Beware the Mary Sue

Before we can avoid writing her, or accidentally scare ourselves into a corner and avoid writing women altogether, it’s important to ask: What exactly is a Mary Sue, and why don’t we want one?

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Don’t Start at the Beginning

As wonderful as my character’s tragic backstory or hushed conversation might be, none of that matters an iota if I don’t get the beginning right.

Sensory Overload

Show. Don’t tell. Every person who has ever put pen to paper has heard this line. Don’t tell us we are in Paris, give us the acrid scent of the Seine mixing with buttery croissants, give us the crunch of rough, dusty cobblestoned streets beneath our feet, give us the taste of acrylics on the air from freshly painted street art.