[Mary Sues were the very first topic I wrote about on this blog, some years ago. I’d like to re-examine them with my current mindset, under the hopefully true impression that I’m now older and wiser]
The long and short of my opinion on self-insert characters in teen girls’ fanfiction is really: man, who the heck cares? Writing stories that are deeply self-indulgent, highly autobiographical and borrow heavily from other people’s work is an essential (if sometimes embarrassing) part of the growth of a writer. Maybe these young authors will use their trashy OC fanfic as a practicing ground and eventually move on to write Man Booker Prize winners, maybe they’ll just keep it up as a fun creative hobby. If they’re having fun and not hurting anyone—except for annoying the Fandom Guardians, or whoever it is that gets so up in arms about these things—I see no reason they should not be left to their own devices, especially when placing yourself in a fantasy can often be a great source of safety and self-esteem.
If a Mary Sue is defined as being a) an author self-insert, and b) unbelievably perfect and wonderful and ideal and with great cosmic significance, I’m going to try and examine the second point today. Continue reading