What Are Mary Sues & Gary Stus and Why People Write Them

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

WonderCon 2011 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Dark Horse Comics banner
WonderCon 2011 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Dark Horse Comics banner

And Away We Go

Before I begin, remember last week’s “I.D. the Oh So Despicable Mary-Sue Character That You Just Know for Certain That It’s a Mary-Sue Character Based Solely Off of Some Random Character Traits That Are Attributed to Mary-Sue Characters?”

If you guessed Buffy, you’re right.

And yet, I know that at least 99.9% of you never ever considered her to be a Mary-Sue. Kind of shatters the MS theory, now doesn’t it? We’re going to get to that.

Part 1: Meet Mary-Sue, Gary-Stu, and Their Traits:

Most people don’t know or have a vague idea of where the original Mary-Sue comes from. Mary-Sue is a character from the fan fiction “A Trekkie’s Tale,” by Paula Smith, back in 1974 (wow, fanfic isn’t a new phenomenon then, huh?). Mary-Sue is a fifteen and a half year old girl and the youngest lieutenant in the fleet. She’s extraordinarily smart, can befriend everybody, very mature for her age, can save the day pretty much any day, happens to be a half-breed of some sort (in this instance I think she was half Vulcan,) can free everybody from a dungeon using things like bobby pins—in other words, she’s MacGuyver before there was MacGuyver—and then dies so everyone grieves and proclaim their greatest admiration for her.

This is Paula Smith’s scathing response to the stories that young fanfic writers were submitting to her magazine, calling to attention their clichéd original characters (later I’ll refer to them as OCs) and the characters absolutely flawless personalities.

I think she’s full of crap.

I do fully understand what a true Mary-Sue and Gary-Stu is. I agree that they can be tiresome and obnoxious, but I believe that there are hundreds of OCs out there that have all of these qualities and still turn out to be awesome characters.

But let’s start at examining the full list of MS and GS traits—many of which are absolutely identical—that I could dig up:

· Beautiful, or in the case of GS,

· Very Handsome

· Young for MSs, generally 15 to 18 years old or so

· Older for GSs, generally 25 to 35 years old or so

· Extremely talented in:

· Martial arts

· Magic

· Mutant powers

· Weaponry, i.e. sword

· Sometimes dies at the end of the story

· Is considered a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author, or

· A veiled attempt at the author’s self-insertion into the story

· Mature for their age

· If a GS then usual has a tragic history

· Upstages canon characters

· Everyone likes them

· One of the canon characters falls in love with them, often the main character

· Totally without flaws

· Almost unbeatable

· Clever

· Witty

· Bad guys are afraid of them

· Is the child of one of the characters, or a brother/sister/cousin/long lost father/long lost mother/long lost relative of some sort/a clone/a loved one back from the freakin’ dead, whatever

· Has a name with a particular meaning

· Everybody agrees with them

· Generally happy and friendly

· Brave

· Super strong

· No backstory or a backstory that is vague

· Unusual physical attribute, i.e.:

· Strange eye color

· Scars

· Debilitating injury (that’s covered more extensively in Week #4: Going Overboard With the Flaws)

· Spectacularly well endowed one way or the other

· Birthmarks

For God’s sake, I have to stop here. No wonder people are so afraid to write now!

Look, in my opinion a real Mary-Sue or Gary-Stu is the one that makes you roll your eyes, say, “Yeah, right,” then abandon the story and find something better. There are absolutely ridiculous MSs and GSs out there. I know that. I agree.

But I do not agree that every OC character that has some (SOME) of these traits is bad. I already showed you that Buffy is a MS when you break her down into just her traits and nothing else. In my opinion, a MS/GS can be a MS/GS and still be an awesome character through one thing: good writing.

But that’s for next week.

