I've been getting to attached to my character and making her personality more forgiving and less icy and cold. I've gotten to attached to having everything go her way, and I'm ready to re-write it because it's been getting so different from her personality.
Write sad scenes. A lot. Write about them failing, about the thought process as they realized that they're not as invincible as they thought they would be. I did that when I first started writing, I would kill my main character all the time, and almost every time made me cry like a baby. What you write doesn't have to be their official story, it's practice. But they key to avoiding Mary Sues is giving them believable weaknesses. Like, if your character got married and got their heart broken, you could make them detached socially to avoid that happening again, not make the friends they could have, etc. Or if your person had been abused as a child (Happens to be a trade mark of mary sues) give them logical fears depending on the abuse - Distrustful of those of the opposite sex if they had been raped, terrified of fire if they had been burned, etc. Or, maybe your character's flaw is arrogance. They think that they're too good to be aided by those lowly peasants they have dubbed friends. They charge into danger alone, and come back injured, or not at all because of it. I personally love torturing my characters, be it physical or mental torture. It's pretty fun to get so into your character that you feel his or her emotions, and are able to see the world through their eyes. Be there for the good and the bad times.
yes yes i already knew these points but in my panic i forgot everything and since i couodlnt place what was wrong with my story I put it down to mary sues.
then i realised, that my characters were perfect because I had negelcted their back stories so badly.
I was writing them in the story as I envisioned them at the END of the story after all their issues are resolved, which explains why i can write the sequel and the spin offs so easily but cant seem to get the original story straight.
thank you though, I will take all of this into account for future reference!!
My child who is abused I might ask other people to give a second opinion on as I am constantly worrying about him, and my bratty literally-princess child has a case of your average mother-daughter-hating eachother to a certain degree-rebellion going on due to a reasonable and gradual source that I explained through flash backs both from her and her brother who has an identical issue with his father from the same issue. As soon as I work out their back stories I will be happy XD
It's a Disney fan fiction of all things for me to be so worked up about but it's a big project of mine so far.
What you mention here are two entirely different issues which aren't necessarily connected.
Yes, I feel quite attached to my characters, but I feel so much for them exactly because they have quite a few flaws, quirks and oddities. Which makes them more believable, so that they feel more "real" for me than an over-powered superhero would do.
Somehow I believe when you don't feel attached to your characters at all, you can't expect a reader to feel anything for them. How much is too much? Hard to say. I want a story where the characters evoke emotion, any kind of emotion, so that I either love or hate them. I think attachment only becomes a problem when it tempts you into deus-ex-machina or keeps you from letting bad things happen to them even when it would make sense. (I *do* let my beloved main character fail, let him end up in humiliating situations and so on when I must, by the way.)
No, what I would say: on the contrary you should cherish your characters and take them into your heart. Because otherwise, why write about them? If you don't care about your characters, nobody will. It is your obligation as a writer to care about them. The more you care about your characters, the better your story will be. // (There is a general consensus among writers, that the more emotionally invested a writer is in his/her story, the easier it will be for him/her to evoke feelings in the reader. And that is what you want: to evoke feelings in your readers!)// Now how to avoid Mary Sues? Make sure you're emotionally invested in all of your characters. Even the minor ones! If you love all of your characters, none of them will ever grab too much of the spotlight for themselves. Yes, you can like your villains. They don't have to be good people for you to like them. They might have other qualities you admire (they could be smart or funny for instance). Try spreading lovable qualities over several characters. And give the heroes some bad traits too. // How to hurt your characters? Well, for one thing - if you love all of them, it's less scary to kill one. In effect, you're less attached to that one particular character, because you have so many other characters you also care about. It's okay to kill Hannah, because there's still Sarah, Jodie, Kate and Tim... (just saying). And then, consider it from a wider perspective: wouldn't the story itself get boring if there were no conflict? I know it's bad, but you must hurt your characters. We readers beg you to. Because a good plot thrives on conflict. (aka putting your characters in a bad situation...)
Well I actually had a massive schoolgirl crush on my antihero/villain and that seemed to cause me to develop this sick urge to put him through hell as a kid, and then nearly letting him die because my secondary protagonist was contemplating whether letting him live would benefit him or not, so I can't say I'm totally sane as that is for sure!
That said, I like the positive mood of your comment! Thanks forte effort and time put into it and I look forward to reading this comment again.
I think in. The ends, it's the type of story that should dictate how close I should be with my characters.
To add to that, I think the feeling a writer needs to have about his story, is that he is God. Yes, you may be friends with your characters. But when it comes down to it, you are the master. You tell them what to do. You are the God of your story. Not your characters...
One, I hate the term Mary Sue. Here are a few amazing blog posts that explain better than I could: [link] [link] [link]
Two, I think you need to emotially distance yourself not only from your character but from your work as a whole to avoid, well, crappy writing. I think that when you become so emotionally invested in your story that you feel like you're friends with your characters, it works on one level -- if you feel it, your readers might -- but it can fail you on another: You need to be able to be critical of your own writing in order to be a good writer.
Accepting feedback is impossible if you can't take a step back from your work. APPLYING feedback is, too. And self-editing isn't going to work for you if you and your stories are BFFs. "Kill your darlings" is valid advice, and if you can't get to a place where killing your darlings is fathomable, you're going to fall flat on your face.
thank you, I will take that inco account but I feel it is impossible with my current background and needs to abandon any emotional connection with my work.
I've been working emotionally with my work for several years since childhood and I'm not giving it up that easily. i just mean to wean myself off babying my characters, which it turned out as shown in previous comments, I'm not actually doing.
it turns out my REAL poblem was a lack of detail in their backstories causing them to not have anything to develop from. I was writing the character as I viewed them at the end of the story as opposed to what they are meant to be before that, as I had not yet developed their 'humble beginnings' yet.
I still thank you for the advice, but being an emotionless author scares and offends me, as having absolutely no feelings towards a story not only doesnt suit me, but I've been known to stop following authors who i discover have developed that callous.
Yes I understand that now, but at the time I was just sort f scared and offended at the whole drop-the-emotions thing but hey, it's always easier looking at comments later than it is replying appropriately the first time.
I don't really see characters as friends, or love them. I do however, find my characters interesting and if I don't I either kick them out of the story or make them more interesting. I have no issues with putting them through a bunch of crap and then kicking them while they're down as long as the story comes off right.
I have currently already resolved my issue (which naturally given my own luck was not what I thought it was in the first place)
however I know what you mean.
I already HAVE put my characters through a heap of shit, but since I'm writing a story that is post-shit-happening and since I actually at first didn't bother to touch on their pasts in the story, it APPEARS that they're perfect because I've written them all in the characters they're meant to be after happily ever after rolls around as opposed to flawed and frustrated characters who need to develop.
I'm also contemplating even writing their back stories as seperate stories and making them prequels.
Practice writing a story the other way around. I'm guessing you usually come up with a character first and then construct the story around the character.
I'm not suggesting you write all of your stories this way forever. But trying something different a few times can help you grow as a writer and expose you to new techniques which you can then take advantage of in your own style.
Try coming up with a story first, and a theme for that story, and then making the characters. Doing it this way makes it so you will pretty much never create a Sue (unless you just can't help but write Sue-stories). That's because when you are creating the character, you're thinking about that character's specific role in the story and their relationship to the theme of the story, rather than just trying to make something that looks cool.
Try adding a theme to your story. It can be anything you want it to be, but it should be something that you, personally, feel passionate about. Maybe your story could have a message about bullying or how beauty is on the inside--whatever you want. Think about how the theme of your story relates to the events in the plot, and also to the opinions of each character. Different characters should have different opinions about the theme. Here's an example. If the theme is about bullying, you could have two different bullies who have two different ideas about it: one could think it's OK to bully because the strong should take advantage of the weak, and the other could know it is wrong, but just not care. Then you could have two different victims of bullying; maybe someone who's friend committed suicide because of it so they see bullying as terribly wrong, and someone else who survived bullying who says it made them a stronger person and is not against it for that reason.
Basically, you would make the character which is best suited to the role in the story you've created. If the role calls for a nurturing mother figure, that's what the character will be. If the role calls for a prankster kid with a heart of gold, that's what the character will be.
I wrote a journal about this subject recently: [link]
I do write a storyline of course before I do anything, and then change the characters to fit that, and my characters are by no means an official 'sue' cast, but I found out that my prblem was the fact that I was only writing and developing and detailing the kind of character that i want them to be AFTER the story has finished but have not bothered to write them any good or detailed back story or explanation which has caused me to be writing fo characters that need no further development, yet i'm throwing them into situations in which they must develop.
