This test is designed to be as painless as possible; it is also very generalized. It's not intended as a point-by-point critique, but rather a simple preliminary test to determine whether or not a specific original character is a supercharacter (what is commonly known in fandom as "Mary Sue"). Supercharacters are annoying and have no place as "supporting characters" in fanfic--they deserve their own stories/series (cf. Xena).
Scoring is dead simple: for each of the following questions to which you would answer "Yes", score 1 point. Keep a running tally and compare your total score to the guide at the end of this questionnaire. Be brutally honest with yourself. It's the only way you can improve as a writer. There's no point in taking this test if you're not willing to be completely honest in your answers. Note also that there are no "maybe" or "sometimes" answers. If a question can be answered "yes" in one particular case, then it counts as a "yes" answer, period. If you have more than one original character, score each character separately. Provision is made for alternate universes; treat the characters from such stories as you would a character from one based solely in Gatch/BotP/etc. canon.
Section 1 - What's Your Name, Little Girl? Is the character named after you? (This can be your first name, middle name, or a favorite nickname.) If so, stop now. Put your pencil (mouse?) down and turn in your test. You flunk. Does the character have a really cool name that you wish you had? Like Scarlet? (If you're writing for one of the American dubs, ignore this question.) Does the character have more than one name? (i.e. a nickname or a pseudonym--Galactor/Spectran names or Science Ninja/G-Force names count but shortened versions of the character's real name do not.) Did you spend more than a day looking for just the right name? Have you named or considered naming your pet or child the character's name? Section 2 - Check Your Look In The Mirror Is the character the same gender as you? Is the character from the same racial group as you? (Note: if the character is an alien, mutant, cyborg, or some other "super- human", answer yes to this question.) Is the character a half-breed (human/alien, etc.)? Is the character too young to legally drink alcohol (below 21)? Does s/he drink anyway? Does the character *look* like s/he is younger than 21? For a particular reason? That you plan on making a plot point later? Is the character drop-dead gorgeous or roguishly handsome? Does one or more of the regulars find the character highly attractive? Do other regulars see him/her as a threat because of this? Does the character have an unusual hair and/or eye color for no apparent reason? (Peroxide and contacts do not count.) Will this be a plot point later? Does the character do any one thing better than any of the regulars? (We're talking fighting skills, technological abilities, etc.) Does the character do MORE than one thing better? Section 3 - Written In Your History Is the character the long-lost child or descendent or sibling of a regular or recurring character? Of Ken/Mark/Ace/Hunter and/or Joe/Jason/Dirk? Of Nambu/Anderson/Brighthead/Keane and/or Katze/Zoltar/Galactor? Of another original character for whom you intend to write another story or even another series? Is the character a member or a friend of a hitherto unknown Science Ninja Team/Galactic Security team like G-Force? And is the last surviving member of that team? Did the character have an unusual birth? Does the character have a twin (male or female), a clone, or a sibling of the same gender? About whom you plan on writing another story later? Does the character have a very good singing voice? Does the character play a musical instrument really well? The guitar, for instance? Does the character have better taste in music than you do? (For example, does your character own cd's that you think cool people ought to own, even though you've never actually listened to the music yourself?) Does the character do what you do for fun or profit? (This includes having the same job you have, or would like to have when you're older, or having a job that sounds like a lot of fun even though you know nothing about it. It can also mean RPing, computer programming, whatever.) Is the character Nambu/Anderson/Brighthead's secretary? Does the character insult the regulars constantly and/or show a blatant disregard for authority? Does s/he get away with this stuff? Does everyone end up liking the character (among the regulars you like)? In spite of his/her bad attitude? Section 4 - All The Right Moves The Bad Guys: Is the character a Galactor/Spectran? A Devil Star? One of Katze/Zoltar/Galactor's most "trusted" aides? Is the character the child of Galactor/Spectrans? But doesn't find out until the middle or end of the story, or will find out in a future story you already have planned? Is the character currently being actively hunted by Galactor/Spectra? Is the character actually a double agent for the ISO/Galactic Security? The Rest: Does the character, not being either Galactor/Spectran or a Science Ninja/ G-Force member, have special fighting skills anyway? Is s/he trained as a Science Ninja and/or have a cerebonic implant in spite of not being originally on the team? Does the character have any psionic abilities (telepathy, telekinesis, empathy, precognition, etc.?), even if only with a sibling or lover? Does the character just "know things" for no apparent reason? Can the character fly? Without the aid of BirdStyle? Can the character heal with a touch and/or thought? Do animals instinctively like the character? (If the character has animal empathy, answer "Yes".) Section 5 - Love Is In The Air (I was wondering what that smell was...) Does the character fall in love with and/or have sex with Joe/Jason/Dirk and/or Katze/Zoltar/Galactor? (And if anyone writes a story with both being "AND" send me a copy.) With another recurring character from the show? With Ken or Jun? With Ken AND Jun? At the same time? (Ooh...kinky...) With whom *you* would like to fall in love and/or have sex? With another original character? With whom *you* would like to fall in love and/or have sex? Does