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: