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View Diary: Books That Changed My Life: How To Kill A Protagonist (33 comments)

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  •  I do not think it means what you think it means. (1+ / 0-)
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    wonderful world

    By definition, a canon protagonist cannot be a Mary Sue.

    •  well, its use has broadened (3+ / 0-)

      because it's a useful concept outside of fanfic.

      I like the definition that a Mary Sue is a character who sucks the fun from all the other characters. S/he is the only one who gets to do cool stuff. The opposite of an ensemble cast.

      •  I don't really find it useful outside of fanfic. (3+ / 0-)

        In fanfic, of course, a Mary Sue distorts preexisting canon; her story marginalizes and/or diminishes the canon characters, in order to draw all the focus to her instead.  Often that's annoying.  Sometimes -- and I have seen it done -- sometimes it's awesome.  (Especially if the fanfic author is doing it on purpose as a means of critiquing the original text.)

        But outside of fanfic I've found it too often used to just say "this (almost always female) character is hogging all the screen time that should go to other people."  With ... no really good explanation as to why exactly it should go to other people.  What's wrong with a solo protag?  What's wrong with being the only one who gets to do cool stuff, a la Batman or James Bond, when you're the hero of the story?

        I can't speak to what's going on with Honor Harrington as I never read past the first book, but I am going to side-eye the hell out of any assertion that a female character has become a Mary Sue in her own bloody canon.

        •  notice the reboots? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wonderful world, RiveroftheWest

          Batman and Bond do eventually have Mary Sue problems, even though they generally have strong antagonists (strong antagonists count as another character that is having fun). The reboots are needed to restore balance.

          It's a common problem in long lasting series.

          In both the Aubrey/Maturin and Vorkosigan series, for example, the authors had to stretch to increasingly implausible setbacks to keep the characters from becoming Mary Sues. Same for Pratchett's Vimes/Weatherwax.

          •  In the Vorkosigan series, though (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wonderful world, RiveroftheWest

            we do get a whole slew of other characters who get to do awesome things.  It has never quite reached ensemble cast level (except possibly in A Civil Campaign), but it's come close.  This is also true in the Batman comics, albeit not so much in the movies.

            And I've never found any of the setbacks or the challenges facing the Vorkosiverse characters to be "increasingly implausible".  Though with Pratchett's Vimes and Weatherwax they have gotten a little repetitive.

            In any case, "we've run out of interesting things for this character/cast to do" is not really a Mary Sue problem.

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