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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sam temple

First thing one must ask is "What is a Mary-Sue?"

She has long, flowing, black hair with a strip of red. Her eyes are a weird but beautiful shade of blue-green that shine like gems in the sunlight. She has a lithe frame with proportionate features and her porcelain skin is flawless... Or she has short hair with a variety of different colors, her green eyes are like the color of the richest hue of grass, and her pale body is adorned by a variety of gothic clothes... Or She is the smartest, bravest, most perfect girl the guy could have ever dreamed of, she could do no wrong...etc...etc...etc...

A Mary-Sue or Gary-Stu has a variety of characteristics that define them, but the most defining, is that they are a perfect character:a perfect character gone terribly wrong.

And how can a perfect character go so terribly wrong?

The author creates a character that does not have any flaws and can do no wrong.

And when I say flaws, I don't mean the character having terrible luck or being the most klutziest person in the universe: I mean flaws such as being greedy or lazy or just plain stupid. Humans are all those things and more, and by creating a character that is above what defines a human, a Mary-Sue is born. And if the character can do no wrong, it also applies to the suggestion that if the character does make a mistake, the character does not go through any repercussions for said mistake and that they are easily forgiven from the other characters and story continues as if it did not happen. In real life, there are consequences to every decision, and sometimes the outcomes are not in one's favor and that the people around them may have to dig deep within themselves to forgive that person or continue to hold a grudge. So if a character is easily forgiven or that any of her/his actions make her/him seem perfect in every other character's eyes, then that is another defining characteristic of a Mary-Sue.

These are the most defining characteristics to a Mary-Sue and the worst characteristics a character can have. If you have the character be perfect or have them appear as if they can do no wrong, then where can the growth happen? Most fanfiction is written to build upon the characters you love and create character growth. And if one does create a new character, there should be development and growth as well. One cannot do that if the character has these characteristics.

If one is going to have some of the characteristics of a Mary-Sue, there must be humanizing characteristics as well. If they are beautiful and brave, make them vain. If they are smart and appear perfect, make them greedy or mean or anti-social.

Make them human, so one can see them grow.

Here's some more information on Mary-Sues:

Mary-Sue Litmus Test: OR

Mary-Sue at Fanlore:

Mary-Sue at TVtropes:

And if anyone has anything else to add, such as what you do to avoid Mary-Sues or has more advice or even liked the information, please post!!!

6/11/2011 . Edited 6/19/2011 #1
JadeTheSibuna

Oh wow, this is great information. I'm always worried I'm going to make a Mary-sue or Gary-stu without meaning to, and this really tells you how you can prevent that.

7/14/2011 #2
WriterWilf

Thank you, you stated that beyond perfectly, Temple. :)

12/28/2011 #3
schillingklaus

Mary Sues are a wonderful thing, as seen in cases like Zoey Brooks, Hayley Steele, Amanda McKay, and other great Nickelodeon girls.

Each good fanfiction should have one.

12/29/2011 #4
JaylaHeart

Yeah good info, and don't be fooled by the less than a week sign over there, I know my way around, have a beta reader, have a story posted, and another one coming. With my new story, I have a character that seems a little too perfect, but then they find out that she's anything but. That's not a May Sue, is it?

1/11/2012 #5
sam temple

And don't worry, I won't be fooled about how long you have been a member. I find how well you write by reading.

It depends on what you mean by anything but.

If it's something like her having a terrible, secret past, then that can lead to a Mary-Sue in the making. Horrible pasts can be interesting, but it depends on how people write them, so be careful if you go this route. Research is best used here, because many writers don't write how someone deals with trauma realistically and end up trying to make shortcuts with it to move the story along.

This is a rookie move. Yes, it may seem interesting, but shortcuts can lead writers to overextend themselves by trying to write unneeded new scenes or begin new plot points to make the story seem more interesting and keep the story moving. This leads to plot holes, terrible endings, or being unable to finish a story because they totally lost the point to the story they were writing in the first place.

If it's something that can be easily forgiven or have characters notice it and easily move past it, then that can lead to Mary-Sues. The big thing with Mary-Sues is because most characters don't find them at fault or easily forgive them for the mistakes they made, it makes the OC seem God-like and unrealistic. With this, the OC is like every other OC created. This makes the story predictable and can lead readers to stop reading.

When writing the OC, just make sure if you think it may be a Mary-Sue, focus on the other aspects of the story like research, character development, and creating an interesting plot with minimal plot holes. People can forgive Mary-Sues if they story makes up for it. But make sure you don't make any shortcuts with writing emotions or important character development scenes or adding scenes needlessly to move the plot.

