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The differences between Self-Insertions and Mary Sues

Discussion in 'Story Board Workshops' started by Paul_Cousins, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Paul_Cousins

    Paul_Cousins Active Member

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    Hello everyone,

    It has come to my attention that some people think in fanfiction that self-insertions and Mary Sues are one in the same.

    This is not the case.

    I will be the first to admit that some self-insertions are Mary Sues, but not as many as you think.

    Now for those who don’t know a self-insertion (SI) is where the fanfiction author inserts a avatar/version himself or another original (for lack a better word) character in a fictional series.

    A self-insertion can range from your average person who doesn’t know he is in a fictional series, to a diehard otaku who knows everything about series he or she is in.

    Some self-inserts have the SI character be powerful and/or have a romantic relationship with another character. But these do not make them Mary Sues.

    As they say it is all in the details

    Self-insertion characters have flaws, some times serious flaws in their personality and/or body. They may be powerful, but there is always someone or someone more powerful than the SI character.

    When another characters meet the SI character, it is not immediate love and adulation. The SI character has to work at gaining the trust and friendship of the other characters.

    Also, any romantic relationships the SI character has with other character is at best barely stable, but usually rocky with obstacles in the SI character’s way, much like real life relationship for the most part.

    And SI characters usually only get what they want after much work and hardship.


    In comparison, Mary Sues, which can be male, female or something else, are from the start and almost always get what they want with little or no effort.

    Mary Sues are immediately loved by the characters they meet, except for the one or two characters who will probably be the unfortunate character(s) who becomes the (powerless) villain(s) against the Mary Sues grant powers.

    Also, the romantic relationships the Mary Sue has with other characters is almost always picture perfect to the point it is sickening.


    Now below are links to five very good self-insert fanfics.


    Be warn, these are very long fanfics, each fanfic story will take you at least a few days to read to the point where they are at.

    Only one of these fanfic stories is actually complete, and that story now has a only going sequel.

    All but one of these fanfics are still in progress and regularly updated within a month or two of each update. The only not currently being worked on is Bubblegum Zone and that is because of personal problems. The author will probably continue it later this year.


    The first fanfic I am linking to is titled Hybrid Theory.

    Hybrid Theory is a SI fanfic that starts as a Ranma fanfic and turns into a multi-crossover fanfic.

    This is probably one of the best fanfics ever written. It’s incomplete, but it’s a great read.

    The detail, the plot and characters are all very well developed.

    This fanfic starts getting dark in chapter three, by the it reaches Chapter 19, it is near apocalyptic.

    For nearly the past two years, this fanfic has been updated with a new chapter at the beginning of each month.

    Here is the fanfic: http://www.bladeandepsilon.com/hybridtheory.htm

    Here is the authors main website: http://www.bladeandepsilon.com/fanfic.htm

    Here is the character guide to Hybrid Theory fanfic: http://www.bladeandepsilon.com/htcharacterguide.htm

    And here is the fanart section for the Hybrid Theory fanfic: http://www.bladeandepsilon.com/htart.htm


    The next fanfic is Locked Outa Love Guest Ki. This is a very good, long, fanfic where an average guy is throw into the Ranma/AMG world and he don’t even know he is in a fiction world.

    In this fanfic, he helps Ranma and others unlock new levels of martial arts abilities, among other things.

    Locked Outa Love Guest Ki is a rare type of quality fanfic where the story is complete, the SI goes back to his world and there is a very good, non-SI sequel to the fanfic that is arguably better than the original fanfic, though it is incomplete. The sequel is called Locked Outa Love Ki Cutters.

    The sequel is updated every few weeks to a month.

    You can read Locked Outa Love Guest Ki here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2325459/1/

    You can read it’s sequel, Locked Outa Love Ki Cutters here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2565220/1/

    Also, here is a Side Story to the Locked Out the of Love fanfic titled Locked Outa Love Ring of Ki's: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2553994/1/


    The next fanfic is titled Avatar One Half. In this very good self-insert fanfic, the SI character gets stuck in a bet between to dragons, one of chaos, one of order. And he thrown into the Ranma world.

    The catch in this fanfic is the SI character has seen the Ranma anime, but he has not read the Ranma manga and he is caught off guard when the later manga plotlines start.

    Note, Avatar One Half fanfic is a rewrite, in the original Avatar One Half fanfic, the only Mary Sue in it was a major villain that the main character had to fight and that plotline happened in the later parts of the original fanfic when they went to college. I look forward to seeing those reworked parts of the story.

    This fanfic is update every month or so.

    You can read the Avatar One Half fanfic here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2126458/1/


    The next good fanfic is the classic self insert fanfic Bubblegum Zone, which takes you classic American (though Canadian) anime otaku and dumps him in the middle of Episode 2 of the OVA classic Bubblegum Crisis 2032/2033.

    This fanfic was started years ago and it is a little cliché by today’s standards, but it’s still a good read and continues after the plotline to Episode 8 is completed.

    The updates for this fanfic are currently on hiatus for the last year or so, with only part of Chapter 11 posted.

