Mary Sueism can take many forms, just as writing can take many forms. There are Mary Sues in original stories, fantasy or otherwise. There are Mary Sues in fan fiction, whether you are writing Link or a character you made up yourself. There are then also Mary Sues in role playing, both in VCR and the BA. Depending on the form of writing, Mary Sueism can take on different traits and tendencies. I will be covering mostly what I have experienced and seen in the BA as Mary Sueism.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind this is all just my personal opinion and advice, not rules or regulations of the BA itself.
So what is Mary Sueism and what is a Mary Sue character? I have the term Mary Sueism because sometimes it is something that goes beyond one character or maybe it is an attitude a writer has about one specific character but not the rest. Thus, these writers are often times what I call, the Mary Sue writer if they have the Mary Sueism attitude about any character of theirs.
Definition Summary of Mary Sue
This thread is basically to explain in depth the qualities of Mary Sue characters and Mary Sue writers. But to summarize, Mary Sue characters either tend to lack vulnerability to the world around them and human personality flaws to the point that they have a perfect life despite whatever challenges are faced them, and/or they have horrible painful pasts that are used to gain the attention of other characters. The Mary Sue writer may try to write with the attitude that their character is definitely ďgoodĒ and that certain key characters in their characterís history are ďgoodĒ despite the reality of their actions. In their eyes, these characters are good and nothing will change that. Even if they do give these characters ďflawsĒ or ďweaknesses,Ē they are either very small that they are not significant or the pseudo-flaw/weakness, which is really a strength phrased as if it is a weakness. There are more to these characters and writers though that can make them Mary Sueish. But in all cases, it is to serve and feed the writerís ego in someway.
Attitude vs Skill
Mary Sueism can be overt or covert, obvious or more subtle. It can be easily seen in the profile of a character by their hugely unbalanced powers or unbelievable character histories or contradictory personality traits. Or Mary Sueism can be and mostly is an attitude, which can be screaming loud or whispering quietly. One doesnít have to be a noobie to have Mary Sue characters or a Mary Sue attitude. It is either merely more common among noobies than others, or other more experienced writers have simply been able to be more subtle about their Mary Sue characters/attitude. And, yes, I have seen and know very talented and skilled writers to have Mary Sue characters and a Mary Sue attitude. Mary Sueism is not something that only noobs do. You can be a talented writer and still have this ďproblem.Ē So being a ďgoodĒ writer is not always about skill. Most times, attitude is extremely important.
In fact, a character can have what are typically ďMary SueĒ traits such as awesome powers, great looks, etc. but if the writer has the right attitude, they can write such a character without making them Mary Sues. In a way, it is all attitude, but it is also about resisting the pull of your ego, which can be very hard. The ego is tricky and can sneak up on us sometimes.
Profile Stuff and More
I cover a lot of Mary Sue characteristics for profiles in my Character Creation thread. But I will cover it briefly here as well. I am a mod and also a BA Councilor, so I have read and seen many character profiles and seen many common Mary Sue traits as I have had to read and approve many profiles.
Powers/Magic/Skills: Limitations and Weaknesses
Characteristics in profiles that scream more loudly than others are powers that out rightly state that when the character performs this spell, ability, or power that there is no way for the target to escape, heal, evade, or otherwise reverse or avoid its effects. In fact, such powers are typically not allowed, for to state that explicitly in a profile is to grant the character the ability to godmode (which is against the rules). These powers either are vague or descriptively detail how their character has the power to defeat practically any enemy despite any powers or abilities the enemy might have that could counteract them.
For example: Cancerous Rage - This spells causes cancerous infections to form throughout the targetís body. They canít feel it immediately and there is no way of detecting it. No healing spells can cure it. It causes a slow and painful death.
Whatís wrong with this is that it gives no one a chance. Despite any healing abilities that could detect it and cure it, it immediately cancels that out. It also gives no reason as to why it is so much more superior than anotherís magic that could possibly detect and heal it. There is sometimes occasions when I will approve a character with a power or spell similar to this, because itís not as if you can kill someone elseís character without permission even if your character is capable of doing so (itís against the rules). But usually if thatís only one spell they have that is like that. If every other spell is like this, then no, I wouldnít approve it. Whatís the point other than to have the spell there to show off about how powerful your character could be. Also, it just lacks creativity. Why does this spell give no one a chance at detecting or curing it? It is because your character is a god? So then could a god of equal power be able to detect and cure it? If not, then no, thatís just ridiculous. Then there is no reason to it other than your characterís power just being so awesome no one can counter it.
