Forum: Prospective Challenges

Discussing: The Mary Sue Challenge...

The Mary Sue Challenge...

Last time I looked, this had NO entries....

To me, that is sad, because as you may or may not know, I have a warm spot in my heart for these poor maligned ladies of the text! LOL! I would love to see some of these written by GOOD authors to sort of vindicate the genre.

I think the main problem with the challenge as it stands now is the requirement that the Mary Sue have a romance with Legolas. Why limit it? I personally can't even imagine finding Legolas appealing, though I realize some do - and found that point kept me from writing anything for it. Do you think whoever came up with this challenge would be willing to broaden the requirements? Say a relationship with any of them (as long as it was well written?) I mean, heck, even Gimli is a pretty romantic guy when you get down to it!

Just a suggestion.

Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Does there have to be a relationship? Sigh, I guess there does, as that's part of the MS phenomenon.

Umm, I had my 10th member of the Fellowship OFC kiss someone with romantic (well, erotic) intent, though nothing came of it - does that count?

Mike said he was going to try a Legolas romance, didn't you Mike?

Ang

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I think the main problem with the challenge as it stands now is the requirement that the Mary Sue have a romance with Legolas. Why limit it? I personally can't even imagine finding Legolas appealing, though I realize some do - and found that point kept me from writing anything for it. Do you think whoever came up with this challenge would be willing to broaden the requirements?

I think this is the major block to people trying this one too, and I'd love to see some entries.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I think this is the major block to people trying this one too, and I'd love to see some entries.

Me too! OK.. so how do we go about changing this? Would it be a good idea to contact the originator of the challenge to see if they would be amenable to a modification of the challenge specifications? Make another challenge (which I think would be redundant)? I'd really like to see this happen.

Ariel

P.S. - Is there any problem with racier fics? I mean, I blush to admit this, but I have quite a few, ahem... pieces that would not be suitable for younger members to read... I am told they are quite good, but... well, you have to be sensitive to the group you know.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I actually have a story that meets this challenge head-on. The thing is, it's already been accepted into the archive and I don't know how to enter it as a challenge! (I'm still new at this Content Manager thing, give me a break!!!)

Anyhow, it's called "Broken Arrow" and if it's not a Legolas/Mary Sue, I don't know what is!

peace...adrienne

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

We could post to HA pleading with the challenge owner to reconsider!

Racier fics for posting HA or for HASA? The only categorization that HASA has is 'general' and 'adult', since the emphasis is on quality writing rather than other considerations. I suspect many in the group would welcome a bit of raciness! And those who don't can filter through the 'adult' rating. Diversity good! (At HA I ask people to keep things 'general' so that I don't fall foul of Yahoo's opaque policies on content.)

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Racier fics for posting HA or for HASA?

Well, I wouldn't post something on Yahoo like that ! But I was under the impression that www.henneth-annun.net was not a Yahoo subsidiary? Am I wrong?

And for the MS Challenge - while you don't have to have anything racy for it to be a romance, you also could! Diversity IS good! >D That was one of the reasons that I wished the challenger had not limited it to Legolas romances.

Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Well, I wouldn't post something on Yahoo like that !

>D


But I was under the impression that www.henneth-annun.net was not a Yahoo subsidiary? Am I wrong?

Membership of Henneth Annun brings membership of HASA, but HASA has no connection to Yahoo other than that. The only reason the mailing list has content restrictions is because I chose to set it up using Yahoo machinery, and because I wanted no age limitations on membership. Otherwise it's quality that counts at both list and site.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

The Henneth Annun Story Archive is most emphatically NOT a Yahoo subsidiary (and you have no idea what shudders went through me at the thought...) And yes, HASA accepts "racy" fics.

Ithilwen

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

The Henneth Annun Story Archive is most emphatically NOT a Yahoo subsidiary (and you have no idea what shudders went through me at the thought...)

