Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mary Sue Anonymous

A tall brunette walked to the front of the meeting room and stepped up to the podium. "Hi, everyone. My name's Jane, and I write Mary Sue novels."

"Hi, Jane."

"I've been coming to meetings three times a week for nine months now." Jane toyed with a thread hanging from the end of her sleeve. "I was feeling pretty good, and confident about earning my one-year chip, but this past weekend, I . . . I fell off the wagon."

Most of the audience shifted in their seats.

Jane pushed her shoulders back. "I knew what I was doing. I mean, I knew when I made my protagonist a virgin at twenty-six that I was heading down the wrong road. She's not a Christian fundamentalist, or unmarried and living in Iran. But I just couldn't bring myself to give her a fumbling backseat high school experience or a token bad marriage to an older man with regular erectile dysfunction. It's stupid, but . . . I really thought I could handle it."

Someone snorted loudly. A middle-aged redhead in the second row elbowed the bearded man sitting next to her.

"I kept writing, and made her beautiful and built and brilliant . . ." Jane stopped and covered her face with a trembling hand.

The redhead sighed. "The three killer B's."

Jane dropped her hand and bravely pushed on. "From there, I admit, it snowballed. I gave her a bottle-green Jag, and a job curating an art museum, and a Victorian mansion she bought for a song and renovated single-handedly. The next thing I knew she was gardening, raising hybrid roses and tossing together gourmet dinners for one."

A lanky teenager in a black leather jacket slowly clapped his hands three times. "So what did you name her? Elizabeth? Angelique?"

"Jennifer. Jennifer Jane Fairchild." Jane avoided his eyes. "I knew it was wrong. I knew it spelled the end of my sobriety, but you know . . . God, it felt so good to write it."

A thin, balding man stood up. "Tell us about the dog, Jane."

"I don't know what you mean." Jane's chin lifted. "I didn't write a dog in the story."

Everyone stared at her.

"All right. All right." Jane hung her head. "It was a golden retriever. Never sheds, never pukes or piddles on the carpet. Sleeps on the floor at the foot of Jennifer's antique brass bed. I named him . . .Goldie."

A tattered-looking man with a straggly goatee and a black cigarette planted between his chapped lips entered the meeting room and took a seat in the back row.

"Anyway." Jane paused to sniff a few times. "I did stop. I stopped as soon as Jennifer Jane stumbled across a Neo-Nazi plot to murder the democratic, extremely popular governor of her state. A murder which only she personally could prevent, of course, at great personal risk. I put away the pages in my desk."

"Oh, Jane." The redhead knuckled away a tear.

"I don't see what the big deal is," Jane snapped. "Sure, I know the rules. My protagonist should have been a recovering crack whore hiding from the cops in a flop house room with a sometimes-boyfriend named Wife Beater--"

The man with the goatee interrupted Jane by applauding loudly. One of the women sitting near him leaned over, asked him a question, shook her head and pointed to the door. The man with the goatee rose and walked out.

Jane rubbed some sweat from her face. "It's not like I'm going to publish it. Look, it was just a story. One story."

"That's how it starts, Jane," the balding man in the front row said, not without some sympathy. "One story, and then another, and soon you can justify every aspect of the Mary Sue novel. You join a writer organization, wear pink suits, have your business cards scented and go to luncheons once a month. And you know what the next step is after that."

Jane paled. "That won't happen to me."

"You never think it does," he said, "but then suddenly you're writing the last three words of your novel." He looked around the room. "And they are?"

The audience answered as a group. "Happily. Ever. After."

Jane burst into tears.

"I think we should have a reading now, to remind us all of why we're here." The balding man opened the book in his hands and began to read. "The Twelve Suggested Steps of Mary Sue Anonymous. Step One: We admitted we were powerless over Mary Sues--that our stories had become unrealistic."

As Jane groped in her purse for a tissue, the other people in the meeting echoed the balding man's words. Down the hall, the man with the goatee finally found the correct room for his meeting. He was welcomed by that group, and invited to step up to the podium and introduce himself.

"Howdy." He rubbed his mouth, dishevelling his goatee. "My name is Nick, and I write literary novels."

"Hi, Nick."