For another example: Godmoderís wrath - The righteousness of my character and their saintly lance gives them the ability to defeat any enemy three times a day.
This is more of a newbieís example. It gives no description of how this ability is carried out, even if it did, there should be no spell or ability that out right says ďdefeats any enemy.Ē The three times a day is a fake limit. As if it werenít already bad enough that they have the power to defeat any enemy once a day but three times.
The noobie might be more vague. The skilled writer will be more descriptive but still just as absolute. Though I have also known good writers to write vague skills and powers, but their attitude has been such that they have not abused it. Sometimes these writers just lack the patience to jump through the hoops of detailing out each every possible weakness and limitation of their character. They have the right attitude but no patience. They want to get out there and start writing their vision now.
I have also seen people who are merely lazy and/or trying to avoid limiting their characters powers and abilities. Sometimes they are merely nebwies and inexperienced. They did not know what is required exactly or what a good limitation or weakness looks like. Thereís a reason why the Powers/Magic/Skills section is what approvers focus on the most. It is the most important part of approval, making sure that the profile does not allow writers to godmode. The BA is called the Battle Arena, because it started out very combat and fighting oriented. It has become about more than that now, but still, powers and awesome abilities are very popular here.
A character can be super powerful but still have enough limits and weaknesses that balanced them out. However, attitude is still most important. Poor writing attitude can lead to godmoding despite how well a profile is written and detailed. A poor attitude can lead to exploiting loopholes in the limits and weaknesses of your character and their magic, powers, skills, and abilities.
I will approve powerful characters even for a first ever, new character, but only if the profile is well written with well developed limitations to powers, magic, skills, and abilities and with well developed weaknesses. Fake limitations and weaknesses are either ones that are not likely to occur in a fight either due to an unrealistic time limitation, etc. or are contradicted by a battle strength. Self-imposed weaknesses also do not count. Your character ďholding backĒ from their full potential is not a true weakness or limitation. These must be things that the character has no control over. Having the self-imposed limitation of "holding back" is particularly Mary Sueish, because it means your character is so awesome they have to hold back. However, it also means they can choose not to and pound any enemy or person who manages to piss them off enough. Just a tip, if you give your character this kind of limitation, you're on your way to Mary Sueism.
Age and Appearance
Next most popular Mary Sueisms in character profiles are age and appearance. Not usually a problem in the approval process. You are allowed to have a Mary Sue character so long as it does not violate the godmoding rule. Creative freedom is yours otherwise. Still, I will cover the Mary Sueism anyway.
So young and beautiful are typically always considered Mary Sue traits. Young can vary. Sometimes writers will merely pick an age they can identify with, meaning their characters will typically always be around their own age. I donít mind this so much with particularly young writers, like 15 and younger. It can be hard to imagine what it is like to be any other age than your own at those younger ages. So sure, they should probably stick to those ages as they gain writing experience and as they get older. Of course, I have also seen a writer try to write beyond their own emotional age and generally fail. The ego can make it hard to see past your own nose, hard to be practical about how age affects a person and what it is like to have lived a different life.
A good writer can imagine what it might be like to be a completely different age, sex and gender and have lived a completely different life. They can also do this in a realistic and practical way. Being a good writer is the ability to imagine and empathize beyond yourself and your own experiences. It is the ability to imagine what it would be like to be someone else without the ego obscuring your vision. (A good writer also does research in order to understand different people.)
A Mary Sueism for age that is very popular is the 10,000-year-old who looks like they are 17. I donít mind that they look young. The problem is the realism is often lacking. The Mary Sue writer will write such a character at the emotional age of 17 rather than the emotional age of 10,000. Again, there is the lack of imagining and empathizing outside of their own perspective. However, if it is intentional, I see no problem with this. They might have a good reason for an immortal of 10,000 years being stuck at the emotional age of 17.
