The “Mary Sue” Litmus Test

Here’s a post for everyone who writes fiction.

It’s time to put your characters through The “Mary Sue” Litmus Test.

TV Tropes.org – Mary Sue

My newly-turned 18-year-old vampire protagonist J scored a whopping “3” .
0-10 points: The Anti-Sue. Your character is the very antithesis of a Mary-Sue. Why are you even taking this test?

My character D who owns a black 1960 Plymouth Fury coupe (as pictured above) is easily the most “Mary Sue” of my characters, scoring “30” .
21-35 points: Borderline-Sue. Your character is cutting it close, and you may want to work on the details a bit, but you’re well on your way to having a lovely original character. Good work.

Even better is when you test other writers’ characters. Such as Bella Swan and Edward Cullen.

Bella got a “41” on a test taken from my “outside” perspective (and she may have scored a few points higher if Stephenie Meyer had taken the test herself and and answered honestly).
36-55 points: Mary-Sue. Your character needs some work in order to be believable. But despair not; you should still be able to salvage her with a little effort. Don’t give up.

And then there’s Edward Cullen. “71” , with the test answered from my point of view.
71 points or more: Irredeemable-Sue. You’re going to have to start over, my friend. I know you want to keep writing, but no. Just no.

If my ambition was to create an “anti-Twilight”, my character’s scores (relative to the main “Twilight” characters) are in line with my goals.

Why is the “Twilight” saga such a huge success, then? The answer: Bella Swan became the “Mary Sue” for several million adolescent females, not just the author.

Cracked: Five reasons why Pop Culture is run by Fan Fiction

Cracked: Five Authors More Badass Than The Badass Character They Created

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The art of car “detailing” – Part One

Certain elements of my novel are inspired by the 1974 film “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry“. The Wikipedia page states this film will be re-released on DVD next month (April 2011) as a double feature, accompanied by “Race With The Devil“. The latter film is basically a re-setting of 1973’s “The Wicker Man” as a “road trip changing into a car chase” movie set in Texas, which alone makes this film infinitely superior to the 2006 “de-make”/abomination/waste of celluloid un-starring Nicolas Cage which does not in any way deserve to be described with the same three-word title as the 1973 film cited above. (although this “comedy trailer” is one of the all-time classic YouTube videos!)

Tensions between my husband and wife characters Damien and Lilith were inspired by “DMCL’s” gleefully nihilistic dialogue exchanges between Mary and Larry.

Remove the downbeat nihilism and combative nature from all the main characters in this film, replace those traits with cheery good ole’ boy optimism, change the 1969 Charger’s color from yellow to orange, and you end up with “The Dukes Of Hazzard”.

Something like if “Lost” was an original movie, and the TV version of it morphed into “Gilligan’s Island”… 😈

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Here’s a good “degree of separation” game:
*”The Fast and the Furious” (2001): Dominic Toretto’s Charger “throws a rod” (ie. a connecting rod inside the engine breaks) during the “quarter mile” scene.

*Probably inspired by a scene in “The Blues Brothers” (1980), in which the Dodge Monaco “Bluesmobile” throws a rod while Jake and Elwood are being pursued by the Illinois Nazis.

*And since “The Blues Brothers” extended chase scene is known to have paid tribute to several earlier scenes, their “throwing a rod” scene is most likely a tribute to the scene in “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry” where Officer Hanks’ Dodge Polara throws a rod while chasing Larry, Deke and Mary.

“DMCL’s” rod-throwing scene is much more dramatic than the scenes in the later movies, because the connecting rod breaks free of the engine block and blows the car’s hood open (unlike the later two movies where the pieces of the broken rod remain inside the engine and the cars’ eight-cylinder engines continue running on seven cylinders).

Note: I was not even slightly tempted at any time during my book writing to have my character’s Plymouth Fury throw a rod during the car chase sequence.

The Tarot Of “Vanishing Point” (1971 film)

The 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot, as presented in the 1971 motion picture Vanishing Point.

Interpretation originally written on 08 March 2006 by

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01. Opening Sequence: black Imperial and white Challenger, both driven by Kowalski, passing each other = Judgment (transcending reality, emerging from death, rebirth)

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02. Kowalski = The Fool

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03. Sandy McKees (Argo’s Car Delivery Attendant Clerk) = The Hermit

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04. Super Soul = The Hanged Man (intuition, revelation, ‘what is about to happen’, character’s psychic bond with Kowalski )

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05. Two motorcycle cops = The Chariot (Kowalski overcomes obstacles to achieve victory in his journey. Nearby river represents water element.)

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06. Jaguar driver = The Devil (tempts Kowalski by expressing hatred)

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07. Blonde Gas Station Attendant Flashback Sequence = Justice
(flashback to Kowalski as a police officer saving a young girl from being sexually assaulted by his superior)

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08. The Nevada Desert = The Wheel Of Fortune (Kowalski drives ‘in a circle’, meeting his prior tire tracks, ‘spinning his wheels’)

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09: Flashback to Kowalski’s wife Vera = Temperance (the angel, eternal nature of true love, flashback includes her passage into eternity)

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10. Prospector = The Magician (awareness, guiding, manipulation of elements: hides Kowalski’s Challenger from police helicopter and catches the rattlesnake that threatened Kowalski)

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11. Reverend J. Hovah = The Hierophant (outcast from general society, feeling limited by societal rules and the conformity of groups)

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12. J. Hovah’s Gospel band = The Empress (nurturing families, ties to nature in their communal living, expressions of joy)

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13. Pair of hitchhikers = The Lovers (Kowalski must make a difficult choice)

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14. Charlie (Young Nevada Patrolman), as he attacks Super Soul = The Emperor (power and control, disclipinary action)

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15. Nevada biker = The Star (inspiration, release of fear, guides Kowalski past the police roadblock at the California/Nevada border)

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16. Nude blonde motorcycle rider = Strength (in this case, evocative of the Roman goddess Diana, the huntress)

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17. Female hitchhiker at night (U.K. Version) = The High Priestess (represents the highest level of knowledge, hidden from plain sight, shrouded in mystery. Kowalksi gaining higher knowledge through revelations.)

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18. Policewomen’s roadmap = Death (inevitability, ending, the ‘trap door’ is closing)

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19. Pair of bulldozers = The Moon (two pillars of rigid structures developed from past actions, fears, illusions)

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20. Sunlight through the bulldozer blades = The Sun (illuminates Kowalski, confidence, energy)

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21. The burning wreck of the “Challenger”, standing upright = The Tower (total change, disruption, catastrophe, explosive force, Fire element)

PS: Yes, all you “Vanishing Point” fans, I’m well aware that a 1967 Camaro was the actual car that hit the bulldozers. You can even see a “Camaro” badge if you pause your disc on the right frame. Yet another argument that Kowalski transcended death and reality, ha ha…

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22. The movie’s wide-angle panorama shots = The World (celebrating successes)

“When the light of life stops burning, till another soul goes free”
Kim Carnes: “Nobody Knows”
(the song playing during the movie’s ending credits)