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Sunday, July 28

Sunday Writing Tip: Make Sure Your Protagonist Isn’t a Perfect Mary Sue/Gary Stu Character

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, make sure your protagonist isn’t too perfect.


The Mary Sue/Gary Stu character is the one who always knows exactly what to do in any situation, has no flaws, no bad habits, and rarely runs into any real trouble—and when they do, events align just as they need them to to get out of it.

Too-perfect characters are boring to read about, because there is no struggle and no real conflict. Readers know very early on that whatever problem Mary or Gary face, they’ll overcome it with little to no effort. Most of the time, other characters go out of their way to help them, even if they have reason to.

Take some time today and make sure that things aren’t too easy for your protagonist, and that they do have flaws and issues that cause them to struggle to achieve their goals.

For more on avoiding Mary Sure/Gary Stu characters in your novel, try these articles:

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