I really enjoyed your essay. It was tremendously clear. The way you laid out your points and reasoned from one to another shows real experience in writing.
I particularly liked your realistic view of Tolkien's creation. When you remarked that it "can be a happy, even a merry place," I think that you got to a quality that makes his writing so appealing: the way he can juxtapose the near death from the barrow wight with the hobbits laughing and playing on the grass, or Elrond, who is "as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer."
Also, I enjoyed your careful differentiation of Mary Sues from OFCs, AND your inclusion of Gary Stus. It's a peculiar form of sexism in the fanfiction world that criticizes flat, wish-fulfilling female characters so harshly but acts as if male ones didn't exist.
Finally, I found a few typos. If you want, I'll send you a list.
Author's Response: Hi Ria! Thanks for reviewing. I am glad you liked the essay, and even more that you took the time to comment. :) Thank you!
Wow, thanks so much for posting this!
I know it will help me and others, for let's face it, everyone has written a MS sometime in their fanfic writing careers. I know I have. I will take some of these things into account when I write my upcoming story that I hope to post here!
Author's Response: Thanks to you for reviewing! I am glad I was of help. :)
Oh, no you were not simplistic; it's a good essay. I would think it's more for young writers, who fall into the traps you have listed more easily. More mature authors generally take time to build characters. I have nothing in common with a perfectly beautiful 16 year old kick-ass warrior(ess), so I won't read them, although I wrote my fair share of Sue's when I was younger, lol, in o-fic. If I read about a more mature and experienced woman, I know it's come from the mind of a mature and experienced writer, and I am far more likely to connect with the OFC. It's only natural for me to read about them and not a teenager. I hated being a teenager, anyway, I always felt about 30!
I think inexperienced and young writers usually do write flat characters, just because they don't have the life-experience to write well-rounded ones. All the tuition in the world will not help, only the University of Life will tumble them, break them and polish them.
I think if they are serious about writing, and it's not some fad, they'll keep writing and improve. I've never seen the draw in pure romance stories myself, even when I was young I found them cliched and boring, (and poorly written) but then I am a Pink Siamese Mistress of Erotica ™ fan, not a romance fan. :D
Author's Response: Oh, now I understand what you meant. Yes, definitely I was thinking more about young girls (when I started writing I was, like, twelve.) Thanks again! :) Take care, Francesca
Well, I will add my ten pence worth. :)
Every-one writes *Sue's* at one time or another, as you say; it's generally a youthful phase girls go through, but if they keep writing, as they mature, so will their characters.
I'm an unashamed and *out* slasher and slash fan, but I recommend excellent het writers, (good writing is good writing, and it's too rare.) and the difference between them and the writers of *Sue's* is that their stories and OFC's are 'women' not girls, with a woman's thoughts and feelings, and usually some sexual/life experience that makes them real to me. Their stories do not concentrate on *romance* but on the life of the OFC, which includes relationships, and that is what makes them stand out.
Pink Siamese, for instance, is the only writer I have come across who has inserted a modern woman into a plot and had her get intimate with Fëanor. It blew me away. It's brilliant. She genderswapped the Mouth of Sauron and made me entirely believe in Lugmokí as a 'made thing.' I shouldn't even have to mention Pink to any-one - any reader of the Tolkien fandom should know her; she's exceptional.
Lilith Lessfair is working on a genderswapped Sauron, the 'Dark Lady.' It works wonderfully. Lilith is excellent.
Pandemonium_213 ~ The Jinn introduces a character she created some time ago, and is very dear to my heart for reasons she and I have discussed, but I won't talk about it until she begins to post more about her OFC's life. Can you believe, she did consider people might call *Sue*. I read some of it and laughed at the thought. No. Her OFC is no Sue, but she is splendid. It's possible to make powerful, beautiful, wounded OFC's that end up with a gorgeous canon male, and make it work. It depends solely on the writer. The ability to suspend a reader's disbelief comes down to one thing in the end: Is the author talented? It's really simple. 99% of authors are not, any publisher or agent will tell you that most writers produce average work, very few are *great*. When I find great writers, I stick to them like a limpet.
Surgical Steel's ~ Introduction does as it says and introduces us to a gritty, feisty, emotionally real mature woman who is a surgeon at the time of the War of the Ring. And Steel is a surgeon in RL, so her medical writing is completely accurate. Her character even talks about Aragorn's hemorrhoids, which made me laugh, as that affliction is not something we associate with Aragorn.
Dawn Felagund ~ The Work of Small Hands, is a brilliant look at the women left behind in Tirion after the Noldor left. I can't recommend that too highly.
All these stories deal with the lives of women; they're not there *just* to grab a hot guy. I must admit I find it extremely hard to pair Mortal and Elf, as that suggests the poor guy has found no Elven women he desires until some Mortal drops out of the modern age, which is faintly misogynistic toward the female Elves. Pink manages it, but Pink could write Elves into her Criminal Minds fanfic and make it work. Pandemonium has written it in her Elendilmir with a male OC and a mortal OFC, but she too spends time creating such complex and real characters that one can see where the attraction is birthed and what makes them click. Everything *can* work, if a writer is truly skilled.
Author's Response: Hi Spiced! Thank you, first of all, for reviewing. I am very sorry if what I wrote sounded simplistic; but I remember that when I started writing OFC fics, which was rather early on, a bit of advice wouldn't have spoiled it for me. I completely agree: an OFC can't be tailored on her companion. But it all to often happens. And while all-rounded characters are still miles away, spending two words on the most common traits of Sues didn't look like a bad idea. :P As for pairing Men and Elves, I agree that it's difficult, but I don't think it's mysoginistic to Elvish women. It's roughly the equivalent of finding a lover in a country other than your own: it's not that nobody was nice enough back home, but only that the right one happened to be somewhere else. Well. Just a thought. :) Thank you again!