What exactly does this mean? What are the ramifications of this Divine Authorial Revelation? Well, after I get over my shameless self-flattery, we can break this down into component parts that explain this.
Literature's job is to entertain. And unless a story is making fun of a Mary Sue, Mary Sues detract from this. This is in everything from stories to chat-based roleplay. However, the internet, while being filled with Mary Sues, is also filled with bad characters. What's the difference? I see it as a level of magnitude. Bad characters may not break the willing suspension of disbelief, but they fall flat when truly exposed to the harsh light of scrutiny. As such, with skills to locate Mary Sues, one can find normal Bad characters.
For this, I'll be creating two characters for a chat roleplay group I'm in,
(My group). Now, don't worry. I'll be approaching this from two angles per chaacter; a story-based, literary angle, and a chatroom-based, roleplay angle. We'll make two characters, one a fleshed-out, realized character, and one a Mary Sue, though we'll be doing it in different ways. Both will be female, to show the contrasts between a good character and a Mary Sue.
So...lets start with the second most important part of a character; names!
Woah, woah, second
most important? Why, you may ask? While it isn't the first most important thing for a character, but it is one of the first signs of a Mary Sue. How, you may ask? (And stop asking "how." We're on a schedule here). Well, let's see if you can guess. I'll show you the names of the two characters, in Exhibit A and Exhibit B. You, the jury, are going to guess which one is the Mary Sue.
Exhibit A: Jasna Kira Halcyonis
Exhibit B: Jessalina Sparklemaker Buttercup-Kawaii Moonflower.
If you said Exhibit A, and you didn't read Exhibit B, that could be understandable. Jasna isn't a common Western name (By Western, I mean Western culture. England, France, America, etc.). However, if you said Exhibit A after reading both, go read My Immortal.
If you answered with Exhibit B, you win the prize! Ten bonus points to you! (Not dA points. Bonus points. At the end of the year, you can cash them in for a whole lot of nothing) Mary Sues often have extremely exotic and/or unusual names, showing how "special' they are. Oftentimes, because of culture's obsession with Japanese, these names have random Japanese in them. Don't.
Now, onto the big things.
Panhead13's Hierarchy of Details
What is this "hierarchy?" Well, it's my ranking of different aspects of a character. I break it up into a few groups with a simple chart. A chart, you ask? Yes, I whipped it up in Chemistry class on MS Paint, and please hold all questions till the end of part one.
Wow. It's big, and it's, in my mind, kind of simple. We break a character down into five groups. History, Skills, Temperament, Limitations, and Details.
- History is the big one. It is the FOUNDATION for everything above it. EVERYTHING comes from History.
- Skills and Knowledge are things your character knows. Whether it's how to use a sword (And how good they are at it), how to hotwire a car, how to talk a mob down into submission. They learned them in their History.
- Temperament-This is their personality. How they act alone, how they act to others, their views on life, their likes and dislikes. These are from past experiences, whether a traumatic event or a past you, it's up to them
- Limitations and Talents are the things your character can and can't do. It builds off their fears, their skills, their personality, and, you guessed it, their history.
- Finally, Details. Things like age, names, and other things that are either unimportant to the overall character, or hinge upon EVERYTHING ELSE (Age especially).
So, we'd start at the history, right? Build it from the bottom up? Nope! We start in the bottom middle. And first, we must ask, "What do I want from my character?" Part Two will continue, and we will begin to build Jasna. I'll do it right next to you.