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Old 12-30-2012, 05:03 AM   #1
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"Mary Sue"s and how to avoid them

It seems that many of the "hot" stories in Romance and Loving Wives (particularly the revenge stories) seem to have bland, perfect characters.

Example, I recently read a story in loving wives I think ( I forget the title) where the protagonist is this perfect young guy hired right out of college and made a manager. Everyone treats him like he walks on water, the female love interest is little more than adornment for his perfectness. The antagonist on the other hand resembles more a cartoon caricature of a villain rather than an actual person. If an author finds it necessary to demonize the antagonist so thoroughly to create sympathy for their main character, then IMO they've failed as a story teller.

I really wish more authors would give their characters flaws and not make them the perfect ideals of masculinity/femininity. If the main character is someone the author wishes they were, they need to stop and reanalyze their story. But every time I make a comment about it, some anon commentators attack me for daring to criticize stories with a red H next to the title. Is this because I usually don't log in and make anon comments? Will logging in with my name help or will people just harass me via pm?

Alas it seems that the only reliable method of finding quality material is to stick to authors you know and wait for them to write a new story.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:40 AM   #2
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I always log in to leave feedback, even if it is critical. I haven't had anyone jump on me for it. But i tend to read older stories so maybe they are getting fewer readers by then.

Why don't you link the story?
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:24 AM   #3
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I find the Internet is like that anywhere you go. People respond in really weird ways when it comes to criticism. But people who like something that's being criticized respond weirdest of all. I don't know much about this site, but I've heard a lot of grumblings about the people who comment in the "Loving Wives" category. Apparently those comments sections can get pretty hairy.

When it comes to correcting someone for having written a "Mary Sue" character, you have to remember that although the name Literotica implies erotic literature this is a free website and a lot of the people who are writing stories are writing stories that are only meant to be wish-fulfillment fantasies, and not sweeping romantic epics. And I think that's pretty fair.

But there are also a lot of people here who write deeper, more flawed, more realistic characters than just literary blow-up dolls.

I would suggest that when you comment in the future, you don't focus so much on the characters, especially if the story seems to be written as a specific fantasy. Alternatively, if you think the story was written with the intention of being an actual "story" (for lack of a better term, though I don't personally see anything wrong with living vicariously through characters) and that the characters and scenario presented therein fall flat, you should leave a comment for the author to that extent.

Short version: Pick your battles. It's the internet and you're not going to win an argument here. I think it's great you leave constructive criticism, because it's always nice to get that, so I wouldn't recommend you stop commenting, just know when to leave a critique and when to leave a comment.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:53 AM   #4
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Variety is the spice of life, so I'd say keep reading and hope the Author you just chose is good. If you don't like it, stop reading and move on. I scan a lot of stories, sometimes a bad writer can help you become a better one.

I do like some depth of character, but if I'm reading porn for porn's sake, it's not that important. Like Bambi said, " Look at what yer reading and consider the source". Not everybody writes for pay, some write to put what they think is a story they'd like to hear out there.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:24 AM   #5
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If you're basing your expectations primarily on comments in the LW section, you're using the worst of the worst as your baseline for commenter interactions.

On the other hand, if your comments contain lines like this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by v_hearts View Post
some anon commentators attack me for daring to criticize stories with a red H next to the title.
( and the walking on water/cartoon character type lines ) You're coming across as snooty and insulting, which is very likely to cause other commenters to react harshly -- especially if it's a favorite author or they really enjoyed the story.

The line about the Red H is really asking for it, since it's confronting the people who read and voted for the story rather than the author/story.

You might consider alternatives that are less confrontational, but still get across the point you want to make.

"He's too perfect. There's nothing for him to overcome, and it makes him bland to me."

"The antagonist is too over-the-top evil."

Any sort of criticism is going to cause fans of the author or the story to defend it, but staying away from the demeaning descriptors will go a long way toward preventing them from trying to one-up you.

If the author is open to constructive criticism, they're also more likely to accept it and consider it when delivered in a less confrontational way.

