Why Do People Write Mary Sues?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a Mary Sue is, it’s essentially a female character that is too perfect. A character that is always morally correct no matter what, has all the male protagonists drooling themselves over her even though she would describe herself as plain, and is special without having to try.

In other words, she’s boring.

So why do so many writers write Mary Sues? Even ones that claim they hate them?

I have a few theories:

The writer is trying to live vicariously through their character. Most of us want to be special. Unfortunately, a lot of us lack the bravery or skill required to become a compelling protagonist. In order for us to be unique, something supernatural in nature would have to occur like a radioactive spider biting us. Many of us have problems with ourselves so we’re tempted to fix them when we create an ink-and-paper twin. However, flaws are essentially what makes a person a person so by removing them writers create a character that is as flat as cardboard.

They want readers to like their character. If the reader despises the main protagonist, it is likely they will stop reading the story. Sadly, many writers think that the best way of avoiding this is by creating a character that has zero flaws other than superficial ones like clumsiness or being “too nice.” Truth is, a person’s foibles can make them more endearing and relatable.

It’s easier than coming up with a real person. Creating a person from scratch is hard. Especially if that person doesn’t share the same background, race, or religion that you do. It’s easy to become intimidated at the prospect of being inside the head of such a person and dictating all that they do and say. It’s even more daunting granted how delicate some peoples’ sensibilities are these days and how eager they are to take offense by any perceived misrepresentation. The writer doesn’t want to step on people’s toes and so they stick to what they know, with a few choice alterations, of course.

Or, in some cases, it’s just laziness. They don’t want to have to go through the pains of creating someone more three-dimensional because it’s time consuming and requires a lot of planning.

So how does a writer avoid writing Mary Sues?

Fear not, fledgling writers.

I have a few suggestions.

Find out in the next blog post.

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My Mind Only Lets Me Write at Night

I am a nocturnal writer.

I have been since I was a wee one, scribbling Fairly Oddparents fanfiction inside of a notebook on a long car ride home.

There have been freak instances when I’ve produced quality material during the daytime, but it usually involves having a magic talisman and whispering ancient languages into the wind while standing on a cliff in Ireland.

You wouldn’t understand.

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Anyway, under most circumstances, if I attempt to make sweet literary love to my novels I usually wind up staring mindlessly at my screen. My brain liquifies and I just start thinking about the universe and politics and getting a job and all sorts of horrible things. I feel this sense of guilt like I should be doing something else. Like cleaning or cooking or paying those things…what are they called? Bills? Yeah, those.

However, during the night time it seems like everything just clicks. The guilt is gone, the apprehension is gone, the boredom of being trapped inside my own consciousness where no one can hear me scream is gone. I’m free to explore my mental domain. More importantly, I’m enjoying myself as I do it.

Sometimes I experience the same feeling when it is overcast and rainy outside.

What is this phenomenon? I wish I could say.

Does anyone else experience this issue, or is it just me?

When do you all write the best quality material?

Word Count Goals

I see tweets all the time about writing goals. Goals are good. Goals help motivate. But I’ve never been good at them.

Deadlines help but I still struggle to meet them. A friend of mine gave me a deadline for two weeks and I think I emailed her the finished project about a month later.

Word goals? Forget about it.

I’ve had enough of those from years and years of being a student, trying desperately to meet the criteria for an essay, that I’m not putting myself though that sort of torture for a creative writing project.

In my mind, it’s time to stop writing when it’s time to stop writing.

A story ends when it’s over.

Usually, I feel that little inkling inside when the story’s events are coming to a close, and I try to listen to that sensation. I’ve never been good with numbers so I don’t take much notice of whether my work is 60k or 20k.

I only care about pacing and giving my plot room to breathe.

Everything else is semantics in my mind.

I’m glad the word count method works for some people, I just don’t think it’s right for me.

Late Night Writing

So…I’m supposed to be working on the third draft of a short story, but here I am.

I thought about writing all day at work today, mentally mapping out scenes and constructing dialogue. Then, when I actually got home, all I wanted to do was, well, anything else.

My story and I have been acting like two backwards magnets lately. I open the word document, but when I start to type, I seize up.

Sentences aren’t forming the way I want them to and so my motivation evaporates.

I suppose the obvious reason for this is because I am nervous about starting from the top again. I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes I made with the first and second draft. However, I’m afraid that by restarting I will consequently change everything that was good about the original manuscript.

I’m worried I will create a margarine story. It’ll just be a blah with no personality.

I’ve run into this issue before. In some cases when I attempt to fix a problem, I usually make it worse or correct it only to feel like I’ve removed part of the story’s charm.

I guess that’s what beta readers are for. Nonetheless, I like to wow people with my epic story-telling abilities so it’s difficult for me to let people see my dirty underwear.

Good luck to all of you and your writing projects.

Don’t stay up too late.

When Life Throws Off Your Writing Groove

So you’ve been writing for a while, but you aren’t getting very far. You spin your wheels day after day, hoping soon it’ll all come together. You know it’s a good idea, you’re just having a hard time getting it started.

You think it’s just another day. You sit at your desk, grab your pen, and begin marking up the page. All of the sudden-

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It’s like the material isn’t even coming from you. It’s like you are taking dictation from a genius.

Your characters are timeless, your plot is interesting and unique. At this rate, you’ll be done before the sun comes down. That’s when you get a text…..

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Your kid needs to be picked up, or your boss wants you to come in early, or your significant other needs you to pick up something before the store closes.

You think, “I’ll just do this one thing, then I’ll go back to writing.”

Life: Hehe hehe hehehe ha ha haha hahahaha AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Once the groove is lost, it can be hard to find again. Particularly when your chaotic life is trying to force down your door with a battering ram.

When you return, you’ll read the same line over and over again. However, it’s like trying to start a fire with two wet rocks.

Your distractors will be largely unapologetic.

Unless you throw them out a window.

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“Well,” they’ll say, “You’re a writer. You just wiggle your pencil about and stuff comes out, right?”

They are right. Only most of what is coming out now is crap.

Don’t worry, writer. What once was will come again.

If you keep at it for long enough, the groove will come again. You’ll be so full of groove you will terrify your friends and family with your mad skills. So much so, they will be too frightened to bother you.

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And isn’t inspiring terror what writing is all about?

What I Haven’t Learned From Blogging

I have been writing in this blog for a little over a year now, and I can honestly say I love doing it. I enjoy being able to communicate my ideas through a medium I’m at least moderately competent with.

It was a gamble for me to start this blog, but in the long run I am glad I did.

However, as I have discovered through reading other blogs and observing the feedback I have received for this blog, I have learned that Jon Snow and I have one thing in common: We both know nothing.

I have spent hours crafting posts that would often get 2 or 3 views at best, while others I would crank out in the span of 30 minutes and they would get 7 to 10 likes.

I am grateful for every like and follow that I have received, but I’m nowhere near close to figuring out what people want.

I have mainly been concerned about what interests me (books, writing, inspiration, etc) because I know writing about what I love is the best way for me to produce something worth reading.

I’m not the type of person who could write about fashion, or cooking, or politics.

I have made progress, but it has been very slow.

Like riding-a-little-red-wagon- with-three-wheels-through-the-Everglades slow.

Who knows. Maybe I just need to shut up and keep climbing.

I’m still having fun and still learning. That’s the important thing!

Right?

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