Quick, Ithilwen - here's my hip flask! Get a swig of gin inside you! (Altariel's little helper *g*)

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I did try my hand at this, as a challenge (and to get past the gut-roiling knot that arises at the thought of Legomances). My problem (other than that I wasn't willing to devote tons and tons of time to the thing, when I had 1) other work and 2) other fics I like much better to write) was that... well... it wouldn't quite be a Legomance... exactly. Crush, yes, but it's not going anywhere (I couldn't make it happen--just couldn't!).

The other thing is, if it's a real MS, then I'm suspicious that the fic bit I have would fail to meet the challenge on principle--I wasn't trying to write a Sue, only a situation that was overused by Sue authors. I suspect many people here have this 'problem' with writing Mary Sue. I mean, look at "Mary Mordor Sue"--if that's a real MS I'll eat my laptop (not really).

I would like to see that challenge expanded to allow more pairings, though. Could be interesting.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Re contacting the author: I've tried, since we've talked on and off, but I suspect that she is buried in schoolwork at the moment, and so not paying much attention to fannish happenings.

We may have to wait til sometime in mid to late December to have a chance at getting a response!

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

A Yahoo subsidiary? (Roar of draconic rage at the thought). No.

HASA is a completely, totally, utterly independent Web site. The only content restriction upon the site imposed by the ISP is that it may not deal in pornography. Adult- or mature-themed content is permissable within HASA rules as long as:

Not MST
Not Real Person Fic
Not List
Not advocating or engaging in the deliberate violation of law (i.e., child pornography/ prostitution)

The HA Yahoo list does have a PG-13 max rating, but works dealing with mature subject matter are perfectly permissable here. Heck, I write some of them!

Don't fret too much about the MS challenge - when the challenge owner has time, it can be revised. If it did not get entries in its current form that just means it needs to be jiggled a little unti it does.

Ang

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

From sheer curiosity (of course), what qualifies as pornography, anyhow?

If the Mary Sue Challenge in current form doesn't work, and the owner isn't findable after a couple of weeks' time or so, couldn't someone (Ariel?) throw out a more generalized MS Challenge? This isn't one that I'd probably ever take up in any form, myself, but it would be interesting to read good ones.

Cel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

One thing I'd like to see clarified - the definition of Mary-Sue, for the purposes of this challenge.

As far as I'm concerned, a Mary-Sue is an OC who wrecks the canon and the characterization. At this point, even if it's written in very good style, I won't be able to enjoy it.

Others define a Mary-Sue as an OC who is perfect (no flaws whatsoever) and awes everyone with her powers. That, in my mind, is bad characterization, and not terribly interesting.

I'm wondering if this is some sort of paradox - a superficial OC (which is basically a Mary-Sue) will result in a less-than-stellar story. A well-written OC with depth (even with Sue-ish qualities) would fail to qualify as a Mary-Sue (in my mind, at least).

~Aralanthiriel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Well, as Tom Leher sings:


As the judge remarked the day
that he acquitted my Aunt Hortense,
To be smut it must be ut-
terly without redeeming social importance


Materials that exist for no reason except to graphically present images, depictions, and/or descriptions of sexual acts is, I think, the gist. The particular definition probably varies from location to location. The trouble comes in deciding when a work is using such materials for artistic, literary and/or socially important reasons (A nude sculpture, a novel about a love affair, a sex education manual) and when it is simply showing one or more people going at it. One person's literary endeavor is another person's porn.

If a Challenge is not acepted, then it isn't accepted. What I suggest to any would-be challenge owner is to post something in this conference (please feel free to use this discussion, folks!) to get a feel for interest and to get a number of confirmations that there is interst in the challenge, then ask for an admin to set it up.

Ang

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I'm wondering if this is some sort of paradox - a superficial OC (which is basically a Mary-Sue) will result in a less-than-stellar story. A well-written OC with depth (even with Sue-ish qualities) would fail to qualify as a Mary-Sue (in my mind, at least).

And then there are those who believe a MS is any original female character. You have both ends of the spectrum, but I am sure a challenge would be able to spell out what it defined as a MS. I would lean towards the more generalized 'any OFC = Mary Sue' simply on the grounds that you would get better written fics that way...

