Tag Archives: stephenie meyer

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

My site is getting more visitors

My website is getting more and more visitors! It’s still relatively unknown, but it’s not like nobody ever heard of it. It currently has a Google page rank of 3, and, for the first time, people are searching of it: one of the top searches this week was “jefflion.net”. It means some people remember it and want to find it, as the opposite of arriving here after a random search on lions, Jeff Ament or Stephenie Meyer.

Also, I’d like to use this opportunity welcome (again) all of my new readers (both lurkers and commenters)! :)

Most popular pages these days

(See Sidebar).

Women and casual sex still rules… I don’t think anything here could get more popular than that. People are also interested in my post on Danny Boyle’s movie “Sunshine” and/or Cillian Murphy (one of the most popular searches this week was “sexy Cillian Murphy” <- no kidding). Spittings also seem to be really popular, particularly “Twilight” spittings. (I wasn’t aware this crap is still popular). Certain articles, such as “Bad personal content”, or “Bad visitor content” also seem to be popular, as well as my pretty uninteresting Goodies section (not that “Adopt-a-butt” game isn’t cool on itself).

One of the most surprising thing, though, was popularity of my introspective post “Things I don’t write about”. I guess it shows, contrary what I believed, that visitors are interested in reading more about the blog owner, even if it’s personal. Will have to think about this.

“Eclipse” movie: Crap or Camp?

Scene from EclipseTo be honest, I can’t make up my mind about “Twilight” movies (or books for that matter). “Too bad it’s hilarious” or just “too bad”?

To be honest, I must admit “Eclipse” movie was a slight improvement. Directing was better, script fas a bit more coherent, and even (even!) acting was a little less horrible. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was bad, messy and embarrassing. But it was more watchable than the previous instalments. Now that’s something, isn’t it?

“Eclipse” has its wonderful, campy, narmy moments, but there are not enough of them to make up for nonexistent story, empty dialogue and overall pointlessness of the movie. There’s also the issue of music- along with indie songs there is a serious (way tooo serious) and “epic” score. Such music is accompanied by trashy dialogue and scenes in which absolutely nothing happens. It tries (badly) to tell us meaningless dialogue along the lines of “Jacob is my friend, I want to see him” is extremely important, but it fails. The effect is somewhat amusing, thought, and it does approach the “trash gem” line.

As for the actors, I must say Kristen Stewart blinked a little less so she was less annoying, but she still looks completely bored (I don’t blame her). Robert Pattinson manages to be strangely absent and unnoticeable, which is a gift, given the fact he’s always there. He is there, but we just don’t see him. I don’t know how they did it, but it’s a good thing, because he still acts like he really, really needs to go to the bathroom every second he’s on screen. Young Taylor Lautner looks a bit older here, so his abs match his face a little better. His acting, which was almost unwatcheable in the previous movie, is a bit better- but only a bit.

All one can say about supporting characters is “blah”. Humans are not important, vampires don’t look like vampires, wolf pack is one huge fan service. Dakota Fanning and Jackson Rathbone are the only one who deserve a mention, and not for the same reason. Fanning can act, and she’s good- as good as you can get here (which is not far). She is the only one who managed to turn an extremely weak material into something “ok”, which means the girl is really, really talented. As for Rathbone, we all know he can’t act, but somehow he does look unnatural enough to pass for a vampire. The “I’m about to crap” face works better on him than Pattinson, that’s for sure.

The worst things

Another scene from Eclipse

Special effects were embarrassing to watch. Wolf pack, I’m looking at you. But there were other trashy effects so if laughing at those is your thing, “Eclipse” won’t disappoint. And I do admit, they were a bit better than “New Moon”, but still highly cringeworthy.

Also: makeup. It’s bad beyond words. Edward, who is supposed to be the most gorgeous guy on Earth, looks like a drag queen on a bad day (nothing against drag queens, but I don’t think that’s the look they wanted to achieve.)

The plot. Strictly speaking, it’s not filmmakers fault. We all know what was the source material. Simply put: it was boring. All they did in the movie was talking. And since we all know how uninspiring characters are, listening their endless dialogue was not a highly amusing thing to do.

