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How NOT to create Mary Sue

The dreaded perfect girl. You don’t want her in your story. And yet, it seems so easy to slip and create a Mary Sue character (or her male counterpart).

Some people believe Mary Sues belong to fanfiction. Wrong. They are often found in fanfiction, because the authors are inexperienced or not particularly talented, but published authors, even famous ones, create them. Stephenie Meyer’s Bella Swan is a perfect example of this, though the quality of the said work is painfully close to mediocre fanfiction. But J.K. Rowling, a much better storyteller, has one, too (Harry Potter has often displayed Gary Stu tendencies). Heck, even Tolkien himself had one (Aragorn), though in his case it’s understandable, since the whole work is basically a construction of a myth.

If you, as a writer, feel you might be creating one, fear not: you are not alone. It seems to be easy to get carried away. But you definitely don’t want to make your character(s) Mary Sue. So, how to avoid this?

In order to know how NOT to create a Mary Sue character, one needs to understand what is the most striking thing about such characters. Usually, people define it as a character being perfect, without significant faults. This is close, but there are Mary Sues with many faults, even more serious ones. And there are perfectly realistic characters who don’t seem to have many faults.

What makes Mary Sue is the fact author sees her faults as good things.

So, no mater what fault you give her (be it selfishness, or vanity, or annoying temper, or rudeness), as long as you don’t present those as real faults, you are stuck with a Mary Sue. She can do anything, be mean to people, hurt them, do dumb things – but as long as you don’t make it clear these are bad, you are making a Mary Sue character.

An author can express her support for the characters in numerous ways, and one of the most annoying is finding excuses for them, even if anybody with a common sense understands the things described are plain wrong, or that the person who did them is stupid. Another sign of supporting Mary Sue is making other character react in illogical way around her, for example, praising her even if she didn’t deserve it, or being full of understanding when her actions call for people’s angry reaction.

So, your goal number one would be treating faults as real faults, and not making excuses for the character. Which brings us to another issue:

You should not get too attached to the character. See the character as a tool for telling your story, not as a beloved friend, love interest or (which is the most common), yourself.

This is very important and yet, almost impossible to do. We all get attached to our characters, to the point we feel they are real, living people. One might even argue that seeing characters as tools create sterile stories, and yes, I would agree. Stories need both heart and mind, and using only your rationality won’t make your story compelling. You need to relax a bit, and yes, part of it is getting attached to the characters and the story itself. I understand it.

But don’t go as far as seeing a character as yourself, or a person you want to be. This is the most common mistake that creates Mary Sues and yes, we’ve all been there. Just step back and try to focus on other characters, too. If you need to attach yourself, or give characters your physical appearance, backstory or interests, at least divide these between all of your characters (even villains!) so you won’t be tempted to get too carried away with one.

The third thing you need in order not to make a Mary Sue is, obviously, your plot. It needs to make logical sense, and one person, even if it’s protagonist, can’t be in charge of everything. If everything important happens to only one character, if she is the only one heroic, if all her dreams come true without an effort… Step back and rewrite at least some of it. Supporting characters exist for a reason. Give them their time to shine. Let your protagonist make mistakes. Let him fight for his happy ending (if you intend to make a happy ending at all).

By following these three easy steps, you will avoid making Mary Sue characters. You can bet on it.

Links

Common Mary Sue Traits
Self-Insertion and Mary-Sue-ism
The The Original Fiction Mary-Sue Litmus Test
The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test

New Twilight book: April Fools joke?

Please, tell me this is an early April Fools joke!

“Before “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” hits theaters on June 30, “Twilight” fans will be treated to a new glimpse into author Stephenie Meyer’s vampire universe.

On June 5, the 36-year-old multimillionaire author will release “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner,” a novella that takes place concurrently with the events in the third “Twilight” book, “Eclipse.”

Source: Stephenie Meyer’s New ‘Twilight’ Book

WTF?!?!

Shit! Fuck! Crap! Shit!

Ok, now let me rephrase that: What the fuck is this woman doing? Why don’t people stop her?!? This is insane. I mean: insane. There are so many talented writers who actually spend time researching, writing, trying to find a published, struggling, caring, trying to do their best (for example: me :D), and this talentless… individual recycles her wet dream cash cow novel over and over and over again. And people are actually interested in this?

