Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturdays of Thunder

I’ve heard that’s a movie, but I’ve never seen it. I have, however, seen the Simpsons’ episode parodying it so I figure that counts.

Anyway, today’s writing website is The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test, a quiz hosted by Springhole. If you don’t know what a Mary Sue is, I can’t blame you because I didn’t either until I stumbled across this gem. A Mary Sue is a character that the author creates as an idolized person, usually but not always a representation of themselves. The name comes from a Star Trek fan fic, the nerdiest nerdery there is, where the main character was actually made to be a ridiculous, wish-fulfillment trope. Since then, the idea has been expanded to include any over-idealized character.

Having a Mary Sue as a character in a novel is bad, because they’re perfect (or at least too awesome) and we all know how boring perfect characters. In the Litmus Test, you run through a series of traits and gain points depending on how many you have. They include things like is the character’s appearance based on your own (super attractive, of course), was the character orphaned because the villain murdered his/her family, does he/she know how to anything and other such things.

I’ve gone through it with a couple of different characters and cringed at some of the results, so much so I completely changed one idea. I didn’t realize how idealized this character was and although I liked her, she is simply too “perfect.” I find the character I turned her into a lot more interesting and a lot more capable of failure.

Anyway, run your main characters through it and see how they do. If you get more then twenty-five, you might want to think about changing. If you get more than thirty, definitely.


  1. "nerdiest nerdery" lol... I love it. Thanks for the link.. what a great idea. And no, I hadn't heard of it.

  2. I've heard of it, and the Mary Sue inevitably turns out to be the one the reader wants to kill.


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