Just out of curiousity... what is MST? What is 'List'? Sorry... newbie questions.

Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Just out of curiousity... what is MST? What is 'List'? Sorry... newbie questions.

If you check the HASA guidelines for submitting fics, you'll find definitions. Basically, MST is a parody fic following Mystery Science Theater 3000 settings. Lists are... well... exactly what they sound like (Ten things that are cool about LOTR, ten things on Legolas' grocery list, etc.).

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I would lean towards the more generalized 'any OFC = Mary Sue' simply on the grounds that you would get better written fics that way...

At this point, wouldn't it simply be clearer to have an OFC challenge, rather than Mary-Sue? I've read both horrible horrible Mary-Sues, and simply wonderful OFC fanfics. I'd hate for them to be mixed up in any way. But really, those are just technicalities, I suppose.

MST - basically takes a story line by line and puts humorous comments in between. Tough to explain, but here's an example of an MSTing:

http://specialty.gossamer.org/mst.htm

Read the MST of the script of Tunguska (an X-files episode.) One of the funnier ones, in my opinion.

A list is basically something like "100 signs you may be obsessed with fanfic writing" or similar. No plot. Just a list of items.

~Aralanthiriel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

This is a problem.

I think of a Mary Sue as an OFC whose primary purpose is to be the protagonist of a story set in an established imaginary world (book, TV, movies, comics, whatever), and where the story revolves around her being in one or more romantic relationships with standard characters, and where there is a facile or incomplete borrowing of the tropes, metaphors, imagery, plots and objects of that world.

Some worlds are quite amenable to such stories, such as Star Trek, and others are less so. The deciding factor for me is the element of romance. Without a romance, you have another kind of OFC - not necessarily any better, just different. I get concerned at the ever expanding definition of what counts as a Mary Sue. In practical terms, most people say "Mary Sue" when they should say "OFC that doesn't appeal to me", because it is difficult to find an OFC who isn't introduced for use as a romantic lead.

It can become a verbal shorthand, much the same way that "slash' has come to mean anything with possibly homosexual overtones, for a story that has an OFC. Unlike the slash label, however, there is no positive or valorized side to a "Mary Sue".

There really isn't a paradox - a Mary Sue is a story where questions of canonicity and characterization fall to the wayside because the story is not intended to be about the imagined world. It's intended to be about the romance. That may be annoying as all hell if that's not the kind of story you want to read, but the story is consistent and usually successful within its own terms.

Or so I think.

Ang



 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Unlike the slash label, however, there is no positive or valorized side to a "Mary Sue".

A disputed point!

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I should have known you would pop up on a theory question!

OK, let me restate this. When people apply the label "slash" to a story, it is not necessarily a derogatory appelation. It can be used in that manner, and I ran across an entire Web site yesterday dedicated to denigrating slash writing and trying to demonize it - to make the term "slash" a purely negative signifier. While people argue over slash writing (is it good, can it possibly be canonical, is slash writing disrespectful of source materials as such, why it is a valid persepctive, etc.), the label itself can be used purely descriptively - this is a story where homosexual relations are presented in some manner. This is not an automatic judgement on the story.

However, application of the term "Mary Sue" is overwhelmingly meant as a harshly critical and dismissive judgement on said story. You may be able to dig up a few counter-examples, but you'll have to dig long and hard. Look at the tenor of the discussion in this thread, think of the ways in which people are greatly upset to have their stories designated as a Mary Sue (Lord knows I practically ripped Dwim's ears off for doing that), think of the first question people ask of an OFC - "Is she a Mary Sue?"

You and I had an exchange on the legitimacy and validity of Mary-sue stories within fanfiction (Hey! I think there's room for a discussion over in Resources about Mary Sue writing), and I am now convinced that there is much more to be said in their favor than I was before. I also think (and I'm slowly working out a critical essay on it) that the fire-breathing reactions we usually encounter when readers discuss Mary Sues are utterly off-base. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of reviewing and critical judgment going on when we use language that implies that the writers of Mary Sues have wronged us for presenting their work in a quasi-public venue. But more about that in the essay. Kant, Cavell and Tolkien himself will weigh in on the matter of Mary Sue & the Critics.

