Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic
azurelunatic

More deconstructing Mary Sue (drafty) Sucks to be you, Not Always Right, Not Everybody Luvs You Baby

Must write up the morningthoughts I was having about "oh woe is me" vs. "sucks to be you" situations. (my parents died and now I am in my room Mourning Prettily with the sympathy of all who know my plight / my parents died and now I am reliving the moments leading up to and just after their deaths in full hallucinatory sensation, and I would trade the pity of those around me -- hell, even some of those around me -- for my parents back again in a fucking heartbeat)

And then there are antagonists who are not villains. How so? Well, some of the good, or middling-ok, people in the life of your protagonist are going to be working at cross-purposes. They don't have to be evil. You can start small -- I want to go home on time, but my boss wants me to stay late. Your character is not always in the right -- I slept in and was late to work and I'm not really caring so much, and my boss is annoyed and dealing out consequences. I got a speeding ticket because I like to drive fast.

Contrast the universe where your character is always Good and In The Right, and the antagonists are always at least minor villains: I want to go home on time because I have been working hard and I am a good worker, but my boss is out to exploit me by forcing me to work late, perhaps even off the clock. I had a horrid night and the alarm clock was broken and traffic was ass and it's Totally Not My Fault I was late, to where any reasonable person would excuse me, and my boss totally won't listen to any of the reasons why I was late, and is not only docking me for the time I wasn't there, but is also giving me extra work and disrupting my scheduled vacation days and letting their "favorite" (if you know what I mean) who never does any work have that time off instead, and I totally asked for it two months in advance! I got a speeding ticket, but I was driving safely and the cop had it in for me because I did a tell-all story on the corruption in the department and other more important people would *never* get ticketed for something so petty and seatbelts are *stupid* and they can't make me wear them!!

Tip: if you stack things so the protagonist is NEVER IN THE WRONG, for fear of making fellow characters and readers dislike them? You'll probably make *more* people dislike them than the handful that you would alienate for making your protagonist be in the wrong a few times here and there. Remember that person who always had to be right, and if they weren't right it was because someone else was out to get them, and they seemed to sway the odds of the universe to favor them? Yeah, well, if you hated hanging around near them, it may not be fun to read them either, unless it's serious escape fantasy, because *dang* it would be nice to be her for a while, instead of being *near* her and one of the people who didn't get the star treatment (and got dumped on when someone needed to be Wrong so she could be Right).

Not everyone will like your protagonist, and it will be for good and valid reasons as well as obnoxious and petty ones. Brains may make them a smartass.
Not everyone who doesn't actively *love* your protagonist will *dislike* them. If your protagonist is the prettiest and most popular thing in school, there will be a whole crowd of people who not only don't fall at her feet worshiping her, they won't be in the group of people backstabbing and plotting her downfall. They will be over there in that corner with the amusement of the week, paying rapt attention to it, and vaguely aware that there is someone over there, and yeah, she's popular, but she's never said two words to me and I've never said two words to her. (And some of the group over there will notice that she's popular all out of proportion with her actual talent, but aside from a bit of scorn because of this, they really won't give a rat's ass about what happens so long as she is not trying to play mean headgames with one of their circle or otherwise disrupting their lives.) She's just not relevant to their lives. Like, at all. (Speaking of which, "Promkings" is going to need to dissect how Harriet is popular all out of proportion to her actual talent, because that doesn't get addressed at all in HMftCRF.)
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