I had several questions on my live blog yesterday about Mary Sues. Karen asked, “What lets you know a character is a Mary Sue from the query or the sample pages?” And Allreb added, “I’d also be really curious to know what you consider a Mary Sue character, or how a character gets to be so Mary Sue you’re turned off by her.” (And for Stina, a photo of a Mary Jane shoe, just for comparison!)
According to Wikipedia,
A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in literary criticism and particularly in fanfiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors or readers. Perhaps the single underlying feature of all characters described as “Mary Sues” is that they are too ostentatious for the audience’s taste, or that the author seems to favor the character too highly. The author may seem to push how exceptional and wonderful the “Mary Sue” character is on his or her audience, sometimes leading the audience to dislike or even resent the character fairly quickly; such a character could be described as an “author’s pet”.
Read the rest.