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Mary Sues and why we hate them

  • Everyone hates a Mary Sue- save for the creator of said Mary Sue, naturally. They're bloody egotistical. They're obnoxious. They do all sorts of ridiculous things and get away with it. They survive, and Mary Sues always, always, always get the incredibly attractive person of the opposite sex. That's why anything written by Atarumaster88 is a Mary Sue-free zone.

Just to make some things clear, I put Selusda Kraen, the protagonist of the Force Exile series and the only one who could possibly become a Mary Sue, through a pair of Mary Sue tests. Why is Selu special enough over, say, Spectre, or any of the other characters that you haven't read about? Well, because he's the hero, and that means he has an exclusivity clause on Mary Sue tests in his contract, or something like that. Anyway, here are the results:

From "The Writer's Mary Sue Test"

[1]

And I quote:

"Selu Kraen is only a little like you. He is not at all cool; in fact, he thinks cool is a temperature reading, and when he says "Oh, I just put on whatever old thing's lying around," he means "on the floor, where I threw it last night - but I turned the underwear inside out first." He may have sometimes thought that he was special, or destined for greater things, but probably dismissed the idea as a fantasy. He's come in for his share of hurt, but gotten off with minor damage. And he's gotten no slack from you.

In general, you care deeply about Selu Kraen, but you're smart enough to let him stand on his own, without burdening him with your personal fantasies or propping him up with idealization and over-dramatization. Selu Kraen is a healthy character with a promising career ahead of him."


Score Breakdown
I Love Him, I Let Him Go 10
He's The Anti-Cool 0
I'm Destined For What? 6
Can't Complain 5
Momma HATES Him! 0
Total: 21
Comments: Yes, Selusda Kraen bears some similarities to me. Heck, I used many of the same physical attributes. And that's where the similarities end- at the skin, folks. He's not me, and never will be.

The Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test

[2]

Total score: 43
Described as: "36+

Fanfiction authors, you might just want to start over. Role-players and original fiction authors, at this point your characters are likely to provoke eye-rolling and exclaimations of "yeah, right!" from your readers. (Well, at least from me.) Immediate workover is probably in order."

Comments: Wait, before you hate and say "Ataru lied to me! Hatred!", just try running any Jedi character through this. Heck, try running Luke Skywalker through this test, and he'll come out like the ultimate Mary Sue. When I did the test the first time, I compared Selu, as a Jedi, vs. Joe Sentient on the streets of Planet Average. Now, run him through again, this time using John/Jan Jedi as the baseline. John Jedi assumes that everyone has a lightsaber; everyone has telekinesis, everyone was adopted as little tyke, everyone was trained by a canonical character such as Yoda or Cin Drallig at some point. Little things that are common to Jedi aren't assumed to be Mary-Suish.

(Second round)
Total score: 20
Described as: "17-21

Probably not a Mary-Sue, although a character can go either way at this point. Fanfiction writers should pay attention to ensure that their characters aren't getting too Sue-ish. For an RPG or original fiction character, however, you're probably perfectly fine."

Questions checked yes to: 3, 22, 52, Fan-fiction 2, 6, 13, 13c, 13f, 15g, 29, 37, 37c, 39, and one other that's a bit of a spoiler. It's worth 2 points though. De-suifiers 1, 2, 10, 11, 12b, 12c, 13.
More comments: Yes, I acknowledge that Selu has some potential for Suish traits, but we're staying far away from that line. Any hints, suggestions, or general alerts that I'm approaching that limit would be greatly appreciated. This test is really too general for accurate measurement of a Star Wars character, particularly Jedi, so unless you can handle it or correctly interpret the instructions, you might skip this one.

Ooh, a specialized one for Star Wars. And it's even bloody fair!

Okay, so I went browsing around at Mary Sue HQ [3] to probe the realms of narcissism and self-idealization and how to counter said flaws. Note that many of those links are sadly broken, and the site appears neglected. Interestingly enough, there was a Star Wars specialized test, [4] so I put poor Selusda Kraen through the wringer one more time. This isn't nearly as sophisticated (OMG, you have to keep track of the totals yourself), but it's like a specialized version of the 2nd quiz with less stupid options and more leeway for the Jedi types. It appears to be a bit dated, but still effective. In some cases, you may need to replace "Luke, Han, Leia, Obi-Wan, Palpatine" with "Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme, Yoda, Darth Maul". Or whatever. Don't get pinned down with the names; it's the roles that matter. And it's one point per question in case that wasn't clear.

