How To Be A Mary-Sue
Imran: Hi! My name's Imran Inayat, and today we'll be testing the proposition "Are Muses (and relatives) thinly disguised Mary-Sues?" Unfortunately, we were only able to get two subjects, which basically sucks in terms of experimental results. But what the hell, it should be fun anyway... Okay, send them on, Sandra!
[Allie and Xeffy walk - or are pushed - on. Allie is around twenty, and wearing a low-cut Edwardian-style velvet dress. Xeffy is about twelve, wearing a T-shirt, trousers, and an extremely irritated expression.]
Xeffy: I am going to get you for this.
Imran: Xephanya here is a fully fledged siren, able to charm and captivate anyone who hears her singing-
Xeffy: Yeah, yeah...
Imran: And Alisandra is a Muse who can take any form she chooses.
Allie: Just how the Hades did you get us into this?
Imran: [shrugs] It seemed like fun.
Allie: Fun? I wonder what dictionary you're using...
Imran: Oxford English. But anyway... we're on.
'Some words of advice to the young Mary Sues:
"You must have had either a perfectly normal life until manifestation (with the possible exception of having been a bit of a misfit, but apparently that's normal), or -- more commonly -- an incredibly and horrifically eventful one. In either case, it will have no discernible effect on your ability to deal with things."
Xeffy: [raises eyebrows] We're from Subreality. Does that answer your question?
Allie: Oh, so that's why I keep giggling hysterically under stress...
"Remember, you don't need to worry about the previous relationships of the canon characters. They'll be only too happy to succumb to your wiles after a few swift kicks to the head."
Allie: Excuse me? Have you seen the Doctors and male companions? No thanks.
Xeffy: [looks sideways at Allie] So why are you a fully paid up member of the Paul McGann Estrogen Brigade?
Allie: That's different. And besides, I've seen the Doctor's wives. They'd be more likely to kick me in the head...
"You want to sound cool, so try using a color, celestial body, or even animal as a first (and maybe even second!) name."
Xeffy: Lemme see... does weird and ornate count? 'Cause I've got a couple of good examples right-mmph!
Allie: Dad's a little eccentric when it comes to stuff like this...
Xeffy: [prises Allie's fingers off her mouth] Which explains the biker gear...
"Be smart, be witty, and above all, talented. After all, no one likes a partypooper."
Allie: Um... I used to sing karaoke...?
Xeffy: That counts as talented?
Allie: In some circles...
Allie: Xeph here, on the other hand, is a wonderful singer. If it weren't for the small matter of her power-
Allie: Ahem. She's twelve years old. Which usually means she's a mistress of the smart mouth.
Xeffy: Oh yeah? Who nearly flunked her exams?
Allie: But I did learn how not to be a partypooper...
"When you first enter the scene you want to choose a foil, so find a sufficiently hated character and place him against yourself, therefor making you look bad and him look even worse."
[Allie and Xeffy confer]
[Allie looks up]
Allie: Does my Writer count?
Imran: [offstage] ALLIE!!
"Distinguishing features are a must to make you stand out from your new teammates, so try to get a few nifty tattoos. If you can't afford them, take a kitchen knife and start slicing. Remember, scars are as good as birthmarks!"
Xeffy: ...Would this be a good time to mention Al's tattoo? She's got this really neat one of a silver Chinese dragon on her-
Allie: Okay, okay... I'd just finished my final exam, I was on a major caffiene buzz, and I thought "Yeah, why not? I'm old enough..." [sighs] And then the brat walked in on me while I was getting ready for bed. Really got to talk to Dad about locks on the doors... but if I have my way, he's never finding out about this.
Xeffy: 'Course not. 'Sides, it's too much fun this way...
Allie: And because it's magical, it stays with me no matter what form I take. "Gives a whole new meaning to the word 'permanent'," he said. [rolls eyes] Like I needed proof I was a teenage idiot. [smirks slowly] Of course, there's also the small matter of Xeph's ear piercings...
Allie: Turnabout is fair play, Xeph...
"Looking good is important. You might want to consider acquiring contacts and dying your hair (white is a favorite) before making the scene."
Allie: Excuse me? I'm perfectly happy with the shape I grew up with, thanks. I've spent twenty years wearing it in, I'm not about to trade it in just yet. And the less said about Xeffy's makeup experiments... [shudders]
Xeffy: They worked...