Because this is the Battle Arena, it does make sense that a lot of characters tend to be young and in their prime or just young or old enough to still be able to fight. However, I would like to take the time to remind my readers that you can, in fact, make a character that has no combat abilities, powers, or skills. They can be completely normal and vulnerable. The BA has a lot of combat and magical powers, but it is also about character interactions, character development, and such. It is about enjoying bouncing a character off of another writerís character to see what happens and how they react to each other and how they build relationships.
And so we move onto beauty. I donít really have a problem with attractive characters exactly. This is fantasy writing. Most characters in fantasy are typically attractive. Though I do always appreciate seeing a character who is average, chubby, fat, frighteningly thin or otherwise normal or even significantly unattractive or ugly. It is always nice to see that mold being broken. However, what I dislike is when characters are a stereotypical sexy and attractive. A character can be attractive but please allow them to be attractive in unique and human ways. Letís not all have blonde haired and blue-eyed angles with beautiful curves and generous bust. Okay, they can be blonde and blue-eyed but please, no more huge breasts!! Or muscled out Gary Stus. (Though muscles tend to be typical for most fighters, so I would allow room for this typical fantasy trait.)
The mark of a newbie writer is that they tend to be vague and tell rather than show in their writing and descriptions. This goes for appearance as well. Just saying that your character is ďhotĒ and slapping the color of their hair and eyes is typical of an inexperienced writer. A skilled writers will show their characterís traits in more details. This does not make them a good writer exactly. This brings us back to attitude again. A writer can write in detail how much hotter their character is than other characters. Even if the character is not stereotypically hot, the attitude of it is that your character needs to know how smokingí hot their character is and agree that they are. Please, just describe without bias their appearance and let characters decide for themselves if they find your character to be attractive.
A writer can describe in great detail a stereotypically attractive character, but if they have the right attitude of not needing to rub it in your face or shove it down your throat, then itís not really a problem. Maybe they have a reason other than their ego (or just liking huge boobs) for making a character stereotypically hot.
Danger of Success and Popularity
Sometimes, when writers have had success and popularity with their characters being attractive (other characters think their character is attractive) and in powers and abilities (being known for having a powerful character), it does feel good and feeds the ego. This isnít bad really, unless it causes the writer to adopt the Mary Sue attitude. Popularity can be blinding. The writer might start expecting other peopleís characters to always find their character attractive (especially if of the opposite sex), or they might start expecting their characters powers and abilities to always be successful when they want them to be. Unexpected set backs may upset this writer, like when another character has an ability that counters their characterís ability in a way the writer did not predict or was unwilling to predict or agree with.
Personality and History
Now moving onto personality and history of characters. Personality is kind of everything. A character can have interesting powers and abilities, a good appearance, but if the personality is weak then the character is a bit hallow. Itís okay if the personality doesnít start out strong. Writing helps develop characters. The more you write with your character, the more you develop their personality. However, a typical Mary Sueism is to have the perfectly good person despite their tragic past.
Not that it is impossible to be a good person despite a tragic past. It can be done, but it is often done without a sense of human vulnerability and flaws. Mary Sue characters make it too easy to be good. Being a good person is actually extremely hard and challenging. It is a fight everyday is maintain integrity and impeccability to truly be who you say you are. Walking your talk. You can be a good person but have flaws. No one is perfect. If they are, then they are Mary Sue, and they are impractical and unrelatable characters. If you want people to respond well to a character, particularly a hero, they need to be relatable. So they need to be human (not meaning race, but implying vulnerabilities and flaws). To be a good writer you must write characters in a human way.
A newbie will often tell how their character is so mature and fast-thinking, smart, and outgoing. They tell these things, but they donít really show it well. They may merely regurgitate things they have been told are mature or think are mature. You have to have maturity to really know what it is. So often I see them describing their characterís morals to be what they think a good and mature person would have, but in doing so show how they themselves are not mature enough to really know that those things are not exactly mature. Understandable if they are still rather young. Most Mary Sue characters tend toward perfection in maturity and morals.
Back to how being good is challenging. Making the right choices in life arenít always easy or black and white, but often newbie Mary Sue writers will write with the attitude that you simply are supposed to trust that their character is good no matter what they do. Sometimes it may not be the character but other important characters in their histories that can act in contradictory ways. They fail to point out how characters have acted selfishly or simply try to explain or excuse it away. They evaded the human flaws, trying to carry on with the idea that their character is good and perfectly so.