Be that as it may, there is no denying that the use of the label is primarily to conduct an attack on the story in question, and is intended as a signal or flag to other readers that Here There Be Shit. Unlike the term "slash", there is no significant attempt to revalorize the epithet and make it into subversive performative. Thus, the frantic attempt to avoid the label at all costs. Because it is a perjorative, not merely a descriptive, appelation, it has become a short hand for "I don't like this story, and there is an OFC in it". It no longer actually describes a particular genre - it is merely a put down.

So says Anglachel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I should have known you would pop up on a theory question!

When I see a fundamental conviction, I reach for my hermeneuticist's hat (been dying to use that one).


However, application of the term "Mary Sue" is overwhelmingly meant as a harshly critical and dismissive judgement on said story.

Certainly within this fandom, at this time.


You may be able to dig up a few counter-examples, but you'll have to dig long and hard.

Not terribly; try here. And I've built my life around being a livin' breathin' counter-example.

I think you might be understating the extent to which slash has been and still is a contested term, and still functions as a boundary, as fannish activities mainstream: 'I may go to conventions/collect autographs/watch and rewatch source material... but I don't do that!'

Largely, though, I'm happy to see that someone else out there is thinking critically about the term 'Mary-Sue'.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

When I see a fundamental conviction, I reach for my hermeneuticist's hat (been dying to use that one).

Snerk! You and Gadamer, eh?

Hmm, good paper (I like that one, too) but I was thinking more about ordinary discourse within a writing community (like this!) wherein the term is used as purely descriptive rather than as a perjorative. I would like to see a move towards a descriptive mode, as I think that is more useful for understanding the ways in which OCs do or do not work.

No, I don't underestimate the degree to which slash is a contested term (I found an entire site contesting it, after all) and even more so a contested genre. However, when I consider the use of the terms, I can find a dozen examples from this group even where people say 'if it is well written slash, I'll read it,' but the same is not said of Mary Sues. It is a scarlet letter.

Ang,
who thinks we do need to have a discussion dedicated to OC's and contested terms...

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

However, when I consider the use of the terms, I can find a dozen examples from this group even where people say 'if it is well written slash, I'll read it,' but the same is not said of Mary Sues. It is a scarlet letter.

I agree that does seem to be the case.

And then there are those who won't even read well written slash.

As for a discussion of OC's - I still think a challenge would be a good idea. It would give good writers a chance to produce good OCs to prove that, yes, it can be done. I have never doubted it, and have read several I liked, but the prejudice that they seem to receive (based on a TON of bad examples, I will admit) makes it seem as if the really good writers know better than to bother attempting to write them. I would love to see what the excellent talent here at HASA could do with such a challenge - and I definitely think it is worth the doing.

Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I had been wondering what possible use that funky little icon could serve. 'Snerk!' indeed.

Question: whence comes the criterion that Ms. Sue *must* have a romantic plot/subplot in order to be a Sue? This seems a debatable point, since I've read a number of fanfic glossaries that do not necessarily define her in terms of her liasons, not even as one trait among many (http://www.dymphna.net/research/terms.html#marysue for example). Is 'Mary Sue' in itself derived from something other than two 'generic' female names?

My impression is that the term is broader than romance, but narrower than any badly-written/badly-handled OFC. I'd tentatively say an OFC who a) is the pivot on which hinges the story but also and crucially b) 'steals the thunder' of one or more of the relevent canonicals is a Sue.

It seems that if a character isn't perceived as a Sue, she's simply called an OFC, although admittedly the burden of proof tends to lie with the author.

Funny, that essay. Just found and read it myself without having clicked Una's link! Had to edit it out to avoid redundancy! I'm intrigued, though: yes, the paper did note the necessary part that Mary Sue plays in a writer's evolution. However, I didn't read that as being a positive endorsement of the character as such--she has her place in one's fiction, but only for a time, I think.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

You and Gadamer, eh?