If your primary goal is constructive criticism, you might also consider using the private feedback option, rather than a public comment. That narrows down the potential responders to one -- the author.
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:12 AM   #6
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I could go on and on, but instead here is a queation for the OP

What the fuck do you expect for free?

You want what you consider "quality work"? then reach into your cheap ass pockets and pay for something.

Instead you come here and insult shit your reading for free written by people writing for fun'

You my dear are a troll.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v_hearts View Post
It seems that many of the "hot" stories in Romance and Loving Wives (particularly the revenge stories) seem to have bland, perfect characters.
Well, there's your first problem. Judging Literotica by LW is like judging the human race by Honey Boo-Boo. I mean, yes, things can get that bad, but you'd assume an Isaac Newton or a Martin Luther King Jr could never exist, and that's simply not true either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by v_hearts View Post
I really wish more authors would give their characters flaws and not make them the perfect ideals of masculinity/femininity.
So do I. But this is your second problem. Simply put, you're asking for quality on a site that has almost no quality-control whatsoever.

You can discern good characters from bad. You can discern good writing from bad. You have taste. That's not always a good thing to have, because then you're vulnerable to the truth of Sturgeon's Law: "90% of everything is crap." The larger majority of writers on this site are writing with bad characters and boring plots because they either 1) don't realize they're doing it, or 2) don't care that they're doing it. (brightlyiburn, one of my favorite authors on this site, is an example of this latter. She's deeply formulaic, but it's what her soul compels her to write, and she does a good job of making the stories interesting regardless.)

I wish we had more good authors too. But if wishes were fishes, everything would smell bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by v_hearts View Post
Is this because I usually don't log in and make anon comments? Will logging in with my name help or will people just harass me via pm?
Yes, and Yes. But at least you'll have integrity. You will also be able to start a meaningful discussion with some people. 90% of people are idiots, but if you're careful with your phrasing and apply your criticisms non-offensively (something I myself have problems with), the 10% with brains will see the wisdom, or at least validity, of your words, and engage you intellectually. "I'm not sure I agree with you, but your viewpoint is not unreasonable, given the evidence (that is, the story) at hand." And everyone will become more enlightened as a result.

Be the change you want to see in this world. Which you can't do anonymously. Even better, don't wait: start writing on your own. An important step in every writer's formation is the moment they look at something that everybody else likes ("Twilight," f'ex) and realize, "Christ, I could do way better than this pile of shit!" And then set out to prove it. You're at that point now. See what you can do.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWatson View Post
Judging Literotica by LW is like judging the human race by Honey Boo-Boo.
I think that should be plastered on a sticky somewhere.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:05 AM   #9
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Another point to belabor, that others have touched on, but (no offense you guys) insufficiently in my opinion:

Porn is comfort food. People come to it to be presented certain things in a certain way. They don't want disruption, they don't want the unexpected, they don't want challenge. And flawed, non-idealized characters are challenging.

Let's just take Jaime Lannister, one of the (many, many) characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. He is: a man who killed a king he was supposed to protect (a big deal in an honor-before-reason culture, though more understandable to us); who fucks his twin sister and fathered her three children; and who tried to kill a seven-year-old boy (by throwing him out a window) when he (the boy) discovered this was going on. (Don't worry, these are all first-episode spoilers--and I mean that literally; the pilot episode of Game of Thrones, the HBO show based on the books, ended with these events.) Readers quickly realized that Jaime was being set up as someone with hidden depths and more complex motivations, and that they would be expected to sympathize with him.

They had to be dragged kicking and screaming. Readers did not WANT to like him, because he was presented as being, well, thoroughly unlikeable. It's a testament to author George R. R. Martin's skill that he was able to create a character who not only, on the surface, was totally unsympathetic, but--once we got inside his head--became incredibly sympathetic, not just as we began to understand his motivations, but as he began to show respect and kindness to characters around him that deserved that treatment but weren't getting it from anyone else. But the key element to be pointed out is the reader reaction. They resented the idea that they were supposed to like Jaime. They had their preconceptions and they did not want them challenged.

