Me, to Seth: "No, you may not join the orchestra. Isn't applying to be an auror, running GMI, and volunteering at the Birds of Prey Centre on weekends enough?"
Seth: "I don't have to volunteer at the Centre." *wheedles, contemplates twisting his author's arm"
Me: "I'll see what I can come up with for Two Alleys, I promise. Now let go of my arm!"
TA/Writing: I'm having a bit of a problem creating the characters for Two Alleys. I'd like to write Seth and Paul without the horrible situations they were in, in SPH. But if I do that--if I set everything right in their lives, what am I going to use for internal conflict? How am I going to find something that quietly eats at them, so I'll find them interesting to write about? Paul and the DE was really too extreme, and given that the DE are sociopaths and Paul isn't one, it just didn't work. But damn, it made (I hope) some good drama. Okay, maybe it just made melodrama, but at least it kept me riveted in certain of their posts.
How do you come up with conflict that isn't overwhelming, heart-breaking conflict? Or is overwhelming conflict what I should be striving for?
Hm...No. Something that is so bad, it makes your character want to commit suicide is too much.
I think once again I am coming to the question of whether I should tone Paul down or not. If I don't tone him down, is he too Mary Sue? On the other hand, the sheer intensity and drive of the character is what fascinates me and makes me burn to write about him. I really love his intensity, and I don't want to lose it.
Edit: I found this webpage, which gives a pretty good description of what a Mary Sue is.
Mary Sue Characteristics Check-Off List:
- Any brilliant, beautiful original character in a fan fiction story who joins the canon characters to be the center of attention, set everything right, make off with the main canon character's heart (or several of them!), and/or die dramatically in someone's arms. No, I wouldn't say that fits Paul.
- Mary Sue is any original or deeply altered character who represents a slice of his/her creator's own ego. Well, um, there you've got me, John. While Paul does not represent myself, I certainly think he would be an interesting person to be or to be as talented as.
- Treasured by his/her creator but only rarely by anyone else. It's pretty obvious to anyone who reads my journal that I enjoy the heck out of writing Paul. What other people's opinions of him are, I can't say with certainty. At least one person liked him enough to allow her character to become his wife. I suspect people may be sick of hearing me chatter on about him in my journal, though!
- A Mary Sue is a prima donna (usually but not always badly-written) who saps life and realism out of every other character around, taking over the plot and bending canon to serve his/her selfish purposes. I don't know about prima donna, but the guy is definitely an alpha male of some variety. Sapping life out of everyone else? I don't think so. I hope not, as that would have made the game very boring, and that frankly would be an insult to the other writers' creativity, as far as I'm concerned. If I ever bent canon to accommodate Paul, it was more due to my unfamiliarity with the HP universe at the time than to any desire of mine to wrench things around to make my character the star.
Having gone through this, I don't think Paul was/is a Mary Sue--at least, not ever on purpose.