Please, tell me it’s an April Fools joke.

Related:
“Eclipse”: The logic behind a boring mess
“New Moon” movie: Not worth the LULZ
25 things I learned reading “Twilight”
… and other “Twilight” spittings.

“New Moon” movie: Not worth the LULZ

The movie’s IMDB page states this trivia: “New Moon” is actually Robert Pattinson’s favorite book in the Twilight series.

And it’s crystal clear why. He is absent from most of it.

The viewers don’t have the same luck; more than two hours of the “new saga chapter” feel pretty exhausting and tiresome at moments. On the other hand, it’s not worth the LULZ, so to speak; there isn’t any amusing material even for the hard core “Twilight” haters.

Not that the little improvements aren’t visible. Visually, the movie looks better than it’s predecessor. The blue colour scheme is gone- “New Moon” is richer in colours and looks (and feels) more healthy. Perhaps it was done on purpose? To mark healthier atmosphere once the vampires are gone from Forks? In any case, the move looks a bit more coherent (given the source material) and directing, while obviously uninspired, is somewhat better. So those are the good things.

And the bad things?

Where to start? Seriously, watching this film was painful. The reason: distractions caused by low budget effects and untalented actors. Just think about it. They refused to invest in special effects, so we got even worse coloured contacts, cheap wigs and makeup that just doesn’t work the way it should. And not to mention CGI wolves. Oh please, let’s not mention CGI wolves!

And I guess it’s pointless to talk about acting in this flick (or lack thereof); after all, everything is blatantly obvious. Except for the Volturi crew, which was decent (especially young Dakota Fanning), everyone else was bad. Now, bad comes in many levels, and some actors were simply unwatchable. Here I point at Ashley Greene, whose Alice was beyond annoying.

And the main trio was horrible, as expected, so much it’s hard to say which one of them was the worst. RPAttz saved himself from much embarrassment this time because he was (lucky us!) absent for most of the movie, which leaves Kristen and Taylor. They lacked any chemistry and were absolutely unable to capture the warm feeling of friendship and falling in love. I don’t hide that it was my favourite (or, least hated) part in the whole series- the only thing Meyer got right. Here, it’s absent.

All the major scenes and conversations are there, but the feeling isn’t. Which means Kristen and Taylor fail miserably.

Kristen Stewart lacks acting talent, but you can’t really say she makes a terrible Bella. After all, the character is supposed to be annoying and unsympathetic. Which means Taylor Lautner was the one who failed a big time. The kid isn’t horrible, but… What am I saying? The kid IS horrible. He simply doesn’t have the talent needed to pull through all the emotional scenes nor the maturity to grow with his character. And considering Jacob is pretty much THE ONLY semi-decent and three
dimensional character in the whole “saga”, one can see the problem.

However, it’s important to note that New Moon’s main fault is the story itself. No screenwriter or director can make anything semi-watchable out of Stephenie Meyer’s work. “Twilight” novels are terrible- simple as that- so it’s impossible to expect a movie adaptation to be any better. But I must admit that, given the source material, the low budget effects and horrible acting, “New Moon” isn’t THAT horrible. It isn’t bad in a too-bad-that-it’s-good way, so it’s more mediocre than amusing. Not the worst movie in history, but pretty forgettable.

All in all, I could think of much better ways to spend two hours of my time. So can you.

The best moment:
Jasper’s only movie line.

No, seriously, the best moment:
Jasper trying to kill Bella. (Sadly, he fails).

The worst moment:
Any Robert Pattinson scene. That makeup was simply painful to watch.

Rating: *1/2 jefflions out of *****

“Breaking Dawn”: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Finally, FINALLY, as promised- my long awaited “Breaking Dawn” rant. After all, New Moon is here (yay!) and “Twilight” is a hot topic once again (nay!)

The Good

Unlike previous books, there were some good things about “Breaking Dawn”.

Jacob’s chapters

Jacob’s chapters (and chapter titles) made this book readable. We all know Meyer still sucks as a writer, but switching to someone else’s point of view was a huge refreshment. It’s really painful to hang around Bella’s unimaginative head all the time. So this was definitely a plus. Reading about Jacob and Leah was much better; it was still miles away from any interesting plot, but at least it was READABLE. Also, for the first time in the series, I actually cared, at least a little bit, about what’s going to happen- and something was happening. I even liked some generally pathetic scenes, such as Jacob’s trip out of town in desperate wish for imprinting. Also, Meyer did try to alter her narrative a bit, so Jacob didn’t sound as boring and whiny and oh-so-perfect as the other characters.

