My eyes, my eyes!

Posted on Friday, November 21, 2008 by Melanie

While recording Episode 50, Taylor mentioned that he kinda missed our Secrets of the Industry bits, so I figured I'd let you all in on an issue I'm facing as a jobbing genre writer.

I just received an invitation to an funny fantasy antho about vampires in the suburbs (and seeing as I couldn't make earlier invitations, come hell or high water I WILL deliver a manuscript for this one). For once, the Muse cooperated and dropped a blindingly hilarious concept for a parody on my head.

Said concept, however, required that I at least leaf through...well, let's just say that it's a certain monster bestseller aimed at the young adult order to get more details on what it is that I'm parodying. I knew the general plot, of course, but it's always good to have specific things that you can point to (or at) and laugh. So the book was purchased, I started to read...

...and had to stop on the second page because, oh merciful Aunt Granny, I found myself giggling because I dared not cry. Well, that and I threw up in my mouth a little. The adverbs! The flowery language! The heroine whose head I want to hold underwater until she stops acting like a ninny! Even though I'm obviously supposed to identify with her because she's so beautiful (although she doesn't know it) and smart (although she doesn't ackowledge it) and special (see prior parenthetical comment) and self-sacrificing (yadda yadda).

Come to think of it, holding her under until she stopped wriggling altogether might be a better choice.

And to think I gave up reading fanfic because I couldn't take the Mary Sues anymore. Oh, what's a Mary Sue, you ask? Well, Gentle Reader, allow me to cut and paste a definition from Wikipedia:

Mary Sue, sometimes shortened simply to Sue, is a pejorative term used to describe a fictional character who plays a major role in the plot and is particularly characterized by overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors. Perhaps the single underlying feature of all characters described as "Mary Sues" is that they are too ostentatious for the audience's taste, or that the author seems to favor the character too highly. The author may seem to push how exceptional and wonderful the "Mary Sue" character is on his or her audience, sometimes leading the audience to dislike or even resent the character fairly quickly; such a character could be described as an "author's pet".

(And in this particular case, extremely clumsiness isn't a flaw so much as the author's attempt to distract us by saying, "Look, she's not perfect, so obviously she's not a Mary Sue!" Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, honey...).

Obviously, I made the wrong choice when it came to writing genre fiction. I should have tried writing Mary Sues, setting them in the supernatural framework du jour, then I could just sit back and watch the money come rolling in.

I'd feel like a whore, of course. But a well-paid one.

Bless the author's heart, though -- at least she's making money in a business where it's rare as hen's teeth to make a living wage. And if nothing else, I'm having a very, VERY good time writing this parody.

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1 Comment

  1. MattyNNY |

    Ah, Nancy Drew!
    The original MarySue (for me anyway)
    and Yes...I'm THAT gay!


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