    You can read this fanfic here: http://www.bgcrisis.com/zone/zone_download.html

    You need a zip file program to read the fanfics, I recommend Filzip. It is free and easy to use.

    Chapter 11 is posted here: http://www.bgcrisis.com/zone11.txt


    The final fanfic I and going to talk about is titled Heavenly Intervention, this is good, funny fanfic where the SI character is literally reborn as Akane in the Ranma 1/2 world.

    The fanfic was last updated seven months ago, though the fanfic author still has the title listed as being continued in one his website.

    You can read Heavenly Intervention here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1451718/1/

    The author’s website is here: http://mordennight.tripod.com/

    Of course there are other good fanfics out there, and I will recommend them if you want me to list their links here.


    Now on to the Mary Sue and other bad fanfics.

    My feelings towards Mary Sues for the most part can be summed up with this DeviantART drawers DBZ fanart: http://www.deviantart.com/view/8433061/

    Finally, if you really want to research and read bad fanfiction. Or if you feel to need to feed your inner masochist, the link below is for you

    Warning, DO NOT click on the below link if you are in poor mental or physical health!!

    This forum is called Godawful Fanfiction: http://www.godawful.net/forums/

    This is NOT a pornographic forum.

    This forum comments on bad fanfics, including Mary Sue fanfics, much like MST3K did for cheap, corny movies, using excerpts of various bad fanfiction to make their points and comments, but none of post text excerpts are (as far as I have read) actually explicitly sexual. Though they do comment on the before hand and aftermath or such scenes.


    Now, I hope you all finally understand the differences between Self-insertion fanfics and Mary Sue fanfics.

    I hope you have a nice night.

    Bye,

    Paul Cousins
     
  2. King_of_doom

    King_of_doom kiva fan

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    Never knew that. The DBZ drawing was really funny, thanks for the information Paul.
     
  3. KuwabaraTheMan

    KuwabaraTheMan Active Member

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    There are some good self insertion fanfics, but the scenario you describe is the exception, not the rule. Very often you see the author's self insert character get involved in a romance with their favorite 'cool guy', and become everyone friends. There is usually a lot of overlap with Mary Sue characters.

    That's not to say that sometimes authors can insert themselves and make it a good story, but more often then not it resorts to the author becoming a Mary Sue character.
     
  4. Paul_Cousins

    Paul_Cousins Active Member

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    You got that reversed, you are stating the exception, not the rule.

    Even when a SI character is made powerful, there is always something/someone more powerful than the SI character.

    I already stated how a SI character is different from a Mary Sue.

    It's like that fine line between genius and insanity, the line is there and there is a difference.
     
  5. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    The very definition of Mary-Sue is subjective and sometimes controversial. There can be a character that showes just about every symptom of Mary-Sue-itus, but if that character isn't the focus of the story, then all of them seem to disapear. Or they can be the main focus, but if it is written just so, then you would never think of it.

    The same can be said for self-insertions.
     
  6. SilentBat18

    SilentBat18 Hmm, so, yeah

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    Hmmm, now that makes me wonder whether or not my character is a good one. so what is being said is that SI's can be either good or bad characters (not in the sense of villainous, but as the character in the whole) but Mary sues are always horrible?

    I believe that a well balanced character is the best kind of character. There doesnt have to be someone more powerful than the SI, but the SI should have at least one flaw that doesnt make it seem so perfect.

    For example, my character from my Batman Beyond fan fic is, what i believe to be, well balanced. (it will make more sense once i write the sequel... coming soon to computers near you :p ) ANYWHOOOOO, my character at first grabs the attention of Batman almost instantly, but throghout the fic she developes an odd relationship with Terry. they constantly argue, and really do hate each other, yet they care for each others safetly (given their jobs of course) BUUUUT Jazz, my character, isnt all peaches and cream. she has a horrible temper, not to mention an attitude. but she also has a rather dark past... which i wont be revealing till later.
    her positives are shes very attractive, witty, and a good fighter (however not better than Terry of course)... would you say that is a well balanced character?
     
  7. Aldrius

    Aldrius Arrogant Instigator

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    Personally, I don't believe in Mary Sues, or Self Insertions are BAD things.

    A well developed Mary Sue is still a good well-developed character.

    A character can be loved by all, be the best fighter ever, be funny, witty, intelligent... but if you give them moments of weakness, and flaws, and levels.... then they're still an interesting and endearing character.
     
  8. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

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    But the phrase "well developed MarySue" is a contradiction in itself. The definition of MarySue is an original character that is impossibly perfect in every way concievable. To give a character moments of weakness and flaws is in the same breath taking away the title of MarySue.

    MarySue(As far as I know) is the name they made up to describe bad characters. It seems to me that some people are starting to confuse the term "mary sue" with "Original Character."


    Personally, it's not the way that the MarySue acts in stories that bothers me, it's the way that most authors skew the rest of the series's characters in order to prove some point about the MS(i.e. no one ever likes them, everyone always likes them, (s)he's always the best fighter). A (series)character that is normally strong-willed may end up being portrayed as a horrible person just so that the MS will have someone to oppose him/her or (more drastically) a character that is normally suspicious will "just feel" that the MS can be trusted.
     
