Mary Sues: they’re everywhere. You know them- the beautiful, powerful, heroic, and high achieving main character. They’re perfect.
Creating a perfect character is one of the worst things you can do to your story. Why? Mary Sue characters can’t be related to, and let’s face it. They aren’t realistic. Even in fantasy books, Mary Sues are a crime. Here are some tips on how to avoid them.
1. Stop with the good looks.
Do everyday people have perfect, long silky hair and a beautiful, pimple free, flawless face without makeup, and are always on high trend? Neither should your character. Just like people, characters are beautiful even with flaws, whether they look “perfect” or not.
2. She needs to have her flaws.
Maybe she’s overly bossy, shuts people out, is insecure (not the “I’m not beautiful even though I am, I just don’t realize it” kind), or maybe she has horrific manners. These things readers can read and think, “I know, right? I’m the same way?” This will make them bond with the characters.
3. Good grades?
There’s nothing wrong with having a character have straight As, it just needs to have an important part in the story. Maybe she’s teased for her good grades, or she moves to the advanced classes which makes her unable to complete her goal (you know, the goal of the story. What he/she wants).
Mary Sues aren’t always bad, if you do them right. For example, Sleeping Beauty. She’s beautiful, kind, loving, sweet- but she’s under a curse to die. Innocent Aurora will die for her parent’s mistake. If she wasn’t a Mary Sue, the readers and viewers, if they’re watching the movie, wouldn’t care as much. Same goes for your story, think about whether you need a Mary Sue.
I hope you enjoyed this post. What are your tips for avoiding Mary Sues? What exceptions do you think there are? Let me know in the comments.