Myths created by the fanfiction masses
Case Study: Harry Potter
These are descriptions of the most common types of Original Character, Mary sues or otherwise, that occur within Harry Potter fanfiction. Regular readers will recognize them and writers should avoid them. Some of the rule may apply to cannon characters, but only if they are out of character.
- Colour: Out of the many colours that hair comes in, only a few shades can be described in a few words and even less then that is used to describe hair in fanfiction. They include Black, raven, red head, amber, dark brown, light brown, blond, platinum and dirty blond not including small variations in the group. Silky black hair is becoming more popular on girls without the usual heritage for such a colour of hair (Asian).
- Length: Lengths are simple descriptions at shoulder length hair, waist length, mid back and my favourite, ass length. Okay, maybe not, but the rest are very common. Really! 10 points to anyone who reads this and decides to use “ass length hair”.
- Highlighting: Unless added by hairdresser or a friend pretending to be a hairdresser, avoid.
- Brightness: Look, unless you are a digitally enhanced model in a shampoo add, your hair will be dull, boring to look at and its hue normal. Red hair is not apple red, or fire red or the popular “blood red”. Red hair is either ginger coloured of strawberry blond in appearance.
- Tidiness: Never a hair out of place unless the evil cannon says so in which it will now be “uniquely pretty” instead of messy. Frizz has never been an issue, or mentioned.
- Change over “the summer”: Usually done with a cannon character, say Hermione, she is boring and plain when she leaves to return home for the summer. When she returns, she is a bona fide babe in need of some lovin’, where her hair is now long, beautiful, enviable and shiny. Yeah right.
- Detail: Too much, people don’t care about other peoples eyes that much. Keep it simple unless absolutely necessary. Eyes are for seeing through, not talking about. Unless its science related of course. When was the last time you memorised the golden specs in someone’s eyes or noticed a change in the tiny rim surrounding the pupil. If no, remember that when writing your fic. If yes, see a doctor.
- Colour: Always vibrant! Always beautiful! Always… what the fuck? Brown eyes are brown eyes, not “deep pools of chocolate that carried the wisdom of the ages” that doesn’t even make sense. Eyes don’t carry wisdom, the age of the person does. If you have a fic where a young person has wise eyes that means severe trauma. If that is also the case, make the character act like it. I’m sick of bubbly characters that have “deep and meaningful” eyes.
- Link to other characters: This it referring to family inheritance, using Harry’s sister as an example. Harry has no sister, but when he does, she either has her mum’s dazzling emerald green eyes or her dad’s eyes. This is a statement to say “yes, we are related” even if the similarity is the twinkle in the eye or depth.
- Stuff you wouldn’t normally care about: Twinkle in the eye, or lack of, reference to fields, oceans, forests or fire. Stop using magazines as reference to see what eyes look like; you know they digitally enhance them, right? Maybe not.
Height and weight
- Main characters are never overweight. Powerful women don’t get fat.
- Men are tall, women are petite. Apparently.
- Has anyone noticed that the main female character ALWAYS (unless a spoof) always has curves in the right places? Is this universally trying to say that she is hot? Or is the writer assuming that everyone has simular ideas about beauty. I call it lazy.
- Favoured characters always have good figures. Unliked characters don’t.
Level of unique attractiveness
- Romance: Where a character is called “not conventually pretty” but still captures the hearts of all around her. The more serious the crush, the more this is highlighted.
- Attempt to be original: “She had silky black hair that reached her waist and sparkling emerald eyes that uniquely held more wisdom then was expected within such a pretty seventeen year old girl” no, no, NO. This isn’t unique or clever or difficult to come up with. The above sentence took me, like, two seconds to type. We have all seen descriptions such as this and are emphasized way more then it should be. Also, eyes don’t carry wisdom. Ever.
- Sometimes a fem characters physical appearance does not always follow her nationality. For British women, black hair is extremely rare. If she is part Asian, or all Asian give her brown eyes.
- On a different note, if your fanfiction is in English, please write all your text in English, or have an immediate translation next to the speech in brackets. I hate having to constantly scroll up and down just so that I know what everyone’s saying. For my sanity, or what’s left of it, please do this.
Names and nicknames:
One can recognise a Mary sue style name or nickname if:
- They are very unusual, eg. Serenity, Infinity surreal, Lyric and others. These are not real names! They also suck ass. Why on earth would you name a child “Infinity”?!
- They require translation in the introduction. I kid you not. “Hi, I’m Rabea, that’s German for Raven” no one cares what your name can be translated to! Shut up and die. This is way too common.
- The name captures attention for its quality as a name, its uniqueness and appropriateness. Right.
- Dark sounding names such as Raven, Aleña and others
- Aristocratic names that sound vampirish, but without the edge
- Names that would be more appropriate for actual snakes
- Male names that have a strong “s” sound in them like Seth, Female names that have a soft but audible “v” sound like Veronica.
- Night related names, or names that translate into night words.