An ongoing and productive fusion of horizons.


I was thinking more about ordinary discourse within a writing community (like this!) wherein the term is used as purely descriptive rather than as a perjorative.

I'll say again that the extent to which 'Mary-Sue' is used as a pejorative in this fandom is greater than in any other fandom in which I've participated (which contributes significantly to my bloody-mindedness about reclaiming the term!). I think I've got a pretty good grasp of the reasons why, and the phenomenon interests me. I'm fairly certain, for example, that if I'd participated in Trek fandom at a certain point in its history, the term 'Mary-Sue' would function in much the same way. In other fandoms in which I participate, Mary-Sue has been used creatively and knowingly by some very clever writers, and 'slash' is and will remain the enduring fault-line, no matter how competently the community negotiates itself around the term.


I would like to see a move towards a descriptive mode, as I think that is more useful for understanding the ways in which OCs do or do not work.

In this we are largely in agreement. Fixing descriptions of these terms is always notoriously tricky, however - see Dwim's point about encountering one definition of MS which did not include a romantic liaison. Definitions of slash are also difficult to pin down as well.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I also think (and I'm slowly working out a critical essay on it) that the fire-breathing reactions we usually encounter when readers discuss Mary Sues are utterly off-base. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of reviewing and critical judgment going on when we use language that implies that the writers of Mary Sues have wronged us for presenting their work in a quasi-public venue. But more about that in the essay. Kant, Cavell and Tolkien himself will weigh in on the matter of Mary Sue & the Critics.

So says Anglachel


What Altariel did not say is that she is looking forward to this essay a great deal.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Hi folks!

I suggest we move this conversation over to Tavia's new discussion on OCs and writing:

Tavia's Discussion

as it deserves more air time and she has been so thoughtful as to set it up for us.

Ang

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Well, "Mary Mordor Sue" was always sort of in between. On the one hand, she's a definite part of myself (she has to have been - I wrote the whole damn thing within about 48 hours, and it was *easy* dammit, which is why the whole thing scares me). On the other hand, I have this rather strong allergy to things like improper grammar, lousy spelling and major OOC behaviour on the part of canon characters (you mean they're *not* part of the Mary Sue mythos? Coulda fooled me, and I speak as a PPC rep here!). So MMS winds up being something like a "dramatic monologue" - in fact, it works out quite well if you picture it being done on stage.

Besides, the plotbunny that MMS was written to respond to didn't say a thing about "Mary Sue" - Mary Mordor Sue was just the nickname I gave her while she was in progress... and it sort of stuck.

At present, I'm being handed a lot of bad Legomances to read from another mailing list. While I'm not certain whether or not I could write a decent Legolas romance (hells, I think the best effort in this category is "To Deliver", by Arwen Lune, closely followed by "By Divine Intervention: Revenge of the Mary Sue", by Ariel) I'm certainly strongly tempted to write him a good sort of Spencer/Tracy screwball comedy, just so that he can get all those sarky lines that he *must* have stored up in there spat out at a Sue.

Meg
--

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

AAH! ;_; Little slow on the uptake, are we?
Thanks for excusing me to the community at large, Dwim, and I just want y'all to know I feel loved and missed *hugs all round*

That said, down to business. Considering how the discussion is going, I am certainly going to expand the challenge. Here is my take on the Sue issue...

A romantic plot/subplot is, in my mind, a prerequisite for a Sue, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has to go anywhere. After all, Sue's origin was basically a release of misguided hormonal fervor onto a favourite character, which can be accomplished through any kind of romantic connection of the OC to the CIQ (Crush-ee in Question), not necessarily described/consummated (how strange it is to speak of characters consummating relationships!)

Rightly, there should be a variety of characters available for Sue-slobbering, although I've never thought of a Gimli romance as one needing any particular Sue-off spray. But the issue, I believe, is too subjective to be limited by the stated requirements of the challenge, and I leave it up to your better (worse?) judgment to what extent your choice of gruesome relationship challenges your writing faculties.

