RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 138,887
Posts: 5,386,620
Members: 24,715
Currently online: 412
Newest member: Noga74

TrekToday headlines

Gold Key Archives Volume 2
By: T'Bonz on Aug 19

Takei Documentary Wins Award
By: T'Bonz on Aug 19

Cumberbatch To Voice Khan
By: T'Bonz on Aug 19

Shaun And Ed On Phineas and Ferb
By: T'Bonz on Aug 18

New Ships Coming From Official Starships Collection
By: T'Bonz on Aug 18

Trek Stars Take On Ice Bucket Challenge
By: T'Bonz on Aug 18

Retro Review: Profit and Lace
By: Michelle on Aug 16

Eve Engaged
By: T'Bonz on Aug 15

Shatner’s Get A Life DVD Debuts
By: T'Bonz on Aug 14

TV Alert: Takei Oprah Appearance
By: T'Bonz on Aug 14


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Literature

Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old November 21 2012, 05:54 PM   #1
sojourner
Vice Admiral
 
sojourner's Avatar
 
Location: I'm at WKRP
Question for the writers

Just thought I'd ask this before I pop off to the parents for the rest of the week.

Is there any original characters you have written that you feel that you've shown too much favoritism to? Basically, are there any characters that, to you, approach Mary Sue territory or you are afraid will if you're not extra diligent about how you use them? Have you ever written something and realized that it turned Mary Sue-ish and had to re-write it?
__________________
Baby, you and me were never meant to be, just maybe think of me once in a while...
sojourner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 21 2012, 06:31 PM   #2
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: Question for the writers

The problem with "Mary Sue" is that it's become so broadly defined as to be practically useless as a term of criticism. Fans basically use it for any character they find unappealing or excessive. So I'm not sure it's useful to approach the question in those terms. If you worry about whether someone will label a given character a Mary Sue, you'd never get any writing done, because there's bound to be someone who sees them that way.

There's a perception today that any guest character who steals the spotlight from the leads is automatically a Mary Sue, which is why you hear the charge leveled against Piper in Dreadnought! and Evan Wilson in Uhura's Song. But the fact is, it was common in episodic TV from the '50s through '70s to aspire to an anthology-like approach -- to have the regular characters travel from place to place or move from case to case and thereby get acquainted with the guest characters and their problems which would be the focus of each week's drama. TOS itself did this to an extent, at least initially -- focusing on Mitchell and Dehner in the second pilot, Harry and Eve in "Mudd's Women," the Romulan Commander in "Balance of Terror," Charlie in "Charlie X," etc. In the end credits, the central guest stars were billed above semi-regulars like Doohan, Takei, and Nichols, because the paradigm of '60s TV gave so much importance to the featured guests.

And of course in modern Trek Lit, we have cast changes and story evolution that leads to original characters being added as new regulars, not just guest stars. That's just the same kind of process that led to Chekov being added to TOS, Pulaski, Guinan, and Ro to TNG, Worf, Winn, and Damar to DS9, etc.

So a guest star taking the spotlight is not automatically a Mary Sue -- it's just a common trope of episodic storytelling from the era. A Mary Sue is that trope done badly. So basically what you're talking about is just the difference between writing characters well and writing them poorly. The mistakes that produce Mary Sues are the same ones that produce bad characters of any sort -- self-indulgence, unnatural characterization, making characters too perfect or one-dimensional, telling rather than showing, etc.

So avoiding favoritism is just part of generally trying to write reasonably well. There's nothing intrinsically wrong about a character dominating a story if it works, if there's good reason to focus on them, and if the other characters aren't mischaracterized in order to let the character in question dominate without deserving to. Ultimately, I think we just try to focus on making the story work the way it needs to, and letting the characters evolve and interact naturally.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 4/8/14 including annotations for Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 21 2012, 06:37 PM   #3
zarkon
Captain
 
zarkon's Avatar
 
Re: Question for the writers

Christopher wrote: View Post
There's a perception today that any guest character who steals the spotlight from the leads is automatically a Mary Sue, which is why you hear the charge leveled against Piper in Dreadnought! and Evan Wilson in Uhura's Song.
I can understand Evan Wilson, since I always felt the exchanges between her and kirk/spock felt pretty off.

Didn't matter in the greater scheme of things since other then those exhanges she was a good character(and avoids those charges in every other respect), and the book was fantastic.
__________________
In defeat, malice. In victory, revenge.
zarkon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 21 2012, 06:53 PM   #4
Kertrats47
Fleet Captain
 
Kertrats47's Avatar
 
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
View Kertrats47's Twitter Profile
Re: Question for the writers

zarkon wrote: View Post

I can understand Evan Wilson, since I always felt the exchanges between her and kirk/spock felt pretty off.

Didn't matter in the greater scheme of things since other then those exhanges she was a good character(and avoids those charges in every other respect), and the book was fantastic.
While reading Uhura's Song, I totally felt that Evan Wilson was a poorly-written Mary Sue character, until the final revelation made everything click into place. In retrospect, she's an interesting character and one that I kind of wish had popped up again.
__________________
Trek Lit Reviews (The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang - August 18th, 2014)
2014 Star Trek Book Releases
Kertrats47 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 21 2012, 06:55 PM   #5
Greg Cox
Vice Admiral
 
Location: Oxford, PA
Re: Question for the writers

Yeah, "Mary Sue" may be in danger of joining "jumping the shark" as a term that has outlived its usefulness. Beyond that, though, I worry less about playing favorites than about occasionally neglecting a character or two.

True confession: In retrospect, I didn't give Sisko or Janeway enough to do in my DS9 and Voyager books. There was a period where I found captains and authority figures hard to write, so I tended to focus more on colorful supporting characters like Quark or Odo or Kes or B'Elanna or the EMH. (Hmm. Looks like I was also favoring the exotic, non-human characters to some degree.)

Conversely, most of my TOS books are very Kirk-centric, to the extent that (as on the original show) Sulu, Uhura, Scotty, and Chekov tend to be underutilized. I tried to make up for that in my upcoming book, The Weight of the Worlds, where one of my primary goals was to give Sulu and Uhura some time in the sun. Poor Chekov still gets the short end of the stick, but maybe I can do something with Pavel in my next book . . . .
__________________
www.gregcox-author.com

Last edited by Greg Cox; November 21 2012 at 07:15 PM.
Greg Cox is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 08:07 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.