Results

Selu Kraen scored an 11.

Described as: "0-14 Developed character, unlikely Mary Sue/Gary Stu."

Questions answered yes: 4, 7, 8, 10, 24, 26, 38, 41a, 42, 45, and one other that happens to be a bit of a spoiler.

Comments

I like this test. I'm even considering creating a revised, updated version using some wikicode and posting it on Star Wars Fanon. In fact, I'll probably do it within the week. Atarumaster88 Jedi Order (Talk page) 06:43, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

SWF test

The Mary Sue Litmus Test:

Star Wars Fanon Edition Is your character(s) a Mary Sue? Do you know who (or what) Mary Sue is? In simple terms a Mary Sue is a character, who always has the answer, powers, know how, charm, skills to save the day and win the main hero's (heroine's) heart. In other words they can be really good or really, REALLY annoying...So is your Star Wars Character a Mary Sue (Gary Stu)? Well grab a pencil and find out! And be honest here folks!! For every question you answer 'Yes," give yourself one point, keep a tally and see how your character rates at the end of the test! Some of the questions are multi-parts, you still count a point for each part!

Section 1 - The Name Game
  1. Is the character named after you?
    (This can be your first name, middle name, or the name you go by in chat or irc.)
  2. Does the character have a really cool name that you wish you had?
  3. Does the character have more than one name?
  4. Have you considered naming your pet or child the character's name?
  5. Have the last name Skywalker, Windu, Solo, Kenobi, or especially Fett?
    Section 2 - Physical Attributes
  6. Is the character from the same racial group as you? (For near-humans of similar coloration to you, answer yes to this one)
  7. Is the character a hybrid of two or more species?
  8. Does the character look like s/he is a teenager or in her/his early twenties for no apparent reason? (For Example: He/she SHOULD BE older/younger but is not)
  9. For a magical reason? (Force-related skills count!)
  10. That you plan on making a plot point later?
  11. Is the character the age you would like to be?
  12. Is the character beautiful or roguishly handsome?
  13. Does one or more of the main characters find the character highly attractive?
  14. Do other main characters see him/her as a threat because of this?
  15. Does the character have an unusual eye color for no apparent reason?
  16. Will this be a plot point later?
  17. Does the character have a remarkable trait that either no one has or a major character has?
  18. Does the character have a "famous" weapon, possibly passed down from some canonical character?
  19. Does the character have a starship that is at or very near the top of its class, customized by the character?
  20. Does the character have a unique artifact, possibly inherited from someone else, that grants him/her special abilities?
    Section 3 - Personal Traits
  21. Is the character the long-lost child or descendent or sibling of a regular or recurring character? (canon or non-canonical)
  22. Of the Solo, Antilles, Fel, Fett, Windu, or Kenobi families?
  23. Of Luke Skywalker? Any Skywalker?
  24. Of another original character for whom you intend to write another story or even another series?
  25. Did the character have an unusual birth?
  26. Does the character have a twin, or a clone of the same gender?
  27. About whom you plan on writing another story later?
  28. Does the character have a very good singing voice?
  29. Or play a musical instrument amazingly well?
  30. Does the character have better taste in music/clothes than you do? (For example: Does your character own CDs that you think educated people ought to own, even though you've never actually listened to the music yourself?)
  31. Does the character do what you do for fun or profit? (This includes having the same job you have, or would like to have when you're older, or having a job that sounds like a lot of fun even though you know nothing about it. It can also mean RPing, computer programming, whatever.)
  32. Does the character make more wisecracks than HK-47/Han Solo?
  33. Because HK-47/Han is your favorite character?
  34. Does everyone end up liking the character?
  35. Does everyone you like end up liking the character?
  36. Does everyone on the "good" side end up liking the character?
  37. Does everyone on the "evil" side end up liking the character?
  38. Does the character often rebel from authority?
  39. And get away with it?
  40. And not suffer any consequences ever?
  41. Does the character have few major personality weaknesses?
