Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My SF Heroine is not a Mary Sue

Mary Sues. They get a bad name among fan fic (and SF fiction) writers.

What? You never heard the term?

Here's a quickie def from Wikipedia:
Mary Sue (sometimes shortened simply to Sue) is a pejorative term for a fictional character who is portrayed in an idealized way and who is generally lacking in any truly noteworthy flaws (or having her flaws romanticized, as is sometimes the case with stories about characters with eating disorders, depression, or other psychological conditions). Characters labeled Mary Sues, as well as the stories they appear in, are generally seen as wish fulfillment fantasies on the part of the author...
Characters labeled as a "Mary Sue" have what are seen as exaggerated and annoying (and sometimes impossible) levels of superiority, especially in comparison to either the other characters, real people who are in the same fields or situations, or both.

This is the quiz result I got:
11-20 points: The Non-Sue. Your character is a well-developed, balanced person, and is almost certainly not a Mary Sue. Congratulations!

I thought sure she'd test higher, since she is the top in her job, but she's not happy about the inherent power that makes her able to do what she does. Hmmm. And I didn't make her impossibly gorgeous or even gifted in any other way. She's no superwoman.

How does your protagonist quiz out? Have you penned a Mary Sue?

And if yours does, does it matter?

I think it's a matter of degree and context. Many SF characters are superior, vastly superior at times, to their peers: Ender Wiggins and Paul Atreides and Harry Potter come right to mind.

What keeps your superior character, your specially gifted protagonist, from being overly superior mere wish fulfillment in prose?


Heather said...

My character is a non-Sue. My biggest flaw is probably that she is a little too much like me.

Mirtika said...

Mine's pretty much nothing like me. I'm not exciting enough to be a fictional heroine. :)


Mirtika said...

Well, okay, she likes poetry.


Stuart said...

My character is an Anti-sue, with a score of 3. Go Rathe!

Mirtika said...

HAHAHAHAH! Stuart rejects mere wish fulfillment! Hoorah!


Rebecca said...

Uh oh again.

I have an Uber-Sue. Only problem being, I took the quiz thinking of my villain!!!!

Mirtika said...

I suspect my love interest hero would be Sue-ish. :)


Heather said...

Question: was that quiz supposed to be for SF only? Mine is definitely not in the SF category.
Speaking of SF - anyone seen the new show Eureka? I'm not generally a SciFi fan, but my husband has gotten me completely addicted to that show!

Mirtika said...

Eureka is a very cute show. I've missed a couple of episodes since it started. My fave has been the Nobel Prize one. I missed the "speed" one this week. I guess I'll catch reruns.

And the Mary Sue test is more related to SF, yes. But it can tip off a writer of ANY kind of novel if they are casting their protagonist as a fantasy-wish-fulfilling type superduper gifted one.


Jason said...

Non-Sue! Non-Sue! My protag scored a 14. Did I mention her name was Gloria Hallelujah-Valencia and has violet eyes, and she single-handedly brings the gospel to an entire galaxy? ;)

Gotta love the sues. Fun quiz. Thanks!