mary sue or god, you be the judge

I found a new writer blog lately, asknicola, featuring the talented novelist Nicola Griffith. It's set up as if people ask her questions, but instead she seems to do the asking, in turn, making us do the thinking.

Lately, based on a review of her memoir, she put forth the question of Mary Sue characters. Go ahead, look it up if you like. Basically, though, Mary Sue characters are wish-fulfillment vehicles for the writer. Mary Sue is a character who can do no wrong, whose faults are endearing rather than deadly. Um, let me think of one offhand...oh yeah! Robert Langdon of THE DAVINCI CODE.

I don't know that I have a problem with writing Mary Sues, currently. I think the twins were Mary Sues at the start (I started that series while in the throes of a raging midlife crisis--is it any wonder they're immortal? And tall. Very tall.) But I've denigrated them significantly since those early drafts--most of all in the last one, peeling away 22,000 words to reveal flaws even I didn't realize they had.

So no, I wouldn't call Mary Sue my problem. And I don't think it always is a problem, either. After all, we have to spend months with them and our readers must spend hours with them. They must have some redeeming qualities, eh? (A cute ass doesn't hurt either.) The danger of course, leads into not torturing them enough. Most writers have a solid streak of masochism, but torturing oneself on a regular basis is difficult. Perhaps that's why so many novelists eventually turn to memoirs.

But thoughts of Mary Sue lead inevitably to theme, as it did in Nicola's post. So. Repeats of theme, anyone?

How about Christ stories for 200, Alex?

My most blatant example, Aidan, is a direct, unwilling conduit not only to his Creator, but the world itself, to Creation. The Ternion Archives blends faith and psuedo-science (and boy do I mean psuedo) to force Aidan, kicking and scratching every step of the way, into the role of "savior."

Sean is a "savior" as well, a lost prince returned to a most unlikely home. (Well, not that unlikely, being as it's a medievalesque fantasyland, but Sean is a most unlikely prince.) Nevertheless, he settles into his role well before realizing it is a role.

In the WIP, Trinidad, assassin for the Church, has found what he thinks is evidence of a god he can't admit his disbelief in. (Ok, he's not Christ-like at all, but he's scared like the dickens that he is the Second Coming through the whole story. So there is that.)

And now this series of linked stories set in fictional Armidia...Braedon is a prophet, a sliced artery spewing his god's Voice like so much blood, until the vein is quite literally cauterized closed.

Even in some id or super-ego that only past life regression could dredge up, I don't wanna be Christ. That dude had shit goin' down, man. But, I can't escape the fact that my characters center their lives on thinly veiled stand-ins for God and His place in their world. They regularly skirt their faith, but their quests seem to always come down to a "creator" of some sort, and for most of them, Creator equals Creation.

What does this all mean? Hell, I dunno. You tell me. Or better yet, tell me about your theme repeats. (Theme-peats. Heh.)

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