Example history: An angel trades his only sonís humanity for a chance at being human himself. Later the Archangel whom he traded with comes to claim the son, and turns the boy into an angel despite his disagreement with it. The Archangel then raises the boy and trains him in the art of combat.
Thereís nothing wrong with this exactly, except that the writer doesnít really tell how the boy, who is the character for this profile history, felt. And if the personality gives no indication of him having feelings of resentment toward these people or at least having confused feelings about it or even depression, then I kind of donít find the character believable. The boy didnít agree with the transformation, and it was done against his will. Did he end up liking after it was done? Even if so, doesnít he find it disturbing that this supposedly ďgoodĒ entity would do this against his will in the first place? Isnít the father selfish for trading his sonís humanity to gain his own? How does the son feel about this? The history itself is fine. But if you play it off as the father and the archangel being the ďgoodĒ guys, then I call bull. If the boy is angry and resentful and wants revenge, I would believe that. If heís just derpy-dur, Iím an angel with powers now, while being very nice and smart, and has no feelings about his past, then I call bull. Even if he isnít angry, isnít he at least hurt? Miss his humanity? The things he lost? Didnít he feel violated when his wishes were disregarded?
Example personality: Heís really mature, but hates people who have premarital sex.
Míkay, this doesnít really show maturity. Maturity comes with being understanding of others, or at least I think so. This just shows how he is not mature enough to understand people who chose to have sex before marriage. What if itís part of their culture? For example, I consider Gerudos to have laws against marriage. Why? Because they are raised to think themselves superior to Hylian males. Also maybe that they should always be free to share themselves with who ever they chose.
Morals are not rigid. They are cultural. What one culture calls a virtue another might consider it a vice. Not that you have to agree with someoneís life style, but you donít have to hate them for it. You can accept it without having to do it yourself. Now that takes maturity: to disagree with someone but not judge them for being different.
Now let me tell you something. Embrace the human flaws. Donít evade or excuse them away. Accept that the characters are not perfect and that many of them have acted in their own self interest and even insensitively and irresponsibly to others around them. Firstly, this makes for a more interesting history and RPís, and it makes for a more believable and congruent character. The character might not realize their own flaws yet and may never do so, but it is important for the writer to accept and know their characterís flaws and use them to develop that character. Flaws can actually be what make a character fun and enjoyable for you and others.
This can be hard, especially when a writer sets out to write a ďgood personĒ character. Or they may have accepted some flaws of the character but not others. They may even write the character to have certain flaws and not be perfect, but it is the flaw they do not see or expect that they struggle in accepting. Maybe because it tells a little bit about the writer themselves. They may have written a certain action a character takes without realizing the selfishness behind that actions because it is something they would have done themselves. Or it is something the writer wants for their character. Funny how writing can lead to a lot of self-reflection if you let it.
Histories are full of tragedy. Thatís fine. Life is tough, which is what writers are often trying to express through their writing. Characters need challenges to overcome in themselves, and those challenges are often found in their past. However, they can be found in their future too. So you could write a character with a perfectly happy and healthy childhood and past but allow tragedy and conflict to enter into their lives through the role plays you enter them into.
The problem with tragic pasts in Mary Sueism, is that tragic events donít often effect the character in a realistic way. Or they donít acknowledge that certain characters have acted selfishly, and their character seems to ignore the selfish actions of a parent or mentor in favor of the fact that they are supposed to be ďgoodĒ or ďheroicĒ in someway. The character isnít described as being angry or upset with these side characters in their histories. Not always, but it is a little unrealistic. A real person would probably be resentful. This doesnít mean the character is bad for being resentful. It just means they are a person with feelings.
Or it goes the opposite way and the character blames them for everything wrong in their life, and the writer usually agrees with this sentiment. It is a Mary Sueism to feel like you always have to agree with your characterís actions, thoughts, and opinions. You donít. This allows you to give your character human flaws that you can accept and recognize. Writing believable characters is a practice in understanding human nature.
Tragic events should not be used for pity parties. This means, do not use it to get attention from other characters. Firstly, itís just not realistic. People donít typically mop around about their sensitive and traumatic pasts. Unless they are trying to be manipulative. Itís fine if you have a character behave this way intentionally. Maybe the character is trying to manipulate another character into staying in a relationship, so they mop around openly about past wounds. Maybe the character is trying to get attention from other characters. Just know what your character is doing and why they are doing it. Are they doing it because itís part of their character, or are they doing it because you want that character to feel sorry for your character? Is it fulfilling some ego attention need for you or not?
