Hey there, average fanfic writer, looking for a way to identify, prevent, and fix Mary Sues? Look no further! I'm here to help!
(Note: This applies to the Barry/Gary/Terry/Larry/Jerry/Marty Stu/Sue/Sam, AKA Mary Sue boy edition)
What is, and how to identify, a Mary Sue?
So, before we get started, we need to know what a Mary Sue is. The term "Mary Sue", was coined in the Parody Sue (see "Types of Mary Sues") fanfic, "A Trekkie's Tale", with the character Mary Sue, the youngest most beautiful Half Vulcan woman in Starfleet, born on Rigel XXXVII, where she performed a beautiful tragic death, and everyone wanted to bang her. A Mary Sue, simply, is a character which everyone loves despite doing bad things, is beautiful beyond belief, has a weird and/or long name usually, has a dramatic and/or tragic backstory, people that don't absolutely love her are considered evil and d-bags, Overpowered, and they are related or romancing an important character. (Note: Just having one or two of these traits do not usually make them a Sue unless they're written badly (Exception: Overpowered, that is almost always terrible)) "How can I identify one?" You may ask, well, if they have three or more of the traits above, gain new super duper awesome powers every chapter, and/or defy the status quo of a series so much, it can barely be considered the same series anymore, you have a Sue.
Types of Mary Sues
Mary Sue Classic- Identified above.
New Sue- Over the years the term "Mary Sue" has turned into a catch-all term for something the reviewer doesn't like, for the purposes of this article we are not using the term this way.
Black Hole Sue- A Sue that steals the show. The main character isn't relevant at all, plus Mary Sue Classic, you have a case of the Black Hole Sue.
God Mode Sue- A Sue that is basically Superpowered God. If a character beats the most powerful character, in seconds, you have a case of the God Mode Sue
Mary Tzu- A Sue that is a master strategist. If a character knows what the other person is doing, with the excuse of it's a master strategist, you have a case of the Mary Tzu.
Jerk Sue- A Sue that's a bitch, plus everyone loves them. If a character is a total bitch, but everyone loves her, you have a case of the Jerk Sue.
Possession Sue- A Sue that was a good Canon character, but was turned Sue in the fanfic. If a canon character, good in the story, was turned into a Mary Sue classic, you have a case of the Possession Sue.
Copy Cat Sue- A Sue that is a canon character copied and pasted, and then made Suelike. If a character, just like a canon character, but is a Mary Sue, you have a case of the Copy Cat Sue.
Sympathetic Sue- A Sue that wants to be sympathetic. If a character tried to made sympathetic, but is a Sue, you have a case of the Sympathetic Sue.
Anti-Sue- A Sue that's actually useless, but everyone loves them. If a character, with the opposite of Sue traits, but everyone loves them, you have a case of the Anti-Sue
Villain Sue- A Sue that's evil, usually never loses. A character, beautiful, godlike, and an evil genius, almost never gets defeated, you have a case of the Villain Sue.
Fixer Sue- A Sue that "fixes" the canon story. A character that kills, takes, or breaks up with a canon character so a character can do something other than canon, you have a case of the Fixer Sue.
Parody Sue- A Sue, that well, is a parody, doesn't need to be fixed, unless, it actually becomes a Sue. A character with all the traits of the common Sue, exaggerated, mocked, or subverted, you have a case of the Parody Sue.
Canon Sue- A Sue, that is actually a canon character. A character that is a Mary Sue of any type and canon, you have a case of the Canon Sue.
Self-Insert Sue- A Sue, while isn't usually in most lists, is a common one, a self insert, Sueded up.
Why Sues Suck
Why they actually suck.
1. They aren't interesting.
2. They can ruin outsider's opinion of a fan work, or even an entire fandom, hypothetically even fanfiction itself.
3. They make you look like a terrible writer, because you are.
4. They ruin suspense.
5. They ruin Status Quo
6. They make other writers think this is acceptable.
How To Prevent A Sue
The Flaw Method- The Simplest, give them genuine flaws, not like "S/he doesn't like her appearance." when they're beautiful, a good one is like "Cowardly", "Suicidal", "Hates Self", "Insane" or "Antisocial", though, that could be overboard a bit, and you could make an Anti Sue, so, use this in restraint.
The Failure Method- Give them failures, that's it, times they don't win, that happens.
The Death Method- Last Resort.
The Human Method- Make them humanized, a mix of The Failure and The Flaw Methods, make people dislike them, while still giving the dislikers their ups and downs. Make them Fail once and a while. Make them show their flaws once and a while.
The Child of the Story Method- Restart. Build the character around the story, and make them grow and change as time goes on. The best method.
If you're still not sure, take The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test. It'll help. Also, for those with villain problems go to this, by Rich Burlew, Skip all steps involving DnD and it's pretty good for Villains of all fictional universes.