Allie: Xeph, they had to remove the nail varnish from the floor using a blowtorch.
"Learn to giggle and simper. Older males find it endearing."
Xeffy: Um... actually, they think you're a giggling idiot, going by my friend Chloe...
Allie: And did I mention my hysterical giggling? I didn't find it endearing, I was too busy being freaked out... Besides, who the Hades simpers these days?
"Learn martial arts, at least one musical instrument, and if possible a couple of foreign languages. The more special skills you have, the better!"
Allie: Um... I can do karaoke, if you want...
Xeffy: You took Basic Swordsmanship, didn't you?
Allie: The key word here being "Basic..." Besides, I seem to remember someone making very sure to avoid foreign language classes...
Xeffy: Well, duh. When you've got a universal translator, who needs it?
Allie: Uh-huh. This from the girl who can't play a triangle to save her life.
"Get yourself a gimmick, like a piece of jewelry or an article of clothing you wear constantly. Oh yeah, avoid dresses. They're for sissies."
[Xeffy looks at Allie's outfit, and bursts into laughter]
Allie: Ahem. Sissie and proud of it. [grins] Besides, you don't wanna see what I could have gone with...
"Animal friends are ALWAYS fun! Try a small dragon or a hawk for starters -- they're pretty, compact, loyal, and can rip out your opponent's eyes in .5 seconds."
Xeffy: Hey, Al...
Allie: No, Xeph. I've played everything else, but I draw the line at playing your pet.
Xeffy: I only wanted to ask 'bout getting a pet of my own...
Allie: [raises eyebrows] Uh-huh. Remember what happened to your goldfish. And your stick insects. And your tortoise. And...
"When shopping around for super powers, I suggest going for telepathy, elemental control, or shape shifting. No one likes a girl who can beat up the team's heavy-hitters. It's unladylike."
[Xeffy raises her eyebrows]
Allie: Uh huh. And if I can shapeshift into one of the team's heavy hitters? Is that unladylike? And have you seen what Xavier can do with his telepathy?
"Include at least one trip to the mall in every story. Everyone loves to shop, especially if the cash is unlimited. Remember, Xavier and Frost are LOADED."
Xeffy: Um, hello, Subreality denizens? Once you've seen a Writer conjure cars out of thin air, you sort of tend to lose your desire to go shopping. Takes all the fun out of it.
Allie: And then you max out your Writer's credit card on your wardrobe first time out. Naming no names.
Xeffy: ...Okay, okay. So I love to shop. Who knew?
[Allie opens her mouth]
Xeffy: Don't say a word.
"For a costume try a stylish little midriff number, in leather if possible. Or, if you're a Good Girl, try something pink and flowing. Huge boots and tight tops work well together."
[Xeffy's eyebrows rise even further up her forehead]
Allie: Say. Nothing.
"Be sure to include at least one scene in which you A) save a wounded squirrel, B) feed pigeons on french bread, C) help an old guy across the street, or D) all of the above."
Allie: No. No. No. And no. Although I've buried Xeffy in sand and slipped seaweed down the back of her swimsuit. Does that count?
"You should have ridiculous amounts of power at your disposal. No one likes a partial transformer, or a weak telepath."
Xeffy: So, um... what happens if you're scared what your power might do to you and everyone round you?
Allie: Ditto. Oh, and one word here: "Apocalypse".
"You really should pick a big-brother figure in one of the team. If you play your cards right, it should be Gambit, and he should call you 'petite' often. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try Wolverine! If things work out he can be your big-brother figure AND future lover!"
Allie: Not my type. Logan's a good guy, but a little too much hair - and let's not forget that anger management thing. As for Remy... call me weird, but I like knowing your date isn't going to cheat on the bill... [looks sideways at Xeffy] Although I'm not entirely sure what to call it when your little sister thinks your Writer is a big brother figure...
Xeffy: [rereads] Um. Ew. Ew. And can I say Ew? I'll just stick with having big brother Writer, thanks.
[sigh of relief from offstage]
"If you can make male characters fight for your affections, you know you're in the big leagues!"
Allie: No, Xeffy. And don't tell me the thought hadn't crossed your mind.
"If you're a little below average in the looks department, consider plastic surgery. Remember, the optimum bodytype is 'willowy.'"
Allie: I have enough trouble with my self-image. I'll stick with this body, thanks.
