Thursday, 8 November 2012

Fanfiction's Unavoidable Mistress

If you've been reading any amount of fanfiction (or doing some writing yourself), she will definitely seem familiar to you. She is Mary Sue. For those of you unfamiliar with the term (or anyone else, for that matter), take a look at this article. It will tell you all you ever need to know.

However, that isn't the real reason I'm writing this. No, this blog post it devoted to that much-asked question - Is Bella Swan really a Mary Sue or not? Now this may also seem like a much-answered question, but I'd like to break with the rest of the field and really put it to the test. A Litmus Test. This one, in fact.

Right, now let's go through the questions. First, is the character named after you? A quick google search tells me no. Though, quite interestingly, four of her five siblings are called Seth, Emily, Jacob and Paul. Sound familiar, anyone? This woman really isn't very inventive.

Okay, I'll tackle the next ones together. Unusual spelling, uncommon, unnecessary punctuation, and more than one first, middle or last name can all be crossed off. But, is it a name she really likes. One must assume so, since she did pick it for her main character. There are two more ticks in this section, for describing her personality (a bit of a stretch, I know, but Bella does mean beautiful) and for her having a nickname.

Now for appearance, and I'll be damned if I read them all out. If you must know every single question, do it yourself, reader. I picked four ticks in this section: one for exceptional beauty, a second for many characters being attracted to her, a third for an otherwise chaste/stoic character being attracted to her (hello, Edward) and a fourth for eyes that reflect hidden depths. The last one I got from reading the incomplete draft of Midnight Sun (forgive me, readers! Curiousity, as you know, killed the cat).

Five ticks in character, and I'll confess I'm learning something about all of the different elements of a Mary Sue. Bella Swan is of above average intelligence (she reads Wuthering Heights when she's bored), she has angst (about Edward), she has been abducted and also physically abused (another stretch, because she kind of gave herself to the kidnapper), and she ran away from home. Next.

Furthermore, she is kind of physically handicapped (the way Meyer describes her clumsiness, she would have to be). A physical 'flaw would be that her "lips are too full for her face". She remains in a relationship and has a child (though it's kind of half-vampire, which is weird). Lastly, she is selfishly manipulative. I mean, she got Jacob to mend a bike for her just so she could 'hear' Edward again.

I'm gonna say that Bella's 'superpower' is invulnerability, though it's really invulnerability to other vampires' powers. But it's a power, and that's what's important. Though it's really just a guess, I'm saying Bella has the same taste in books and music as her creator. Let me know if you disagree.

She's a vampire. Next.

Top of her class... maybe. The way S Meyer talks about it, you'd think there was a genius hiding under those brown waves and 'deep', rather, deeply expressionless eyes. So that gets a tick. Oh wait a moment, she top of the class in Biology! Definite tick. She has her own disposable income, as of Eclipse.

Okay, the Plot, and this is where it gets really Sue-ish. Everyone significant has heard of and likes her (because Bella's school friends apparently don't matter). She (almost) suffers punishment for a crime she didn't commit, that is for having made an immortal child. She falls in love with and has sex with a character Stepehnie Meyer would presumably find attractive. Edward nurses her back to health in the first book, and she 'dies' a romantic death in his arms in the last book (only to be resurrected).

Finally. I'll leave the last section blank, because I'm not Stephenie Meyer. I wonder if anyone would be able to trick her in to doing the test? That would certainly be interesting, as long as she was honest.

Results time. 48 points! (even without Meyer's answers)

Mary-Sue. Your character needs some work in order to be believable. But despair not; you should still be able to salvage her with a little effort. Don't give up.

Yeah, right. I think this should have answered the question once and for all. I don't think she's believable either. Until next time my dear readers, Adieu.

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