Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Mary Sue Litmus Test

(Reposted from 11/2/08)

Due to our forum's discussion of Mary Sue characters, I was curious and ran Wisteria and Rai Ravin through the Mary Sue Litmus Test.

Wisteria scored a 36, and Rai Ravin scored a 29, placing them both squarely into Borderline-Sue territory, which makes them only marginally more believable than an actual Mary Sue.

I think it's the "Raven" name that really does me in.

On a related note, it's been pointed out to us that our characters are stereotypical.

Well, we know that.

They're supposed to be.

We're not laboring under the delusion that our characters are reinventing the wheel of the genre here.

Really, the initial conception of SFA was that it would be like a traditionally cliche, high school drama. In medieval times. With swords. And magic.

The Clerics would be the nerds, the people that study a lot, don't get out much, are looked on with some disdain, yet will be the ones saving everyone else later. The Warriors are one-dimensional jocks: not so big on brains, often bullies, and popular for their good looks and reputations. The Mages (particularly the nobility) are the in-crowd: the popular girls who vie for social power and status and talk about hair and boys. As for the Thieves, they're the ones you'll see in detention, the ones that just don't quite fit in and are probably going to create theirown breakfast club or something at the end of the day.

When we started talking about SFA, we created our characters as stereotypes. Fell is the clumsy nobody that becomes somebody; Averi, the Thief princess with "rebellious princess syndrome"; Wisteria, the reclusive, angsty girl; and Rai, the ever-popular and attractive charmer who all the girls want to chase after.

That said, having truly stereotypical main characters would be boring to write and painful to read.

While they can be generalized into neat little categories, the fun part of having Wisteria, Rai, Averi, and Fell is that they don't always fall so nicely into their assigned roles.

Fell is the clumsy nobody that becomes somebody, but the choices he makes to become somebody in the brutal Warrior major conflict with his nature. Fell not only has to grapple with the hazing and the prejudice he finds in his classes towards those perceived as weak (or, often, just female) but also has to figure out how he's going to behave as a result of his stance on those issues.

Averi is the rebellious princess, taking actions that are in conflict with and arguably threatening to people's perceptions of her position as a royal representative. She struggles with identity--whether she'll choose to follow what's expected of her or whether she'll choose to do what she wants. This conflict has resulted in a rather interesting set of personal choices whose results will undoubtedly come back to haunt her later (no pun intended).

As for Wisteria and Rai, they stick to their salient characteristics the most. I can count on Wisteria to be sardonic and ornery and on Rai to be charming and eloquent. And while these traits define both characters well, there's more to them than that. Both Wisteria and Rai hide behind their stereotypes. It's easier for Wisteria to be apathetic and guarded because she's introverted and placed in a highly undesirable situation, just as much as it's easier for Rai to always put on a good face because that's what he thinks people expect of him.

On a slightly unrelated note, I'm so thrilled SFA is being published! KL and I received the proofs for the book just in the last couple weeks and have been editing until we've become cross-eyed. Apparently, I've been holding onto a lot of misconceptions about the placement of commas throughout my school life that have made editing a true pain.

But SFA looks like a real book, at least.

We're hoping to release the book in time for Christmas (fingers crossed the timing'll work out right).

Anyway, in America, it's November 26, which means that tomorrow is Turkey Day! So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Please eat lots of pie.



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