The quest to avoid Mary Sue-dom

“Write what you know.” Basic writing advice.

“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” — Kurt Vonnegut

I know my own life rather well. And I know about wanting, and the frustration of not knowing the object of that want. So I shall make Adrian like myself. This is what I know.

My first action after making this decision was to make certain that Adrian would not immediately fall into the “Mary Sue” or author insert realm. I found The Original Fiction Mary Sue Litmus Test and checked off everything that applied to my eldest creation. Thankfully, Adrian’s result was 11.* (Go take the test if you’re feeling creative, or if you’re a RPG fan like me. It’s both fun and revealing.)

A while back, I decided to write Adrian’s tale in epistolary form (which probably indicates I should pick a different form for my fantasy idea, if I get around to writing that), taking diary entries, e-mails, text messages, chat logs, and linking them together. This requires more characters, but I’ll get to them in a moment.

Last night, as I was noodling about on the Internet, I came across a random plot generator. Thanks to a malfunction with Firefox, I was unable to bookmark the site, and I cannot remember even its name. But one idea it came up with included the phrase, “The story is about hunger.” I realized then that hunger is the theme for Adrian.

Matthew 5:5-7 (New International Version, ©2010)

5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Adrian hungers for…purpose. Direction. For something to fill him spiritually. As I said, he is like me; we have similar faith/religious views. I, too, long to know my purpose — why am I here? I’m becoming very, very stressed as of late, and some of this stems from feeling as though time is speeding past while I fail to make the most of it. The rest stems from causes that do not pertain to this post.

For hunger to be the true theme and also to follow Vonnegut’s advice, each character, as in real life, has his or her own desires, some of which will come out or to the forefront. Thinking about these characters in this way is helping me finally flesh them out in ways I was unable to do before.

Now that the characters are coming to life, and I have direction, I need only to discipline myself and write.

I need the hunger to finish. I believe that I have it.

*Lasairian, my old d20 Modern character, scored 37. I was surprised; I thought it would be higher.

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