3 Ways to Make Sure Your Character is Not a Mary Sue

We all know of these characters, the ones that barely encounter any obstacles during their journey while winning the hearts of all their potential love interests. I could name several extremely popular books that are focused on a Mary Sue or John Doe. Unfortunately it is also extremely easy to accidentally write your main characters as a Mary Sue, especially if you are in the writing groove and really cranking out that novel. Have no fear, I am here to help guide you along your literary journey and help keep you from straying off the path of a well-developed character and being sucked into the land of absolutely perfect characters that can do no wrong.
Before I can help you I must give you a in-depth guide to the mysterious Mary Sue. The Mary Sue/ John Doe character is one that can probably climb Mt. Everest on their first try with little to no issues. These characters learn fighting quickly and can do things that a normal character would not be able to do as accurately . They are also known for having no enemies, there have even been some instances where even the villain falls for them. This leads to the story becoming dull rather quickly because the main character is completely unrealistic. I know you love your characters and you want what is best for them but they need to be realistic. A reader needs a character to relate to not a character that shoot rainbows of friendship from their fingertips while gliding to the finish line.
What are some ways that I can avoid this from happening? I am glad you asked!

Here are 3 Ways to Make Sure Your Character is Not A Mary Sue:

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1. When you are developing your characters for your novel you need to create a list. For the protagonists list 3 positive traits and 1 negative trait to help balance them out.

Ex. My Protagonist:

  • Optimistic
  • Intelligent
  • Adventurous
  • Anxious

Now when you are creating your balanced antagonist you need to also create a list but this time it needs to be 3 negative traits and 1 positive trait.

Ex. My Antagonist:

  • Manipulative
  • Cold
  • Sadistic
  • Intelligent

By creating these lists you are getting to know your characters and allowing them to become more dynamic and realistic.

2. Create a realistic back story. As much as you want your character to come from a perfect home and perfect life with amazing friends and no issues pre-novel you need to understand that a back story like that is boring. No one has a perfect life and in order for you character to evolve over the course of your novel you need to give them some form of obstacle or issue in their back story that needs to be addressed during the events of the novel.

Ex. My main character has to overcome her anxiety she gained after a frightening near death experience before the events of the novel. She learns to accept her faults and how to be a stronger person so her anxiety  can no longer define her.

Having something like this allows the character to be more relatable to the reader and it is a lot more enjoyable to write these characters and really watch them grow.
3. Make sure they fail. Yes, you read that right. Failure is a part of life and so it is important that failure is present at some point during your character’s story. You can make it something as minor as losing her car keys or something as major as running from the monster instead of facing them.

Ex. My character has problems mastering her bow and ends up missing a major target during the first altercation, this causes her to have a full-blown anxiety attack.

When you are writing about failure you are allowing the hero to travel along a journey where they can evolve and face their failures head on.

Creating characters for your novel may seem like an easy process but it is important to remember to make them human while you are actually writing your novel. It is easy to get swept away and dive into your story but you need to remember that a realistic and relatable character is one that a reader will love more and it will also allow you to grow along with your character as you write their journey to adventure, success, and freedom.

Have A Wonderfully Literary Day,
Caitlin

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Time to Celebrate!

Hello World!

Today is a day to celebrate! I finally bought my domain name and changed it from My Magical Writing Adventure to The Curious Novelist.  I decided to change my blog’s name because, honestly,  it is a lot shorter than my original name and it flows really well. I also took this opportunity to give my blog a bit of a face lift and I am in love with its new appearance!

Another thing to celebrate is that my dad and I adopted two puppies yesterday from the shelter. The story behind these fur babies is that the local animal shelter found an abandoned box of puppies left in an alley last week. After being held by the shelter for five days and being cleared by a vet, the puppies were available of adoption yesterday.

Rosie and Jolly Mon
Rosie on the left and Jolly Mon on the right

My father adopted the boy and named him after his favorite Jimmy Buffett song, Jolly Mon. I fell in love with a little girl puppy with black markings and named her Rosie. That name is important to me because one of the best characters I have ever created was a pirate named Rose. Rose was a part of this beautiful writing project that I had with another person that had to be cancelled after I cut that person out of my life. All that work and love I put in Rose and her fantastic world had to be thrown away and it honestly broke my heart. In the novel, Rose was a fearless pirate captain that had a sense of adventure and never backed down. When I saw this little brave puppy run around and explore the world I knew that the name Rosie fit her like a glove.

That is all for this little life update! I am off to write now and I hope you enjoyed my little update!

Have a wonderfully literary day!

~Caitlin~

Cuties
Jolly and Rosie are such cuties!

Writing Life: Computer Vs. Notebook

Hello World!

It is a beautiful day today and I have been chugging through Camp NaNoWriMo! Worlds Apart is coming together and it feels so good to get so much work done on a novel that I love so much. Today’s post is a little writing life post that will be dedicated to the age old battle of writing in a notebook vs. writing on a computer! Cue the battle music! Something that I have noticed this Nano is that I have been writing so much more than I did in November and I honestly feel like it is because I decided to hand write my first draft instead of typing it out. I will go and type what I have written down  closer to the end so I can add more details and have an accurate word count. One of the reasons that I decided to ditch the computer until the end is that I found the computer to be distracting. While trying to type I would get distracted by the internet while writing in a notebook has caused me to really focus on it and not be distracted .

Here we go! I will write about the pros and cons of using a notebook and a computer and you can decide which one will be the best for your writing goals!

Writing in a Notebook

The first one I will be talking about is writing in a notebook! This is what my friends and I deem the “classic” approach. You break out your pen or pencil and write down the first draft of your beautiful story in a notebook. Even though this is an excellent way to really connect to the world you are creating there are some cons that  come with this approach. I have compiled a list of pros and cons for you below!

Pros:

  • Lower chances of getting distracted while writing.
  • Writing can feel so good when you do it by hand.
  • You can use beautiful pens.
  • You would be able to say that you wrote it the same way the great authors of old did. (wow that sounds dorky haha I really need to lay off the fantasy novels)

Cons:

  • Hand cramps! Writing for a long period of time can lead to them and they are AWFUL.
  • Depending on how long your first draft will be you will probably have to buy multiple notebooks which can be a pain.
  • If you are writing in pen and you make a mistake you will have to break out the white out or strike it through. This can be a hassle when you are in the writing groove.
  • Finally, the major con is typing what you have written. It is a blessing and a curse because you can add more details as you enter it in the computer but this step can be a bit time consuming.

Writing on a ComputerNow it is on to our next contestant, the computer! Writing on a computer can be easier since everything you need is in one place. There are a few cons that come with using the computer for writing so check out my pros and cons list below!

Pros:

  • Everything is in one place! Your research, playlists, and writing are all on your computer which makes it extremely easy to keep up with.
  • Less to carry around! You can pack your laptop, world bible, and a charger and be ready to write anywhere you want.
  • Computers can store all of your writing so you don’t have to worry about running out of space for your novel.
  • Spell check is a blessing. You would be surprised with how many words you misspell while writing your draft and this tool is so useful.

Cons: 

  • The internet can be so tempting when you are trying to write a project.
  • Computers can be hacked and some rude person can steal your manuscript.
  • Your computer can crash and you can lose everything. (This is why you always back up your work on to a flash-drive)
  • That battery life can dictate how much work you can get done  if you forget your charger.

Now that you have read the pros and cons of using a notebook or a computer hopefully you can now choose one that will help you along your literary journey! I hope you enjoyed this post!

Have an adventurous day!

~Caitlin