Fix 18: Write Males

Wow, I took about three months before I updated! Bad MarySueFixer!

 

Yeah, sorry for the wait. I probably would have posted this update a few hours ago if I hadn’t gone back and reread everything to be sure I wasn’t repeating something I’d already written. So now it’s time for me to pick this up again. Just in time for New Years and the Traditional New Year’s Cold!

 

So, what do you need to know for today? Write male characters instead of female. No, really. For some reason in our culture the standard for a person is a male (specifically a white male, but I digress). This is what it is, but if you’re having trouble getting RP partners to help you fix your Mary Sues, I suggest trying to write as male characters. Why? Because generally, people aren’t as hard on fics that have a male lead. They aren’t as hard on RPers who are writing a male lead. They aren’t as hard on a girl who’s writing a male lead character, even if the character is bad.

 

Double standards? Completely!

 

But will it help you practice? Yes.

 

I’m not saying don’t write girls, but what I’m saying is that if you’re only writing girls and they’re all Sues then maybe you need to try doing something different. I started just writing male characters because I felt like no matter what I did with my girls they were either being called Sues or were Sues. When I started writing male characters I was surprised because I felt more attached to them. I could get to know them easier. I felt more like they were good on the first try. I have a theory as to why.

 

I’m working on a fic about the redemption of whiny brat.  I’m working on two other fics simultaneously. The other two have males as their leads. It takes me maybe half the time to reach 3000 words on those two than the one where the girl is the lead character. Why? Well, for one thing, the girl may be my least favorite type to write. She was a villain in story she was in, but not a Voldemort type villain. She was more like one of the Plastics from Mean Girls. See, if you read my stuff, you know I looooooove a good villain. But what I like is the character who’s cruel, vicious, destroying lives and causing pain for their own reasons, knowing full well what they’re doing and just enjoying it. The ones that border on over the top, or just spring board off over the top into the oceans of insanity. I love them.

 

This character is not like that.  She likes causing pain in the form of gossip and mean words, a bit of bullying amuses her. At the same time, she doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong. She thinks she’s the victim. She’s never had to really work. She’s just spoiled. At the end, everything is stripped from her: her power, her support and even her looks. She has two years to try and rebuild her life before those trying to help her (by forcing her to have hard lessons) can’t really touch her anymore. It’s that last part that makes her interesting… but right now she’d just a whiny bitch and it’s driving me crazy.

 

To be fair, I can like the ‘bully’ type. In Skip Beat! Kyoko (the heroine) plays a character named Natsu who is the leader of a group of bully girls. Natsu doesn’t even do anything aside from speak and exist in the scene, but you can’t forget her. In one scene she black mails one girl from her group (with the girl’s diary) into ‘playing’ with another girl. The black mailed girl ends up essentially waterboarding the other girl with soda, then throws nail polish in her face and threatens to light her on fire. Natsu is still able to steal focus. All she does is sit back and smiles, smiles like she’s in ecstasy, smile like she would enjoy nothing more than to see the girl be set on fire.  I describe her as being deliciously evil.

 

This other girl, the one I’m writing, is nothing like that. It’s hard for me to write her. I was trying to pound out 3000 words for a chapter when I switch perspective to her male love interest (one of my OCs). Suddenly the writing became so much easier. I was engaging with the story and I really didn’t want to be done when I finished writing. I wanted to keep going. I was having fun.

 

I connect better with male characters. I’m much more comfortable writing male characters. Now, I have more practice doing it, but what I’ve noticed is that as long as a male character is enjoyable to read no one will judge how good of a male character he is. This is not true of a female character. Female characters are just as likely to be judged on her physique as she is on her personality, but also as he she adds up against other females, other males, and other characters. Male characters are only judged against characters in general.

 

Here’s an example: Think Harry Potter and Hermione. Harry is gifted at Defense Against the Dark Arts, part from genetics, part from sheer necessity, part from help and practice. His major flaws can basically be summed up in him having a god complex (He’s stubborn, thinks he’s always right (when he mostly is), and he thinks he has to do everything by himself). On other words he is both male and teenager.  He’s generally seen as being a good hero. Then there’s Hermione. Hermione is brilliant, and yet works hard and studies everything (something, I might add, that very brilliant people often don’t do because they don’t need to). She’s passionate about certain things, and cares a lot about her friends, causes she thinks are unjust, and doing the right thing (even if it means breaking rules).  Her flaws come from being too bossy, a know it all, and getting too flustered (especially under academic stress).

 

Rowling gets so much SHIT about Hermione, who admittedly might be the hardest working character in the series, as well as the smartest, and who saves Ron and Harry’s asses more times than can be counted because often she’d teaching them and helping them not die. But because she’s not THE hero of the story (and Harry, a male) is, Rowling gets accused of tearing down her own gender.

 

Now, please consider that if Hermione was the hero, and had the traits I listed of Harry’s that she would be considered a Mary Sue, and that Harry (having Hermione’s traits) would be considered a good character.  It’s often said that the strongest female leads were characters that were written to be men first (Think Salt and Alien).

 

The thing about writing girl characters on the internet is that so many parts of being a Mary Sue can simply add up to being female that it can become painfully stressful to try and write a non-Mary Sue. If your female ever cries (for any reason, ever) she’s seen as being weakened, but if she doesn’t cry when a normal person would then she’s called a bitch or a robot.

 

My friend and I have characters that parallel each other. Her character is very effeminate, uses her feminine wiles, and is very spunky, cute and girly. My character is dark, devious, cruel, and stubborn. She’s not unfeminine, but she only uses her sexuality when she’s feeling sweet on her husband. Otherwise, she’s torturing. My friend’s character has cried all of twice in her life. My character cries whenever she’s really in emotional pain and feels it’s personally reasonable to cry when the time calls for it (and will cry while wrapped up in a bunch of blankets).

 

We realized this was both opposite the normal (since her character is Naruto to mine’s Sausuke in many ways), but it gives them more depth.  We were able to figure this out after we took a break to basically just discuss our male characters for a while.  I hadn’t realized how much my character actually cried, but it made her normal in a way that almost nothing else she does is able to. She has pain, and when the pain becomes too much she cries. The blankets are a call back to when she was a kid and she was afraid of lightening. Her (now husband) would bundle her up in blankets to help her hide from it. When she’s scared or hurting and he’s not around, she goes to find blankets. She can’t escape that human part of her. My friend’s character doesn’t cry, doesn’t see the need, and so when she does it’s really something life changing that’s happened.

 

Crying, when normally applied to a story, makes a character seem weak. With females, if they cry, they’re suddenly playing to a bad stereotype, but that doesn’t have to be true. One of the main important parts of certain Shonen manga is the dramatic crying scene. People cry, but a male character that cries in a story when they’re hurt means that the hurt is terrible. When a female cries, it means that she’s being weak.

 

What I’m saying is that in some ways, if you want to not have so much stress and want to try to just write characters, then write males for a while.  Now, you might end up like me where you need practice writing females (I’ve actually gotten much better recently), but what you really need is practice playing with characters. So just go write males.

 

That’s all my friends! Happy New Years!

 

(On a side note: Sausuke! Why can’t you just go die already? Itachi totally sacrificed himself for nothing in order to save you!)