Part #2: Why People Write Them

I’ve tried to break this down a number of ways. I think I found the basic reasons:

· Self Insertion

· New to Writing

· Influenced by the media

· A need for a particular kind of character of hero

· Trying to impress their audience

· Trying to match their character to the canon characters


There are two kinds of self insertion: the obvious I’m-not-going-to-bother-with-hiding-it kind, and the second kind I refer to as a “veiled” insertion.

Obvious self inserts are exactly what they sound like—the author inserts themselves as a character into a story without changing their names or personalities. Sometimes this works (I’ll discuss this later), but often these stories can go overboard with the Sueism. Generally speaking, these self inserted authors are new or fairly new to writing, and the second they get a “Hey! That’s a cool idea!” for a story, they jump right to writing it.

These authors sometimes get what they believe is a clever idea to literally be a character in a canon universe. I’ve seen some Star Wars stories where the MS (referred to as such for now) is the actual author, who is either in this canon universe via always been there, got bumped on the head and woke up on Endor or wherever, had a spaceship descend into their front yard in order to be whisked away to save the galaxy, or was magically sucked into the story … you get the idea.

These ideas are so bad. Sometimes they’re funny because the author is obviously just trying to have fun and they’re not taking themselves seriously. Other authors, on the other hand, go a wee bit overboard with their character details. I’ve read stories where these authors are young Jedi Knights with power on par with Luke Skywalker’s though they have minimal training, where they’re better lightsaber duelists than Darth Maul, where Darth Maul or young Obi-Wan Kenobi falls in love with them (literally, the author, not an OC), are Luke and Leia’s long lost sibling via Darth Vader and another woman, they’re half Twi’lek and have a Ewok as a side-kick, are so good that they can’t be beaten in battle, etc. Broken up as a few bits might make this author interesting, but when you have all these kind of traits crammed together for one person, well, then this author isn’t believable. In fact, they’re kind of obnoxious. Why? Let’s get to the next part before we discuss this further.

What I called a “veiled” self insertion is where the author inserts themselves into a story but changes a few details so supposedly nobody will guess that it’s them. Not to pick on anybody, but let’s say that this person is a fourteen year old Korean girl named Jane who loves Buffy and likes to imagine herself as being a vampire slayer. This girl has two older brothers and she reads Seventeen Magazine and has a pet Yorkie. If she self inserts herself into a story but uses a veiled technique, she’ll be a fourteen year old Korean girl named JENNIE who loves Buffy and likes to imagine herself as being a vampire slayer. This girl has two older brothers and she reads Seventeen Magazine and has a pet Yorkie.

Okay, you may or may not notice those details, but you might get to wondering about it. This isn’t a big deal, but now Jennie might add that she’s a fourteen year old vampire slayer that was coincidentally called to be a slayer at the same time that Buffy was supposed to be, but Jennie started training earlier, so her martial arts are better than Buffy’s. When Buffy’s in doubt, Jennie is always ready for a fight and 100% that she’ll win. She’ll go up against the biggest and baddest monster after it has essentially demolished Buffy and her friends, and win hands down. Xander and/or Angel fall in love with her. Everybody absolutely adores her, including Cordelia.

See? Those are self insertions. Overdone self insertions, and this is what rankles so many people. The author/characters are annoying, without fault, too talented, and just sometimes too damn loveable.

Which brings me to my next point.

Having read many self insertions fics, it dawned on me one day that a lot of these stories aren’t just by newbie authors who think it’s cool to be the best—a lot of these authors are upset with something. They might be lonely, afraid, socially outcasted, nervous about romance and intimacy, teased and bullied, poor self esteem, poor self confidence, or just need to prop themselves up in order to deal with the daily insanity that is their life.

I’m not saying this is true of everybody. But I believe it’s true of a lot of author inserts. The twelve year old boy who has Darth Vader begging for mercy might be bullied at school. The fifteen year old girl who has Angel falling in love her is lonely and has a bad self image of herself, making her think that she’ll never be attractive to anyone.

It’s just a theory, one that I hope you’ll consider next time you see one of these things.

