matociquala8: Hey, Celia and I were talking in IM the other night about the difference between a Mary Sue character--
matociquala8: --and a character with whom the writer can identify strongly, but doesn't come across as Mary Sue.
matociquala8: I was wondering what you guys thought about that.
DeliriousBlack: define a Mary Sue
matociquala8: Character who is obviously the writer in a fantasy wish-fulfillment setting.
DeliriousBlack: plucky young heroine surrounded by harem of gorgeous guys
matociquala8: You see it a lot in fanfic and gamer fiction--
matociquala8: Ensign Mary Sue saves the Enterprise
HiddenAgenda17: ensign Mary Sue isn't tortured enough?
DeliriousBlack: Bargirl Mary Sue runs off to be a Fighter
matociquala8: It came up because we were talking to Kyri about why people were having problems with her last couple of projects, and it came out that people thought they were kind of Mary Sue and also kind of the same book
DeliriousBlack: By that definition, Falling Towers sort of has a Mary Sue.
matociquala8: in different settings.
HiddenAgenda17: I'm not sure about the Mary Sueness in Kyri's, the repeated plot points is another matter
KyriAlyse has entered the room.
matociquala8: Speak of the devil. :-)
DeliriousBlack: neat trick, that
matociquala8: Kat, that's what I was thinking too.
HiddenAgenda17: ::gets witch pricking device::
KyriAlyse: all right, I wanna know what you were saying about me.
HiddenAgenda17: ::starts prodding Kyri::
matociquala8: We were talking about you behind your back.
matociquala8: Turn around :-)
KyriAlyse: I'm not turning around while kat's prodding me.
KyriAlyse: ok, now I'm paranoid. But.
HiddenAgenda17: you were being used as an example -- now I'm gonna demonstrate accupncture
KyriAlyse: I had one of "Those" moments.
Tempest Revised has entered the room.
HiddenAgenda17: Hi Tempest
WriteKenWrite: Hi Kyri, Hi Tempest
KyriAlyse: the ones where all your synchronicity goes wham and the hair stands up on the back of your neck and you almost crash your car.
matociquala8: Remember the other night when I was talking about how some of your recent stuff seemed a little Mary Sue or repetitive to me?
KyriAlyse: only I didn't because I was alone on the road :-)
KyriAlyse: Er, yes.
matociquala8: I was just about to retract the Mary Sue part.
KyriAlyse: ::puts on helmet::
HiddenAgenda17: we were on a define 'mary sue' rampage
matociquala8: I think maybe what I meant was that the ATTS and Altir seem internal to me, and I was defining poorly.
HiddenAgenda17: and you failed the test as qualifying :-)
KyriAlyse: I thought you thought I thought Kurufinde was me. :-)
matociquala8: ::puts on schmuck hat::
matociquala8: What I was trying to say was that I don't think the issues you're putting in the books are connected enough to the reader
matociquala8: through the character development.
matociquala8: And I think maybe they'll work better if you can put the reader into the character better (as you do with Ace and Trib) instead of, because you are connecting with the character on an emotional level,
matociquala8: thinking the reader will too.
KyriAlyse: Ohhhh. Squid in the mouth.
KyriAlyse: We shall see.
matociquala8: Does that make more sense?
matociquala8: Help at all?
KyriAlyse: It definitely makes more sense than when I thought you thought Kurufinde was me. That scared me. :-)
matociquala8: Anyway, back to the Mary Sue thing. Or the squid in mouth thing.
KuroNekoDesuNe has entered the room.
KyriAlyse: That's a hard line to walk, though. 'cause if it's good to bleed on the page...
matociquala8: Because I think they *are* connected problems
matociquala8: Hey Leah!
HiddenAgenda17: Hi leah
matociquala8: You have to bleed accessibly?
KyriAlyse: I guess you have to get your squid so that other people can grok your squid.
matociquala8: Otherwise it becomes like reading other people's sexual fantasies. Even read those Nancy Friday books?
KyriAlyse: heh. yes
matociquala8: Man, the "huh?" factor on those things.
matociquala8: grok your squid.
matociquala8: Kyri, I think you just handed us a catchphrase.
HiddenAgenda17: sorry, the whole squid imagery thing is making it hard for me to type :-)
matociquala8: I have to post that one on the RM critting jargon thread.
matociquala8: Well, okay. Does it work like this:
KyriAlyse: I forget who made up the squid. I think it's on that turkey page.
matociquala8: Character has squid issues. Reader connects with character. Reader groks squid?
matociquala8: or am I missing something?
KyriAlyse: Character has issues that involve some weird thing out of the author's psyche. That's the squid.