  1. Hi, my name is Gabriele, and I write novels about hot Romans in leather kilts and German barbarians that look like Eomer. Mmm, Eomer .... Where was I? *wipes drool off her jacket* Well, you see, the problem is I'm supposed to write historical fiction. Based on facts and all. But the moment one of those hot Romans in leather kilt and a long haired German meet, the only thing I can make them do is to, ahem, share some forbidden moments. Them being enemies and such. And manly men. And hot.

    So, where's the group for me?

  2. Anonymous12:26 AM

    Hah! I did something like this in my last novella. Oh boy ... now it seems like such a mistake!

    But, but, but ... it was a great sex scene!

  3. Hi, my name is Rob and I appreciate the laugh. LOL.

  4. Great post. All the best from a Canadian author who often stops by...

  5. Anonymous2:06 AM

    It was the Victorian mansion that pushed her over the edge.
    It'll get you every time. *sob*

  6. Anonymous3:08 AM

    LOL! Oh, you slay me, PBW, you really do. *g*

    Did you know that I am so disconnected from the literary world that I actually didn't know the term "Mary Sue" was used to describe disgustingly perfect characters in novels? I...I thought it originated in fanfiction. Well, I guess this just goes to show it can exist in any group of writers.

    I am very tempted to post this on fanficrants. ^_^

  7. PBW - offtopic, but your novel Plague Of Memory is #7 on the weekly bestseller list at Galaxy books, Sydney.


  8. Anonymous4:09 AM

    OMG, that was brilliant. *wipes away tears of laughter* Thanks for the laugh!

  9. Anonymous7:44 AM

    Maybe she started writing the book on a cold, dark and rainy night.

    you know how those cold, dark and rainy nights can get to you.

  10. "It was a dark and stormy night. Goldie twitched and whimpered in her sleep, dreaming of doggie biscuits and tennis balls. But something had woken Jennifer from her peaceful slumber. If it wasn't the dog, what was it?"

    My name is Charlene and I think Jane's Mary Sue heroine has a haunted Victorian house and it's pissed about the way it has been renovated. Now it's out for revenge. Oh, yeah, and I like third omniscient.

    I know. No pink suit for me.

  11. I'm trying to picture the balding man in a pink suit -- did he get the slacks or the skirt with it?

  12. Jeez, now I'm going to be scratching my head trying to figure out who 'Nick' is. :)

    Well done. Like most humour, it's funny because it's true.

    Oh, and lleeo? I think PBW is using the term 'Mary Sue' in its fanfic sense.

  13. Oh dear. I think I better check myself into Werewolf Smut Writer's Anonymous pronto!

  14. Your genius is showing : )

  15. "A lanky teenager in a black leather jacket slowly clapped his hands three times. "So what did you name her? Elizabeth? Angelique?"

    "Jennifer. Jennifer Jane Fairchild." Jane avoided his eyes. "I knew it was wrong. I knew it spelled the end of my sobriety, but you know . . . God, it felt so good to write it.""

    Hi, my name is Mark, and I want to remind you that female characters are never supposed to have female names. I believe if you check the rule book, on page 17,632, Paragraph 6, Line 4, it states:

    All female characters who are not otherwise secondary (gal pal) female characters must have a name which can be shorted to a male name. E.g., Josephine becomes Jo, Katherine becomes Kat, Louanne becomes Lou.

    Now, please, proceed with the meeting.

  16. spyscribbler wrote
    Hah! I did something like this in my last novella. Oh boy ... now it seems like such a mistake!

    But, but, but ... it was a great sex scene!

    Ohh, me wanna read. :)

  17. Anonymous6:40 PM

    And so, so true...
    I just stumbled across this site; I'm now fully addicted.

  18. Anonymous3:41 PM


  19. Bravo, PBW! Thanks for the laugh! :)

  20. He he! I'll link to this for sure.

  21. I wanna read CHarli's pissed off haunted house version! *grin*

  22. Anonymous5:24 AM

    As an atheistic 25 year old virgin (yes, really) I'm feeling a tad stereotyped.

    Other than that, *hee*. The high-end cars are always my downfall. Then it just snowballs from there....

  23. nice post love reading it


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