Now, for myself, I’m no stranger to self insertion. I did it for fun in my Meeting the Wolverine series (and I plan to do so again, thank you very much.) The idea came when I was complaining about how disappointing Rogue was in the first X-Men movie. My then eight year old brother piped up, “Yeah. Kara, you could have been a better Rogue than she was.”

I thought about it. What would happen if I met Wolverine instead of Rogue? It sounded like a really funny idea so I wrote the scenes where Rogue meets Wolverine in Canada, but this time it was me, and tried really hard to make my mutant powers reasonable, and I was never sure if I was successful. I did it deliberately. Therefore, self insertion. Was I crucified for it? Actually, no, I wasn’t, because I started getting lots of requests.

But a year later, I decided to take the basic idea of the Meeting the Wolverine stories and write it as an original (so to speak) fanfic. I took out myself entirely, separated the movie from the comics, but I kept the plot of a genetically manipulated mutant girl in. I gave her the same mutant traits, but changed her personality and then named her Dara Gibson. I put my author name down as Kara.

I was getting pretty good reviews for weeks, until one guy noted, “It’s a good story, but nice try on the name.”


I went back and reread it. I didn’t get it, so I read it again.

That’s when I noticed that “Kara” and “Dara” were really similar.

I blinked a few times, then stared at the computer until the connection finally came.

“DAMN IT!!!”

I was pretty pissed off. I hadn’t even thought of it. Mom had suggested the name and I liked it and now, oh great, people think I’m self inserting … Ah well.

So, yes, that’s my big dark secret. But don’t worry, real authors have self inserted too. Stephen King did a veiled insert when he wrote The Body.


This one I totally understand. Every new writer has an amazing idea in their heads, and they plan on writing just as well as any other established author. They go at it with gusto, thrilled and pleased with themselves for undertaking the task of writing The Great American Fan Fiction Novel.

The trouble is, nobody at this point knows how to write a good character. That can lead to accusations of Sueism, but relax. New writers, remember that you’re not a pro yet. Fic readers, I’m asking some of you politely to back the hell off and give these people a break.

Writing is not easy when you want to take it seriously. I’ve been writing since I was thirteen years old, and I thought I was the best writer bar none. I thought I had a natural talent for it, and that I was going to get published by the first house I sent my book to. Cold hard reality set in when I was reading other books and I realized that these people are waaaay better me.

I believe it was Stephen King’s book On Writing where he says that you can’t write until you read, and you can’t read until you learn your letters. It’s a bit boneheaded to jump over to the keyboard and pound out a story expecting everybody to love it. You don’t have the experience yet. Your characters will be considered MSs because you’ve just given them all the great things you think they need. That’s not bad, it just needs refining, which we’ll get to next week.

As for you readers—you don’t have to love the story. Just sigh and go to a different one. Don’t flame, because these people are learning how to write. Give them tips. And if you can’t do that, kindly drive your car off a bridge.


Oh wow, this is such a big topic that I’ll cover it in Week 6, but it has to be noted quickly: TV, movies, comics, video games, RP games, etc. have installed in us that any character can have a few dozen MS traits and still be cool, which always influences our writing. This creates a backlash in fanfic, which makes absolutely no sense at all. But we’ll get to that.


As I was outlining this, it occurred to me that this actually going to be a very long topic. I’m debating if I should put in the Week 6 blog or make it a separate article. Either way, it’s too much to go over right now, especially since it’s 11:26 PM right now, I’m late posting and I’m hungry and don’t really feel like keeping this up.

Mary-Sues are more abundant than Gary-Stus. This I think we can all agree on. But my belief as that Mary-Sues are inadvertently created because our society lacks serious, admirable and enjoyable women heroes—which is why I have so many of them. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes and saying, “Whatever. There’s Wonder Woman.” Okay, fine. I want you to make a list of one through thirty and write down every known female hero (this excludes things like indie comics) that you know of in under one minute. You’re not allowed to go look at anything for ideas. You have to sit there and think.

