Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Last Dance With Mary Jane

Anyone remember that song?

I loved it in sixth grade, having absolutely no clue what it meant.

In the writing world, there's a Mary Jane too, and she's not welcome in our stories. My RWR (the RWA magazine) came in the mail last month and one writer did an interesting article on writer terms. I hadn't heard the Mary Jane one in a while so thought I'd pass it on.

A Mary Jane is basically when the main character is too perfect.

Ever written a Mary Jane? Ever read one? Without pinpointing authors, can you name any characters that were so Mary Janish you gagged?

I'm officially a ditz. The term I'm referring to is MARY SUE, not Mary Jane...Whoops!

29 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

I can't think of any off the top of my head right now, but I know this has happened to me in the past. Where, literally, I gag and can't read the book any longer.

Just curious....you know what the song's about now, don't you? I was a naughty one in high school (didn't meet the Jesus man until college) so I also loved that song. But I was very clear on its meaning. ;)

Jessica Nelson said...

Too funny, Katie! And yes, no worries, I know what it means now. LOL

Tabitha Bird said...

I guess that is what turned me off a lot of Christian fiction. The main characters had no grit. They had no real down to earth jaw dropping flaws. Too perfect is too boring, at least in my view.

(not saying all Christian fiction is like this of course :)

Jessica R. Patch said...

I read a book once with a Mary Jane Sue in it. She always made the right choices, dressed perfect, said the right things. I think her only flaw was the one piece of hair that fell in her eyes. Okay, so she couldn't construct a tight bun. Big deal! I read the entire book because I'm one of those who feel I have to finish it no matter what, but it was excruciating. :)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Yep, I've begun to read books like that and I've put them down.

Peggy Sue. Mary Jane. We're all a bunch of screw ups.
~ Wendy

Linda Kage said...

Mary Jane, Mary Sue, I know what you meant. I've just heard this term recently.

Still, I think I can handle reading about a Mary Sue better than I can handle a girl that's TSTL.

Terri Tiffany said...

I tend to write too flawed characters!! But I have read some Mary Sues before. Yuck. Gag.

Anita said...

Oh, LOL! I kept trying to figure out why I'd never heard them called that; You're right, it is Mary Sue! I'd forgotten, too. So don't feel ditzy. We're all ditzy! Snirt.

I'm not even going to say the name of the character who EPITOMIZES this term, but I'm thinking on it really hard. (You already know who immediately came to mind for me). For the others who don't know my mind like you do, here's a hint. *SQUEEE! My boyfriend sparkles in the sunshine!*

Hee.

Great post Jessie! And I bequeath the BQE title once again to you.

Jessica Nelson said...

Tabitha, I had that problem too. Christian fiction has changed alot though, and broadened, so you could probably find some authors you love now. :-)

Jessica, LOL! Thanks for lightening my goof. I thought about changing my post but I'm too lazy. *grin*
Anyway, I've moved past having to finish books and am learning to stop if I'm bored or annoyed. It's kind of hard though...

Laila Knight said...

I've never heard that term before. This is a good point. Mary Jane isn't quite human. I can't relate to her at all. Thanks.

Jessica Nelson said...

Yep, Wendy, this is true.

Hahahaha, good point Linda!

Me too, Terri. It's such a delicate balance, right?

LOL Anita, Yes, I knew she'd be the one you thought of. Hahahaha.

Jessica Nelson said...

You're welcome, Laila! Mary Sue, Mary Jane....#CharacterFail.

Tana Adams said...

When I encounter that girl, I tend to run the other way. ;)

Robyn Campbell said...

I thought poor Mary Jane. Who is that??? LOL

When I first started writing, I wrote all characters like poor old Mary Sue. *hides face in shame*

Of course! Now that I'm seasoned, I know better. The more flaws for the protag the better. :-)

Is Mary Sue a robot? *wink*

candidkerry said...

LOL!

I've definitely read books with Mary Jane-Sue characters. Yawn. Give me flaws or give me sleep! ;)

I've also read stories with Mr. Perfect as mc/hero. Must...have... reality!

Readers don't connect as strongly to untouchable and unreachable characters.

Sarah Forgrave said...

I'm with Terri on this one. I tend to make my characters too flawed, and then I have to work hard to make them somewhat likeable. :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I've never heard this term before, but I understand the principle.

Someone once said a character in my story was unrealistic...until she met the person I based him on. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Karen Lange said...

I just heard this term recently, and I think it's an interesting one. Don't think I've written one, but perhaps I should go back and check. :)

Lynn said...

When I think of Mary Jane I think of shoes, of all things! I don't think I've ever read a perfect character, a Mary Sue, except maybe Snow White and Cinderella!

Stephanie Faris said...

I've never heard of a Mary Jane, either. Isn't that the main female character's name in Spider-Man? It's also (interestingly) a nickname for marijuana...

Jill Kemerer said...

Ha! I don't write too perfect characters. I like characters who I can admire but who also have flaws. It's really hard to write a balanced character!

Jessica Nelson said...

Jill, it sure is!

Stephanie, LOL, I know that now, didn't then. :-)

Lyn, you bring up an interesting point because those characters were definitely on the perfect side and yet audiences fell in love with their stories...hmmm.

Jessica Nelson said...

Hhahaa, Susan, that's funny!

Good point, Kerry!

LOL Robyn. No hiding, we've probably all done it too.

Tana, is that how you stay in shape? *grin*

Nancy said...

I did read a book like that. Funny thing was, I'm sure the author thought she was perfect, but in my view, she didn't have here priorities in order at all. It was pretty sickening.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

You're so cute. Mary Jane, Mary Sue, same difference. lol.

Yes, I've read a few Mary Sues, and a couple books referenced Mary Jane. ;)

D. U. Okonkwo said...

Hmmm....so in other words, the character is unrealistic and one-dimensional? I've never heard of the term but it's certainly interesting, and something to keep an eye out for in our own writing.

Jessica Nelson said...

Exactly, D.U.! Thanks for popping by. :-)

LOL Karen Amanda!

Nancy, too funny about the priorities!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Can't think of any as of late. I've been lucky with my choice of reads, I guess.

I do know that if I came across one of those I wouldn't finish the book. Even fiction needs a sense of reality in it for me to read!

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL Eileen. Me too!