So I've been looking a lot at the term Mary Sue. Often, this term gets skewed around the Internet and is often a substituted term for poor writing, rather than what they really are. The term is somewhat objective, but when a large group sees that a certain character is a Mary Sue, and only it's loyal (and blind) followers disagree, it's likely a Mary Sue. (Aka Bella from twilight.) But more often it's subjective.
Now that I've rewritten my own Mary Sues and turned them into better characters, along with the fact I've gained more writing experience since the beginning of Deviantart, I'm here to talk about a certain Sue which is overlooked and often confused with others as well as lumped in with the majority of Mary Sues. (Not all Sues are created equal you know.)
Before I begin, two things need to be clarified. First, what a Mary Sue is, why saying every character has a "Mary Sue trait" is wrong in most cases.
Going back to the first, many Mary Sues can be split into three categories and each has it's own problems which need fixing. Whether it be the bio, the way the quirks and traits are portrayed, or the concept as a whole.
This is a given, and probably the easiest Sue to spot. Flawless characters do not add anything to the storyline, as their presence does not provide many opportunities to utilize literary elements such as suspense. Also, since the character is perfect, why read a story when you know what will happen at the end? Flawless characters are like spoilers, they usually alert a reader to what will happen in the end thus making it uninteresting.
2.Characters whose traits and quirks are glorified in a positive manner to where it puts them center stage all the stage all the time.
This is a bit harder to spot, but usually reading the story will alert will you to when this Sue is amount you. Basically, this is usually a character whose traits are always seen as "positive" and usually do nothing but draw attention to the character instead of furthering the plot. For example, let's say Mer is a big crybaby. She cries all the time and when she does everyone comforts her. The hottest boy in school always rushes to her side to make sure she's okay, and all the teachers let her skip class when she does.
Doesn't this sound like this trait is being used just to garner attention towards the character? Does this trait add anything to the plot or further the story? Now keep in mind having some that work like this is fine! because it's one way you can introduce a character. (If only a few traits are presented as this, then chalk that up to bad writing, not necessarily being a Mary Sue.)
But if most or all of the characters traits are just there to attract attention and not to drive plot points, then likely it's a Mary Sue.
3.Characters present in a fandom who possess traits which defy canon and alter canon character's personality for the sake of the character.
Meet the Sue who we are talking about today! Blatantly, this applies to characters whose backstories, bios, and traits often make it where they wouldn't fit in said canon and usually alter the canon character's personality. I won't spoil it now, because we have one more thing to talk before we talk about Fandom Sues!
The only thing to say here is that except for in the case of #3 on this list, there is no such thing as a "Mary Sue trait." This statement is actually false because implying certain traits make your character a Mary Sue. Which isn't true, because even cliche traits can allow and pave paths for character development and balance. There isn't a limit to what traits you can use for your character, so no trait is a "Mary Sue trait" because as long as it makes sense in the story, nothing is wrong! (If it doesn't make sense, that's bad writing.)
So you've discovered your Mary Sue has invaded a fandom. How can you tell? Usually...
-The characters will defy the laws of the specific canon, which ties in with their backstory, overall making it more of a mess. Example: Zoohir, a homestuck troll with yellow blood is empress because her blood looks like it's fuchsia to everyone else, but it's really yellow!
See the problem? Certain traits are no no's for certain fandoms. The traits of a character will tie in with their backstory. Since fandoms have certain boundaries which cannot be broken, making a character with a backstory and traits that defy those rules makes it out of place and allows it to distort other things along with it.
-The personality and traits of canon characters are tailored towards them.
This is one of the biggest no's you can possibly do within a fandom. One thing many people tend to forget is that canon characters aren't tailored around your character. Not every main character will be falling head over heels in love with your character and bring them flowers and money. Some characters aren't made for love (looking at you Jeff and Masky fans. I'm looking at you) and some characters will have certain interests in certain traits that your character may not have. While OCxCanon is frowned upon in many fandoms, keep in mind if it's done correctly, if the canon character is accurately portrayed in said relationship (be it platonic or romantic) then there's nothing wrong with it.
A word of caution here though: not every canon character has a personality which is fit for friendships or even love. If the canon character which you considering pairing up with your character has some sort of questionable motives or is obviously unfit and unstable for holding some sort of relationship, reconsider, scratch it, and look for another. Don't ruin characters like this because usually this kind of canon-defying is the most obvious and gets the most backlash towards the writers who happen to create it.