The same is true here at Literotica, and indeed in pr0n everywhere. People come to it to get a pat on the back. They want to hear, "You're right, that is hot and you're normal for liking it." They do not want to be challenged. And being told that their preconceptions about women, men, women & men together, blablablah are wrong? Isn't comforting.

So, that's your third problem: you're trying to find a five-star chef at McDonald's.

Does this mean you shouldn't keep looking? No, absolutely not. Sometimes good stuff shows up unexpectedly here. But treat it like what it is: a lucky, undeserved find; a diamond in the rough. Don't go expecting it. *shrug*
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWatson View Post
Porn is comfort food. People come to it to be presented certain things in a certain way. They don't want disruption, they don't want the unexpected, they don't want challenge. And flawed, non-idealized characters are challenging.
Nope. Different folks come with different interests and likes and dislikes. Such a sweeping generalization as this is just off the wall.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWatson View Post
Porn is comfort food. People come to it to be presented certain things in a certain way. They don't want disruption, they don't want the unexpected, they don't want challenge. And flawed, non-idealized characters are challenging.
You're right to a point, but it is a generalization. I want to be challenged a little, or at least to read something a little different. That's why I usually try to write something a little different (although I don't know how different it really is).

I'm with the OP, which I guess puts me a little on the fringe. My pet peeves -- the 6'6" guy with the ripped abs, the 5'0" woman with the DD breasts, the way they fit together instantly, the way they sort-of-but-not-really have flaws -- these get on my nerves. So I deal with that by writing stories with characters I want to see. And sometimes I do find other stories with the elements I like, so they are there.

This isn't to say that I don't enjoy a well-written story that adheres to the usual themes, because I do. I also think that if you kind of go on a story-reading binge, that will make all the peeves seem even worse, b/c you'll feel like you're encountering so many of them all the time.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:50 AM   #12
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Not even to a point, I don't think. I try for the "unexpected" in most of my stories. And many who comment on the stories say that's what they like about the stories the most. Delivering the "unexpected" is a hallmark of good story writing. Frankly the assertion flabbergasts me.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
Not even to a point, I don't think. I try for the "unexpected" in most of my stories. And many who comment on the stories say that's what they like about the stories the most. Delivering the "unexpected" is a hallmark of good story writing. Frankly the assertion flabbergasts me.
Well it would depend on the reader, I'd think, and genre to an extent. I try for something different when I write, and look for something different when I read. But not everyone does. And I know when I go the "unexpected" route with romance, I get a fair bit of resistance from readers.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Well it would depend on the reader, I'd think,
That's rather the original point I asserted, isn't it? I responded to this flat statement: "People don't want disruption, they don't want the unexpected, they don't want challenge."

Disruption is pretty much the basic definition of a written story: Dilemma/conflict/resolution.
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:56 PM   #15
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I'd rather read something unexpected than formulaic too. If i'm reading something for the story. If i'm reading here simply for titilation then i'll pick a story with a red H and hope the writing isn't terrible.

CWatson, I must have missed something in Game of Thrones because i never found myself sympathising with Jaime Lannister. I also never saw him treat anyone with kindness or respect, deserving or otherwise. Prime example being the cousin he was in the cage with...
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pornocles View Post
I'd rather read something unexpected than formulaic too. If i'm reading something for the story. If i'm reading here simply for titilation then i'll pick a story with a red H and hope the writing isn't terrible.
Different people have different thresholds of "unexpected." And again it depends not just on your story, but to some extent on genre. A lot of readers were disappointed with the ending of my last long story, Rhythm & the Blue Line. They wanted (spoiler alert ) an engagement, or a wedding, and all life-problems, especially of the heroine, solved. Didn't happen that way, because it wouldn't have fit with the characters or the plot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pornocles View Post
CWatson, I must have missed something in Game of Thrones because i never found myself sympathising with Jaime Lannister. I also never saw him treat anyone with kindness or respect, deserving or otherwise. Prime example being the cousin he was in the cage with...
How far have you read in GoT, or have you only seen the show? B/c Jaime does become a lot more sympathetic as things go on. Which is not to say he does a 180 and becomes a complete angel. But he does learn and change.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:07 PM   #17
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I think he's only seen the show. Pornocles, that was actually a bit of a spoiler for the upcoming season: the Kingslayer will be front and center. And seriously: when we're done, you'll like him.