It had a plot

Ok, “plot” might be a strong word here. “Breaking Dawn” didn’t have a real plot, of course (it’s a Stephenie Meyer’s novel after all), but it did have a good amount of plot for a Twilight book. At least something was going on, no matter how ridiculous or stupid or unoriginal it was. For the first time, we didn’t have to wait till the last 50 pages for something to happen.

Other, self-explanatory reasons

It’s finally over.
It made many fangirls antis.

The Bad

Ah, where to start?

Horrible writing

Meyer can’t write, period. And I don’t mean she has a bad writing style; she can’t even present her thoughts in a coherent way! And this one… This one looks like it was written in less than a week, and never saw an editor.

The honeymoon

Those chapters were laughable, almost pathetic. They seem more as something written by a 12 year old girl than a grown up woman. I mean… What was she thinking? Nobody buys her “romantic” fade to black sex, not even teenage girls.

Bella as a vampire

Ok, we get it, Meyer. She is the greatest Mary Sue in history of literature. There’s absolutely no need to describe her perfection in several very long, and very, very boring chapters.

The ending

Useless! Why creating the whole setting for a battle if you don’t intend characters to fight? And this was supposed to be an “epic” book? Is this how Meyer see suspense, action, mystery, adventure? (Or romance for that matter)??? I think it’s all because she can’t write; some people accuse her of “telling, not showing”, but if you ask me, she can’t even “tell”.

The Ugly

And yes, there are some truly sick things about this book. Wise people addressed all of these issues before me, so I don’t feel the need to go into details. But there are so many bizarre and simply WRONG things about this book (and, accordingly, the whole series), so you don’t really know where to start: Jacob imprinting, the birth, Nessie herself, Bella’s vampire Mary Sue superpowers, borderline-rape sex, malicious messages etc etc.

Seriously: there’s something really wrong with this woman’s sense of logic, morality and common sense. I mean: really, really wrong.

The worst thing is…

… Meyer claims her novels are about “love, not lust”. Yet, all Bella sees in Edward is how hot he is. All she wants is to have sex with him. She is ready to neglect her child in order to have sex sessions with her vampire.

Meyer claims her novels are about “making choices”. And yet, nobody- and I mean NOBODY- was allowed to make a choice; everybody was forced into a situation, or affected by “destiny”. Her characters couldn’t chose anything, sometimes not even the clothes they’ll wear (Alice chooses for them). Cullens never chose to become vampires. Jacob never chose Nessie. We all know Nessie doesn’t have a say in her future. Bella was never allowed to make any choice, either- Edward makes all the thinking for her. So WHAT is Meyer talking about, exactly????

And the bottom line

So, in short, why do I dislike “Twilight” series so much?

At first, I thought it was because of all the misogyny. Then, I thought it was about the unhealthy messages and twisted logic. I admit, I could never understand Meyer’s often bizarre sense for morality (sex is wrong, but abuse isn’t; having ambition is wrong, but pedophilia isn’t.. etc etc).

Now I see those are all valid reasons to dislike, even detest “Twilight” series, but they’re not the right ones.

The main reason for me is pretty simple, actually. Stephenie Meyer CAN NOT write. She never deserved to be a published writer; not with this glorified fanfiction. She needs to learn a lot. She needs to learn how to do a research, how to plan a story, how to show and not tell.

“Twilight” screams immaturity; her immaturity as a writer and more often than not, her immaturity as a person. Even her target audience- teenage girls- outgrow “Twilight” with “Breaking Dawn”, realizing how useless, bizarre and incoherent it was. Will Meyer ever be able to outgrow it herself?

“Eclipse”: The logic behind a boring mess

Eclipse coverI did it. I finally did it. It took me… what? Fifteen days for lousy 300 pages? Yes, it was boring as that. Sometimes, I could not force myself to read more than 3-5 pages a day.

Nothing happens in this book

I swear, nothing. At least you could say what is the main plot in “Twilight” (Mary Sue meets a vampire and starts an unhealthy relationship) and “New Moon” (Vampire leaves and Mary Sue is devastated, and being a bitch, she starts playing with a werewolf’s feelings so she could make herself feel better). This? I am not quite sure there’s any plot line in this.

Maybe is was about the new born vampires and the battle? I don’t think so, they spent most of the book talking about random stuff that had nothing to do with it. Maybe it was about Bella choosing between Edward and Jacob? But there was no choice there, we all knew what’s going to happen (read more below about this). Maybe it was all about Bella’s sexual frustration? Not sure.

Nothing makes any sense

Illogical scenes and conversations are Meyer’s trademark, but this one was just… “WTF?” altogether. Was this book supposed to be exciting? No way, all we got was strange pacing and uninteresting battle. Was this book supposed to tell us how deeply Bella and Edward love each other? But they were even less believable as a couple than in the previous books. Don’t get me wrong, they were never believable as couple, but their lack of chemistry in this book is evident. And Edward is a major, major asshole, even bigger than before.

Bad writing. Horrible writing.

I don’t really demand writing style to be perfect, as long as the writer is a good storyteller. Meyer sucks a big time here. Not just in general terms of storytelling (she- I hope unintentionally- put issues such as pedophilia, rape and abusive relationships in a book promoting traditional values and abstinence). But her writing style is horrible; sentences often make no sense, the dialog is awkward, and she has zero ability for creating believable conflicts. There’s a battle, for example, and is described as less exciting than wedding planning! OMG, Bella doesn’t want Alice to call many people to the wedding! Oh, the horror! Oh, she’s angry and hurt! Oh, and by the way, evil vampire Victoria finds them and Edward kills her. Blah. But the wedding! Does Bella like her dress?

Also, I STILL can’t imagine any of the characters, not even Edward, even though the whole first book was about how hot and perfect looking he was.

Twilight forest“Eclipse”: The good things

Now, I’m not saying this book didn’t have any good scenes. Some chapters were hilarious, but not intentionally. “Proposal” a.k.a “Fuck me” scene was made of win. The whole “I will make you a vampire if you like, but I don’t want to have sex with you before the wedding because I want to keep your soul” is priceless. Bella is not into marriage, but she just wants to feel his cold, pale, sparkle, marble penis inside her, so she agrees to marry him. Oh, true love!

The best scene, however, is the one in the tent. I was hoping for a threesome for a moment, but of course nothing of the sort happened. We did, however, learn that Edward has a small dick and is jealous of Jacob for having a big one. Meyer doesn’t state this specifically, but it is implied. Think about the Greeks vs barbarians. And there was (SPOILER) Bella and Jacob’s kiss, of course. I am older than 14 so I didn’t really find it exciting, but it was far more passionate than anything involving Bella and Edward (another proof that these two have no chemistry at all).

In fact, it is implied, more than once, that Bella is somehow FORCED into being with Edward. She knows Jacob is the right for her (“her soul mate”), she loves him, she’d be happy with him, she’d love to have cute werewolves with him… But she can’t, because she is somehow forced to be with Edward. Yes, in those words. So, Meyer herself finally admits (though, again, not openly) Edward and Bella suck as a couple, a fact we all knew about two books ago.

The ONLY logical explanation…

Finding sanity in Meyer’s messy plot is hard, but I finally found the only logical explanation to the fact Bella is forced to stay with Edward.

Ready? Ok, here it is: Bella is a werewolf and she imprinted on Edward.

Just think about it: Bella’s mother was always described as borderline slutty, so poor Charlie probably isn’t Bella’s father- one of the Natives is. So, Bella is a werewolf, but is too clumsy, dumb and incapable of doing anything right, so she doesn’t know how to phase. She, however, has a few werewolf abilities, such as the fact she is immune to most of the vampire powers. Second, she can imprint, and she did it with Edward. Now, we all know imprinting is a very, very dangerous thing, because you are forced into being with the imprintee no matter what. All of a sudden, you’d die without that person, and you just have to be with him, even though your rational self tells you he’s not the right one for you.

See? That’s the only logical explanation to this mess.

PS- If you love reading other people’s views on “Twilight” this is the right place for you. Amazing chapter by chapter summaries, with list of quotes and observations. And I especially love “Things That Really Irk Us” section.