Also consider that most people avoid talking about their issues if they donít want to talk about it. Most of the time, people donít like talking about sensitive and traumatic past experiences, especially not to people they arenít very close to. Most of the time we donít drop cryptic remarks about our dark and tragic pasts. People usually hide their darkness in the darkest corners of their minds and hope it goes away like a bad dream. That might be why these things are considered dark. The darkness is where you hide something you donít want to see or acknowledge. So you wouldnít drop cryptic attention needy remarks about something you donít want to acknowledge. A good example of this would be my character: Khaz Serwen. Boy did I give that kid issues, but he doesnít go around whining about it to anyone whoíll listen. He hides it under a charming smile.
If your character builds a close and trusting relationship with another character, then they might tell them about their tragic past. Think about it, do you tell just anyone your deepest and darkest secrets? No, thatís something you tell a best friend if at all. If you are going to have a dark and tragic secret revealed, it must have an important place in an RP plot. Maybe it holds a secret to saving a town, but they are afraid to tell because of its sensitive nature. Or maybe it is part of the plot that they share this with someone close. Part of the characterís development and part of developing a relationship with another character. Use it but donít abuse it for the ego.
Playing the Mary Sue
So we have moved away from the profile in general, though much of that has touched on have effects in role playing. But like I said before, you could have a good profile but still end up playing the Mary Sue. So here are things about role playing and Mary Sueism.
Just keep in mind your character cannot always be the biggest, skilledest (yes it is a word. I just made it one now ), smartest, and most interesting character in the RP. There are a bunch of other characters made by other people all with different levels, some higher and some lower than your character. Just like in real life, thereís a big variety of people, who are interesting in their own ways too. If you want your character to be the most awesome on the playground, the star of the RP, and constant center of attention, go write a fiction on your own somewhere else. This is not the place for it.
Remember that you do not need to post constantly when you feel it has been too long since your character made an appearance or has done something. Thatís just an egotistical and attention needy impulse. This leads to unrealistic behavior and it can make it hard for the other RPers to keep up with you. Donít be afraid to wait it out for the proper time for you to post again and to wait for the others to write a few posts to hammer out the story bit more.
For general advice in avoiding Mary Sueisms in characters and in writing in general, try to avoid letting your ego be attached to your character. It can be difficult because we are often proud and obsessed with our creations. I notice with myself it can be hard because I see my character in a certain way be it that they were to me the most [insert quality].
This quality could be that they were the fastest, most physically strong, most magically powerful, or most skilled with a blade. However, when we write in a community like this, we have to keep in mind that there are bound to be other characters that succeed over your character in these qualities. There will also be plenty of characters that your character succeeds over them in these qualities. Though, the tendency if that when we meet characters whose speed is supernatural like our character's is to tweak it so that ours is faster. Things like super speed can be increasingly difficult to measure when you get up to the supernatural levels of intense speed (light speed, breaking the sound barrier, etc). Because these high levels are harder to measure exactly, it makes it easier and more tempting for them to be tweaked. Your character's profile may state that they are fast, but if you are not explicit about exactly how fast they are, this wording can be a loophole that allows you to tweak it to your liking. This is actually against the rules and considered a godmoding quality. Adhere to the rules you set down to your characters always. If you found you have left something too vague and you are in a situation like this, perhaps, you should back down. Maybe leave the fight alone and really think about how fast your character should be as opposed to how fast you want them to be and why.
Also keep in mind that if you are patient enough, your character is allowed to grow with updates due to the adversity they overcome in their RPs. In this way, your character can grow in speed and power or anything else you like (don't forget personality!). Only it feels more deserved and natural. It gives it more a sense of accomplishment to actually write out how your character grows during RP's rather than tweaking the wording of a profile to make them instantly awesome.
It takes some patience. Patience so that your character doesn't find out the intentions and thoughts of everyone around them instantly. Patience to let your character grow as you write and RP with them and other characters. But if you let them grow slowly like this, you may find yourself with a well-developed and interesting character.