-The characters overpower the main character of said canon or share the same exclusive traits that the main characters have.
This is the final problematic thing that can make characters in fandoms Mary Sues. Sometimes, there is a certain trait which only</I></u> the main character will have. (A good example would be Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He shares the exclusive trait of being the ringbearer. You can't have a character which shares that, because then you undermine the entire plot of the story.) I know that the "chosen one" cliche is done so many times, but just because it's cliche doesn't mean you can break it. Specific traits will be present in some canons which are for the main character only. Here's an example: Suppose a book's canon makes it to where the main character is gifted with a power which allows them to transform into a sea serpent, in a world where transformation is a thing if myth. This power comes around and is blessed to only one person every 400 years. Making a character for this fandom which has the same trait when it's been stated that only the main character has makes it unbelievable, undermines the entire plot and twists it towards the Sue. And suppose your character could transform into multiple mythical animals! This would undermine the plot to the point of absurdity, making it all bend towards the Sue.
So, how does one fix a fandom Sue? Basically, it's simple. Depending on the case of what is happening with your Sue, be it canon defying, making canon characters OOC, or simple overpowerment, fixing a fandom Sue is easy. I'll walk you through each case and probable solutions.
FOR FIXING A CANON DEFYING SUE:
Basically, a piece of cake! Traits defying canon can actually be reworked. For example, let's go fix our lovely character Zoohir. Instead of having yellow blood seen as fuchsia by other characters(trolls) lets just keep her blood at yellow. Simple as that. Characters do not need to defy canon to be interesting, they can be interesting under the rules followed! This isn't very hard to do. Though it may call for some design tweaking, having a character which is probable to be kept within the limits of said canon and making it make some sense actually furthers your skills as a writer. It also allows you to properly participate with other members of your fandom in events in your fandom which involve your character! (Roleplays, collaboration in writing, projects, etc.) But when doing so, consider and remember what can and can't be defied in your canon. Do certain rules about certain groups in canon exist? Do the characters in said canon have any limitation which differentiates them from normal, usual characters? (A good example would be a group of wizards in a canon becoming unable to use magic after only five spells, and this trait also happens to play a important part in the story. Breaking this would mean your character would be defying canon and unable to function under canon to the fullest extent. What if when if somehow one of these wizards casts more than five spells and as a result, has their soul eaten alive as a price? Consider what could happen to your if it broke the rules of canon.)
FOR FIXING A CHARACTER WHO INFECTS CANON CHARACTERS WITH OOC SYNDROME:
This one actually any not need tweaking to your character's overall traits, but more towards their involvement with other canon characters. Basically, this one is simply about getting canon characters right in terms of personality, likes and dislikes, and so on. It's all about not forcing your Sue down the throat of the character when it's clear your character isn't meant for them and/or doesn't fit with said character enough to warrant a stable relationship. All you have to do here is make sure your character isn't making every canon go OOC in exchange for their "lurv." To provide examples, lets suppose Ler is a girl who isn't interested in love. She wants nothing to do with it and despises it. Since she happens to canon, and since this trait is canon, pairing her up with your OC in a romantic relationship even when she clearly isn't willing to invest time in a romantic relationship makes your character a Mary Sue because they are defying canon and defying the basic characters personality.
FOR FIXING A CHARACTER WHICH DEFIES THE MAIN PLOT OF CANON THROUGH/BY BEING OVERPOWERED:
This one is also simple. It simply involves not making your character overpowered. Consider the limits of the main character. Since these are the limits which are at best, something that still pushes and holds the main character back, your character cannot suddenly break this barrier and act like its nothing. Overpowering a main character makes it some what like this: if your character overpowers the main character, what's the point of the main character? Does your character take away the spotlight, skills, and talents that are supposed to belong to the main character, or worse, does your character completely overshadow the main character? If you shift the focus of the canon onto your character because your character is stronger than the main character, isn't that a huge red flag flying up? Know the limits of every fandom, (which are usually expressed by the main character.) and what's making a character overpowered or not.
Overall, this is actually a helpful guide to looking, analyzing and fixing a fandom Sue! Of course every fandom is different, so do your research before creating a character for one! This is only a guide to help consider what characters you have and she'd some light upon the rarely touched upon fandom Sue! I hope this servers helpful!