As far as I'm concerned, a Mary-Sue is an OC who wrecks the canon and the characterization. At this point, even if it's written in very good style, I won't be able to enjoy it.
Others define a Mary-Sue as an OC who is perfect (no flaws whatsoever) and awes everyone with her powers. That, in my mind, is bad characterization, and not terribly interesting.
I'm wondering if this is some sort of paradox - a superficial OC (which is basically a Mary-Sue) will result in a less-than-stellar story. A well-written OC with depth (even with Sue-ish qualities) would fail to qualify as a Mary-Sue (in my mind, at least).


I had been mulling over this for quite a while in conjunction with my submission of this challenge. Maybe it is impossible to write a character who is both good and a Sue, but I think there is more grey area than we may be admitting. After all, if we aim for good characterization of a character who strangely happens to be gifted with more than the normal number of stellar, wonderful qualities (they do exist... if a fic author wrote in Tinuviel, she would probably be labelled Sue-fodder by some), we might just have something in the realm of possibility. In short, it just might be crazy enough to work!

Anyway, I will try to keep up with this topic from now on, and don't hesitate to email me if you have specific questions or suggestions. *ties string around finger* Nooo laziness!

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

A romantic plot/subplot is, in my mind, a prerequisite for a Sue, but that doesn't necessarily mean it has to go anywhere. After all, Sue's origin was basically a release of misguided hormonal fervor onto a favorite character, which can be accomplished through any kind of romantic connection of the OC to the CIQ (Crush-ee in Question), not necessarily described/consummated (how strange it is to speak of characters consummating relationships!)

Accepted!

Yes, hate me if you will, but I love that story. Ariel blows raspberries at MS haters. You don't have to read it, but I happen to LIKE well written Sues - and yes, there are precious few of them out there, and the bad ones are EXCEEDINGLY painful, but the good ones are a joy (to me at least) and I want to encourage their creation.

they do exist... if a fic author wrote in Tinuviel, she would probably be labelled Sue-fodder by some

Geez, take a look at Galadriel! If she had not existed already and a fan wrote her, she would be dismissed as a MS faster than you could say 'Galadrim'

I was discussing the issue of MS with a friend and we were noting how it seemed the people who most vehemently hated MSs were also slashers - and people who liked MSs intensely disliked slash. Now, I realize there are probably exceptions to this but I was intrigued by the notion. I had once asked a friend who did like slash what on earth there was about it that could possibly be appealing (something I STILL can't see) and she told me that what she found was that she could identify with the one character's attraction to the other by putting herself in their place. I don't have any clue if her reasons are the same as any one else's but they struck me as being exactly the same reasons I liked reading Mary Sue's. I could identify with the well written ones and found myself seeing myself in their place. Perhaps the two types of readers are more alike than either would care to admit?

This is just a theory, and I can well envision being flayed alive for posting it - but hey, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Ariel now prepares her defenses. Sword, shield and lance - ready to parry with the inevitable attack....



Ariel

P.S. - I can direct readers to several 'good' Mary Sues - that is IF I am not the ONLY one in this entire list who fancies reading them.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Now, now, no need to blow raspberries! An insouciant smile is more than sufficient to the task. ;-)

My own theory of why MS-type (saying "type" to include as many stories as possible here, whether or not an author would agree to it being a Sue) stories are so often bad is because they are so often the first story that someone writes, and suffer from all the hazards thereof - poor plotting, uncertain voice, incomplete grasp of characterization, insufficient exposure to source materials, etc. Also, an MS-type story strikes me as one written primarily for the author, without a critical audience in mind. This means that the author does not push him/herself to step back from their own creation and ask the kinds of questions a less self-referential author would ask. The ability to step back and be your own best, toughest, most-honest critic is both crucial and difficult to do. These are your beloved words, after all, and casting a cold eye upon them seems like a betrayal.