  9. Wild Goose

    Wild Goose The Accidental Apprentice

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    It all depends in the execution, to be honest.

    For example, take the charector of Mike O'Neil Jr. from Jon Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series (A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, When the Devil Dances, Hell's Faire). "Iron Mike" in AHBB is an almost total SI of Ringo - ex-82nd Airborne paratrooper, web page designer, mil-SF fan - with great potential to be a Mary Sue (when AHBB ends, Mike has survived a point-blank nuclear explosion, and has picked up 3 Silver Stars, 1 Purple Heart, and the Medal of Honor). By the time HF rolls along, Iron Mike, while still possibly tripping Mary Sue tripwires, is a charecter that readers can empathise and connect with. Ringo could have very easily fallen into the pit of Mary Sue-ism, but he manages to stay clear of that by grounding Iron Mike and making him a believable charector.

    On the other hand, what criteria do you use to determine a Mary Sue? Take Into The Looking Glass. The pratagonist, Dr. Bill Weaver, a physics guy, is a smart redneck, athletic, enjoys mountain biking and jogging, is in good shape, good-looking, and manages to keep up with a Navy SEAL team (though just about). Reviewers on Amazon.com derided Weaver as being "unrealistic."

    The Great Irony is that Weaver was closely based on an existing physicist who consulted with the author on the science involved. The only differences between him and Weaver were that unlike Weaver, he was a crack shot and had a huge collection of firearms in his house.

    Also, something which is LOL in its own way: when I once ran a couple of possible charecters for a WWII-era story through the Mary Sue Litmus Test, that charecter scored as a full-blown unrealistic Sue.

    The said charecters were Ronald Speirs and Richard Winters, both officers in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne. Anyone who's seen Band of Brothers would know them. *laughs, shakes head*

    Personally though, I've felt that as long as SIs only show up for bit parts, they're alright.
     
  10. Sandoz

    Sandoz Thin Man Fan

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    I've got to agree with Kuwabara on this one. First of all, you're being a little contradictory here. In your original post, you state that Self-Inserts and Mary Sues are not always the same thing (which is true) but here you make it sound as if SIs and MSs are always two separate entities, which is not true.

    I've been reading fanfiction for years, and the majority of SIs I've encountered (excluding those in parody or humor fics, which tend to be more self-aware and tongue-in-cheek, or SIs who make a deliberate point of being a minor character) could double as Mary Sues, because the writer pushes forward a highly idealized version of his/herself rather than an original (but perfect) character. Most SI authors I've encountered simply lack the maturity to recognize their own flaws or write a believable, convincing story. These same SI authors would rather read and write about how awesome they are than seriously ask, "What would happen if I was there? Would things be better or worse?"

    Self-inserts have gotten their bad reputation for a reason. Linking to a few fanfics or pieces of fanart that break the mold is nice, but that's all they're doing--breaking a mold that was already firmly in place.
     
  11. Wild Goose

    Wild Goose The Accidental Apprentice

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    Just an aside: one might argue that almost every author created charecter has SI elements, as most authors typically influence their charecters in subconscious ways.

    Although that could get really messy. *thinks about Koi Kaze and wonders whether Nanoka or Koshiro is the mangaka's SI*
     
  12. Sandoz

    Sandoz Thin Man Fan

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    Well, I'd say that's a weak argument. For a non-fanfic example, the protagonists of The Time Traveler's Wife go to a Violent Femmes concert that the author actually attended. The characters might have the same taste in music as their author, but I think that would qualify more as an example of "writing what you know" than inserting yourself into the story.

    Koi Kaze was created by a woman. Make of that what you will.
     
  13. Paul_Cousins

    Paul_Cousins Active Member

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    I posted links to give examples of what I was stating.

    Have you read the examples that I linked to in the first post?

    The main point I was commenting to KuwabaraTheMan was that SIs and Mary Sues were different.
     
  14. Sandoz

    Sandoz Thin Man Fan

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    I have no interest in reading 30 chapters of fanfic for fandoms I don't follow.

    Again you seem to have missed my point. I'm not denying that decent SIs fics can exist, but they're the exception to the rule. Linking to a few non-Mary Sue SI fics doesn't erase the hundreds of lousy fics where the SI becomes a Mary Sue from existance. They are not always different.
     
  15. Paul_Cousins

    Paul_Cousins Active Member

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    Then there is no point talking to you because you won't even give a look at the examples I linked to.

    You are like a person who judges a movie before he has even seen it. Would it really hurt you to spend five minutes to give them a look to see what I am talking about.
     
  16. Caswin

    Caswin Active Member

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    *Butts in*
    Question, because I'm genuinely curious: did you even read the second half of his post, in which he did not judge the examples you linked to and in fact seemed to be writing from the assumption that they were good?
     
  17. SkullRing

    SkullRing Member

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    Would inserting yourself as god in a non-fanfic work be a MAry Sue.
     
  18. Caswin

    Caswin Active Member

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    There's been debate on that very subject. It's not as looked-down upon, anyway - you're not messing with someone else's work, at least - but the concept's the same.
     

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