The best things

The best things were the above mentioned narmy moments. No words to describe such scenes as “Edward, I promise, I’ll go to college and I’ll let you buy me an expensive car, and I’ll marry you, just please, fuck me!”. The legend of the third wife is also a gem, and so is homoerotic tent scene. Another good thing was the infamous scene in which Bella orders Jacob to kiss her under the fake mountains, with “epic” music in the background.

Dakota Fanning’s portrayal is the only non-narmy thing that was good in this movie.

The Verdict?

All in all, “Eclipse” is not clever, or ironic enough to pass for camp. It still takes itself way too seriously. It’s not even trashy enough to be “too bad it’s good” in a narmy way. But there’s certainly a potential.

Not to mention, the best is yet to come: “Breaking Dawn”, the ultimate wonder of trash literature, is going to be adapted in not one, but two movies. With a good attitude and inspired crew, we might be having a camp classic on the way.

Rating: ** jefflions out of *****

See also

“Eclipse”: The logic behind a boring mess (my book review)
“New Moon” movie: Not worth the LULZ
… and other “Twilight” spittings

What to do when you have 2 days off

Some useful advice:

  • Sleep in.
  • Don’t do anything in particular. Because you can.
  • Go to movies. Watch something profound or entertaining, but not obviously crappy (no romantic comedies, action films or parodies).
  • Listen to the music that was popular when you were 14 and that you considered crappy at the time. It’s still crappy, but at least you get to remember your early teens.
  • Visit blogs, comment, update your own website.
  • Make love to your loved one.
  • Eat popcorn. Lots of it.
  • Think about your novel. Plan it. Research. Daydream. Then plan and research again. Then daydream. And daydream a little more. It’s good for writing. It’s necessary.
  • Go to bed at 4 AM. Because you can.
  • Relax, take it easy. Don’t try to do way too many things.

Well, it looks like I did follow those tips this weekend (well, most of it). My husband and I are going to cinema tonight (to get a proper watching of “Sherlock Holmes”, because we decided watching a fun film again is better than giving more money to something we are sure it’s not really our thing (“Avatar”). But I will watch “Avatar” and talk about it- just not at the moment. For now, I want to relax, have fun, do nothing and don’t think about anything really profound… Except my novel.

Bonus track: 25 things I learned reading “Twilight”

This is a long overdue, last (?) installment of “Twilight” spitttings. So I realized it’s best to post them here first, then move them to their appropriate page in the spittings section.

  1. Sex with a vampire can kill you, but only if it’s premarital.
  2. Abusive, controlling behaviour is ok as long as it’s “true love”.
  3. So is pedophilia.
  4. Women are inferior to men.
  5. If they’re not, they’re infertile.
  6. Bad people are ugly, good people are beautiful (even if they don’t find themselves pretty and bitch about that all the time).
  7. Kids treat their parents as crap.
  8. It’s possible to be non-white and attractive (in a wild, uncivilized way), but it’s not nearly as attractive as being pale and white.
  9. In order to know anything about cars and sports, you must posses Y chromosome.
  10. If your boyfriend of 6 months leaves you, it’s perfectly ok to become suicidal.
  11. Blond females are stupid, bitchy and mean. All of them.
  12. Using swear words is bad, but stalking someone isn’t.
  13. Desire to have sex is a good enough reason to get married.
  14. Girls don’t need any skills apart from cooking, and no ambition apart of finding a man.
  15. Clumsiness is attractive. Safety helmets are sexy.
  16. People with bad complexion are not worth your attention.
  17. In order to feel smart, you should read classics such as Jane Austin and Shakespeare. You don’t have to understand a word of what you’ve read, though.
  18. Being forced into a relationship is romantic.
  19. Obsession and lust are easily confused for a true love.
  20. It’s perfectly ok for a father to hate his own child.
  21. Policemen are cowards.
  22. Being older than your boyfriend is a major disaster.
  23. It’s perfectly ok to neglect your child if you want to have sex.
  24. Logic is highly overrated.
  25. In order to sell a book, you don’t need any talent, writing skills or an editor.

“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?