KyriAlyse: The writer writes the character and their situation vividly enough that the reader understands the issues and hopefully feels the emotions. That's grokking the squid.
matociquala8: In other words, the writer has to get the reader to understand his childhood fear of fluffy bunnies.
matociquala8: Otherwise there's no immediacy to the--Gah, somebody save this chat.
matociquala8: This one's for the ages.
HiddenAgenda17: anyone on aim?
KyriAlyse: yes, I saved
KyriAlyse: however, there is a complicating squid factor.
KyriAlyse: some readers will grok squids that others will not.
matociquala8: Thus my claim that I could spot the childhood abuse victims by where they squicked on "Sea."
DeliriousBlack: And other readers will be annoyed by the squid
KyriAlyse: some readers may even think there is a squid when many other readers see no squid.
matociquala8: Unless you make the squid subtle or nonpivotal or develop it in such a way that any reader can see why the squid is important.
matociquala8: Even if they do not grok the squid in fullness.
HiddenAgenda17: which makes me wonder if the attractiveness of your character allows you a more irrational squid
tanaise: now that's a band name.
tanaise: Irrational squid
KuroNekoDesuNe: Grok the Squid?
DeliriousBlack: Where 80 foot attacking squid may just get on the readers' nerves.
HiddenAgenda17: if you write a distanced and charisma less character then any squid will be harder to present
KyriAlyse: Or the squid may be what makes the whole thing vivid and individual and cool.
matociquala8: Hmm. Yeah.
DeliriousBlack: It's like characters who are defined by a rape
KyriAlyse: So it's not easy to do.
DeliriousBlack: I see the squid, and I don't like it
HiddenAgenda17: okay, I'd be obliged if someone would tell me how this squid turns out
HiddenAgenda17: I have to run off for a little while :-)
HiddenAgenda17 has left the room.
matociquala8: So how do you get that squid in camo?
DeliriousBlack: But some writers have squiddy agendas when they write, and it still turns out good.
KyriAlyse: I think you have to meld it with the character and the events in the story.
DeliriousBlack: The images I am conjuring now...
KyriAlyse: There has to be a strong reason why Zorok the Strongarm fears fluffy bunnies.
matociquala8: And the reader must understand that he and his fellow villagers
matociquala8: were imprisoned in the rabbit runs by the evil Helgar the Munificent...
matociquala8: and the rabbits gnawed the bones of the dead.
matociquala8: Or whatever.
KyriAlyse: Ah, but.
KyriAlyse: How soon must the reader understand that?
KyriAlyse: Can the reader be shown Zorok running away from the fluffy bunny before learning about the Rabbit Runs of Dire Gnawing?
matociquala8: I think he has to understand fairly early that the squid will be grokked in the fullness of time.
matociquala8: So perhaps it's a reader trust issue.
KyriAlyse: I agree.
matociquala8: Guys, if it's okay with you, I'm going to save this convo and post it to my lj.
matociquala8: This is too freaking funny.
KyriAlyse: Sure. Will save me from having the giant file. :-)
matociquala8: So what do you do?
matociquala8: You drop hints that their are reasons for the squid....
matociquala8: show me the tentacle (or bunny-gnaw) scars on Zorok's tender flesh....
KyriAlyse: You build the character so that he's not just a squid-carrier.
matociquala8: He's more than a rape victim, to use Amanda's example.
KyriAlyse: You make the squid part of the character's world, not just part of the author's world that happens to have crept in.
KyriAlyse: So how to crit squid?
matociquala8: Well, hmmm. I think this brings me back to the initial idea, that Mary Sue is a subset of squid in mouth.
matociquala8: She's like, a smaller but common variety of squid.
KyriAlyse: Lemme make sure I know what she is. She's a character who literally represents the author in some kind of wish-fulfilling way?
matociquala8: I think so.
matociquala8: Or represents the author as the author works through some issue--
matociquala8: but connects inadequately to the reader to allow the reader to feel the cathartic process at work.
DeliriousBlack: Mary Sue Groks a Squid
KyriAlyse: Right, because really, why does the reader care if the author works through her fear of fluffy bunnies?
DeliriousBlack: There's a porn title
DeliriousBlack: maybe Hentai
chance88088 has entered the room.
KuroNekoDesuNe: Hey, Chance. :-)
matociquala8: The reader doesn't, unless the reader also fears bunnies.
matociquala8: Hi Chance.
KyriAlyse: Ah. So some squids may be more grokkable than others.
matociquala8: So I presume that people who write Mary Sue stories will *like* Mary Sue stories.
matociquala8: Yeah. Like not everybody is gonna have my reaction to the leeches scene in African Queen.
