Is your character a Mary Sue?

Just got this test from Saint-Know-All’s blog and it rather amused me (not just the fact that the test has appalling grammar at times 😉 ) I just did that test with most of my main characters and they scare anything between 7 and 9 points, which definitely disqualifies them, being Anti-Mary-Sues so to say; hey, mission accomplished.

But let’s face it; I’m really trying to make my character different, to avoid some of the most common (poor farmboy becomes most powerful wizard of a strange land (called “the strange land”) and kills evil king after finding Mysterious Magical Sword of Super Powerz (or: the Sword of Truth? ;)) Nah…

Of course there’s the one or other cliche every (fantasy) author has to deal with, so it’s basically impossible to avoid writing something that hasn’t ‘been there’ yet in one form or another. Yes, Light is very dystopian and the Shadows are basically thieves and oh did I mention that my characters live in an abandoned space ship, while this is in no way a science fiction novel? – Okay, end of cliches here…

As long as it’s just something general and something that MAKES SENSE (please don’t give me that omniscient super-hero with absolute super-powers and not even a fart of a moral flaw…) then the use of cliches is okay. At least in a certain dosage. Then they enable you to twist those cliches around and make something entirely new of it, to break certain rules and conventions. In this case, cliches and the occasional Mary Sue-aspects of your character can be helpful. Again CAN not WILL BE. In the end it just really depends on what you as an author make of it.

One of my (numerous) rookie mistakes as a writer has been ignoring the borderline of original writing and fanfiction. Light started out rather flat, borrowing a lot in terms of general motives etc. from other fantasy series that I really liked. No need to say that this is not the way to go and I suppose a lot of this happens on a rather subconscious level. In the end however, it’s your own ideas, your own twists and your characters quirks and ambiguity that obliterate cliches. What can I say? Since I’ve started to write how and what I wanted to write instead of focusing on how other authors ‘did it’ my writing has changed – and improved – a lot, but that’s part of the learning process.

And yes, I should be editing One right now, but I’ll probably spend the weekend trying out different approaches and see which one works best 😉


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