- Names that would more commonly occur with prostitutes then the women who actually hold them. It’s to sound sexy, I think…
- Girls of sugar and spice and huh? These girls are the anti of the Gothic’s and have sweet, common names (Mia, Nikki, Ty, and Jade)
- Names that resemble nice flowers. Yes, nice. Unliked characters have boring flower names.
Sugar, spice and everything nice
- Motherly girls who boss everyone around and they don’t mind.
- American transfers who manage to be best friends with the authors favourite characters (and go out with the “hottest”).
- Characters who invoke a “she is so sweet” response from the cannon characters but make the readers think “what a bitch”
- Characters that love and are sharing and compassionate, and understanding, and empathetic, and will fill you with a one way, guilt ridden trip if you dare have an opinion of your own!
Avoid this like the plague.
You can see them a mile away, they try to be funny but fail miserably.
Note for all writers: Inside jokes are only funny if you are INSIDE THE JOKE. If not, it will only piss you off.
I am woman, hear me roar
These are the women who are becoming increasing popular and common… everywhere!
This is the idea that a young beautiful woman with a fiery temper can boss everyone else around, constantly yell at them, make them feel like shit for having an opposing opinion and generally be a total bitch and still maintain complete love, trust and respect. For all real women, we know this is not true.
Where do we begin…?
Classic sue: Easy to avoid. Low danger. Everything you would imagine a Mary sue to be.
I-am-in-the-wrong-time-era sue: She fights sexism, falls in love and saves the day. No sexism? Just wait for a guy to speak, and then accuse him of being a stupid sexist boy. It’s not sexist, after all, if it is a girl!
Vampire sue: Gothic, sly, beautiful, wears black.
Werewolf sue: Female version of Remus Lupin. Really.
Emo sue: NO! RUN AWAY! SAVE YOURSELVES! RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ehem. Right. This girl is tough, shelled, and sarcastic. She wears black, has a tattoo and lots of piercing, falls in love with Draco Malfoy, and is in Slytherin (Now judged on hate rather then the intended “Ambition”). She is a total bitch to everyone but is never truly hated for anything.
God sue: She is better, stronger, smarter, wiser and more powerful than all the other characters, and they know it. She is a chosen one with the rarest of abilities, so rare they make parseltongue common. She has a rare pet that is intelligent and sarcastic. She knows ancient spells and is elegant with magic. Too bad none of the other characters can kill her off.
Foreigner sue: She comes from afar; she is a breath of fresh air, beautiful, talented and sweet. She is the foreign exchange student, arriving at just the right time when stuff is happening. She is unbiased of race, religion and magic. She lives muggle culture and listens to muggle music and can use a muggle weapon with ease. Please, send her home.
Zelda sue: This sue is singular, beautiful and powerful. She is feared by her enemies for her magic and loved by her friends. Too bad all she does is get kidnapped and wait for her true love to rescue her.
Cannon: Beware… these can be very subtle… I will keep these short and sweet...
Hermione sue: Gothic/Emo, Slytherin, too intelligent and wise and powerful. Dates Draco.
Ginny sue: Fighter, lover, fighter, lover. Seriously, these are the only qualities she is given. Sad.
Luna sue: Too smart, too random, ethereal qualities.
OMG-I’m-a-girl! Sue: Cannon boy becomes girl. A hot girl. A VERY hot girl. Long hair, thin, large breasts, small, cute. Warps reality around her. Dates guys, true love style.
Lily Potter/Evans sue: Fighter, Lover, hates/loves James Potter, has friends who are in love with James’s friends, sarcastic, Red headed, too intelligent, perfect, attacks all in a five kilometre radius.
Harry sue: Over burdened, under loved, too manipulated, cuts the strings, now is Slytherin (personality, sometimes house).
Draco sue: Draco is a guy peoples! He shouldn’t be described as beautiful, graceful, and so on. I know he is a pansy but get over it! Oh, and now he is a genius, excellent at potions and is known as the “Slytherin king”. Whatever that is.
Marauder sue: Not the ones you are thinking. I mean Lily’s friends who are in love with their counterparts, but will constantly compete with them (pranks), never get into trouble and are always better then their male counterparts.
Slytherin character sue: Slytherins that are only described as loyal, beautiful, superior, undervalued, smarter, more powerful, and all round more awesome then the other houses. This is also a very feminine house. No idea why.
This is the idea that twins are an unstoppable when getting into mischief and are annoying to all the other characters that become completely helpless at their skill and energy.
Relationships with the Cannon characters:
They come, reality distorts, cannon characters become OOC, new character leaves, Cannon characters stand around wondering what the hell just happened. This follows the “red headed” theory that a person with red hair and confidence can command, yell, embarrass and more the cannon characters that they take it giving back love and respect.
Out of sight, out of mind
This is the author’s fear that as soon as she/he stops writing about his/her favourite character, they will disappear from the readers mind or vanish or something. It okay to write about other characters for a while peoples!
Two levels of pain
Character of choice, say Hermione, has been cursed with something. She is the in the first level of pain that is direct, painful and destroys reason, perception and the need to do anything. Another character, say Ron, will be in the second level of pain. He is the outsider, who feels helpless, responsible, and full of guilt and depression. Hermione’s emotional storm has struck and left Ron as her easy victim of emotional manipulation.
