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Testing for sues

Posted by farmstink buttlass , Nov 21 2012 · 145 views

So earlier on the day I was informed that online "Mary Sue Litmus Tests" were things that existed, I took a couple to see if one of my characters, from an original story, would be considered a Sue.

As most people are probably aware, the problem witht he term "Mary Sue" is that it's a non-term. A Mary Sue is whatever you want it to be, really. Any character can, and at some point probably has, been called a Mary Sue. The definition is not clearly defined, anywhere. Of course, there are obvious Mary Sues, like Naratu the Sky Ninja who is Naruto's long lost twin brother with purple hair and the spirit of a nineteen-tailed fo inside him. Who can fly.

But assigning numerical values to anything inbetween as belonging to a certain level of Sue-ness is very haphazard, and by its very nature inaccurate.

I took 3 tests. The first said my character was a solid 40, which is to say, a solid Sue. the second said he was a 23, or a Borderline Sue. The third had him at 80% Sue. This particular last test marked certain questions as "incorrect" if they were deemed Sue-ish. Such things included being attractive, having a sword, impressing peers, etc. Which is true! Those are things that can be considered common traits of a Sue. But they're also incredibly selective and short-sighted ways of determining if someone is a Sue.

The particular character I used is a big time criminal. He is the main character of his story, so he is also the protagonist. He is a bad good person. He breaks the law unapologetically and is ultimately unredeemable. So questions like "Does everyone know your character?", which may be reasonable for a 'good' protagonist, is basically meaningless as far as Sue levels are concerned with this guy. Other questions, like does he use a pseudonym, does he impress his peers, etc. Are also worthless because in his situation and story the answer just has to be yes. Similarly, questions like "Does he turn the villain good?" don't even make sense in context.

I guess what I'm trying to say is Mary Sue is a pretty dumb term to take seriously because every story will have to build its characters under completely different rules and in an unique universe. What would make a character a "Sue" in one story or situation would make it an okay one in another.

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I think I did that once. There was something along the lines of "Has a sword in a futuristic world where it makes no sense to have" that my character failed. :P But yeah, I took the whole thing with a grain of salt. It's like it's testing your character against cliches, but when everything is classified as a cliche, it doesn't really add much value, does it?

Edit: Just took one myself, using various characters from my stories, and only the one I based off myself scored highly, so yeah. :P

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Turns out that Brian Lawson is a full-on Marty Stu.

Just as it was planned.
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The Lord Of Wednesday
Nov 21 2012 12:21 PM
"Again, keep in mind that the test isn't always correct. Morpheus from the Sandman Comics scored nearly 70 points, and yet we don't believe he's a Mary-Sue. He's well developed, suffers the consequences of several major personality flaws, and has very few powers or talents besides those necessary to perform the duties of his station. Of course, research, an interesting story, and good writing always help too. ;)"

That is under the result of any time you take the test (or at least the one I took). Though I am sure that most of us already knew that "Mary Sue" is a subjective term.

Another criticism is that the test lacks context as well.

Also, I put myself through the test and I get a 72 (or, as the test stated, an "Irredeemable Sue")....sure.
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Queen Anora Mac Tir
Nov 22 2012 11:53 PM
Sue tests suck and I don't believe in them, at all.

A while back someone told me my role playing characters were dumb because they were Sues. I told him he was full of balderdash and should shave a pine tree.
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what a mary sue

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