Now do the same thing for the male heroes. One through thirty in under a minute. Go!

I’ll continue this later because it’s an interesting topic.


Some authors always feel that their characters aren’t cool enough. Too weak, too boring, too meek, too gentle, and so forth. They feel the need to amp up their characters. Their OCs have to be awesome. They’ve got to be “women want him, men want to be him” kind of character. Badass. Sexy. Funny. Bold. You can add to the list if you want.

But, again, the authors go overboard and make their OCs too spectacular. Now they’re boring and trite. This relates to Week 6 as well, so I won’t go much further.


This is common and I understand why. You have a cool as hell canon character like Wolverine. You want your OC to measure up to him because, in theory, your OC could be interpreted as uninteresting to both Wolverine and the audience, or they could be seen as kind of a lead anchor, somewhat interesting but always slowing both Wolverine and the story down because they’re not as powerful.

That’s when people go a little nutty with the Sueism. If the OC is a woman, she might be tall with long legs, have long hair (red, usually), possibly be Japanese, uses the scariest weapons on the planet to fight, be phenomenally strong despite her slender build, is seductive, charms Wolverine, trades barbs with him, wears a skin tight leather suit and somehow manages to hide guns and knives on her, rides a motorcycle … but aside from that, doesn’t have a personality. The GSs are huge muscular men, taller than Wolvie, somehow related to him therefore giving them a healing factor which is actually ten times greater than Wolverine’s, mercenaries, samurais or have extensive martial arts training, quick witted and sarcastic, brave, saves Wolverine’s butt three or four times, earns Wolverine’s admiration, but otherwise is lacking in personality.

Another Week 6 blog. Sorry!

Part #3: Winding It Down:

Well, at last I’ve finished this week’s blog … only took me nearly two hours to complete it, thanks partially to my freak-out cat Mogwai, who always decides that it’s time to play when I’m working on something.

Skimming through the blog again, everything looks fine but I hope it’s not too convoluted. Again, I’ll appreciate any feedback, responses, tips and suggestions and any links that you may come across.

Now to put the Cone of Silence back on Mogwai.

More by this Author

Comments 12 comments

Celanna192 profile image

Celanna192 5 years ago

All of the MS/GS traits = feels bad man. I admit, it's hard not to feel guilty about my own characters since they all have quite a few of these traits.

However, Having at least a handful of traits from the list is unavoidable. Otherwise a character wouldn't be able to exist in fiction. that is unless the story is about ordinary people doing ordinary things in an ordinary world. Who would want to read a story like that when they already live it?

Something I just thought of tonight, and it falls into the influenced by the media thing. My question is, is there an anime that does not have a technical ms/gs as a main character? I say technical because they have quite a few of the above listed traits. However, they may have a great personality or backstory. For example, Gourry from Slayers, or Youko Nakajima from The Twelve Kingdoms.

Fizzbit profile image

Fizzbit 5 years ago from Wichita, KS

Probably my biggest problem with my characters is that I created about 75% of them while I was young and just getting into writing. I created Princess Laura when I was 7. SEVEN! The idea of the 7 princesses of Hyrule stemmed from the 7 crystal maidens of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

My very first character that was created originally for fanfiction but I ended up using her elsewhere (RPs, original stories, etc) was Shurai. I wrote her up when I was 9.

Most of my other characters I created during Middle School, and to be honest, I stopped writing when I turned 16. My mother died in 2005 and I stopped writing cold turkey. My mother was my first critic, my first editor. She had been the one who played all of those video games while I watched and inspired me to write. When she died I couldn’t write anymore. I stopped writing my original and fanfiction, but I RP’d online with a few friends. I’ve created a few more characters in the past 3-4 years, and a few of them are a little more fleshed out, and I’ve even taken some of my fancharacters and refined them just a tad.

