marbleglove: (Default)
I was talking to a friend about writing and he was telling me about his latest efforts and this character he is very excited about. She's 5'5", stunningly beautiful, has red hair and violet eyes, is an amazingly talented ninja, likes to tease the hero, and demands equal treatment with the men. Oh, and everybody likes and respects her.

I tried to figure out a tactful way to introduce him to the idea of Mary Sues and why they are really awful characters. I'm not sure how well I succeed in that. I think I might have compromised too much and failed to either be tactful or communicate a sufficient warning. However, the process made me think: given that description, is it possible to write a decent character?

My first thought is that it's simply not possible to write a character who everyone likes and respects, especially when including the reader in that "everyone." Second thought, though, is if she's a villain, then she could potentially be using a spell to force everyone to like her when in her presence. If she's the main villain in a standard quest plot (good guys much find the magical amulet of whatnot in order to remove the dark empress of doom from power) she could have acquired a copy of the prophesy foretelling her doom at the hands of the good guys and decided to take care of it herself by infiltrating their group. Since her appearance has been well known for the past decade, ever since she killed the good king using her super ninja skills and crowned herself over his still cooling body, then of course she has to change her appearance. She decided to go for spectacularly beautiful. She teases the hero because she's actually a very talented leader of men and knows exactly how to manipulate them. (After all, she's taken over a kingdom and ruled for the last ten years.)

The downside of this plot is that (a) she way outclasses the hero and (b) she's the villain. I'm unwilling to even contemplate a plot that involves the dark empress of doom being successfully wooed by a hero into changing her evil ways.

I suppose she could have become the dark empress of doom for a particular reason--invading a neighboring kingdom that had done her wrong years before, getting access to the secrets of the castle's secret chamber of secrets, or some such--and is now done with dealing with bureaucracy and wants to find a way to retire without trailing assassins for the rest of her life. At which point, the intend could have been lead the group into assassinating her in such a way that she can survive without anyone knowing that she has. And then she can slip away and return to her secret ninja clan or whatever.

This has the benefit of being really cool plot (in my humble opinion) but still puts her as way out of the hero's league and certainly not winding up happily married to him. At least not without another full plot arch explaining how that came about.

So, starting over:

We've got our stunningly beautiful ninja who teases the hero and is loved and respected by all. First, let's just nix the entire "loved and respected by all" bit. It doesn't work.

No self-respecting secret ninja clan is going to allow a stunningly beautiful daughter of the clan to train in the types of martial arts that could lead to permanent disfigurement. They would, I assume, attempt to restrict her to seduction techniques. However, our chickie here is extremely strong willed and has sworn that she will scar her own face if she is not allowed to learn the martial arts that she desires to learn. The clan leaders are extremely unhappy with this but agree. She's given special instruction by the most talented teachers to ensure that her face survives undamaged. Thus, she is both beautiful and a talented ninja. Under what circumstances is this a personality that would tease the hero? Or wind up being the love interest/reward to the hero?

Consider, at the same time as training in the martial arts she's also being trained in the seductive arts. The teasing then is done with conscious intent to seduce our relatively straight-laced hero. Our hero (for whom I have spent virtually no thought towards developing a personality) falls in love. The heroine is successful. The hero is also successful in performing the quest and crowning himself the new good king over the cooling body of the bad guy. Our heroine is part of a secret ninja clan though and is in the perfect position to be the hero's mistress/queen/bodyguard. The warrior side of her training says not to let emotions interfere while the seductress side says to willingly fall in love because it will make the assignment easier but to remember her loyalties.

The hero knows that she has split loyalties and was consciously seducing him but also acknowledges that the seduction worked and she is his. She is his safeguard against ever turning evil. He knows she will kill him if ever he does and he is reassured by this point since it's possible he is the true heir of the last dark lord.

It's a much more complex character and plot. And this has been a somewhat rambling post. But anyway, do you have any ideas for how else one could redeem a Mary Sue?
marbleglove: (Default)
So I've been listening to a lot of Heather Dale songs recently. The songs of hers that I like, I like a very great deal. (Hunter, Joan, The Prydwen Sails Again, United at War, Kingsword, etc, etc, etc)  The songs of hers that I don't like, are mostly just elevator music and are easily ignored.

Anyway, one of her songs is Black Fox, and it has a plot and characters and it's clearly a teaser to a full story. And I really want to read the story and I really don't want to write it.

To hear it and see a quite cute animation for it that illustrates the lyrics exactly, you can go here.
To hear it and see a different animation that is less strict to the lyrics and more edging towards character development and plot, you can go here.

The lyrics themselves are:

As we were out a-hunting, one morning in the spring.
Both hounds and horses, running well, made the hills and the valleys ring.
But to our great misfortune, no fox there could be found.
Our huntsmen cursed and swore but still no fox moved over the ground.

And up spoke our master huntsman, the master of the chase,
"If only the Devil himself come by, we'd run him such a race!"
And up there sprung like lightning a fox from out of his hole.
His fur was the colour of a starless night, and his eyes like burning coals.

And they chased him over the valley, and they chased him over the fields;
They chased him down to the river bank, but never would he yield.
And he's jumped into the water, and he's swum to the other side
And he's laughed so loud that the green woods shook, then he's turned to the huntsmen and he's cried:

"Ride on, my gallant huntsmen! When must I come again?
For you should never want for a fox to chase all over the glen.
And when your need is greatest, just call upon my name,
And I will come, and you shall have the best of sport and game!"

And the men looked up in wonder and the hounds run back to hide,
For the fox, it changed to the Devil himself where he stood on the other side.
And the men, the hounds, the horses went flying back to town,
And hard on their heels come a little black fox, laughing as he ran.

"Ride on, my gallant huntsmen! When must I come again?
For you should never want for a fox to chase all over the glen.
And when your need is greatest, just call upon my name,
And I will come, and you shall have the best of sport and game!
Ride on, my gallant huntsmen! When must I come again?
For you should never want for a fox to chase all over the glen."

If I had my druthers, I think I'd have [ profile] maderr write it. She has a lot of quite awesome slash stories that this reminds me of. (If you want to read her work, you should do so soon since I believe she's transitioning a lot of her publicly-available stories into a paid account. Although actually, the paid account isn't particularly expensive, so it shouldn't really be a deterrent.)

marbleglove: (Default)
"Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad"

In that vein, I have two drabbles and a short story:

Monsters )

Shhk, shhk, shhk )

A Touch of Chaos )

marbleglove: (Default)
I archive all of my fanfic at or, but don't have any particular place where I've put original fic. Thus, I think I'll use this as my forum and clean out some of my old original fic files.

First up, a story exploring time travel:

So Much Time Later )


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