PennLady, I had a similar problem when I took a story's ending in a very different direction than people expected. They were not pleased, which made me amused, because the one thing I had made clear in every story written previously was that I never take things in the direction expected... with the sole exception of the endings. So... maybe it's just the endings? *heehee*

I dunno. I come here and I say what makes sense to me, but that doesn't make my words true or even accurate. *shrugs*
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:44 PM   #18
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...A lot of readers were disappointed with the ending of my last long story, Rhythm & the Blue Line. .... Didn't happen that way, because it wouldn't have fit with the characters or the plot.
That sounds way more interesting. I'll have to read it sometime and see if i fall into the same camp as most readers.

And yeah, i've only seen the show. I'll be very interested to see how Jaime becomes less of a cunt.

Also, PennLady, any chance of a "because" out of you? Seems incongruous of you to use a short cut like "b/c".
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:05 PM   #19
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That sounds way more interesting. I'll have to read it sometime and see if i fall into the same camp as most readers.
Have at. I'm always interested in opinions. It wasn't that the ending wasn't happy or anything, it just wasn't the fairy tale that many wanted. If you do read it, let me know and I'll have to tell you what one guy on FB told me he wanted. OMG.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pornocles View Post
And yeah, i've only seen the show. I'll be very interested to see how Jaime becomes less of a cunt.
I'm curious myself to see how they handle it in the show. They've been quite faithful to the books, and I don't mind the changes they've made (I've read all the books). So I wonder if they will change anything to shorten his character's journey.

Quote:
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Also, PennLady, any chance of a "because" out of you? Seems incongruous of you to use a short cut like "b/c".
Why is that? I may not use quite as many shortcuts as some, but with as much typing as I do, I do use some.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:20 PM   #20
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Just seems odd that you will write a whole post with real words then throw out a b/c. You seem to be able to use a keyboard pretty well. :shrug:

edit: Just saw that Rhythm and the Blue Line is a 12 part series. It may take me a while to get through it all...

Last edited by Pornocles : 01-01-2013 at 11:23 PM.
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:54 AM   #21
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Just seems odd that you will write a whole post with real words then throw out a b/c. You seem to be able to use a keyboard pretty well. :shrug:

edit: Just saw that Rhythm and the Blue Line is a 12 part series. It may take me a while to get through it all...
I can type pretty well -- taught myself ages ago on a ... never mind, no need to date myself . However, I tend to do a lot of editing as I go along, backspacing over errors and that sort of thing. One error I make a lot is typing "becuase" or some other misspelled variation. Typing "b/c" eliminates that. I also often type "someothing," which really bugs me but I haven't figured out how not to do it, or a good abbreviation.

Take your time on R&B.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:49 PM   #22
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I just finished reading "Rhythm & the Blue Line" and I'm surprised by many of the comments. I thought the ending was perfect. I hope one of these days you decide to add a few more chapters
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:53 PM   #23
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I just finished reading "Rhythm & the Blue Line" and I'm surprised by many of the comments. I thought the ending was perfect. I hope one of these days you decide to add a few more chapters
Thanks.

You know, I tried to write an epilogue but it just didn't work. It wasn't adding anything to the story or characters, so I scrapped it. You never know, but I think this one is finished.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:19 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWatson View Post
Another point to belabor, that others have touched on, but (no offense you guys) insufficiently in my opinion:

Porn is comfort food. People come to it to be presented certain things in a certain way. They don't want disruption, they don't want the unexpected, they don't want challenge. And flawed, non-idealized characters are challenging.
I'd say that's true of the majority of stories here and maybe the majority of readers, but there's certainly a sizable minority who are interested in flawed characters. My peeps spend more time talking about insecurities and negotiating family relationships than they do in bed, and some people seem to like that.
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