I will be the first to admit that one of my characters was blatant self-insertion and glorification. I had a witch character named Clara Belnades. I was insecure when I created her (Puberty. Middle School. You all know where I’m coming from) and wanted a character that had all the traits I wished I had. Cute, bubbly, very nurturing and caring and an extrovert. She had very few flaws other than the fact that she couldn’t cast an ice spell unless she had a dramatic, uncontrollable mood swing. Why did I name her Clara? To be honest, I wasn’t thinking of self-insertion when I named her. I was just thinking of a name that would fit the setting she was placed in. Clara is an uncommon enough name, and seemed to fit the flow of her setting, so I picked it. In the past few years, I’ve refined her quite a bit. She’s still a very happy, bubbly, caring character, but she can be fairly shy, fairly soft spoken, she’s not nearly as bold and brave as she used to be, and she still can’t make an ice cube to save her life. Also, she’s the first character of mine to undergo a name change. I recently changed her name to Ada.

Speaking of naming conventions, that’s one thing I’ve always noticed about my characters, is that I name them either too boldly for their setting, or too mundanely. Princess Laura? In Hyrule? Seriously? There’s a story behind that, honestly. Remember above when I said I made Laura when I was seven years old? Well, her original name was Starsha. She wasn’t Ganondorf’s wife, but she was always Zelda’s evil older sister. She had the classic “evil person” look. Black hair, dark eyes, black clothes, hated the world, wanted to rule the land of Hyrule, and wanted to kill all of the good guys. AWESOME. I had a Disney Villain.

Then… there was a really mean kid in school. Her name was Laura. She never picked on me, but she just wasn’t very nice in general. I renamed Starsha to Laura. Then I played OoT, fell in love with it, and the rest is history. I wrote the first two fanfictions with Laura, A Truth of a Child, and Before the Door of Time, when I was in 5th and 6th grade. To be honest, I’ve wanted to change Laura’s name on several occasions. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. She was my first character. She’s lasted this long with me, and the character has seen a lot through my writing and art development.

I really need to just sit down and write character sheets of all of my characters. One thing I do enjoy when creating characters is giving them the flexibility to work in settings other than the ones I originally intended for them. I got this from my best friend Austin. His very first original character, a character named Athon Iridia, has been a werewolf, a holy paladin, an ancient demon of destruction, a quiet Groundskeeper for a local church, a warrior Angel, and even Captain of the Hyrulean Guard. Rather than create entirely new characters for each RP we played (and we played a lot) we would always just mold our characters to fit a new setting. And it worked, and I try to play my characters like that from now on.

Wow this is a long rant. Or is it a confession? Iunno. You tell me. But that’s my say for this entry.

Celanna192 profile image

Celanna192 5 years ago

Naru would probably fall into the self insertion category being that she does represent aspects of me. She is multiracial, like me. At the time I created her, I was a loner, so she was one as well.

The problem that arose with Naru was that for long periods of time, I'd forget about her. Then she'd come to mind, but she would have changed slightly. I'd always have new ideas for her. Most of them would be rather outlandish. I've been trying to flesh her story out a little more. When she was created, her history was not very well thought out.

Naru, oddly enough is not my worst offense. My worst offense, and newest character, is Sora. Sora is my RP character in my friend Nate's tabletop game. Said game is also in the works to become a series of books.

Ms. Sora is a High Elf with a very chaotic personality. If a situation can go from bad to worse to relatively okay, it's usually her fault. Some of her MS traits are; unusual appearance(she has pink hair), unusual life/death circumstance(she is on a constant reincarnation cycle due to making Death mad. She reincarnates as herself, but with no memory of her past lives), and the knack of amassing a shit load of money.(In her first game she accumulated 10 platinum. In her current game she now has 5.5 platinum.) Then again, her traits may not be so sueish when compared to other characters in the game/book. I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

Sora will probably talked about more later, but for now, I'll just leave her with this small introduction.

