Just who is Hexebart, anyway?

For those of you who’ve read my novel The Autumn Castle, the name Hexebart will be familiar. She’s an old witch who lives in a well in fairyland. Her name is German for “witch-beard”. Why have I adopted it as a username? I do not know. It’s certainly not over-identification with the character: thanks to the wonders of modern cosmetic intervention, I have far less facial hair. I guess I just liked her and one day, when I am a billionaire and drive a Jaguar, I may have a personalised plate with her name on it. Besides, who knows? Perhaps I will come to resemble Hexebart as I grow older. One thing you can’t fight is dem damn wrinkles’n’shit.

But I am thinking, now, about the predisposition some authors have to over-identify with their characters. I shan’t name names and piss off influential people who write vampire/sexy-fairy stories (a few of you will know precisely to whom I refer), but there are quite a few “Mary-Sue” characters out there in SF land (and probably in other genres, but what would I know? If Peter Carey has done a Mary-Sue I’m hardly likely to read it). What is a Mary-Sue? Essentially, it’s a fictional character who is a leeetle too much like a wish-fulfilment version of the author, usually delivered without irony, and obvious to everybody except the author him or herself. I have read quite a few Mary-Sues in my time, both published and unpublished, and they still make me squirm. You don’t want to make your reader squirm, people!

So, to keep you busy while I’m off in the land of the long white cloud (though I will endeavour to drop in at least once or twice), why not take a Mary-Sue Litmus Test for the characters in your current project? Did you pass? Or perhaps you want to post comments about some of the Mary-Sues you have read over the years (please, keep it nice).

By the way, if you’ve never posted before, WordPress will ask me to moderate your first comment and that might take a couple of days, depending on my internet access in NZ.

What are you waiting for? Mary-Sue me!

8 responses to “Just who is Hexebart, anyway?

  1. That litmus test is really telling. I had always thought that *insert name of popular female Australian sci-fi writer here* had a bit of a Mary-Sue complex. Taking the test using the very basic information I know about the author and BAM!, yoo-hoo Mary-Sue. The books are still good fun, though , and I forgive her. But I must confess to skimming over the fight scenes that are knee-deep with descriptions of the main characters amazing abilities and valour…

  2. So I did the test out of curiosity. For 3 of my characters :S They’re all anti-sue’s, and I can’t decide whether that is good or bad, or has something to do with the relevance of the questions. Respectively the characters scored 8, 6, 1😐

  3. never heard of mary-sues. had a great time following your links and the links from those links. this was my “learn something new every day” something.
    i found a cure for wrinkles: go to a dry climate and look up all the time. irons you out flat and makes you look like a lover of clouds.

  4. Ha ha KnM – better than botox!
    Crime fic is rife with Mary-Sues! I’d love to name names but it feels too mean… My character is a total Mary-Sue according to the various tests around – her name is even Sue – yikes. Yet I persevere, trying to tweak scenes here and there to make her more convincing.
    Kim, you should write a book: “How to write a total kick-arse character without making her your super-shero alter-ego”.

  5. I had never heard of the Mary-Sues; fascinating test! Unfortunately

    Turns out my leading lady is the Anti-Sue. Might have to do something about that…

    So happy to have found your site!

  6. Hey Kim, i too totally cringe when “Mary sue” writing occurs, there are a few books by different authors that use this style of writing and i just have to put them down unfinished.

    • I’m so sorry that this message got caught in my spam filter. Hexebart was a character (a witch) who lived in a well in the book “The Autumn Castle”, a very dark fairytale published in 2003.

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