Have you ever come across a character who just plain seems a little too perfect? You know the people—every time someone does something bad to them, that person suffers the exact same thing. The author gives them the same hair color, build, and eye color as them, the protagonist’s beliefs almost completely echo the author’s beliefs, and even have a similar sounding name.
If that sounds like you, chances are you’ll need to make the main character less like you and give him or her faults and flaws and not have everything be so rosy. Considering how popular stories like The Hunger Games and Divergent are, could you really imagine it being so bad ass if things weren’t as rosy for the characters? Come on—get real. It wouldn’t be so cool.
Of course, most writers are inevitably going to create a Mary Sue at some point or another. I’ve done it, and I bet even Stephen King has done it. That’s fine if you’re simply learning the process, or if you’re on your first draft of your story. But if you’re constantly having your protagonist be right about something, or has everyone think your narrator is hot or something along those lines, those are probably personal fantasies that you have. And seriously—who’s going to take someone like that seriously? That sort of person in real life would be a little too much to maintain emotionally. And considering that a lot of what goes on in fiction has as its source real life, should you really do something like that to your characters? That sure as hell doesn’t sound very fair to your main character or to your readers—I know that much.
Because of that, you’ll probably need to figure out what your protagonist’s flaws are. True—we don’t like to have our protagonists be flawed—just as much as we don’t like to admit our own. But that’s what people like to look for. They like to see people actively interacting with each other and the world they live in. And to do that, you have to make your characters flawed and make things difficult for them.
That doesn’t mean they should have the “poor me” attitude. Sometimes it’s appropriate if you’re trying to make it comical. But that should not be the entire story. Who wants to get to know someone like that? I would probably look at them with a look of boredom and then never call them to meet again for lunch if they kept telling me their sob stories.
That’s why you probably shouldn’t make your character a Mary Sue.