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Die, Mary Sue, Die

20 Jan 2012

I love flawed characters because there’s something great in overcoming adversity, especially internal ones. However, not everyone feels the same way because there is a proliferation of Mary Sues in romance.

Mary Sue: (noun) overly idealized fictional character who, if Disney-fied, would be friends with birds and abnormally clean and disease-free rodents and inspire incomprehensible hatred in other female characters because of her physical perfection.

I consider Mary Sues to be, at best, shortcuts and, at worst, wish-fulfillment fantasies for the author. Either way, Mary Sue must die because she’s boring, shallow, infuriating, and, more often than not, deeply disturbing.

So, how do you identify Mary Sue? Well…

  • Her name describes a character trait (e.g. Bella, Charity, Hope)
  • She’s the idealized (i.e. skinny) physical version of the author (which is why I try to avoid looking at author photos)
  • She’s a writer
  • She’s secret royalty
  • She thinks she’s plain or ugly even though everyone says she’s the epitome of womanly beauty
  • She’s beautiful without trying
  • She will look and smell good even after trekking through a jungle for a week
  • She’s so pure and innocent that Mother Teresa would be a whore in comparison
  • If she’s awkward, it’s still cute
  • She’s super-competent and super-rich (e.g. four PhDs before thirty and a millionaire because she makes big money off her university or government research…yes, the author obviously doesn’t know much about academia)
  • She will bring about social equality
  • She will bring about peace after centuries of feuding and battle
  • All men, even the gay ones, love her
  • All male villains will convert after basking in her presence
  • Sex with her will be the most magical experience ever
  • The hero will realize he’s never experienced love before her
  • All other women are evil and/or insane
  • All other women hate her
  • All other women secretly want to be her
  • All other women, even the straight ones, lust after her
  • All household staff, even the crotchety ones, love her and treat her better than the person paying their salaries
  • Her touch/voice will tame wild beasts
  • Her vagina touch will heal all ailments (notice there’s no “In PNR and UF” caveat)
  • In PNR and UF, she’s The One
  • In PNR and UF, she was hidden at birth for her own safety
  • In PNR and UF, she will have males from two species (e.g. vampire and werewolf) fight over her
  • In PNR and UF, she will have powers believed to have died out or never seen before
  • In PNR and UF, she will develop new powers at the last second to save the day
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