I love you/ I hate you
Think of Lily Evans and James Potter at school. They fight, they are secretly in love, they continue to fight, James is rejected, they fight, Lily develops romantic feelings, they fight, they go out, they fight, they love, they fight, and they love. What the hell?
The love triangle
One desirable woman, two horny men. The “right man” is pointed out quite quickly so you don’t need to read the whole story to find out what happens or who she eventually "falls in love" with.
You are either with us, or against us
Who to like and who to dislike decisions are made very quickly and kept the same through out the entire story. Characters are either close, loyal friends or despised enemies. Nothing in between.
1. Brothers: Now I know this one just about pisses everyone else off, the over protective brother bullshit! You know, the unwritten rule that when the main female “lover”, say Ginny, has an older brother, he must do all to prevent the so called relationship from occurring. That because Ginny has six brothers, she is untouchable.
Brothers do NOT act this and unless the boyfriend is obviously hurting Ginny, I really don’t think they would care overly so.
This is just an excuse for Ginny to angst and use her “red-headedness” to yell and scream at her brothers who uncharacteristically take it seriously and don’t pay her out.
Another example is if Harry has a sister who will want to date (Usually) Draco Malfoy despite the fact that in the books, he really is an asshole.
2. Parents of a daughter. Same as above only less intrusive. You would think that it would be the other way around… go figure.
Placing in the plot:
This is the first person view or third person view of the established main character. This becomes a problem when the story requires focus on another character and the author is unable is make them think about much other then the main character.
Often, the main character is in a romance related problem. Usually one has higher priorities on their mind then how to properly manipulate – I MEAN influence true love. Not anymore. It is strange how confident they are of their crushes returned feelings of twu wuv and how this knowledge is easily used to seduce the crush into a dark room for some lovin’.
Or, the main character is in a neurotic state about this crush and for reasons beyond all logic, EVERYONE is the nearby radius knows and have known for this for illogical amounts of time.
For example, Ron and Hermione. Everyone says that they have been “IN LOVE” since their first year. Fuck, that’s quick. Imagine choosing who you want to spend the rest of your LIFE with when you are eleven. That’s tough. I just feel sorry for them when I hear that comment.
While I am at it, stop using the phrase “They/you argue like an old married couple”. That is not a complement. It says “You too have been together way too long, you can’t stop arguing, time to call it quits and see new people”.
Only developed character/ all eyes on me
Stories that are based all around one character. Their actions, moves, thoughts, appearance and every word are carefully noted by the author and all the characters within the confines of the story. They are treated like purity wrapped in the finest clothes full of the most exotic and powerful knowledge and extreme confidence. Their morals are always the best ones and they ALWAYS know who to love, hate, ignore.
Its not always a Mary sue. Just develop the other freaking characters to the same freaking level of detail so it doesn’t seem like a Mary sue!
“I has insane comments!! LOL!”
- Author’s self placement. No significance on the plot, just annoying comments, fore sight on everything that is going to happen to the characters and the occasional fling. Most of the time, these stories carry the mistake in thinking that the cannon plot is rigid and cannot be affected in terms of major events.
- The Marauders (usually) and possibly Lily reading the Harry Potter books. I actually like these stories, except more time needs to be on hilarious comments rather then then rewriting the book.
“I will prank/destroy/kill you all”
- Prank: This is the thought pattern of a young person at Hogwarts (cannon and non-cannon) who will make it their mission to break all the rules, pull lots of embarrassing and usually unimaginative pranks on everyone. They never get into serious trouble. In most schools, if you sneeze wrong you get a detention. And boarding schools are even harsher! As if this could occur as commonly as it does in fanfics.
- Destroy/Kill: Negative personality traits. Unexplainable. Confusing. Pointless. Plotless.
In fanfiction, any unlikely event identified as such will definatly, without a doubt happen.
Gryffindor: Classic house, confident, caring, good, Light and fire element
Hufflepuff: Hardworking, sweet, helpful, loyal and water element
Ravenclaw: Intelligent, wise and Air element
Slytherin: Loyal, intelligent, cool, gothic, “dark and light” and earth element
Gryffindor: Arrogant, impulsive, stupid, judgemental
Hufflepuff: Weaker house, left overs, bad at everything, doomed to fail
Ravenclaw: Arrogant, blind to “the truth”, holier then thou attitude
Slytherin: Annoying, sly, plotting, evil, separate from the other three houses
“This story is insane and stuff! LOL!”
“This story is too random and has way too many inside jokes that you guys will never get! Also, I wrote this last light! Sugar high! Guaranteed lameness and no humour! Come in for three seconds and leave!”
“I wrote this to honour (ship) because they are, like, so cute!!!”
“This is pure romantic fluff without a sign of that pesky thing you always want called plot”
“OC romance! No Mary-sues”
“I wrote a Mary sue. Don’t call her that, you will make me cry and no one will care because I’m not the Mary sue…”
“If you don’t like it, don’t read it”
“Don’t worry, I didn’t like it either, I just want to keep the flamers away”