Jessa618 5 years ago

You've got a lot of it pegged, Chiyome. It's true that the typical MS/GS are the products of new writing, but I feel like too many people just shrug and go "oh, they'll grow out of it". Yes, we'll grow out of bad writing and learn as we keep practicing. Yes, we'll get better with character development. But I feel as long as we come up with original characters, they will be labeled MS/GS. People took the label from when it was first used in Star Trek fanfiction to peg one specific type of character, they blew it up to cover most original characters.I feel like nowadays, it is a fallacy to use the terms Mary Sue or Gary Stu.

I do think certain things about MS or OCs trigger people more than others. One of the big ones is probably when a story focuses on the original character, uses him or her as a linchpin, or is told from his or her perspective. Since the reason most people read fanfics is to read about the canon characters, I imagine focusing on an OC inflames people pretty easily. And frankly, the big one that makes me stop reading a story isn't the character at all--it's the writing. Most of our crudest characters hit the scene in the midst of our crude, early writing, and I think that combination is responsible for the most problems having to do with MS/GS.

My characters were each a product of different circumstances. I started with self-insertions my friends and I did in 6th grade, on notebooks, purely for fun with one another. It was a total blast. Then, when I moved away and had a horrible time in middle school, I began writing Zelda and Gundam Wing fanfiction that more or less placed my character within an accepted group, because in real life, I had no real 'group' that I felt I had value in. I also had a real issue with creativity, too, so I ripped off a lot of ideas in my stories from movies, other games and shows, etc. After things got better, I still liked placing different characters in my favorite fandoms, because it had just become my way of 'playing' in those different worlds, y'know? My characterizations got loads better, until I pretty much stopped writing and just focused on creating characters for fun. It was when this happened that I realized a sort of 'need' to write had left me after I got over my middle school and early high school hurts. I still get ideas now and then, but I never have the need to rush in and pound out a story in record time. And it was always apparent to me that I wrote only for myself, so I never felt anyone else would want to read what I wrote, anyway.

Today's Internet culture puts fanfic writers in an interesting position, too. Look at all the sites we contribute to, and the things we post. It ranges from the business-like to the utterly insane. I hate that young people grow up now encouraged by culture today to post everything about themselves, right up to Facebook updates every half a day, yet when they post a story, it can be immediately flayed a thousand different ways, and the reviewers demand to know why a person would post such a 'horrendous' story, perhaps underdeveloped, perhaps riddled with spelling and grammar errors. Well, who told them it wasn't 'okay'? And why exactly isn't it 'okay', when I have to read everything else people post these days?

I know I tend to be very non-confrontational, and always like to adopt this "let's be friends" mentality, and I know that the Internet and its users are not obligated to play nice all the time. But I really feel the fanfiction community needs to rethink all of this hate and fear mongering. I think we need to be encouraging if we are to be anything at all. Otherwise, the fanfiction community will pretty much be committing ritual suicide.

And as an afterthought, seriously do the experiment I suggest in my essay on dA: do a search on that site on Mary Sues. Just look at all that mean-spirited slop. Half of the essays on the topic all say the same thing, and they're all very intolerant. And I feel that half of them learned it from others' behavior--not from bad fic experiences.

Celanna192 profile image

Celanna192 5 years ago

You bring up some good points Jess. I think a lot of the MS issue it does broadly brush over OC's. I do think that a lot of the MS stigma is brought about by fandom readers who want to read only about their ideal canonical characters or pairings(ie MalonxLink), or yaoi pairings(every male character in Kingdom Hearts).

Constructive criticism is something that is sorely lacking in comments, which is why a lot of people get turned off from writing. Some commentators are people who don't know how to put their words together in a constructive way. Others are trolls who gain pleasure in causing other people misery.

When the MS/GS series is done, perhaps we can all contribute to a literary article in which we redefine what MS/GS is. As the weeks go on, and we talk more about MS/GS, our understanding of the terms will shift. It would be nice if we could share what we learn, and perhaps make a difference for people wanting to write, but are too scared of the troll under the comment box.

