Friday, 4 November 2011

Litmus paper? No, I think I'll stick with universal indicator.

As mentioned by practically every writer ever, Mary-sue litmus tests are not particularly accurate. Just for fun (no, I don't have that much spare time, I just couldn't be bothered to do any of the things I was supposed to be doing), I found a litmus test and tried some combinations. First I tried my current main OC (Coye, if you read the excerpt below which I really hope you didn't) and myself.

Coye, who I can best describe as an angsty teenage assassin with magic, scored a 21. This means that somehow, he's NOT a Mary-sue. On my own test, I skipped all the things that would be comparing myself to myself (do they look like you? etc...) and scored a 23. So I might be a Mary-sue apparently.

I'm nothing special. I'm plain old human, I have no special powers/abilities and I'm not especially good at anything - but not especially bad at everything either. I'm not beautiful and people very rarely say I am, but I'm not all that worried about it either. I make mistakes, I'm generally unpleasant and violent but I can be nice too. Yet this makes me a bit of a Mary-sue, while Mr. Angst isn't.

I also took a character from one of my favourite trilogies (the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks) and a character from an entirely different series that some people love, some people hate, yet I'd say that most love-to-hate. The former scored 78, which definitely makes him a Mary-sue in litmus test standards. The latter scored a 56 when human and an 88 when a vampire - still definitely a Mary-sue, but less of a Mary-sue than I expected.

Now here's the problem. The former character was quite frankly, epic. Yes he way outclassed every other character in the trilogy (and didn't he know it), but the important thing is that Brent Weeks made it work. He made it believable without making it cliche. The latter... damsel in distress with self-esteem issues. Boring, cliche and done a million times before. Oh, no doubt about it, it WORKED - the books and films wouldn't have made so much otherwise - but really? The character was pretty one dimensional and monotonous.

Two wildly different characters, two wildly different series, aimed at two wildly different demographics. Two very similar scores.

Back to Coye for a sec, would people be well within their rights to call him a Mary-sue? Well... yes. Mary-sues are made when the reader's willing suspension of disbelief is spread too far or the character is boring and predictable. Mary-sues are made by the writing, not the characters themselves, so it's up to the reader - not a strange test - to decide.

Still no TN news. I'll see y'all soon and I guess I did post again before bonfire night. I might post again tomorr... is it already past midnight? Ack, TONIGHT then. But for now this girl should probably get some sleep...

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