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?
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.
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.
I spoke of how the escapism of reading and telling my own stories got me through the first weeks of a very challenging time. Now, I have to turn my attention inward and say, how do you write when it literally hurts?
And in knowing better, and understanding that romance is both subversive and aggressively feminist and forward thinking, I now hold it to a much higher standard than I ever did in the past.
Though it has its many positives, there are certain pitfalls any writer can run into when writing a series. Taking these precautionary steps in advance will help you to minimize the challenges down the line and, hopefully, to produce better books.
When writing a large cast, you have to know your characters really well. More importantly than that, however, you have to know how they interact with one another. Here are two exercises you, as an author, can do to ensure your characters are rounded and fully-developed before they ever hit the pages of your book.