My Deconstruction of the Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test

As I already pointed out that I came to the conclusion that Mary Sue is foremost a misogynist concept aimed to dimiss female characters.

Even thought the universal Litmus Test is using the more political correct gender pronouns xir to include everyone, it is still the Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test. That should give you something to think about. I will treat it as such. It is aimed at female original characters, don't let the xirs fool you into thinking that male originals face the same scrutiny as female originals.

I want to address the questions the Litmus test raises, as it is very, very long, it might take some while even if I shorten some aspects. What I want to address is how silly and judgemental most of the points are. They usually address, common tropes found and while I agree that mainy badly written characters employ some of them, there is no reason to deem them as Sue traits.

If you read at the very end of the page, you find under the score of 36+ the following instruction: "Fanfiction authors, you might just want to start over. Role-players and original fiction authors, at this point your characters are likely to provoke eye-rolling and exclaimations of "yeah, right!" from your readers. (Well, at least from me.) Immediate workover is probably in order."

I am honestly asking, why would anyone give a shit about one person on the internet or even a few if they roll their eyes. People constantly roll their eyes at a variety of things. (She shops at wallmart, the character uses the latest Iphone, blabla.)

The test do not give any useful help, as I sometimes beliefed. They just tell author to submit to the arbitrary likes on some people. Just because people are tired of reading of a canon's characters younger sister joining the cast and kick ass, that should not mean that you can not write about her and write her well and engaging. A character can have traits that achieve a freakishly high score (and not because you used the test wrong) and still be awesome and well written characters.

Let me begin:

1. Is/does your character's name:
  • Your name, variation of your name, nickname, screenname, or any name that has been applied to you? (Spelling it differently or changing it a little counts.) Fic:(10) RPG: (5)
  • A name you planned on giving one of your children? (10)
  • Any ordinary name spelled or changed so that it's more unusual? (3)
  • A masculine-sounding name for a female character? (1)
  • Involve a noun or verb not usually used as a name, spelled normally or not? (1)
  • If a noun, was it deliberately chosen because it's related to nature, a weapon, a gemstone, darkness, or something mystical? (1)
  • Taken deliberately from a character from another fandom that you like? (3)
  • A really unusual-sounding name (unusual in the character's time/place/world) that you made up yourself? (1)
  • Unusual for your character's time, place, and/or ethnicity? (1)
  • Belong to a country or culture your character does not belong to? (Adoption counts as belonging.) (2)
  • Chosen specifically because you thought it had a meaning appropriate for your character? (1)

First of all, let characters have special names. There is nothing wrong with letting a character have special name. Nor is it to use your own name or a screenname. Why this scoring system is so silly, let's imagine, the author has named her character Samentha S'Onyx. She did so because she goes by SamCarter213, she is a big fan of the Stargate Character, she changed the spelling to make it more unique. The last name is due to her liking Onyx. Onyx is also important for the character somehow. Let's say the author is from India, but still thinks naming one of her daughters after her favourite tv character for a second first name. Her character is also from a planet where most of the characters are named "xy son/daughter of vx". The total score for this character name alone is 35! 10 points alone for handing passing on the name as well as choosing your screen name. *headdesk*.

Given the context of the story the name might fit perfectly, so what does this tell me? Someone is really being an idiot about this naming thing.

Also, why is there an option for "A masculine-sounding name for a female character?" If Mary Sue test's were not about dissing women, then why is it an issue to have male sounding name for a woman but not a female sounding name for a man? What is this bullshit anyway? Why is this gender rigid notion about what the author or the readers perceive the name to sound important in any way? It's not, it's offensive, it's sexist and it totally betrays the genderneutral xir language.

(Having trouble finding names for your characters? Try the random name generators - link opens in a new window.)

This is at least some good advice. Still, as I said above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your character an awesome, special and meaningful name.

2. Did you base your character's looks on your own? (4) 3. Does your character look how you wish you look? (4)

So what this practically tells authors is that they should not base the character on their own looks and on any form of what they would like to look like. Who gives a fuck about whether the author looks like the character? Or if the author wishes to be taller or smaller or more big breasted or better endowed and gives those attributes to a character?

But at least basing the character on your looks is for some reason not as damming as naming it after yourself according to the points. Of course the whole basic structre behind this is it is wrong for girls to write themselves into adventures or dare to write about a more idealised version of themselves.

While it is a problem which expands into adulthood that many girls (and boys) face about unrealistic body images, that certainly is not the reason for this question here. If you do not believe me let's introduce the next questions.

4. Is your character described, illustrated, and/or shown as exceptionally beautiful, cute, or handsome? (1)
  • Does anyone fight or squabble over your character because of xir looks? (4)
  • Is anyone (including you) jealous of your character's good looks? (1)
  • Do any characters see xir attractiveness as a threat? (1)

OMG, how dare anyone write about an execeptionally beautiful character? I really, really hate this insisting that characters should not have exceptional looks or that it is wrong to have characters fight about said character for that reason. It is not uncommon that good looks might threaten some other character. If one character is jealous, what is terrible about that? You do not need to be exceptional pretty to find people who are jealous of your looks.

What type of jealousy are we talking about anyway? Is it the "Oh your hair is so pretty, I wish mine was as thick and long"-jealousy? Or are we talking about Snowwhite's step-mother "I kill everyone who is hotter than me!" type of jealousy? You know what, there are going to be some readers who are going to be jealous because there is a gorgeous woman or girl in the story. That should never concern an author.

An author should be concerned who in the story is jealous and for what reasons. What it shows the reader about the character character and simply put how it relates to the overall story. Not whether to write a handsome character in the first place.

5. Does anyone want to adopt your character, or wish that your character was their own offspring? (1)

What the ever loving fuck has this to do with anything? So characters are not being allowed to be so admired or liked so much that people want to adopt them or wish they were the parents? Really? This is not even a sign of bad writing. It's just so mind boggling stupid, I have no words.

Finding parents or parental approval, gaining a child or wishing someone was their child are all natural emotions. To make that a Mary Sue trait is essentially saying that it is somewhat exceptional for a female character to be held in that high a regard.