KyriAlyse: Few readers may fear bunnies. Many readers may fear failure or rejection or ticks.
matociquala8: Oh. Hey, I have an example.
matociquala8: Jean Auel.
matociquala8: Tell me Ayla da Vinci isn't a Mary Sue character.
KyriAlyse: I couldn't say if she is or not. She doesn't work for me, I know that much.
matociquala8: Did the first book work for you?
KyriAlyse: No, you're right. Whatever Auel's personal squid is, Ayla is a wish fulfillment character.
KyriAlyse: It did the first time through, but when I picked it up recently the clunky writing put me off.
matociquala8: Because the first book worked for me, and then it suddenly became Ayla Does Dallas (and invents civilization)
matociquala8: And then, who cares?
KyriAlyse: She became an icon. It got boring.
matociquala8: So what's the difference between that book and the other ones?
KyriAlyse: I'm not sure the difference is squid-related.
matociquala8: Okay, fair.
KyriAlyse: I think she said the interesting alternative historical thing she had to say in the first one.
KyriAlyse: Then she was done saying it. ;-)
KyriAlyse: And the character developed, rather than just being revealed as ultrasupersexycool in every scene.
matociquala8: Hmm. I thought there was more complex conflict and better-defined issues in the first one, and--
matociquala8: --yeah, the character was imperfect.
matociquala8: She screwed up, she lied, she broke rules.
KyriAlyse: there was conflict, yeah. the later ones had no conflict.
chance88088: bear - i felt the same way - liked book 1 and ever after loathed ayla
matociquala8: Hmm. Kyri, have we bored the room to tears?
matociquala8: Oh, yay!
KyriAlyse: They may be squidded out :-)
KyriAlyse: I just thought of a squid example, actually. Fall of the Kings.
matociquala8: Maybe we've got squid in the mouth over squid in the mouth.
KyriAlyse: ::wants deep fried calamari, dammit::
KyriAlyse: OK. I loved fall of the kings.
KyriAlyse: But a friend recently couldn't finish it. He said,
KyriAlyse: "I don't share the author's fetish for sensitive long-haired young men."
KyriAlyse: So that was a squid book for him.
matociquala8: It might explain my unreasoning love for Hannah's Tam Lin story.
matociquala8: It's got all my squids in it.
KyriAlyse: I'm not sure if it was not a squid for me because I share that fetish (which I do)
KyriAlyse: or if the authors made the squid grokkable for me.
KyriAlyse: but it was a squid issue. he didn't think the book was badly written. he just couldn't grok the squid.
matociquala8: John Norman.
matociquala8: There's a squid in the mouth kinda guy.
matociquala8: Enough people grokked the squid to keep him in print, but it was a squid.
KyriAlyse: MZB, sometimes. her free amazon stuff.
matociquala8: Most romances, I think, are squid books.
matociquala8: It's just a massively common squid.
KyriAlyse: Having a rare squid seems to be both an advantage and a burden.
matociquala8: Okay, so one cure: find a squid with a target audience.
matociquala8: Another one: Figure out how to put your squid in that other devil's mouth and make him *like* it.
matociquala8: Which I think is what Vonnegut does.
KyriAlyse: Another: relate your squid to larger, classic issues, so as to expand the squid.
matociquala8: He stuffs that squid so far down your throat you think it was your squid to begin with.
matociquala8: That's probably the best one.
KyriAlyse: And we talked about getting the squid in the world and the character.
matociquala8: And then to keep your readers from getting bored from book to book, you need to make the squid look different--
matociquala8: --but identifiable enough that you'll connect with readers again on the visceral level they want.
matociquala8: Anybody got anything else?
KyriAlyse: I'm afraid they have been squidded to death
matociquala8: calamari. :-)
tanaise: Can I just say that groking the squid sounds like a euphemism that scares me?
KyriAlyse: I need to go, actually. this has been a great chat. I'm saving it.
DeliriousBlack: I need some lemon with all this squid
chance88088: *snuggles celia*
matociquala8: Bye Kyri!
matociquala8: I think I learned something. This is really cool.
matociquala8: And I laughed so much my gut hurts.
KyriAlyse has left the room.
DeliriousBlack: Did your gut already hurt from food poisoning?
matociquala8: ssshhhhh :-)
DeliriousBlack: Is it only a squid if it is the author's issue channeled through the character?
matociquala8: I think that's when the reader's most likely to go "Why do I care?"
matociquala8: Because the author doesn't see the need to establish it in world.