NanoWriMo Update: 11/20/2015

Word Count

40,053 words. That’s better! It looks like the first draft will speed past 50,000 words.

Writing Advice: Death to Mary Sue!

Everyone has a common problem: themselves. To put it more succinctly, people are jerks.

I am not being misanthropic here. I genuinely like people. Here is where a lesser person would insert a cannibalism joke. I, however, pride myself on my restraint.

Anyway, not only is no one perfect; they are also perfectly imperfect. You can depend on people. They will always let you down.

Seriously, I am not misanthropic. Or a cannibal. The point of this is not to lay a plush carpet of invective on everyone. It’s more about characters in a novel. It’s about killing your Mary Sue.

For those not in the know, or of sufficient sanity not to care until now, a “Mary Sue” is a stand-in for the author. This character exhibits no imperfections and is universally beloved by everyone. It’s the worst kind of wish-fulfillment. It’s wish-fulfillment that someone inflicts on other people.

Seek out your character’s imperfections. They can define someone as much as their good traits. Are they angry? Are they depressive? Do they talk too much? Are they a cannibal?

Flaws make for interesting characters. Why is Lucifer the most interesting character in “Paradise Lost”? Imperfections. That, and Lucifer had definable goals. God is dead boring in “Paradise Lost” because God is a Mary Sue.

Good attributes also make for a good characters, but if a character is too perfect there is no tension in the story. Is so-and-so going to make it? Of course they are, because the main character is a stand-in for the author and the author isn’t going to write about what a cretin they are.

If you write a Mary Sue on your first draft, don’t kick yourself. I must emphasize that first drafts always suck. Just change things up on the rewrites. Kill your Mary Sue then. But DON’T eat her.

The imperfections will make things more interesting. It gives the character an internal as well as external struggle. Sometimes the biggest hurdles are the ones we make for ourselves.

Gah! That sounded oracular. It makes me want to pull out my eyes.

Write what you know. You undoubtedly know a lot of jerks. Look in the mirror for a good start. Temet nosce! There’s your f*cking oracle!

Really, though, I like you. Sorry if it seems like I am being abusive. It’s either tough love or I am a tremendous jerk.

But at least I am not a cannibal.