Just remember to stop when you get in ego-battles with other writers about which character is faster, stronger, or whose spell out does the other's. Stop and think that maybe your ego is getting in the way of this being a fun experience for you and everyone else involved. When it ceases to be fun and has become a contest about whose character is better, the point of role playing together has become lost.
Other peopleís characters do not need to always like your character. Honestly, the most fun I have with characters is when there is conflict between them, which is often when personalities clash and characters dislike or even hate each other. Not that there isnít fun to be had with characters that do get along, but you shouldnít need to force anything. If it just isnít happening, then it isnít happening. Accept it.
You canít really point out these blind spot flaws to the writers either, not without them getting very upset with you (this applies to you as well, what are you sensitive about with your characters?). People can get very touchie about their characters, especially when their egos are so attached to them. Which is part of the key to the good writing attitude. Enjoy characters but do not let your ego become attached to them or a specific aspect of the character. You will tend to have less Mary Sue problems. You can tell if your ego has become attached if you get particularly upset about certain things not going the way you wanted them to, or people pointing out flaws in your character.
My advice: live a balanced life. Do not let role playing be the center of your life. If youíre doing other things in your life, then flaws in imaginary characters on the internet donít seem like such a big deal. Nor should these things be a big deal.
Okay, so not all characters you make have to be good guys. So there are the evil, villain characters as well as just the villain NPC that you might share. You will then also have Mary Sue villains. Other than the usual, the only thing to avoid would be typical villainy. Also, avoid not developing a villain as a believable and relatable character just like any good character should be. A villain should have feelings, motivation, and a reason for doing what they do. Those things need to be well developed and believable. Just remember that most people donít go into life thinking, ďYou know what? I think Iím going to be an evil and bad person.Ē Villains donít think or know that they are villains. Quoting the creators of Kung Fu Panda, ďA villain is the hero of their own story.Ē Often villains will believe and tell themselves that the things they do are good, justified, and even in the name of justice. Thatís what makes villains so scary. How do you know what you do is good and right? It expresses how being a good person and maintaining integrity is not easy. It can be easy to trick ourselves into thinking that itís okay to do certain things, when the reality is that it is selfish and harmful to others.
Also something that is over looked is apathy. It can be evil to not care and have no feelings about others. Not doing anything for someone in need, when you could. Or watching others being horribly cruel to another and not even bothering to care. Not caring can make it a lot easier to be selfish in a way. But just remember a character needs a developed reason for apathy, but apathy can have various levels. For example, the bystander effect. Groups of people often notice things that are wrong, but donít act because theyíre sure that someone else will. Or because no one else is doing anything, they doubt their own instincts that anything is really wrong at all, because it sure would be embarrassing to step in when nothing is actually wrong. Or people are so busy thinking about themselves that they donít notice anything at all. But if your character is merely emotionally shut down, youíll need good reason. Or maybe the character is just selfish enough not to care.
Villains should not be used as someone for your heroic Mary Sue to crush easily under their great might. That just goes back to ego desires of wanting to win all the time and immediately. What is the fun of a villain who is easily crushed? It is always more interesting for your heroes to only barely make it out alive.
So let your characters struggle more. Also donít be afraid to let terrible and irreversible things happen to them, but also donít always make terrible and irreversible things happen so that they can: mop, weep, angst, and woes me all the time for pity from other characters. Itís always more interesting when tragedies of several forms happen, more character development can happen in this, but it just gets nauseating to watch a character unrealistically angst all the time for the creatorís pleasure and with no purpose.
Bad things happen so that we can overcome and grow from them. Not so that we can cry and angst ourselves into oblivion. The rule is: donít do things for attention. Heroes should get injured (both physically and emotionally), but please just be careful of when and why.
The Lacking of Creative Traits
Originally Posted by Drammor
they usually lack certain creative traits referred to as "flaws" and "vulnerability to the world around them".
Traits of Mary Sue:
Is well liked and admired by the creator's other PCs (Player Character) and NPCs (Non-Player Character).
Or is the major source of fear or loathing by the locals. (Either way, they always attract attention.) This is either because the character is evil or because the character is tragically misunderstood or a member of an evil and cruel race but they have a heart of gold buried somewhere inside.
Their actions often draw the attention of NPCs constantly, whether in positive or negative ways.
