Time to Wake Up

Whew, having some trouble getting going this morning. Of course, I was completely wiped by the end of the day yesterday, so it’s to be expected, I suppose, that this morning would start out slowly.

I think I’ve had a creative breakthrough, at last. Putting my short story out for critiques and getting just two critiques back was enough to put me on a new path, one in which I’m letting more of my personality shine through. When I said I had been holding back yesterday, that’s exactly what was going on – I realized that I had been keeping an element of self away from the writing. Mary said that she thinks a lot of writers do that in order to avoid the dreaded Mary Sue, and I know I’m guilty of that. I wanted to keep so much of myself divorced from the story itself that I think it’s rendered the atmosphere of my characters sterile. Here’s a constructive example of what I’m talking about.

First, the pre-edit paragraph:

“Only if I want to look great. What about it?” Grimmy had always been on my side, so I was curious if they had swayed her to their shit, even a little. Of course, I didn’t know what I would do if they had. Adolescence in Savannah had been nothing short of hell; the assholes there must have known I could them whispering behind my back, talking shit about every single thing I wore, the way I talked, the way I looked. So what if I did like the way my ass looked in hot pants? As for the family, my sexuality remained the question of their existence, a quandary for their goddamn Southern honor: how could the scion be a limp-wristed little faggot who bopped around town without any shame? Could my heathen mother be to blame? 

And post-edit:

“Yeah, but who cares what they say?” Adolescence in Savannah had been my own little version of the Seventh Circle, surrounded by redneck devils with pitchforks up their own asses, whispering behind my back, talking shit about every single thing I wore, the way I talked, the way I looked. Kelly, though…she had been my angel, always on my side, always ready to beat the shit out of a redneck devil who looked the wrong way at me.  

I wondered if the family had swayed her to their ridiculous view of things. Like them, did she see my sexuality as the question of her existence, a challenge for her goddamn Southern honor?

See the difference there? I think it’s really a question of personalization. It’s hard to explain exactly what’s clicked for me, except that, paradoxically, I’m starting to be able to let my characters speak for themselves and not get in the way – so simultaneously I’m both injecting more of myself into the story and letting the characters drive things. Although since I created the characters, I guess that’s not such a paradox.

Speaking of Mary Sue, I just learned the term Canon Sue; that is, a canon character who acts like a Mary Sue. The list of the different Canon Sues on that page cracks me up:

For instance, did you know that Nastika from Jack Frost is a Purity Sue? For reals. Check it out:
Nastika from the movie Jack Frost as seen on MST3K. She’s so pure that the sun reverses course to give her the time to finish knitting a stocking. Her eventual suitor would be the epitome of a Marty Stu if the plot wasn’t largely about teaching him some humility. Of course the film itself is a pile-up of Russian fairy tale adaptations, so Nastika is also a pretty basic Mary Sue Classic in the vein of Cinderella and Snow White.
Fixer Sues are pretty damn great, too; I can understand the temptation to want to “fix” a particular canon. I was also amused to see that Anne Rice, in her batshittedness, had her own Fixer Sue. No wonder Merrick the Vampire was such a hated book!
Merrick from The Vampire Chronicles. After Anne Rice decided to become a “good Christian” after a death in the family, she started cutting out all the homosexuality & started pairing vampires like Louis & Marius with women. Louis ended up with a Mayfair Witch instead of Lestat (Anne Rice lost a truckload of fans).
Seriously, just check out those links. There’s an endless trove of crap to amuse you. Hell, even Jack Chick has gotten in on the Fixer Sue action:
Bob, from Jack Chick‘s Bible Series. Yes, that one. Bob is basically just a walking Deus Ex Machina that serves as an Author Avatar and uses his magical plot powers to “fix” everybody by converting them to Christianity. Bob himself has no personality, no real backstory, and little to mark him but his goal of bringing everybody to Jesus by constantly being in the right place at the right time. See article here for a thorough analysis. For all of Bob’s Stu-ness, a good number of his charges still die and go to hell for their sins. This might have been to remind the reader that people go to hell, but it comes off as Bob only being able to convert stupid people while leaving anyone capable of fending him off to burn in the lake of fire.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply