You know, I’ve been worrying that my quite talented main character is a Mary Sue. I mean, Mary Sue bad, right? We don’t want our characters to be Mary Sues. Or Gary Stus, for that matter. But then I read this article, and it occurs to me that I’m going to end up with my main character being called a Mary Sue no matter what I do. It is because she is
- Doing most of the rescuing
I mean, she’s the Big Hero. She has to succeed at some stuff. She has to be good at what she does. And it seems that will be all it takes to get her dismissed as a Mary Sue by many people, because heaven forfend we have a ladyperson doing the outrageously cool things menfolk usually do.
There’s some excellent discussion of that in the article, contrasting Rey against Luke Skywalker (without many spoilers, don’t worry, although content note for some ableisms), which made my brain go bing. “Right. That’s not Mary Sueism, that’s heroism.” And then that thought was distilled by this paragraph:
But in any case, this is a convention of these sorts of movies. Kingsman also has a protagonist who is useless at the start of the movie and is an invincible badass by the end of the film. Most superheroes have a freakishly steep learning curve, even if they don’t have any powers. (Especially if they don’t have any powers.) If you are worried about realism, go watch My Dinner With Andre.
Indeed. When you have larger-than-life heroes, they rather require larger-than-life abilities. Therefore. I shall quit worrying now. My female lead is a fucking badass. I have other female leads in various works, and they are also fucking badasses. I will not be apologizing for that. Count this as a warning to those who may be tempted to cry “Mary Sue!” every time one of my magnificent women does something neat: I will be coming for your male heroes if you do that. I guarantee your faves are probably just Mary Sues with a peen.
So are mine, for that matter. I mean, the goddamned Batman, okay?
In other fiction musings, I’ve been re-reading quite a bit of my old stuff over the past few days, re-engaging with those worlds, and discovered the break has done me good. Distance helps me see things I wouldn’t have otherwise, like a distressing bit of inadvertent racism that will be easy to correct now I’m aware of it. And I’ve discovered I can kill some Darlings I’d been clinging to, convinced the story would perish without them. This may make the central novel a workable story rather than the gargantuan morass it was before. I’m very pleased about that. Busy tearing it apart and rebuilding it as we speak. Alas, that novel comes quite late in the series, but it’s the pivotal one, so returning to restructure it occasionally is important.
I’m going to go back to it now. Can’t stay away. This is my Christmas gift to myself: permission to spend time inside my story worlds, with only a few forays into the non-fiction world. One of which is coming up Wednesday or Thursday. Wait until you see what I found for Rosetta Stones for Christmas!
And so I leave you with a photo of my furry little muse, who, despite her occasional homicidal manias, is quite a bit gentler than my fiction Muse, an unforgiving dominatrix who is going to have her crop out any moment if I don’t get back to writing.