Hmm, MS =/= slash? Not always so. I have written what has been called a "sneaky" Mary Sue series (Two Trees Series) because it avoids most obvious MS clichés and I have written (and am writing) stories that have been called slash (Legacy) as well as a critical essay on writing sexuality in LOTR fanfic (Writing a Green Sun - PDF), so it is possible to be a writer of both. My MS series is my first writing attempt, has enthusiasm going for it at all times, and the series shows my development as a writer. The "slash" story was my answer to the challenge to write believable Hobbit slash, taking as my model Dwim's From the Other River Bank. I would beware of making blanket assertions that people who like one genre can't like the other. I do think that people in these camps get on their high-horses and snipe quite a bit.

Most slash stories I read, particularly explicit slash, strike me as pure Mary Sues. They have the same plots, the same melodramatic arcs, the same angsty, sighing, longing for the beloved other going on, and so forth. They are far more similar in tone and style than they are dissimilar, though I do think you will find more explicit sex scenes in slash Mary Sues than in het Mary Sues. The former tend to focus on the eroticism while the latter tend to focus on the romance, if I may make a broad (and easily contradicted) generalization. The author of a slash Sue merely hijacks an opposite sex character and puts herself in the place of the love object.

I myself don't mind slash, and don't mind smut. Slash romance is on par with het romance as far as I am concerned. My objections to either tend to be that the sex is badly written, or it's unimaginative, or the story is simply not compelling. Writing an outstanding story has very little to do with slash or het content, and even less to do with explicit content - it has to do with quality of writing. I think too many authors who write explicit scenes think that the explicitness in and of itself is enough to carry the story. Sue romances, het or slash, are often sloppy, lacking drama, awash in angst to no purpose, and lack a dramatic point or drive.


If you have what you think are good Sues, don't get defensive - post the links and let people read. Critical discussion is always good for the fandom, though flaming is not acceptable in these Forums.

Toodles - Ang

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I have to find a smiley that shows a tongue firmly in cheek... >D

My own theory of why MS-type (saying "type" to include as many stories as possible here, whether or not an author would agree to it being a Sue) stories are so often bad is because they are so often the first story that someone writes

Oh, very true... I know I fall into that catagory.

Hmm, MS =/= slash? Not always so. (snip) I would beware of making blanket assertions that people who like one genre can't like the other. I do think that people in these camps get on their high-horses and snipe quite a bit.

I didn't think I said it was - and had qualified my statement, though perhaps not clearly enough. I am speaking from two examples of people I have talked to about this - and yes, I readily agree that two is not a big enough sample from which to draw a conclusion, but it did give me the idea. I am well aware of the strong feelings on both sides of this issue and, well, call me a glutton for punishment, but I love a good debate.

My objections to either tend to be that the sex is badly written, or it's unimaginative, or the story is simply not compelling.

And you are generalizing too... I have read some that have excellent sex and are quite complelling - but, as usual, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have read your essay and while I found it interesting, I disagreed with some of its conclusions but respect your right to present your own opinions.

If you have what you think are good Sues, don't get defensive - post the links and let people read. Critical discussion is always good for the fandom, though flaming is not acceptable in these Forums.

As I stated in my bio - I don't flame though am quite critical. I don't hold any false delusions that I am a talented writer, but I do work very hard on my stories and tend to be rather tough on people who don't - though I haven't seen any that fall into that catagory on this list.

As for good Mary Sues - I can think of a few off the top of my head (besides the story I just posted in answer to the MS challenge >D) -

Solace is an excellent if unfinished Merry story that I have been following. The Mary Sue is both believable, engaging AND actually marries Merry (obviously an AU - and I usually HATE AU's but this reader did a very nice job with it). The erotism is good and 'tingly' (at least for me) and I heartily recommend it.

The Birthday Suit though frustratingly unfinished is a romance (or trist!) that is absolutely DELIGHTFUL! If I were ever to find out where Maura is hiding, I will twist her lovely arm to make her finish this tale - I love it that much!

