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Non-HP related Fanfics >> Dissection of a Mary Sue by ArianaRae

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Mary Sue. Also known as Azalea, Blossom, Jewel, or whatever equally clichéd and idiotic name the author may think up. We’ve all seen them, we all know them, and we are all befuddled as to how some people decide that a story containing one is worth reading. This, of course, excludes parodies, most of which are excellent and quite funny. That is, however, beside the point. The point, marked up on a scoreboard in thick white chalk, is that some people absolutely do not know how to recognize the abomination to fan fiction that is a Mary Sue. The classic Mary Sue has many traits by which they can be spotted.

Appearance- The classic Mary Sue may have several appearance factors that are worthy of notation. Obviously, they are breathtakingly gorgeous. Their hair is usually the first thing described. It may be accompanied by such adjectives as cascading or flowing. The most common color encountered is blonde, followed by red, black, and brunette. After the author is done drooling over their character’s hair, they move on to the face, most likely the eyes. The eyes are sometimes given an uncommon color such as violet to ensure that the character is mysterious and even more beautiful and attractive. However, they often have green eyes, manipulated together with other features to give the character the appearance of Lily. Otherwise, they may have sapphire blue, “milk-chocolate” brown, or steel gray eyes. In my personal experience, quite a few stories containing Voldemort’s Daughter Sues have eyes that change color as the character’s emotions change. For example, they may be dark brown when sad, blue when happy, green when passionate, and red, yes red, when angry. Mary Sues are known for their “rosy red lips, button nose sprinkled in freckles, and heart-shaped face”. That, dear readers, is a direct quote from a story I remember reading not so long ago. They can be petite and thin, or lanky with an athlete’s build. Either way, rest assured that they’ll be curvy and attractive. On to their clothes! Their entire wardrobe will most likely consist of items from the author’s favorite store, such as Hot Topic or Abercrombie. It almost never conforms to Hogwarts dress code, and Mary Sues don’t ever wear the uniform, because they are just that cool. Normally, their outfits will be slutty and grab the attention of every boy in Hogwarts, yet the staff can’t see them as anything other than modest and innocent.

Powers- Mary Sues always come with astonishing powers that seem to ignore the laws of Wizarding logic. For example, they are often Metamorphaguses. They can be seen flipping their sheet of gorgeous hair over their shoulder as it changes from shiny, straight blonde to fiery, curly red. They will undoubtedly have greater magical strength than any other student, first through seventh year, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. Sometimes they even have greater powers than the professors. They continuously amaze everyone with their abilities, and no one dares to set a boundary on them. There are instances of Apparition inside of Hogwarts walls. For example, I read a story where a gorgeous, badly wounded girl appears in a puff of purple light in the Gryffindor common room, and begins talking to Harry. He immediately falls in love, and there is angst aplenty as she tells of her epic tale, defeating the Dark Lord of the next galaxy. After she finishes her speech, Harry suddenly realizes that love is the power that will conquer all. Following their tearful goodbye and declaration of mad love and passion, she disappears in another puff of purple light. No joke.

Story- Mary Sues almost always have a tragic background. They’ll end up in Hogwarts as the sole survivor of an attack on their previous school. Or they’ll transfer from America because they have recently discovered that they’re Harry Potter’s long-lost twin. (But that may be because the author is American and doesn’t want anyone to discover that they’re crap at British terminology.) Or the reason they arrive out of nowhere in fifth year is because their abusive relatives hated magic (Sounds familiar, eh?) and kept them back until then. The most popular life story is that they led a happy existence until around three to six years of age, at which time their loving, doting parents were brutally murdered by Voldemort himself, while they watched in horror from the hiding spot that hadn’t been penetrated by the spell Voldemort cast to reveal human presence. Then, they were shifted around from foster home to foster home, where they weren’t wanted by anyone, until Hogwarts, when they finally were adopted by some version of the Dursleys and made into a slave. Once at Hogwarts, they excelled at everything they did and everybody loved them. They then defeated the Dark Lord after some angst-ridden scene where they chewed Voldy out for killing their parents, and about how love was ‘the power the Dark Lord knows not’. They lived an unnaturally long and happy life following this, eclipsing everyone else in their fame and glory.

Love life- Of course, Mary Sues will have a love life to die for, unless they’re a shy Mary Sue, in which case every boy (and quite possibly a few girls) will want to marry her, but none will be successful… until the scene where they stumble and drop their books. They’re about to be late for class, when who should run to the rescue but (insert object of author’s desire here)? Their hands will brush together, and the two will stare into the other’s eyes while the world seems to stand still. Over the course of a few weeks, (or days, depending on how eager the author is for Miss Sue to get a guy) they will inevitably become inseparable. Then, one day, while they’re walking, he’ll take her out to some romantic and secluded location, maybe the edge of the lake or a big oak tree, and give a long, stuttering speech, saying in essence that he loves her. Halfway through, she’ll interrupt by pressing a finger to his lips. Then they’ll have a long, madly passionate snog, and be together forever. Isn’t it revolting? (Note that other girls are diminished- Hermione turns into some nerdy freak, and Ginny turns into a slutty ice queen. No comments from you, Vegata9001!)

Academics- Mary Sues are always the most intelligent student that Hogwarts has ever seen. Their grades make Hermione seem like some bumbling fool, and they never seem to need to study. Of course, all the professors are in love with them, pouring out praise as if they were a goddess. A Mary Sue will, at once, pass off schoolwork as if she was Ron and strive towards perfect grades as if she was Hermione.

Personality- Mary Sues must possess qualities of all four houses- The fierce bravery of Gryffindor, the unwavering loyalty of Hufflepuff, the acute perceptiveness of Ravenclaw, and the sly cunning of Slytherin. Almost all Mary Sues will be Sorted into Gryffindor, if nothing else as a means for the author to get close to the Golden Trio. She will be instant friends with Ron and Harry, who immediately dump Hermione and Ginny respectively for her. Mary Sues have immaculate style and will leave even Draco Malfoy speechless with their wit. Mary Sues are kind to anyone except those who are mean to them or their friends, and then they’ll stand up for their friends, no matter the consequences. Speaking of which, Mary Sues will protect younger members of the school, namely first year Hufflepuffs, from older students, normally seventh year Slytherins. These stereotyped encounters will be, in general, poorly written and will glorify the Mary Sue in question. One of the only things that varies about a Mary Sue’s personality is the level of her relationships, and she will have relationships. Some Sues willingly move their relationships to a highly physical level; others prefer to, to put it bluntly, “flaunt and taunt”.

One last thing all fan fiction-trawlers need to know is that just because a story has no AU character does not necessarily mean that it has no Mary Sues. Some authors will, while writing a story, accidentally mutate a character into a Mary Sue. The most common victims are Hermione, Ginny, and Lily.

I now trust you all to trawl fan fiction carefully, and vacate ‘Sue Stories’ before the inevitable uncontrollable retching occurs, and please, share the information you’ve learned today. The future of writing as we know it depends upon it.

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