The Mary Sue

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Okay, so, in my notes for this chapter, all I had was:

"Chapter 49: A New World. Shadowhunters rant."

This confused me. I have read the first three Shadowhunter trilogies, and from what I remember, I did enjoy most of it. Sure, Clary used to irritate me because she was straight up harassing and slapping people and being praised for it. And, yes, I definitely started to see a bunch of world-building loopholes that also irritated me. And, oh, most irritating of all was the overwhelming number of books coming out in the series, making me stress about reading them all in time while also reading other books and reviewing stories on this platform. So... I gave up on them.

Anyways, so, I had no idea what I was supposed to vent about.

Luckily, the other day, I had a moment where I sat down and tried to trace my thoughts back to over a year ago, when I wrote that note.

Suddenly, it hit me.

A New World = A character being introduced to a new world.

Shadowhunters = Clary = irritating character.

And then I realised that, all along, I wasn't going to vent about Shadowhunters. I was going to vent about Mary/Gary/Non-Binary Sues!

Because, wow, do I find a lot of them.

So, for those who are unaware of what a Mary Sue is, it is basically a protagonist in a novel. Except, instead of having flaws that land them into trouble, they are simply perfect. In every single way. They are overpowered, they are good at everything, and they usually also have perfect cheekbones. Don't ask me why. I don't make the rules. They just do.

Now, the real issue with this is that... if a character is so perfect, then what even is the story about? How do they grow? And, since they are so perfect, they aren't going to make mistakes that steamroll the conflict. They always make the right decision, they always save the day, and there is no sweat spilt.

Which would make for a great story, sure, if you wanted it to be a ten-word story, like so:

The world broke out into war. Mary Sue stopped it.

However, when people try to stretch it out for more than ten words? Hell, they try to make this perfect character tell a whole story?

Please. Pour vinegar into my eyes and stick some ice cubes in my underwear. Then, watch me jump and scream, because that would be a far more exhilarating story.

I have seen Mary Sues across Wattpad. So many of them! And they are mostly written because the writer really wants to see themselves in their protagonist, but they don't want their flaws to be shown in the story, so they iron it out and create this perfect character who does perfect things and is universally loved by everyone.

Except... guys!

The best part about humans is that we are confusing, messy people who make mistakes, cannot always handle our emotions, and say dumb things that have consequences. That's how we learn! And as someone who has worked with both kids and adults in challenging ways that inspire them to grow as people, there is truly nothing more beautiful than watching a human conquer their fears or demons or dangerous habits, and become someone they are proud of.

So please! Enjoy writing flawed, confused, awkward characters. Enjoy writing characters who don't care enough about the world, or characters who simply care too much, or characters who initially think their self-worth is dependent on their romantic lives. Why? Because it's real.

Now. With that out of the way, please excuse me while I turn into a world-class rat and vent about all things Mary Sue.

I once read this book. It is called Fever, by Dee Shulman. If you want to see my scathing review on it, I will link it to you because... I had a lot to say.

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