I went back and edited all the suitable chapters of my story and found that by ading character introducitons at the start of a chapter, and by inserting flash backs in a timely and good fashion I was able to work out most of the flow in my story.
nonetheless I will save your comment for future reference in light of the fact that there's a first time and a second, third, fiftieth time for everything and I might really need it some day XD
Okay, it actually depends on why you're writing the story. If it's personal gratification you're never showing to anyone, do whatever you want. If you want an audience, respect them more than your story.
That's interesting—it wouldn't have occurred to me to look there, because I write characters as a bundle of motivations, and motivations tend to come with reasons. But I really don't see them as people ever; it's a whole different methodology.
I think it could stem from the fact that in my own life, I've always had imaginary friends and that's ho my story writing began to bud, so that's how I invent them initially.
Ever since working on my own personal stories for the first time, always I tried acting as if I were the characters and then judging from the quality of my act how well a scene or plot will work out, but often I tend to cut straight to 'what will the climax be' or 'what should happen at the end' and basically other things along the same line.
I then go and start the story with the ultimate goal in mind, but I have perfect characters who don't need to develop because I havent given them flaws.
Accusingly and always my own worst critic, I blamed my somewhat childish love for my own characters but it turns out I may be safe for now.
People like yourself who have the gift of being able to use characters as objects are for the most part very lucky as it gives you no limits to what you can do.
I do have to consider what a real person with the traits I want for the story would do in a given situation. I think being a pretty social person is the only reason I can write convincing characters (well, no one's complained yet)—seeing them as plot devices sometimes means they end up really flat. Maybe this is where the villain who's only in it for the sake of being a villain comes from.
Hm, do you plan out your whole plot on paper? Maybe doing that would help. Also, I don't think anyone's ever truly perfect. A happy, well adjusted person could learn something that overturns their view of life.
Avoiding Mary Sues is not about how emotionally engaged you are, it's about whether you can create characters that are different from yourself and write stories that are not purely about gratifying your personal fantasies.
I don't really understand giving a damn about one's character's well-being. You stick your emotional hand up them and move them through the story. The you publish the story and do stick your emotional hand up something else.
What a pity. My characters are all terrible selfish people who are hated or ignored by everyone who isn't showing pity to them, constantly accidentally make problems, and often literally lose their minds over the guilt.
If you REALLY feel the need to make mary sues, do it the cheating way. Have a small segment of side characters who embody all these traits, but who are not relevant enough that it matters, to leave room for main characters to fail more.
i dont feel the NEED to I just have an excuse to if i really WANTED to, but still.
My current antihero for instance could just be an outright villain, but since I've given him a past, which most villains don't have as it usually takes away from the readers ability to hate them, I made him an antihero instead which is something that doesn't happen in the disneyverse a lot,
after some research i found a few plot lines that the animation studios had abandonned, labelling them to be 'too mature' or 'to dark' and made use of a few point here and there.
actually to be honest, the only character who I seem to care abuot is him. I worked out ALL the kinks in his story and now he's relying on the rest of the cast to be updated with him.... guh
Glad I read through responses, because they pretty much echo my own thoughts/feelings. I'm not sure that being attached/detached is purely the issue. I'm attached to my characters, but they rarely read as too perfect. I want them to be interesting and sympathetic (usually) and in order to do that, they need realistic flaws and internal conflicts, both of which need to have actual consequences to mean anything. Imagine meeting someone without any apparent flaws. Would you believe that, or would seek out their flaws?
Being too attached from your characters is a problem, but being too detached is a problem as well. A Litmus Test for your chars probably wouldn't be out of place. I've put several of my own characters through a test similar to this for years, and it helps me get a good sense of how much I need to let go or hold on. The hardest part of love is the letting go. [link]
Aside that, I go by a few simple rules:
1) Everyone and Everything has a time to die - To put it simple, no one's immortal or invincible. Eventually, be it through natural means or otherwise, your character will die sometime in their life. (Even if it ends as an old lady in a rocking chair) Analyze your character's weaknesses/limitations and that should help you see when is the appropriate time. And even if your character's death isn't written, it's likely a thought that will cross the minds of some. Think of Ron Weaseley: the character was put through several perilous situations, survived all of them, and lived on to a happy home life. The story may be over, but Ron is as mortal as the rest of us. Eventually, he'll grow old and perish like we all do.
2) There's Somebody Somewhere Who Thinks You Suck - We humans are complex creatures. No matter how delightful of a personality we have, someone disagrees with us and hates our guts. It's up to you, the writer, to find that special someone who thinks that your ball of overwhelming sense of being is full of it. What's your character's most prominent good feature? Who would find that unappealing and why? I'm not saying to create an anti-version of that character, but just remember that first time on the playground when the class douchebag kicked over your sandcastle.
