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The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test
READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FIRST AND READ THEM CAREFULLY - MISUSE OF THIS TEST WILL CAUSE INACCURATE RESULTS!
How to use this test:
First, if you're unsure of what a Mary Sue is, please read this page.
Answer all questions for which the answer is 'yes' or 'technically yes' unless the item mentioned is commonplace in the universe you are writing for. If most people in your story's world have wings, skip the question about flying. If it's established that anyone can have technicolor hair (as in many anime shows) pink coifs don't apply as "unusually" colored hair. If your character had an exotic name because you make up most of your characters' names, you would not answer yes to having an unusual-sounding name that you made up. Sue-ness is relative. ;)
If your character is a role-playing character and the only reason you can answer 'yes' is because of other players acting of their own free wills (IE, everyone has their characters throwing themselves at your character's feet and you've done nothing to force this) do not answer yes to the corresponding question.
Make sure that you answer the questions properly depending on what type of universe your character is in:
Fanfiction - a story set in a world you didn't make up.
Original Fiction - a story set in a world you created yourself.
MMO/RPG - Role-Playing Game/MMORPGs.
If you see a question that looks like it's been linked, rest your cursor over it - it contains a tool tip, which should contain further information on the subject.
Also, this test is divided into five sections to help prevent confusion and speed up the testing process:
Part 1 - All Characters
Questions that pertain to all characters everywhere.
Part 2 - Original Fiction Characters
Questions for original fiction characters only.
Part 3 - Fan Characters & Newcomers
Questions for fan characters (RPG and fiction) and characters you may be planning to add to an original fiction universe you've already established.
Part 4 - RPG Characters
You guessed it - questions for role-playing characters and MMORPG-based characters.
Part 5 - De-Suifiers
Please, please, please remember that these are the symptoms, not the disease. Just because something is on the test does not mean that it's inherently bad and should be avoided at all costs. Think of them as being like salt or spices - they serve to enhance the dish when used in the right amounts, but when used too liberally, the result tends to be quite unappetizing. Again, INDIVIDUAL ITEMS DO NOT MAKE THE MARY SUE. THE INDIVIDUAL ITEMS ARE NOT BAD. MOST CHARACTERS HAVE AND SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST SOME OF THEM.
Questions that subtract from the final score.
While it is true that some writers are skilled enough to pull off characters that fall into the 'Sue category, do not assume that you are one of them. I've seen plenty of Sue-authors fall into this trap. Instead, go out and get feedback from people more experienced in reading/writing, preferably adults. Not teenagers. Adults.
Furthermore, this test has never been nor probably will be perfect. At best, I can only offer it as a guide, not an instruction manual.
And for those who wonder about it - I use the gender-neutral terms "xe," "xir", and "xirself" because A: it's shorter than typing out "he/she" etc. all the time, and B: there are plenty of characters, particularly within the SF supergenre, who are neither male or female.
Part 1 - All Characters
This area applies to RPG characters, fanfiction characters, and original fiction characters.
- Is/does your character's name:
- Your name, variation of your name, nickname, screenname, or any name that has been applied to you? (Spelling it differently or changing it a little counts.) Fic: RPG:
- A name you planned on giving one of your children?
- Any ordinary name spelled or changed so that it's more unusual?
- A masculine-sounding name for a female character?
- Involve a noun or verb not usually used as a name, spelled normally or not?
- If a noun, was it deliberately chosen because it's related to nature, a weapon, a gemstone, darkness, or something mystical?
- Taken deliberately from a character from another fandom that you like?
- A really unusual-sounding name (unusual in the character's time/place/world) that you made up yourself?
- Unusual for your character's time, place, and/or ethnicity?
- Belong to a country or culture your character does not belong to? (Adoption counts as belonging.)
- Chosen specifically because you thought it had a meaning appropriate for your character?