Superman Batman more flaws and weaknesses to make them more human and show there is vulnerability under all their might.

As for having no strong women in medias, there are, like Buffy the vampire slayer, the TV Show had been very popular, and the main character is popular, same for Willow who went from the shy girl to a powerful witch, she is popular. Now maybe some people called Buffy a Mary Sue, and that would be sexism, because she isn't one, and both those female characters are here to be a strong model for girls.

There is also more recently Game of Thrones, some dumb-asses dare to say it a sexist saga but far from it, in fact it's really great and give strong and awesome female characters, like Olenna, Margeary, Daenerys or Brienne. The thing, George R Martin said he considers all his characters as characters and doesn't really make a big deal about writing a man or a woman, maybe that's why he did such a great work.

So yes, I don't deny there is sexism, but being like 'oh you don't like my character because you're sexist' isn't gonna help.

7/14/2015 . Edited 7/14/2015 #60
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