Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Losing Mary

Author: Eldalie
Nominator: Ellynn
2011 Award Category: Non-Fiction: General

Story Type: Non-Fiction : Length: N/A (Non-Fiction or Poetry)
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Mature Language/Themes
Summary: How to write Original Female Characters in the Tolkienverse, and escape the clutches of Mary Sue.


Reviewed by: The Lauderdale -- Score: 6

I've never taken Mary Sue too seriously. I've written my self-insert, my Mary Sue parody, and my angsty Elf character with the unfortunate name, but I have never stayed awake worrying about whether I or anyone else was writing a Mary Sue. Seeing how she has been used in fandom to bully or to stifle, I've come to sympathize with those who call the whole thing problematic, and who say that, while Mary Sue has some usefulness as a concept, we are better off discussing whether characters are believable/interesting or unbelievable/uninteresting than whether they are Sues. For those fearful of writing according to Sue-ish stereotype, though, or who share the author's frustration with such characters, this is a well-written and entertaining essay. There were points I disagreed with, and I sometimes found it overly proscriptive, but I still thought it was an interesting and intelligent read.

Reviewed by: Kara's Aunty -- Score: 6

A very well-researched and illuminating essay, covering many of the more common pit-falls and varying faux pas of the webwide phenomenon that are Mary Sues. When reading this, I recalled that the first fanfic of any fandom I read was a LoTR Mary Sue. At the time I had no idea that such a thing existed and so thought it was quite original, if bloody peculiar. Ah, those halycon days of ignorance! Many of the reasons I wouldn't look at them now can be found in the thoroughly detailed contents of this excellent essay; though I must point out that the author is in no way condemning the genre with her conclusions, but merely trying to educate aspiring Sue-writers in what to embrace & what to avoid in their quest to make as realistic and sympathetic an OFC as possible. Great work.

Reviewed by: Windsurfbabe -- Score: 6

A most interesting, well-written piece that covers well the subject of writing - or rather, how-to-not writing Mary-Sues. Funny, rich with the writer's experience in both reading and writing, this essay is also understanding of why writers create Sues, of the secret hopes and dreams they invest their OFCs with. As a writer, I recognize myself in some of those easily found "traps for fanfiction beginners", remembering with a blush those Sues who saw the day through my eager typing; and I understand where I went wrong and, later, where I went right. And, despite the author's apologies in case this essay would offend, I found it most delicate with us writers' easily-crumpled egos. A great piece of work, deserving of praise for the research behind the words and the advice it offers.

Reviewed by: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn) -- Score: 5

Eldalie's advice is direct and firm but never unkind. She makes it clear that she does not condone flaming. As she wisely points out, most fanfic writers have a Sue lurking somewhere in their past. Her essay is entertaining yet instructive for the writer of OFCs. What is the cause of Sue? What are the hallmarks of Sue--name, origin, appearance, behavior? And how can a writer avoid her? Her advice for avoiding the dreaded Sue is to read parodies, and she provides a list! This essay is recommended for anyone who wants to write convincing OFCs.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 5

Interesting and often amusing essay on the ubiquitous and semi-controversial fanfictional stereotype, the Mary-Sue character. I thought that Eldalie tackled the topic with a sprightly mixture of humor and sensitivity. I find Mary-Sue's all over fanfiction; some are more interesting than others; but the line between a fascinating OFC and a Mary-Sue is a delicate and sometimes subjective one. I've written Mary-Sue in the past; it's probably an inevitable part of the writing process, especially with younger writers. I admire Eldalie's attempt to qualify the Mary-Sue character, and advise the writer how to avoid writing one.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 4

The Mary Sue's presence in the Tolkien fanfiction world is undeniable, and multiple essays, some less polite that others, have been written on how to avoid this less than praiseworthy character style. While this particular piece does not bring anything new to the table (as it's all been said before), the author poses the problem to the reader eloquently and with humor, and her style of rhetorical questions keeps things interesting. A nice summary of the Mary Sue problem

Reviewed by: Rivergift -- Score: 4

Wonderful work! This is so very readable and yet so very insightful, and a good guide on writing LOTR OFCs. I especially enjoyed the titles of each section - pretty ingenius, that! - and the examples given, which every fan fiction reader can attest to. But what I love most about this is the respect clearly brought up; it is obvious that this is not an attempt to hate on Mary Sues or any genre in fact, merely a few good-natured pointers. A delightful essay perfectly blending smart, funny, and respectful - a precious mixture not often seen!

Reviewed by: Levade -- Score: 3

Some very good advice given here, and done kindly, without a tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. Points are made, pointing out the problems of Sue or Stu and advice is given, all without being pretentious.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 3

LOL! This was a very fun essay; really it was more of a tutorial on how to avoid the excesses of a typical Mary Sue while constructing an OFC. I loved the touches of humor which nevertheless got the author's point across! Well written OCs are always a delight, and any time light can be shed on how to do it better, I am glad!

Reviewed by: Ellynn -- Score: 1

Excellent essay and guide about Mary Sues. I highly recommend this to all young authors.