I’ve learned a new writing term lately. Have you heard of a “Mary Sue” heroine? Well, I finally have.
If your star female protagonist is overly-perfect and lacking any flaws, she is a Mary Sue character. And that’s a bad thing. People just want to gag or roll their eyes when they come across perfection in the human race.
Now, I can honestly say I’ve never been accused of creating a Mary Sue character. I’ve written heroines people have called so rude she’s unlikeable. I’ve written heroines people have called so bendable she’s weak. I’ve written characters people have called TSTL (too stupid to live). But a Mary Sue is a new one for me.
So this causes me apprehension. Now, apparently, I can make a woman too good to be true as well as one who’s too hard or too soft to be likeable. Yeesh. How the heck do I find that happy medium, that Goldilocks who has it just right?
From my research, I’d say the key is give her some acceptable flaws. Is she living in the middle of a third-world country, working volunteer in a missionary to bring medicine to starving babies? (Major Mary Sueage going on with that!) Maybe you could make her driven and determined to the point she--gasps—lies or even steals something to achieve her big goal. Sounds like a happy, acceptable medium to me.
Which brings me to my single writing tip for the day (which can work for heroes too, of course). When creating a new character think: Weakness. Flaws. And at least one redeeming quality that will override both!
Good luck making that Goldilocks main character in YOUR story!