Mary-Sue Characters in Fiction…you got one?

A Mary-Sue is a rather silly sounding term, isn’t it? It’s writer-speak for a character who is just too Good to be true – or too Evil – or (and this is scary) too much like YOU. Or too much like the you you’d like to BE.

Mary-Sue types are boring. Flat. Or punch-able. He or she is a weaker character, and thus weakens the power of your fiction. But how do you know if a character, major or secondary, is one of these creatures?

I found this fun test on Mary-Sues when writing the first draft of my Vanyl, Bk 2 manuscript. If you use the link at the bottom of this post (not copying to a doc) it will even add your score up automatically for the final verdict.

When I used this test, I first answered it with the main male character in mind; he scored low on the MS scale. So did my Villain. But the main female love-interest?

Hoo, boy! Don’t know what I was subverting when writing this character, but she was SUCH a little Miss Perfect. Still got some work to do on her. Now that I think of it, there were a few comments by my readers to that effect..that might have been my first clue in the Mary-Sue meter score.

So if you’d like to test a few of your characters, here it is. The Mary Sue Writing Test.


3 thoughts on “Mary-Sue Characters in Fiction…you got one?

  1. I agree writers should avoid creating Mary Sue characters. But I think sometimes a Mary Sue is in the eye of the beholder. What one reader judges as too good to be true or too evil to be believable may be influenced by their experiences of the people they’ve met in their lives.

    Let’s face it. Someone who is raised by a saint and someone who is raised in a crackhouse may have very different views of what characters they find believable.

    Interesting post. Made me think. 🙂

  2. Regina, I totally agree. The Quiz (and there are many other sources on the subject) served as an analytical tool for me, to bring attention (zing!) to goofy stuff in my characters. “Does she save the day WAY more than other characters?” was one question that made me stop and think ‘oh yeah…kinda unbalanced, huh?’

    I also should have mentioned that the Quiz was oriented more for SFF – but could be useful in other genres.
    Thanks for the comment!

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