And if I may be so bold as to offer another of my own... Massage is just a playful romp based on a group of stories some friends and I write - the "Harem" is a mythical place on Tol Eressea where the 'squire' resides with a group of hobbit lasses who have given their undying love. Yeah, Mary Sue heaven, but the fiction and vignettes that have been produced in this group are some of the finest (and most erotic) I have ever read. OK.. no raspberry. Its Mary Sue is never identified, has only one skill (massage) and could be just about anyone. They classified it as an original character so who am I to say it isn't?

Homecoming, while not the best written story and way too long, also has a good Mary Sue - Iris. Yes, it's an AU (which, as I stated, I usually hate) and yes, she has a romance with Frodo, but it is worth a read and I think is handled well despite its problems.

I think that is enough to choke anyone's appetite for Mary Sues so I will sign off.

Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Just out of curiousity, when is the deadline for this challenge? It doesn't say on the writeup...

Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

If you look at the whole list of "Open Challenges," the dates when they close are listed on the second line (roughly under the Challenge Owner). This one closes next March 8.

Cel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

D'oh...

Said in my best 'Homer Simpson' voice, of course...



Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Eh, dinna fash thysel'!

One thing about being an admin and getting to try to break all the new toys before they go public, is that you get extra time to see where everything is... and I had to go double-check to make sure, anyhow.

Celandine

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Altariel, I have an answer to this one half done with an OC I created for a role playing game years ago. I have always loved her very much, but she is NOTHING short of the most intense of Mary Sue's

E.W.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Can I say that I am now VERY satisfied that this challenge has the number of entries that it does? I am enjoying all the stories and am very glad that I am obviously not the only one on the planet who enjoys a well written Mary Sue!



Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

Can I say that I am now VERY satisfied that this challenge has the number of entries that it does? I am enjoying all the stories and am very glad that I am obviously not the only one on the planet who enjoys a well written Mary Sue!

You know, I'm beginning to suspect that you are... or not. I've written a story for this challenge- it's not a well-written one, I assure you- and it's tough to get feedback, for the very fact that it's a Mary Sue!

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

and it's tough to get feedback, for the very fact that it's a Mary Sue!

Sure seems that way, that's for sure! I have never had anyone give me feedback for my Mary Sue either, so, tell you what, I'll read yours, you read mine!

Promises

LOL! Actually, you don't have to read it, but I'd be willing to read yours... (it's not a Legomance is it? I've managed to somehow avoid reading any of those so far, but I have come to find out they are common.) Give me the link and I'll take a look.

Ariel

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I would read the story... but I'm not an adult, so I can't.

Though I admit, I was looking forward to it, sort of for comparison purposes. I've only read three of the entries- the ones by Arwen Imladviel, Dwim and Deborah.

LOL! Actually, you don't have to read it, but I'd be willing to read yours... (it's not a Legomance is it? I've managed to somehow avoid reading any of those so far, but I have come to find out they are common.)

Frankly, I don't think I will ever let myself write one, because I just can't see the guy with anyone! Legolas is definitely a Mary Sue target, and I think that is one reason why authors stay away from writing a romance involving him.


Give me the link and I'll take a look.

Okay... it's up here in HASA Beta/Challenges, but you can also find it at FF.Net.

Just a warning though... it's a Silmarillion fanfiction, with Fingon as the 'male lead'.

I understand if you'd rather not read it in that case, but thanks for offering! It is greatly appreciated.

 

 

Re: The Mary Sue Challenge...

I would read the story... but I'm not an adult, so I can't.

Ooops! Now it's my turn to blush! Sorry! No, you definitely don't want to read that if you aren't adult! Though I do have a pg version if you are interested. It mentions that certain 'things' happen but the details are cut out.

Thanks for the link and I will be glad to take a look at it. I like Silmfics too although my main passion has always been hobbits. Elves, especially in the trilogy, are just so bloody perfect they just make me want to laugh. I can see why they are Mary Sue targets. They are practically Mary Sues themselves!

I'll take a look at it and let you know what I think.

Ariel

 

 

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