Saturday, July 2, 2011

Punching Mary Sue

Today’s blog contains two full disclosures and six Mary Sues at no extra cost!
If you are not familiar with Mary Sues see Lydia Kang’s blog on the subject. From the comments at Lydia’s, I get the feeling that a Mary Sue character (one that has characteristics which you, for any number of reasons, find unique or attractive) is generally seen as a bad thing, but after I followed the link on Lydia’s blog, and took the Mary Sue test, I found that not only I "Mary Sue", but so do my favorite authors.

Do you love your characters? Do you get excited about creating a life? If you could, would you want to be one of them? I do, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In my book, I Mary Sue all over myself, though you might be hard pressed to tell with which character I share the most in common.
Full disclosure 1: I’m not even sure I know which of my characters are most like me. All I do know is that I love hanging out with each-and-every-one of the ne'er-do-wells. I love messing with them as much as I love reading and just a little less than hanging out with my family. I hear some people, even writers, say that they HATE writing, or at least that they procrastinate to keep from writing (blogs come up a lot in these discussions). Not me. I might procrastinate a little, but it is not a significant time drain. Perhaps, it is that I get my fill of “real” people at work; engineers can be very exacting, it seems that they always have to be right… which is not really me either, I don’t have to be right all the time… I just happen to be so.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if writing was my job… would I learn to hate it, and would I then translate that hate to my characters? Without my engineering career as a surrogate punching bag, would I pound the humility out of my Mary Sues?
Full disclosure 2: that last sentence gave me an evil grin.

A quote for today: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung (Thanks to Matthew MacNish for posting this quote on his blog)

Munk’s opening line:
The distance between pleasure and pain is measured in the flesh of the participants.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Music this week is from the vault of obscurity. Unless you spent time in Chicago in the seventies, odds are you've never heard this gem. If I am wrong, please prove me so. Alliotta-Haynes-Jeremiah, with Lake Shore Drive

9 comments:

L.G.Smith said...

I think it was Sherwood Smith (no relation) who took this Mary Sue topic to task on the Book View Cafe blog. She's a fantasy/adventure writer and she fully admits that she writes characters who do and say things she wishes she could in real life. I think that's great. I agree that this is something most writers do. We fantasize about characters acting in ways we can't in real life.

The Mary Sue character is bad when his/her actions rise to a level of disbelief or cheesy fantasy behavior, though. If your character has no flaws -- either physically or emotionally -- if they are perfect in everything they do then they are hardly believable or likable. In those cases, I think the Mary Sue character earns her bad reputation.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

That is a good song.

And I'm with you; there's a weird joy in writing. Next to family, nothing better.

Munk said...

@LG--"I don't give a damn 'bout my bad reputation" Joan Jett
@BR--Here, here.

The Gaelic Wife said...

If writing were your job, I don't think you'd learn to hate it. But hopefully you wouldn't follow Hemingway's example if ever you felt like you couldn't write another good sentence. http://www.npr.org/2011/07/02/137540700/after-50-years-remembering-hemingways-farewell

Bryce Daniels said...

My "Mary Sue" has been a berry, berry, berry bad gurl. Me likes her.

D. U. Okonkwo said...

Ah, love the Carl Jung quote. It's often said too that what we dislike in others is what we fear in ourselves.

I wouldn't say I'd like to be any of my characters because I put them in situations and have things happen to them that I wouldn't want to happen to me :o)

Matthew MacNish said...

Thanks for the shout out, Munk, but what does this have to do with LSD?

And I've always had the impression that a Mary Sue was sort of a perfect character placed there for the enjoyment of the protagonist, or at least the reader. There's nothing wrong, IMHO, in writing characters that are basically nice and compassionate people ... as long as you do really mean things to them.

Munk said...

@TGW-Losing my cognitive faculties is of my greatest fears.
@BD-Weird.
@DUO-Fear and irritation and learning... they all seem to jumble up at times.
@MM- Lake Shore Drive... "Just slippin' on by on LSD, Friday night trouble bound."

Jayne said...

Oh I still love me some Friday night trouble. So does Mary Sue. ;)