Xeffy: Who needs looks when you've got charm?
Allie: Truer words were never spoken.
"In Mary Sue Land no one ever has to put any amount of time into training for their skills. Bonus points if you use telepathy to learn all your arsekicking skills."
[The girls boggle]
Allie: Oh, so that explains why I spent three years of my life at the Collegium. And flunked, to boot!
Xeffy: Singing in the shower. Music lessons. And I still have to go to school!
"With the proper teachers it should be NO problem to go from total newbie to Master Apprentice of the Secret Arts in the space of a few weeks. If you have to break a sweat you obviously aren't trying hard enough."
Allie: Mm-hmm. Seen the list for teachers of the Secret Arts? They've got people beating down their doors these days. Besides, if you end up breaking into a sweat, that means a nice hot bath afterwards... personally, I'm going for the baths.
Xeffy: Um, still have to go to school? Is anything I'm saying getting through here?
"Power is a state of mind. For instance, if you're ever caught in a deep Amazon rainforest, botanopathy is never out of your reach."
Xeffy: [frowns] Now that's an idea. Wonder what would happen if I started singing to plants?
Allie: It's when they start singing back that it's time to leave... In my case, though, power is a state of mind. I can actually have any mutation I think of. Now, if I could just find something to do with them...
"Any physical mutation will only serve to *enhance* your already intense personal beauty and charisma. Wings are always feathery and graceful, claws are always retractable and unnoticeable, and so on and so forth."
Xeffy: Actually... I know what I'd look like as a siren. A real one, one of the originals. Elseworlds counterpart thing. [shrugs] We look different, sure... but we're not that different.
Allie: As for me... [smiles wickedly] I can enhance my personal beauty and charisma no problem. I can also turn into a hideously mutated shambling monster no problem. Admittedly, I end up charismatic to other hideously mutated shambling monsters, but... [shrugs] Not guilty, as charged.
"No Mary Sue ever has to study to learn anything! Deep knowledge of hard subjects comes as naturally as breathing!"
Allie: Have you ever actually tried learning how to breathe as a fish? Believe me, it doesn't come naturally.
Xeffy: Breath control. Gotta learn how to hold those notes. If it was that easy, I'd never have to go to school again... [sighs]
"Cash is NEVER an issue. Being independently wealthy is a must!"
Xeffy: Oh, I dunno. I rather like having a sugar daddy...
Allie: You'll have to excuse my sister. Ever since she discovered credit cards... Unfortunately, the Author Mafia has a tendency to send the literary critics round to Writers who run up huge overdrafts...
"Quantum physics is a breeze: just use your subatomically-finely-honed telekinesis to grasp the difficult theory!"
Allie: Say what? Tell that to my Physics teacher!
Xeffy: [frowns] Shouldn't telekinesis allow you to grasp the practice? I mean, there's this whole thing about Uncertainty Principles...
Allie: Hello, splitting the atom...
"It's always dramatic and endearing to FLING your innocent, beautiful self in front of various teammembers, deflecting fatal plasma blasts/bullets/oncoming semitrucks, even if your teammembers are invulnerable or otherwise protected!"
Xeffy: Hello? I do not have a death wish!
Allie: Well... you've got me on this one. But only if they're not protected. I'm protective, but I'm not stupid.
"Remember: though plasma blasts WILL bubble your skin, you will still leave a lovely tragic corpse with your glorious expressive eyes staring toward the sky!"
Allie: I tried bubbling my skin. It doesn't look lovely or tragic. And as for what it does to the eyes...
"Important note -- no matter how innocent you are, a Mary Sue *always* knows just what to do in bed. And never has to worry about unwanted pregnancy, diseases, or anything *bad*!"
Allie: Sex Ed. Requisite in high school. And I passed. Pass on the techniques, though.
Xeffy: [blinks innocent eyes at Allie] So what does a Mary Sue need to do in bed?
Allie: Um... ask Dad...
"If your intentions are on the raunchy side, remember, just because someone's been shown as straight so far doesn't mean you can't secrete pheromones to make them change your mind!"
Allie: I want to mess with other people's sexualities why again?
"FRIENDS! Mary Sues always have a friend who, while not as clever or as resourceful as she, still fills a useful need now and again."
