I’d like you to check out a guest post from Laura Glenmore, all about how to avoid writing a “Mary Sue” (for a full definition of this term, as well as any other fanfic terms, please see my Fanfiction Glossary).
I know I myself have cowered at the thought of adding a female OOC to any story, just out of fear of inadvertently creating a Mary Sue. Whether you’ve had the same worries, or have never even heard of a Mary Sue, I encourage you to check out Laura’s post. It’s vital reading for fanfiction writers everywhere.
Fanfiction Writing Tips: 5 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded “Mary Sue”
a guest post by Laura Glenmore
She’s exotically beautiful, talented, skilled and destined for greatness. Introducing the Mary Sue (or Gary Stu for male characters). She/he is, all in all, one step short of perfect. Or might already be.
Perhaps the most outstanding quality in a Mary Sue is her lack of flaws. Authors highlight their importance in the story by giving them as many positive attributes as possible. Other characters become overwhelmed by their beauty, wit and power. No one can really beat or compare to them.
Sound familiar? Perfect heroines have been in fanfiction since the beginning of time. If you’re starting to think that your OC might be one, don’t worry just yet. Not every character with a remarkable amount of great traits is necessarily a Mary Sue (MS). Writers can avoid this label by creating a believable back story that explains the positive traits.
However, if the trait appears out of thin air without any natural development, you’re looking at a MS. The attribute is given just to make the OC stand out. It lacks any personal growth and there’s no real justification as to why they’re like that.
Mary Sues are normally an idealized version of the author. So it’s up to you to make your characters as believable as possible. Here are a few useful tips to help you achieve it:
You must research and study your chosen fandom in order to create a character that could realistically exist within it. For example, if you’re writing a Harry Potter fanfic, don’t make your character part cyborg. It just doesn’t work that way.
2. Know the limits of your fandom and try to blend in with it
Your character should be able to easily coexist with other canon ones from your chosen world. This means further research of the fandom and basing your OC on other characters’ abilities and limitations.
3. Give her a believable back story
Very few fanfictions have characters that were abandoned, forced into slavery and set on fire all at once. Make a character profile before writing anything else. You need this in order to establish a realistic back story.
If your OC has a tragic past, make it just one major event. If you want to create more angst, describe other tragedies as a natural consequence of the major one.
4. Make her compatible with other characters
Other characters will be more compatible with yours if they have a common past they can relate to. When it comes to befriending canon characters, your OC should have a similar personality or traits to make the friendship believable.
When you’re aiming for a romantic interest, the same rules apply. Research the character to discover what they’re like and what traits they appreciate in a person.
5. Be creative
Writing gives us the chance to use our imagination’s full potential. Don’t base your character solely on yourself. Draw inspiration from the fandom, friends, role models and other places to make a truly unique, believable and engaging character.
Got a fanfiction issue, question or problem? I can help! I am now offering fanfiction consultating/coaching services to anyone, in any fandom, writing any type of story. If you’re interested in a consultation, just email me at Moki@mokisfanfictionblog.com to get a free evaluation and find out what I can do for you.
Have something to say about the subject of fanfiction? Write a guest post for Moki’s Fanfiction Blog and get the chance to speak to other fanfic readers and writers. Just drop me a line on the Contact Page and let me know what you’d like to do a post about.
More from Moki’s Fanfiction Blog…..
Fanfiction Writer to Entertainment Writer – My NCIS:Los Angeles and Supernatural Interviews from Comic Con
Moki’s NCIS Fanfiction Story: “The Cavalry Rides Again” – Chapter 17
Moki’s Supernatural Fanfiction Story: “Blood Brothers” – Chapter 4
Article – “5 Things I Wish People Knew About Fanfiction”
Moki’s Supernatural Fanfiction Stories and Recs
Moki’s NCIS Fanfiction Stories and Recs