But easy ways to combat creating a Mary-Sues is focusing on a part of their image and making it less attractive (like scars or having a big nose), a personality trait that doesn't help make them friends or have people flock to them (like having a big ego or being really shy), or taking a horrible past and have the character be well adjusted instead of super depressed or suicidal.

2/11/2012 #6
chocolate-colombo

Haha this forum has me kinda scared. A Mary-Sue is something I gotta look out for. Thanks for the advice

....Now I gotta re-read my OC plots :P

2/14/2012 #7
AliceTheBloodyRabbit

A Mary Sue is like a bowl of sugar; it may be sweet, but its just one cloying flavor and boring.

You are being sarcastic, aren't you?

8/1/2012 #8
SpiderRealm

*blinks* I'm parinoid(did I spell this right? ._.) and I really don't want my OC stolen. :D

8/22/2012 . Edited 9/11/2012 #9
Vana Jedi

If he's not the main character, I wouldn't worry too much. If he's supposed to be a background character but ends up working his way into the foreground when you don't intend for him too, I'd watch out.

8/29/2012 #10
SpiderRealm

There are some stories I haven't started planning out yet that has him as one of the main characters, there are alot of stories that have him as a main character in my notebook.

But, I love this OC and I won't be getting rid of him, just needed someone else's opinion! :D

8/29/2012 #11
PimpedOutGreenEars

He sounds like he could become a gary stu. He looks very unique and has some almost powers (voodoo and such).

That being said, if you can write it and make it work then go for it. My advice to you is to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't steal the show.

8/31/2012 #12
schillingklaus

No, I am nowhere near sarcastic, and I speak the plain truth about Mary Sues.

9/11/2012 #13
AaylaKitofNiflheim

Of course you aren't being sarcastic... (neither am I. I'm totally not sarcastic. You can see my utter honest-ness dripping over that sentence.)

Here are some tips for writing OCs.

1. Not everyone will like him/her. Of course, some people will like him/her. Some won't. That's life. This does NOT mean that every character who dislikes xir will go out of their way to make life miserable for xir. It just means that they might not really like spending a while talking with xir.

2. If your character spends the whole time angsting, you're doing it wrong. Now, I do love a good bit of angst myself. But when all that an OC does is whine, it gets annoying really fast. (This can go hand in hand with 1 up there... "Not every single member of the Fellowship loves meeee! Waaaah!")

3. Your OC should not upstage the canon characters. Because if a canon character has known another one all their life, and the source material makes it clear that they care for each other deeply, and one of them dies, the OC who has just met the characters should not have chapters describing xir grief while the canon character gets one sentence.

4. The world does not revolve around your OC. I see this all the time... as in, an OC will arrive and none of the canon characters utter a single sentence that does not have something to do with that OC. Please, give the characters who were there first some time to shine.

5. Your OC must have a flaw. "But, AaylaKit!" some complain. "You just want my OC to be ugly and stupid!" No, I do not. But when your OC is perfect in every way and xir only flaw is occasionally tripping on some ice to slide into xir love interest's arms... yeah. Give them a flaw.

6. Make your OC the kind of person you would like to be friends with. If I met half of the OCs on this site in real life, I would run away from them. The reason why is simply because most of them are not very nice people. Imagine that you've just met this OC in a party, and they talk to you like they talk to the canon characters. Not like they talk to their best friend, like they talk to the canon characters that aren't their love interest. If you would like talking with them, that's good. But lots of them are easily hate-able.

NOTE: For this last one, it doesn't count if your OC is unpleasant to the characters, and the characters don't like xir because of it. It seems self-explanatory, but I've seen so many fics where the Mary-Sue is rude to the characters (except her love interest), and all the characters worship the ground where she stands on anyway. Please don't do that.

1/12/2013 #14
alizza2000

Thanks i was always wondering what a Mary-sue is this really helped.

2/15/2013 #15
Spectrobes Princess

Oc's can't be perfect. I have more than I can count, but I try to keep them flawed. Just a few comments on some of these tips....

2. Unless they have a whiny personality. Its not the same as angst, trust me.

4. Even if they are the subject of a prophesy or something.

5. Flaws are a definate. You'll notice that even cannon charecters have flaws, such as Terra (teen titans) being naive, Misty's (pokemon) short temper, May (again, pokemon) was a scardy cat at the begining, ect.

3/21/2013 #16
schillingklaus

No, I will not refrain from praising Mary Sues, regardless how much certain people here try to manipulate me, as as I know that the Mary Sue is a perfect expression of the supremacy of a divine ideal as opposed to a thoroughly miscreated and decadent mankind.

