The Dreaded Mary Sue

Ghost Writer
4 min readNov 14, 2023

Funny enough, this phrase was coined in a fan-fiction. And if you don’t know what fan-fiction is, I think you are better off, but it’s just as the name suggests. It’s stories people write off of established books, movies, games, etc. Fanfiction has no bounds, but it’s also very scary, so tread carefully. A lot of fanfiction is just unhinged, to say the least, but there are a few gems. But back to the topic at hand. The Mary Sue is a slippery slope that I feel like has its reaches in far more than we realize.

Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash

Mary Sue

The Mary Sue is defined as a flat character that is just for lack of a better word perfect. They achieve what they want with no set back and no growth.

They have close ties to wish fulfillment characters. Because if you’re writing a character that is supposed to be you and is the perfect version of you then how could anything possibly bad happen.

One of the things that makes the character the way they are is lack of internal conflict. We as writers love what we do and we love our character but there comes a point when we have to step back and look at things objectively. Analyze your characters as individuals and if you ended up like that old vine and say “oh I do that.” or “oh yeah, I struggle with that too.” Then well you need to look at your stakes and how your characters grow. If you’re throwing soft balls at your characters then it won’t hurt when your reader is reading. They won’t even know if they’re getting hit with anything.

Also, this is a great opportunity to check each of your characters place in your story. Your characters aren’t just warm bodies; each one of them has to have a purpose.

Ask yourself if this character is essential to the main goal of the story whether that be the conveying of the theme or your character goal.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

My last thoughts on Mary Sue somewhat relate but it’s a good thing to look for regardless. Creating the same character in all of your stories. Mary Sue is kinda a copy and paste perfect person but I think it’s just as when the author writes a copy and paste version of another character that has the same flaws and…

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Ghost Writer

Just tryin to figure out writing and here's what I've learned so far.