I’ve been nominated for ‘The lovely blog Award’ a second time. o.0 What is this? It has to be a conspiracy! ~sedatives and rubber room now on standby~ I’ve only ever been this popular with -bullies-! (Thanks Brooks)(V1.0 here)
Okayiess, I will used the cursed no. 7 again for facts but I’m gonna have to skip out on nominations this time (sowwies guys, there’s a lot of you I’d like to nominate but my brain’s in protest mode so trawling through the list of blogs I follow is a bit much right now.)
1) I’m as nutty as I seem, but I hide behind friendly, shy politeness until I’ve reeled in my prey. >.> <.< >.>
2) I was a grammar nazi. Once. Then I discovered how fun it was to bend the rules. 😉
3) I have had to be escorted of a property for my own safety. The flatmates that my ex and I lived with were drug abusers. We had already had the police out on several occasions but one night he flipped out and tried to come through the door. By this point we had barricaded it and I was sat behind the door with a carving knife like a good soldier’s daughter.
4) Same housemate, earlier on in our stay. Tried to burn me in shower by suddenly raising the boiler temperature (the kind of boiler it is will cause scalding burns too!) I simply pulled on my robe, marched to the kitchen, and turned it down right in front of him. Next time he was in the shower I pulled the same trick. It never happened again. This was just one thing in a long line of harassment. Never Piss Off an Aussie. We stand our ground and we mean business.
5) I migrated to the UK with only £1000 pounds to live off.
6) I lived in a hostel for almost half a year above a club on Brighton’s busiest party street.
7) I lived in a house without a working shower/bath, a toilet we had to flush with a bucket, and no working central heating in ENGLAND. Rich country, huh? Bullshit on that count, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve shared a room/flat or lived in abusive situation because of lack of a living wage; a problem that still existed when I was working 50+ hours a week.
Yeah, I’m a tough nut(ter).
I am having another day of not feeling so creatively inclined. But as I seem determined to do a little bit of writing everyday I thought I would discuss a pet peeve of mine, the writer’s achilles heel: Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu. I’m sure many of you have come across these characters before; perhaps have even written them. I know I have!
A Mary-Sue can be typified into three broad categories:
- The self-insert/Author surrogate: The character is essentially the Author. The pitfalls of this are fairly obvious, but it is not necessarily a disaster. If you are really in touch with your personal flaws and are sure to write your supporting characters in a fashion that is human, i.e. they react to your characters flaws and mistakes in a fashion that is Real for the character’s personality e.g. not forgiving them for murder, then this can actually work for a plot. However, no one likes this form of narcissism when it’s clearly a ploy to show people just how fantabulous you think you are. It’s just not classy.
- The 2D character (Capable wo/man): The character who is OMG Amazing. They have a wicked array of special skills, no weaknesses and can kick arse in any given situation. This usually falls dead in the water because it will pollute even the best of plots. More to the point there is no realism in character development. Any ‘flaws’ this cool character will have will be resolved with pure acceptance, a pat on the head, or unreasonable understanding from other characters. This kind of Mary Sue is usually a sign of a writer who wants everything in the plot to work out exactly how they want it regardless of how they have actually expanded their story.
- The stereotype: We all use stereotypes in our writing. Most novels need innumerable side characters and minor support characters. It is mentally impossible to construct unique characters for each. However, it is one thing for the faceless groom/servant to be stereotype, but it is another thing entirely if the main character or important supporting characters are stereotypes. The larger a role the character has the more unique they should be. No one wants a stereotypical goody-two-shoes saving the world; sure they can save the world but can you relate to the character? At the end of the day if your reader can not relate to the character then your novel is dead in the water before it gets going.
Character Development: A case by case example of avoiding the pitfalls
- The surrogate: Okay this character is me in a different situation/setting. First step: Defining the differences. You are who are because of what you have been through in your life. If you put yourself in a different time or place chances are that setting will have changed major behavioural responses. This can be as simple as how you react to cars to as complex as how you react to actions of another character e.g. If the parallel you lost their family to a fire at young age but you yourself have not then you really have to start really questioning yourself on how this would realistically affect you and, as a result, how you would have changed as a result. Second step: Real situational responses. This one relies heavily on clear definition in step one. How would this alternate you react in given situation given their altered behavioural responses? This is a crucial step to realism that will steer you clear of the pitfalls of the self-insert. If you know that you would react in a specific way but because of your self-insert’s past they would react differently then you really have to go with how they would handle the situation. This is the basis of story realism, even if the idea is that you have popped yourself into the story because you want to do certain things. If you don’t like the response then you have to do some major character development in the plot to bring about the actions you know you would take.
- Captain Wonder Wo/man: These are actually so easy to avoid. Just begin asking yourself questions on realism. If my character trains for amazing agility is s/he really going to have the time to become super strong as well? Even if your character somehow manages both, wouldn’t their sheer muscle mass compromise their agility? If my character acts like a prat and betrays their best friend (even if their intentions were good) is that character really going to forgive them even if they do happen to find out the circumstance in which the betrayal occurred? Of course, my entire line of reasoning here relies on the writer involved treating the characters as real personalities. Where as, these characters often arise because the writer is not seeing them as real individuals. I say that, but sometimes it happens because we have an idea for a really cool character and get so blinded by their prettiness we forget to fill them out. This is just so sad for the cool character; if they are so fantastic they deserve a real personality rather than nuts and bolts to hold them together.
- The stereotype: Cured by a quick rule of thumb – the more importance their role plays the more effort you should put into their definition. The stereotype is easily missed because we all use them as a basis for character development. We think ‘hmm, this kind of character would be good’ and get to the creation of said character. This is reasonable. The art of using stereotypes for character creation lies in how you construct and define the character too bring them from being 2D stereotypes to 3D characters with realistic components.
That’s enough from me on this subject now. I certainly hope you find it helpful. Ta-ta for now.
Edit: Really got to learn to do a final grammar check… Seems I always discover errors after hitting publish, even if I have done 5 edits before hand.
This blog was born in December of 2013. As I gave my theme a long awaited overhaul I realised a review of my blog was long overdue. In my first post ‘Resolutions, backgrounds and pursing the tantalising.‘ I outlined the purpose for the creation and upkeep of ‘Next Stop: The End’. As I glance back at this post I realized how far I had come in some areas, and how I had fallen woefully short in others.
The original aim of this blog was tri-fold – 1) To get over the crippling anxiety I had in letting others read my work, 2) To get the point where I could complete a novel length project, and 3) improve my writing skills. In the first area I believe I have been quite successful, otherwise I would not been able to keep an active blog; whether I had the free time or not. In the third area I also believe I have been successful to a degree, while there is room for improvement I feel that my skills have improved quite a bit. Now area two is the crux of the issue. I have completed various articles of flash fiction and poetry. Yet I still have not completed a novel. Worse, my ongoing series have gone long neglected since February last year (Jason and the Darwin Awards, Sweet Brain Damage, And you call youself a…). This absence, while caused by external factors, has crippled my progress and the growth of my site. It also conflicts with the very posting goal I laid out in my about page ‘Ventures in creativity: all you need to know.’ One would think that 1 post a week would be easy to stick too…
Over all, my goals for this blog remain the same, but in light of my review I am going to add one more: To keep my minimum posting level even if I’m busy with life related problems. Besides, there’s no way the next year can possible be as busy as 2014 was for me so someone please slap me if I miss a week.
Now, on with the literature!