3/31/2013 #17
crystal-gays

thank you so much for this info! I just got accused for My main character in my storleaf being a Mary Sue, but other then her powers like being the avatar (since it's a last airbender and invader zim fanfic) I just don't feel like she's very Mary sue ish. I mean, she's had a troubled past, I didn't make everyone love her instantly, (right now no one really LOVES her, but she has quite a few friends because they are almost all irkens) she was rejected as a 4 year old, had her memory wiped, and had to survive on her own for twelve years, which is the only reason she's good at fighting! I guess haters will be haters, and we can't stop them.

8/4/2013 #18
crystal-gays

What I would consider a Mary Sue would be an amazing extremely beautiful girl with a perfect hourglass figure and godess like features that's an irken saiyan timelord human hybrid that's also the avatar and is a master at many martial arts and is a master of many weapons, but has no scars from battle. She would have an extremely weird name that would also be REALLY long, and a every single boy on earth, galifrey, irk, and whatever planet goku is from because I can't remember at the moment would want to date her. And that is NOT my oc, flora. Her name is flora because I tend to give my ocs themes like floras is the forest, my oc Xzavier, (flora's cousin) is lightning, etc.

8/4/2013 #19
crystal-gays

What I would consider a Mary Sue would be an amazing extremely beautiful girl with a perfect hourglass figure and godess like features that's an irken saiyan timelord human hybrid that's also the avatar and is a master at many martial arts and is a master of many weapons, but has no scars from battle. She would have an extremely weird name that would also be REALLY long, and a every single boy on earth, galifrey, irk, and whatever planet goku is from because I can't remember at the moment would want to date her. And that is NOT my oc, flora. Her name is flora because I tend to give my ocs themes like floras is the forest, my oc Xzavier, (flora's cousin) is lightning, etc.

8/4/2013 #20
crystal-gays

Oops posted that twice and I meant zap for my other oc.

8/4/2013 #21
mariahmaru

I actually didn't know what a Mary-Sue was.

This information clarifies everything.

lol.

Thanks!

8/8/2013 #22
purplehairr

You're right, inhumane character isn't that interesting. Variety is the spice of life, isn't it? It goes the same to the story's life, I should be wary not to write a character like that. I need more tips to shape a good OC, by the way thank you!

9/26/2013 #23
schillingklaus

No, inhumane characters are the one and only thing that makes literature worthy of reading for me, without any exception, and I deprecate all fiction based on realist characters rigorously at any cost, no matter what.

Nobody has ever been able to dissuade me from this path, nor will they ever be able to, regardless whether they call it Mary Sue or other epithets whatsoever.

9/27/2013 #24
Wingardium Levi-assbutt

Personally, I don't like mary-sues or gary-stues very much, but it could be okay if she/he isn't the main character. It could also be okay if they at least have SOME personality traits.

10/5/2013 #25
HeartOfGold15

It's not a Mary Sue because she seems perfect, but since she's revealed not to be she's not a Mary Sue. Like, for example, if she seems nice and pretty but then we find out she's bipolar. So anyway, I think you're good :3

10/20/2013 #26
writerfan2013

Hi - Just throwing in my two-penn'orth..

I always thought a Mary Sue was a (rather feeble and poorly-disguised) character based on the author, that is, a way for the author to put herself into the fiction and (typically) make passionate love with all the dishy characters.

I like all your definitions and guidance above, but now I am confused, do I just have the wrong name for what I described?

-Sef

11/18/2013 #27
PimpedOutGreenEars

No, I'd say what you just described is also a Mary Sue. It's kind of a broad term. I usually just classify a Mary Sue as an unrealistic character to cover everything.

11/18/2013 #28
IchoseSlytherin

I don't think so. My character is the same way. She seems like a perfect character who is pretty, badass, and whatnot, but in all actuality she is very insecure. You always see characters in movies or whatever who seems like they have everything; popular, pretty, funny, well liked, etc. But then it is revealed that their life isn't perfect in the slightest.

11/20/2013 #29
PimpedOutGreenEars

Yeah, as long as your character doesn't just turn into a movie cliché character then you're probably okay. It does seem like that is the way every movie manages to humanize the mean popular girl, though.

But there are some people who take characters like that and manage to make them Mary-sues. Like a person who's insecure because a kid said he didn't like her pigtails in kindergarten, and she isn't over it yet. And she spends the whole course of the story learning to love herself, but only manages to do so after a cute boy falls for her and loves her despite her faults (all of which the reader never notices).

This Mary-sue section more or less just helps beginners (at least I think so), or people who are unsure about their OC's. I think it's been said before, but many characters that have mary-sue traits end up being really effective characters and not mary-sues at all. You just have to be careful.

11/23/2013 #30
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