3) No Free Lunch - So your character has some skill. They can craft/fight/dance like nobody else, and it's absolutely amazing. Alright, so then what are they not so good at in return? No Free Lunch is a rule that works kind of like Equivalent Exchange: ya give a little and ya get a little. What you put in is what you get out. So if there's no time for investment in other attributes, let that be grounds for a weaker point. The math geeks good at Algebra may not do so hot in Geometry and vice-versa. This also applies for superhuman skills, and when it comes to that, I go to the scales of balance. Weak power, little backlash. Strong power, harder backlash. This keeps a character from becoming too overpowered and lets you set some limitations on your creation. (Take nature for example: thank God lions can't swim fast!)
If I'm notattached to my characters, they end up being emotionless robots that completely trash the story. You shouldn't just 'not be attached to them', just know that if it's time for them to die, they die.
The Mary Sue is something else. You recognize that they are 'perfect', so just change that. I like my chars, but they're not Mary Sues. In fact, if thy wete I don't think I would like them as much.
For starters, being attached and being detached aren't exclusive opposites. There's no problem with feeling attached or detached to your characters, as long as it isn't causing problems with the story.
Since you've said it is causing problems, then I would say yes, you probs need to learn to detach a little. This doesn't mean that you should stop caring about your characters, or stop putting your personal feelings into them. You just need to be able to step back and think about what would make the most interesting story. Try thinking about the story as if you were going to read it, rather than from the perspective of your characters.
It's much more interesting to read about characters who try, fail, get beat up, get rejected, have to work hard and then finally succeed. It's great that you can feel for your characters and that you are happy when they are happy, but to make the audience feel the same way, you've got to make your characters earn their happy ending.
You may find it fun to try something drastic. Like write a short story where one of your characters acts like a dick (They don't have to be out of character, just put them in a situation that would bring out the worst in them). This thingy is great for generating uncomfortable sticky situations to give you ideas. [link]
For my current story I have no issue with the attachment ot the character, but rather am having issues with explaining the flaws and issues and fates that i've decided to give them, which is another huge issue of mine, but that's another story.
For most of my writing career I have known HOW to make the story good from a readers point of view, but I find myself so caught up with the END of the story that I tend to accidentally write the characters the way they are at the end instead of showing them developing from the beginning...
I dunno if that sentence made sense but it's true.
At the end of the story the characters are all fixed up, perfect and ready for "happily ever after" and that's the character that I've grown to know and love, not the useless whimpy, sometimes bratty and selfish people they were at the beginning of the story.
it's as if I mean, that I don't know the characters for their issues, or even know their issues at all. I've blinded myself due to my neglect towards their back stories. that's how they all end up becoming sue-ish and my story tends to fail as a consequence.
I checked out the link anyway, as it may help me for future projects. I think I've asked for help a little too late on my current lot of characters
Ah, I see what you mean and I believe you can fix them. I had to work out backstories and issues for my characters. I wrote a sketchy first draft and realised that they were super boring because they didn't have any history/problems/beef with the world, but I've fixed that now.
In response and honesty, though, I personally feel that it's important to be "attached" to characters in some ways (as in knowing your character in and out and LIKE a very close friend), but not to the point where you feel they are such a close friend that you don't want to do anything to them. Heck, my characters go through hell.
Being too attached to characters can often lead to them being "babied" and more often than not, fail as characters. They don't become as complex or flawed, and nothing ever happens to them. You want to be able to KNOW your character and feel attached to them in that sort of manner, but not to the extent that you can't cause them a little pain, struggle, or suffering here and there.
well.. for my CURRENT story I havent got this same issue, as I DO make them suffer here and there and even have my own PLAN for their flaws and issues, but I havent actually been game enough to really WRITE about them yet...
its as if I myself don't actually know WHY they have flaws, or how they got the ones I chose for them because I am so focused on the end of the story in which I intend the majority of their flaws to be fixed.
Like I'm writing the story from the beggining but using the characters as they are at the ending, perfect and ready for 'happily ever after', instead of forcing myself to make that gradual lead up to change and develop them.
But in OTHER stories I realise that I get all soppy and "no no no i can't do it to them" and then end up finishing of the whole story last minute with no development or really emotionally and confusingly written scenes. some of them i end up abandonning because i know I've failed.