the story end with the character's wedding? Does the story end with the character getting pregnant or getting another character pregnant? Is the father Joe or the mother-to-be Jun? Is Katze either the father or the mother? Is another regular one of the parents? Is Sosai X? (If so, give yourself 20 extra points and the X-Files "Out There" Award for Originality--thanks to Katharine Foust-Martin for this idea!) Section 6 - Meanwhile, Back in the Real World... Would you like to be friends with the character if you met in real life? Do you think everyone who reads the story should automatically like the character and want to be friends with the character? If someone tells you s/he doesn't like your character, do you take it as a personal attack on you? (Be honest.) Do you ever pretend, just to yourself, that you *are* the character, with the same strengths and abilities? Section 7 - The Plot Thickens Do you introduce the character on the first page of the story? Before any of the regulars appear? Do you tell the story primarily from the character's point of view? Does the character meet the team, and after a few tense pages of plot, become friends with them? Does the character figure out right away who the Science Ninja/G-Force team are? Without any prior knowledge? Does the character manage to develop a friendship with an otherwise villainous character, and through this friendship, reform the other character? Is the villain in question Katze/Zoltar/Galactor? Does the villain become evil again after the character dies, but retain some last vestige of goodness from his/her interaction with the character, evidenced in one selfless action at the end of the story? Does the character become a Science Ninja/G-Force member during the course of the story? Does s/he become G-6? Is this an alternate reality where s/he has always been with the team? Does the character save the day and/or another character's life? Through use of their superior fighting skills/firepower? Through dying? Does everyone go into mourning? Does s/he return miraculously from the dead by the end of the story? In the sequel? Does the character become an ISO/Galactic Security agent? Does the character end up living at the Snack Jun/Crescent Coral/ Center Neptune? With one of the other regulars (at the airstrip, in the trailer, at the harbor, etc.)? On a permanent basis? Do you plan on basing all your future stories around this particular character?
Now compare your total score to the list below:
0-15 Well-developed character, not likely a Mary Sue. Pat yourself on the head.
16-25 Borderline case. If poorly or inobjectively written, s/he could be branded a Mary Sue. If handled well, people will forgive you a lot of personal excess.
25+ Full-fledged Mary Sue. Danger, Will Robinson, this one's a supercharacter.
35+ Give serious thought to overhauling your character and/or plot. Please. In the name of humanity.
Okay, the worst is over. Let's assume your character failed miserably. What to do? Do you try to correct the problem or do you forge ahead and write what you want anyway? That's entirely up to you. There are no hard fast rules governing fanfiction, and popular opinion varies not only from fandom to fandom or from group to group, but even from story to story. If your character scored 35 or higher and you don't want to change him/her, that's totally okay. It's your character, and they're your stories, and you're allowed to write whatever you want. Just be aware that, if your character scored fairly high on this test, chances are that there are going to be some people who will call your character a Mary Sue. While that's potentially true of any "self-insertion" character (there's always going to be somebody around with a big rubber stamp waiting to brand an author-created with this label), a high score on this very generalized and hardly all-inclusive test will make that possibility a hell of a lot more likely.
"Emby, how would YOU fix it?" You mean how DID I fix it. >.< Trust me, I've written plenty of rabid Mary Sues in my time and I learned from my gaffes. The best advice I ever got came from Mercedes Lackey (of Valdemar fame): "Give your character warts." This isn't a directive to curse your darling with an embarrassing skin condition--it's a caution to build flaws into your character. Nobody's perfect except Jesus Christ and they crucified him for it. Flaws like "she has a tragic past" or "he cares too much about his friends" won't cut it either. Maybe your character's tone-deaf but THINKS she sings like a bird, or maybe he couldn't shoot straight to save his life, or maybe she's got a bad temper (and SUFFERS THE CONSEQUENCES FOR IT!!). If you're going to give the character something they can't do, make sure it's something they wish they COULD do. Not being able to fight effectively could seriously hamper your character. Not being able to tap-dance and whistle simultaneously is totally irrelevant.
If you must have your character romantically involved with one of the regulars (Joe, Katze, even Nambu), don't for God's sake let it be love at first sight (at least not for the regular!!). Show the relationship developing over time. Throw obstacles in their path. Let them have fights (and don't let your character win and/or always be in the right). Most of all, don't let your character abuse the love of their lives and get away with it--when Miya pushed Joe too hard, he walked out on her.
Speaking of the Savage Redhead, she scored higher than I thought she would, but still tolerable (I would hope). So she's a borderline Mary Sue. I could bring her score down easily enough (taking away her musical ability and singing voice, adding a prologue featuring the KNT to her introductory story, not having her fall for Joe, etc.), but I choose not to. (And yes, I answered "Yes" to the question about taking slams against Miya personally. If I can be honest, you can too.)
If you would like more tips on writing Gatch fic in general and this sort of fic in particular, check out my new guide. It might prove useful to you.
To quote Missy herself: "First and last of all, be real. The fantasy will make itself."
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