Dear Marty Stu,
I know what you’re thinking: “Who cares if you want me? You’re one in a billion girls! It’s no loss – there are still plenty of readers to fawn over my good looks and angsty past!”
Well, yes. You’re right Marty. There will always be readers who love you and your ridiculously handsome face but I for one am looking for someone different. Let’s just say it’s me, not you. You will find the perfect girl one day, but that girl is not me etc.
For those who don’t know, a Marty Stu is the generally agreed upon term for the male variant of the Mary Sue. He’s good looking, he might be mysterious and more often than not, he’s a bit of a noob who does things for the female protagonist because it’s “what’s best for her” (seriously, if you want to know what’s best for her – JUST ASK HER.).
Now, I don’t have anything against good looking people (not many people do, to be honest), but the astounding amount of cookie cutter male characters is starting to grate. Not only do they contribute to the unrealistic expectations of men in general, but it’s just getting so boring.
So Marty Stu, I want you to remember that you don’t always have to be heroic. Everyday people aren’t always heroic human beings and you can let yourself be vulnerable or dare I say it; realistic.
I also want you to know that you don’t have to be a human embodiment of perfection. People are flawed – both in character and in physical looks and that’s a beautiful thing.
And I want you to remember that you don’t need a tragic backstory to be interesting. You could be the most average Joe whose life’s blood comes from getting your morning coffee from the little café down the road. I don’t want you to get confused with the differences between character complexity and having angst for the sake of attracting readers, who then get roped in under the premise that another character can “save you from yourself” or set you on the road to redemption.
But perhaps most of all, I want you to be yourself. You can be a character with your own agency outside your love interest. You can be whatever you want to be without worrying whether you would sell books because there will always be at least one girl/boy out there who loves you for who you are.
So I suppose this is goodbye Marty. I’ve had a good time reading about your perfection but it is time to move on*.
Not Another Mary Sue
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: From all the books you’ve read, who do you classify as the biggest Marty Stu?