Even the silent type somehow magically attract attention. Probably because of their dark and mysterious aura. NPCs always wonder about these stoic individuals.
Often attractive even if evil. Members of the opposite sex are often flirting and tripping over themselves for the character.
They never slip, fall, fail embarrassingly in tasks, or look stupid (even though they often indirectly do). They never humiliate themselves or make mistakes. They are, in fact, very skilled which, again, attracts the attention, admiration, and fear/hatred of NPCs.
They often know things about the plot and other characters that only the writer should know. The writer may or may not give some excuse for why their character knows this, but it is likely to be a weak one in any case.
Itís fine if other peopleís characters notice your character of their own free will for whatever the reason, because, hey, you donít control them. Just donít try too hard to make others react certain ways by writing how much hotter your character is than an NPC or just in general, just as an example.
Homosexuality and Diversity
Okay, so you might be wondering why Iím bring this up here. Mostly because people just seem to assume that all characters here are straight and only attracted to the opposite sex. In a way, it can be a Mary Sueism. Not that you have to make your character gay to avoid being Mary Sueish, but just keep your mind open.
I havenít really seen a lot of homosexual or even bisexual characters in the BA(there could be more than Iíve noticed). Iíve seen one profile that explicitly states that the character is bisexual. You donít need to state it explicitly. But I mostly, I would like the BA to be a diversity friendly role playing section. I have plenty of bisexual characters myself. This doesnít have to mean anything about me either or anyone else who has characters of different sexualities. I am straight, but my characters are different. Again, my character doesnít have to be a reflection of my thoughts and beliefs or even my sexuality.
It can be hard though to write a character who is different like this with writers who are uncomfortable with it. So I just want to remind the BA to be open-minded, be nice.
The Mary Sue Test
To avoid a Mary Sue character, I suggest running them through the Mary Sue Litmus Test. Just by looking through the questions the test asks, you can get an idea of what are Mary Sue qualities. Youíll notice the different range and levels of Mary Sue the test has at the bottom of the test. You donít have to aim for zero points to avoid Mary Sue. These qualities arenít all necessarily bad but having too many of them is. Also, depending on what form of writing you do, the range varies for when your character becomes on the verge of Mary Sue. However, this test is only as good as you. You have to be honest. I have seen a full-blown Mary Sue writer use this test on their character and get a passing score. It was because they simply could not look at them honestly. They refused to see a Mary Sue trait for what it was.
I also suggest you read Drammorís General Guidelines for Having a Character Here. Research isnít a bad idea either. Wikipedia has a page on Mary Sue. You can always run it by other people, Counilors or just other seasoned members of the BA. Submit it in the Peer Review section for opinions before posting for approval. Or pick people you know. Try not to pick someone who will omit their opinion in favor of your feelings. Not that they should be cruelly harsh but just more likely to be honest with you.
Newbie and Spice
We have all at one point had a Mary Sueish character. Some were more Mary Sue than others, or just very poorly developed. Thatís fine. Itís a starting level thing. You have to figure out what is bad and what is good. Beyond this, avoiding the Mary Sue attitude is an everyday battle. Because people tend to always have to be careful about the ego. It can sneak in there, and suddenly weíre feeling pretty self-important without knowing we are.
If you claim to have never had a Mary Sueish character, then maybe you have the attitude without realizing it. Take a close look, Mary Sue might be lurking somewhere deep.
Not all Mary Sue qualities are bad, like the ones on the litmus test. These ideas and qualities were first thought up because they were good and interesting. But then itís how you use the idea and quality and with what attitude to you use it with that makes the difference. Sometimes, these qualities are what add spice to a character.
Okay, so from time to time, I may continue to post to add a few thoughts and things that I may have forgotten about in the first post or maybe have only occurred to me later. This thought I have is on personality.
Usually, the newbie thing is that though they try to have different and diverse characters, they fail at it because they have not yet learned how to remove themselves and their egos from their characters. This means, that their characters are actually them, just in different forms and with different powers and abilities. The characters have no true personality of their own. The newbie might write a profile for a character and described them as having specific traits, but they often fail to fulfill those traits when actually writing with that character in an RP. The character only reacts like the newbie would think to react, and talk to other characters like the newbie would. The newbie merely writes their first impulse response to events in RPs.