[Xeffy and Allie look at each other]
"Be connected to as many people as you can think of. For example, think of the possibilities for angst when Riptide is your long-lost fourth cousin!"
Xeffy: We've got enough angst without being related to anyone else...
Allie: Ever hear of an Angst Overdose? There's only so much you can take...
"When you're kidnaped by Sinister (and we're sure you will be, only to break free a few chapters later, of course!) make sure to include his Lab of Eeeeeville. Every good mad scientist needs a Lab of Eeeeeville. And don't forget to be 'spunky' when confronted with a gloating Mr. Sinister. There is NO un-'spunky' Mary Sue. Don't spit in his face; that's unladylike. But always have a good reserve of great sarcastic insults that make Mr. Sinister nearly see the error of his ways."
Allie: And Sinister has been doing the Eeeeeville thing how long again? Trust me, gagged, bound and drugged is the way we're going here. Sinister knows about those pesky sonic powers, remember.
Xeffy: Can I have a Lab of Eeeeeville? With the extra 'e's?
"A proper Mary Sue is the master of the comeback, and so persuasive that she can make even Apocalypse see the error of his ways."
Xeffy: Um... we actually met nihilistic forces that wanted to destroy everything in existence... and there was a total lack of persuasive skills in evidence there. Especially from me.
Allie: And I think being a siren might count as an unfair advantage in this case...
"Hardened killers with hundreds of kills to their credit need love too, and they'll always spare a Mary Sue."
Xeffy: I wouldn't let Psycho Nyssa hear this one...
"Try to score a journey into space as soon as possible. You'll make valuable connections, and maybe even take the a spaceship for a cruise! (But they pull to the left, so be careful when going into warp.)"
Xeffy: How do you pilot a TARDIS, anyway?
Allie: Par for the course around the Round...
"No matter HOW weird things get, a Mary Sue is never fazed."
Xeffy: No, you just collapse in a heap on the ground.
Allie: And end up on the verge of a nervous breakdown...
"Having an alien lover is a good idea, and often a rewarding experience. Sure, to them humans are freakish pink sacks of goo, but your unique beauty transcends species barriers!"
Allie: Um, okay, I am a shapeshifter... but alien sex really isn't my thing.
Xeffy: Actually... I don't think Al's had any lovers, full stop. Which'd mean sex- MMMPH!!
[Allie claps a hand over Xeffy's mouth.]
Allie: [blushing] Move along, nothing to see here...
"Marriage and mental bonds are irrelevant for a Mary Sue (unless of course we don't LIKE Cyclops, in which case he will be constantly epoxied to Jean's side)."
Allie: ...Do you have any idea what I went through to stick with my Writer?
Xeffy: Um, really don't need any more enemies without doing this, too...
Allie: ...Wow. She's actually growing up.
Xeffy: Nah, long playground experience.
"Remember the magic three: Summers, LeBeau, Lensherr. Any of these men are imminently relatable."
[Allie and Xeffy look at each other]
Allie: ...Uh huh. I like Scott, Remy, and Magnus... but if I found out I actually was related to them, you wouldn't see me for dust.
"You should have an explanation ready for any odd behavior, up to and including mass slaughter -- don't worry, the X-Men looove you. They'll listen!"
Xeffy: I could tell them I was Galactus, and they'd believe me. Takes a lot of the fun out of making up excuses... And let's not forget the "am I making them love me?" situation.
Allie: Trust me, Xeph. I couldn't put up with you for this long if I didn't love you.
Xeffy: Um... thanks... I think...
"If you're male, try to cultivate a Secret Past. That way Gambit and Wolverine will have someone to relate to."
Xeffy: ...Not, of course, to be confused with a Mystery Past that screws with your brain...
"If you're female, have a Secret Past anyway, with all the people Gambit and Wolverine hate. They'll love you for it. Not like they don't already, but as a Mary Sue, cover all your bases."
Allie: I - we - have a Secret Past. To the best of my knowledge, absolutely no-one loves us for it...
"This concludes your first session of Mary Sueing for Beginners. I hope everyone has learned a valuable lesson. (Even if it was something as simple as "Don't inhale white-out fumes as a child.")"
Xeffy: Uh uh. Although I painted all our plugholes with white-out when I was ten.
Allie: ...Much becomes clear.
Xeffy: Over the layer you'd left behind.
Original test by Tapestry. Allie and Xeffy's responses by Imran Inayat.