Indie Author, Writing

What Makes a Mary Sue (or Gary Stu)?

I’ve read The Hobbit, Dune, and a thick handful of other fantasy novels over the course of my life.  Those books read well and the characters are amazing…but not every character is.  Some are too amazing for their own good.

I’m looking at you, Mary Sue.


Now wait, you never heard of her?

Definition:  In fan fiction, a Mary Sue is an idealized character, often but not necessarily an author insert.

Mary Sue doesn’t just exist in fan fiction.  A number of indie authors who will put a Mary Sue in their books. More often than not, she’s the main character and she is usually an avatar of the author that exists in the world of the book they wrote.  

Mary Sue’s typically exist as wish fulfillment and escapism for the author.  Typically, anyway.


Would you like to know if your character is a Mary Sue?

Check out some of these highlights…

  • Does the character share your name or part of it?
  • Does the character have the same interests as you?
  • Is your character a mix of several fantasy races? (Unicorn, Elf, Saiyan, Dragon, Lich, Demon)
  • Does your character have a brooding past?
  • Is your character an orphan, or have an otherwise down on their luck history? (Poverty, no parents, prison time, torment, torture)
  • Is your character overly described versus other characters?  (Long blonde flowing hair, with eyes that could pierce your soul)
  • Does your character have many more powers than most other characters?
  • Does your character have no apparent weaknesses or character flaws?
  • Is your character always in the right? (Everybody who contradicts him/her is wrong)

Still not sure?  Have a look at this handy info graphic.



Moreover, for a more in depth examination, check out the Mary Sue Litmus Test!

1 thought on “What Makes a Mary Sue (or Gary Stu)?”

  1. Ha! I enjoyed this. My friend in high school used to insert a mysterious character into her fanfics that always had ‘straight blonde hair and emerald green eyes’. Lordy… it did definitely get old!


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