  42. No personality weaknesses?
  43. Does the character's personality closely resemble that of your own?
    Section 4 - Super Powers
    • The Jedi:
  44. Is the character a Jedi?
  45. But doesn't find out until the middle or end of the story, or will find out in a future story you already have planned?
  46. Did Obi Wan, Yoda, Mace Windu, Palpatine, Kyle Katarn, Revan or Vader train him/her?
    The Rest:
  47. Does the character, not being a Jedi, have magical/mutant powers anyway?
  48. Does the character have telekinesis or telepathy? (Twins count.)
  49. Does the character just "know things" for no apparent reason?
  50. Can the character fly/is an expert pilot?
  51. Without the aid of wings/ships?
  52. Can the character heal with a touch and/or thought?
  53. Do animals instinctively like the character?
  54. Does the character learn faster than his peers in more than one subject?
  55. In nearly all subjects?
    Section 5 - The Love Connection
  56. Does the character fall in love with and/or have sex with Leia/Padmé/Bastila/Jaina and/or Luke/Anakin/Obi-Wan/Revan and/or Han/Wedge/any Fett/Lando?
    (And if anyone writes a story with all three being "AND" send me a copy. And just kidding on Lando. Nobody can resist Lando’s charms.)
  57. With another recurring character from the movies/books/comics/games?
  58. With whom you would like to fall in love and/or have sex?
  59. With another original character?
  60. With whom you would like to fall in love and/or have sex?
  61. Does the story end with the character's wedding?
    Section 6 - The Real World and Your Character
  62. Would you like to be friends with the character if you met in real life?
  63. Do you think everyone who reads the story should automatically like the character and want to be friends with the character?
  64. If someone tells you he/she doesn't like your character, do you take it as a personal attack on you?
    (Be honest!)
  65. Do you ever pretend, just to yourself, that you are the character, with the same strengths and abilities?
    Section 7 - The Fiendish Plot
  66. Do you introduce the character on the first page of the story?
  67. Do you tell the story from the character's point of view, all or mostly?
  68. Does the character meet Luke and Co./Solo kids/Anakin and Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan/Revan, and after a few tense pages of plot, become friends with them?
  69. Does the character manage to develop a friendship with an otherwise villainous character, and through this friendship, reform the other character?
  70. Is the villain in question any Sith Lord?
  71. Does the villain become evil again after the character dies, but retain some last vestige of goodness from his/her interaction with the character, evidenced in one selfless action at the end of the story?
  72. Is the character transformed into a magical or genetically-altered being?
  73. Is the character happier in her/his new form?
  74. Do you wish you could be transformed because of the neat powers?
  75. Does the character save the day and/or another character's life?
  76. Through magical/mystical intervention? (Jedi powers count!)
  77. Through dying?
  78. Does everyone go into mourning?
  79. Does s/he get not dead by the end of the story?
  80. In the sequel?
  81. Does the character defeat large amounts of enemies single-handedly, displaying skills greater than Mace Windu and Yoda combined?
  82. Does the character defeat most opponents he/she faces with relative ease?
  83. Does the character defeat powerful opponents (Dark Jedi, Jedi, Sith, etc.) with relative ease?
  84. Does the character naturally pick up new abilities throughout the course of the story?
  85. With great ease?
  86. Does the character visit more than three of the following planets: (Hoth, Yavin 4, Coruscant, Tatooine, Kashyyyk, Naboo, Lethon, Dagobah, or Endor)
  87. Does the character rapidly gain the support of an army / faction
  88. Does he lead them to victory?

Okay time for the bitter truth...the scoring...how did you do? Possible Points: 88 (assuming some questions obviate the rest) Preliminary testing suggests the following basic scoring scheme: 0-16 Developed character, unlikely Mary Sue/Gary Stu. 17-24 Borderline character, Characters in this range are potential Mary Sue's/Gary Stu's, who can go either way dependent on the author's skill. 24-30 Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Proceed with greatest caution. 30+ Reconsider your character and plot. Please.

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