December 01, 2020, 02:52:39 PM

Author Topic: The Origins of Mary Sue!  (Read 1596 times)

Offline tebakutis

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The Origins of Mary Sue!
« on: February 27, 2016, 02:01:20 AM »
HOLD ON THERE, DENIZENS OF F-F! First, a disclaimer and ground rules. :)

It's not my intent to restart an earlier debate about whether a character in a show or movie is or is not a "Mary Sue". I certainly thought it was an interesting discussion and enjoyed it (including how civil everyone was!) but that's not the reason I wanted to post this link for our writers. It is, however, appropriate to the theme of our Monthly Writing Contest, Fanfiction!

I recently came across THE ACTUAL STAR TREK FANFIC from which we later lifted the term "Mary Sue" ... a story called "A Trekkie's Tale" from a young Star Trek fan named Paula Smith. I've been aware of the origins of the term "Mary Sue" for awhile, and I understand that how we use it has changed over time, but I'd never actually read the fanfic from which it spawned ... until today!

Needless to say, I was delighted to find the original story preserved on a site called Fanlore. It's actually a fairly funny read, and, as much as we may now debate who or who is not a "Mary Sue" and where we should use the term, the fanfic itself feels (to me) like a great example of a young Star Trek fan just geeking out as she imagines herself joining the crew of the Enterprise. There's something touchingly genuine about the idea of a young fan just writing herself into the story because she loves the show.

When I was young, I could seriously have seen myself writing a fanfic like this about me joining the Transformers, or the crew of the Yamato, or becoming a Robotech pilot, or something similar. I'm not sure I would have been quite so amazing as Lt. Mary Sue ... but I also can't say I wouldn't have been. :0

Anyway, you can read the entire fanfic (which is literally five paragraphs) at the following link. Enjoy, and consider yourself privy to one of the classics.'s_Tale

ONE EDIT: I should also point out, for those who don't dig all the way in, that the story was intentionally satirical. But I don't think that takes away from the way it channels a young fan who just wants to be part of the story, which I think is the core of what makes us want to write fanfiction.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 02:07:25 AM by tebakutis »

Offline JMack

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Re: The Origins of Mary Sue!
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2016, 04:05:29 AM »
The portrait of Mary Sue is absolutely terrifying.  :o
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Offline Nora

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Re: The Origins of Mary Sue!
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2016, 04:20:16 AM »
Wow. Intense.

But how 'Tralfamadorian Order of Good Guyhood' did not become a thing escapes me altogether.
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Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: The Origins of Mary Sue!
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2016, 10:19:42 AM »
I know I tend to fall into the fanfic, interject myself into the story as a new character, mode when I am reading a book or watching a TV series I really like.
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” ~ William S. Boroughs

Offline Iramesoj

Re: The Origins of Mary Sue!
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2019, 02:57:10 PM »
I think characters that do all in a perfect way are predecible and can became hateful, so writters shouldn't build them.

However, I think nowadays there are a "fashion" that says we must hate virtuous characters and this is a mistake. In other words, is falling in the other extreme.

For example, a sexy, intelligent, brave and honest hero that lives adventures against the evil characters of the story can be a nice character. You shouldn't build that character as "the guy who always wins" because then, readers wouldn't like him. However, you can create a good character with that attributes, but if you don't want that character being fairly hated, you should put him sometimes in hard situations: he should be defeated for someone strongest, being captured, etc.

However, I guess some people would say "I don't like that character, is a Mary Sue" because nowadays, a fashion said characters must be built in a dark way, like in SoIaF. That actual fashion dictates "Good Vs Evil" is a bad trope and characters should be ambiguous (like the man who cheat his wife but loves his friends, etc). As a consequence of that fashion, virtuous characters are looked in a bad way... and this is a mistake.

I think that because, in my opinion, literature should be varied, so we should have the chance to read about all types of characters: very virtuous, very mean and not as polarized characters. If all characters are built in a same way, we are killing literature.