Fizzbit profile image

Fizzbit 5 years ago from Wichita, KS

Well for the most part, OCs in Fanfics are more or less the main characters. Canon heroes become supporting characters. At least that's the norm. You almost never see fanfictions in which the OCs play a totally secondary role compared to the main canon characters. None of them sit back and continue to let the hero do their thing. Even MS Villains take a forefront to the main villains. Or it turns out that the main villains are pawns in the MS Villain's plot (See: Kingdom Hearts)

Jessa618 5 years ago

Do you guys think that it is fair or unfair to assume that an OC being a main character is a dead giveaway that the OC is a 'veiled' self-insert?

It's really hard to fight my natural inclination to say 'yes', but do you feel there are other explanations? I know writers who like to test out their characters in a fandom's familiar waters before setting them loose in an original world of their own, for example...

Fizzbit profile image

Fizzbit 5 years ago from Wichita, KS

I think it seriously depends on a number of factors. I know in my case, I used to write a bunch of Zelda and Castlevania fanfiction. Almost all of my CV fancharacters had their own stories and have since achieved the statuses of true Original Characters, completely detached of their original fancharacter status.

If every OC in every fanfiction from a particular author is the same character with just a little background change and name change, then yes, you could assume that the author is self-inserting every chance they get. I know webcomic artists get accused a LOT of using their characters as an extension of themselves, and not just one or two characters, but the entire cast.

I wouldn't say it's ever "Fair" to accuse self-insertion in any character.

Jessa618 5 years ago

Good points. I'm not familiar with too many webcomics out there, so it's an interesting new perspective for me.

Sometimes I feel when looking at OCs as main characters, more critical readers confuse "egotistic" with "egocentric". Writing egotistically means that you're writing purely for self-gratification and/or wish fulfillment. EgoCENTRIC means that you're writing from your basic perspective because it's the only one you're mind will let you see from. A big step in child development is when very young children begin to imagine how things look from a different point of view--mostly physically, but emotionally, too (learning sympathy).

In writing fanfiction, whether the OC is meant to represent the author or not, he/she's almost always probably going to be a -vessel- of the author for storytelling purposes. Putting in an original character saves one from trying to imagine the story from a canon character's perspective. It delays you from having to explore another characters wants/needs/feelings, which may or may not be something the author is not yet ready for mentally. At 13 years old, I can tell you that it was no contest--I was never even able to -consider- writing through a canon character's eyes. When I started seeing it done online, it was this big revelation to me.

And I'm not saying -only- new or "bad" writers do this. It's useful for writers in general. Look at Stephanie Meyer--whether you like her writing style or not, what she does sells. But I do see it as a mark of growth in a writer--to recognize a character separate from your control and to attempt to get into his or her "head".

Chiyome, do you know what the big hook was for me when I first came across "Lamia's Revenge" back in the day? It began from Link's perspective--not Vanessa's, who the readers met later. You introduced a plot-driving OC and -still- made canon very central. Bonus!

I also wonder if using an OC is a control issue as well. Maybe the canon world is too big or too full of other characters, and it's an author's way of taking the reins--making an original character-vessel central to a plot. If we're assuming that the original character stands for a writer's perspective within the story, making that character central also brings the other characters to you, the writer. You don't have to do a ton of "manual labor", digging a small niche for your character. Instead, everything comes to you.

Celanna192 profile image

Celanna192 5 years ago

I wanted to write this down before I forget it. The worst MS character I've come across is Alice from the Resident Evil movies. What's worse is that her character didn't start out as an MS. She became one. *sad face*

Jessa618 5 years ago

Elizabeth Swann from Pirates of the Caribbean kind of went that same way. Must be a sequel thing.

Celanna192 profile image

Celanna192 5 years ago

Her and Will Turner. I'm glad they seem to be going back to the spirit of pirates for number 4.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    What You Should Be Reading: Characters

    Click to Rate This Article