Mary Sue as Feminist Icon
; Other people's wish-fulfillment fantasies are often boring to read unless you share the selfsame fantasies.
I wonder if the world needs a guide intended for young fanfic writers on the topic of "So you want to write Mary Sue stories" -- I probably could have used one, and I know a rather lot of the young ladies out there writing them could use them.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to put yourself in the story and writing about wonderful and beautiful things happening. Nothing at all. It's a great deal of fun for you; if you're writing your friends in it, it's a great deal of fun for them as well. It isn't likely to be a universal classic, though -- unless everyone knows you and your friends, and likes you and your friends, they're probably not going to be interested enough to read it, and would probably prefer to avoid it if given the option. It is possible that you've written a universal classic, but the odds are very much against it.
Whatever you do, don't stop writing. All this writing that you're doing is helping you hone your technical writing craft, even though there will be places that very much need some work. ( Collapse )
If you have scenes that have to be cut, for gods' sake save them somewhere! ( Collapse )
Consider where you're sharing this story. Given that this is no longer the Century of the Fruitbat, you probably have it up online in some fanfiction archive or other, or in your journal, and you have the summary of the story written to be aimed directly at your intended audience -- your closest friends, the ones you're writing this to share with. The trouble with this is that while the story is your private little party, and you really wouldn't mind if the general public became friends with you and shared in the fun, the general public is not likely to share in your happiness with your shiny and would-be utopic (or dark and grim and would-be dystopic) bit of fanfiction. They're expecting fanfiction shared in that much public to be fanfiction intended for sharing with a wider and less specialized audience (all Harry Potter fans who like Hermione/Harry, for example, rather than all Harry Potter fans who like Hermione/Harry and are also your friends). If someone expecting a story of wide appeal comes in and winds up mistakenly reading your story of very narrow appeal, you may wind up in possession of a stinging review. And oh, how those fuckers hurt
Instead of sharing on a fanfiction archive where anyone looking for the pairing you like can stumble across your fic by accident, consider archiving it only in your journal. The people who matter are going to wind up there anyway, and you can always post it to your favorite fanfiction archive site later, if the response you get in your journal from people who aren't close friends of yours is good enough to suggest that your story has wider appeal. Consider labeling your story with a summary that includes "Original character who is an idealized version of me", or "How would my friends and I fit into canon?" If people who really don't want to read those sorts of stories know this up front, then they'll be more likely to avoid your story and move on to something more to their taste.
Consider what you want to convey with the story. ( Collapse )
A lot of idealized characters are stunningly beautiful, with perfect skin, lovely bodies, unique eye color, perfect hair in unusual colors, and so forth. If your idealized character has any of these things going on, or other things like special powers or something, consider giving some of these things (or if not those exact things, things similar to them) to those around your idealized character. ( Collapse )
If you're playing with characters who are people you know, but they haven't told you that they want to be in the story you're writing, insert some plausible deniability into the situation by renaming everyone. ( Collapse )
If you're writing this not just because you're telling a story that's fun, but because the story has a lot of deeper meaning to you, be careful about who you share it with and how you share it with them. ( Collapse )
Showing it off in public is inviting criticism. If you can't take criticism, don't share it in public. There are many ways to share it that aren't in public, though. You can share it one-on-one with someone; you can share it via e-mail to a person or a group; you can put it up online in a restricted-access area (like a locked, perhaps even filtered post on LJ). If you do share it with someone, let them know what kind of feedback you're looking for, before they start looking it over. ( Collapse )
One of the most stinging quasi-constructive pieces of advice out there is the raw statement "Get a beta." The usual unhappy flailing response is either "I have
a beta!" or "I can't find
a beta!" Either way, that review means that there are so many technical and structural flaws in the piece that it shouldn't be let out in public on its own. ( Collapse )
If your reviewer suddenly winds up screaming and flailing at you and coming out of nowhere with a very strong and personal reaction that leaves you hurt and spinning, it may not actually be you or your work. You may have just managed to push the hot-button of that particular reviewer, one of the things that is guaranteed to drive them completely insane. Get a second opinion from someone who you don't think has that particular hot button.
Above all, just keep writing. You may only ever wind up writing for your own amusement; you may wind up at the top of the New York Times' Bestseller List; you'll never know unless you keep writing.