Originally Posted by Dragonfree
Well, to start off, I'll say I appreciate the fact you find Rachel's characterization and my writing to be fine.
Why? Well. You keep telling us Rachel is the villain, and Mary Sue is the hero. But throughout the story, you revel in how stupid, annoying and stuck-up Mary Sue is. Even in the third-person scene at the beginning, the one that's supposedly establishing Mary Sue as the "hero" before we see Rachel's point of view, she comes off as an arrogant brat, it's pretty obvious Rachel fell there by accident, and consequently Mary's fury at her feels unjustified and exaggerated. And as you go on to show Rachel's first encounter with Mary and her POV of what happened, this only reinforces that feeling - you show us Mary Sue is generally petty and mean-spirited even when she hasn't just had her dress ruined, and that she's stupidly oblivious to Adam's obvious gayness so she's just dumb, and that the reason Rachel was up there in the first place was because she was nobly trying to help a Poliwag (and not even, as I had previously assumed, simply trying to clean up the Fearow's nest, which would at least have been a poor choice to be doing at the exact time the speech is being made). You pile on reasons why we should like Rachel and dislike Mary - the fact you've established in the background that Rachel stole a shirt and that Mary has awesome grades and a legendary destiny does nothing to make us feel Mary is the "hero" here. She does not in any way come across as a traditional storybook hero; in fact, she comes off more or less exactly like the stereotypical "popular girl" high school drama villain.
I'm actually really
glad you pointed this out. Like I've mentioned to other people before, this is an entirely new concept for me and I've never done or really read anything like it in this fandom. Though I had fun writing it, I'll admit it was done in haste and some of these concepts never crossed my mind. I was thinking of going along with a "Mary Sue is a narcissistic brat and my character is semi-flawed but cool" approach since it seemed enjoyable, but like you and others have pointed out, it doesn't fit the concept. That actually made my day once I realized just what was off from that. xD
And that's what Sues are all about
: the world doesn't react realistically to them. Everybody hates Rachel for no good reason; even her own father
is bowing his head in shame when all she's done is fall out of a tree at an unfortunate moment. You make it clear to the reader that it's for no good reason - you make sure we know that it's unfair, and Rachel really
doesn't deserve any of this, so we should sympathize with her - but the characters are all just too stupid and mean and unfair to realize it. This is a standard Sue-pattern, just like the one where everyone loves her - the world is being used in contrived ways to make us feel sorry for the main character, instead of feeling like it exists independently of her and the characters in it have minds of their own.
This was really interesting to me. People focus so much on the Mary Sue concept where everyone loves her and the world bends over backwards to make sure everything goes her way, so I figured doing the exact opposite would be a break from it. It sounds rather stupid, but I guess I never really thought that if the world was bending over backwards just to make the character's life suck that it wouldn't be Mary Sue at all.
[QUOTE]I feel this would work better if you made more of an effort to make Mary genuinely come off as a character someone could like. If she were actually nice and appeared to have a real sense of justice, it would be much easier to buy her as the hero of her own story, and thus the idea that Rachel is really "the villain". This would mean you'd have to be more careful with Rachel, of course; if you made Mary genuinely nice but kept the way Rachel internally mocks her and puts her down at every opportunity, we'd simply end up hoping Rachel dies in a fire, so you'd have to make Rachel's POV somewhat more sympathetic as well (but that should really happen automatically if Mary isn't as insufferable, since then Rachel has less reason to mock her).[QUOTE]I'm going to be running through Chapter One again on Tuesday, most likely, and I'll take all of this into account since this review is a gold mine. xD I'll go a different route and make it seem as though Mary is a genuinely interesting character that the story itself could revolve around if I were to be going a more heroic route (if that makes sense). I'll definitely try to make her more likable and show how Rachel is more antagonistic than heroic.
I've got to wonder why in this fic suddenly only special heroes get to pick starter Pokémon, and they can't do it until they're eighteen. That sounds nothing like any kind of canon and really like they'd be kind of ridiculous out there with their special barely-trained starter Pokémon when most trainers would have just gotten themselves a Pokémon years earlier and have been training all that time. (Or that's what I'd assume from how canon works - otherwise, if only special heroes get to have Pokémon normally, that would make for awfully few trainers existing in the world. Or, if you just have to be eighteen to train Pokémon either way but only special heroes get official starters, that should still completely
change how the world works out - instead of a hobby adventure thing kids do to travel the world, make friends and learn how to take care of themselves, Pokémon training would become this expensive waste of time that losers do instead of getting a real job after they finish school. I mean, the only way you're going to make a serious living being a trainer is if you're a particularly good one - as with competitive sports in the real world - and you don't get particularly good at training without experience actually training Pokémon
; if you're getting your first Pokémon at eighteen, it's going to be a while before your Pokémon are strong enough for you to be making any kind of a living off it, and part of that is just going to be before you find out if you actually have the talent to be any good to begin with. Either way really changes the dynamics and meaning of Pokémon training around in a way you'd have to seriously think about.)
It was one of those things I simply wrote in, and didn't bother much with dynamics, sadly. I'll go back and fix it a bit to make more sense, given the scenario. :3
The fact we don't get any details on exactly where she stole that shirt from and what the circumstances were makes it hard to gauge just how seriously to take "but I was just borrowing it!" - that could be semi-credible but it could also be a ridiculous excuse on the level of "the dog ate my homework". We don't get to know which, and it makes it hard to determine what we should really make of the whole thieving scenario - we have no idea how reasonable anyone is really being about it or how serious a crime it was, so it kind of fails to have the proper character setup purpose it should. I'd add a bit more detail on it if I were you.
Well, I guess I thought there was enough detail there - I suppose I can always go back and try to add more, but to me, if a character says "Well, I wasn't stealing
, just borrowing
... I just wasn't sure when I was going to give it back," that's a major clue they're lying. xD Then to top it off with a minor police chase and getting hauled in... Well, yeah. If you really think it's lacking though, I can spice it up a bit.
Jill and Barry bug me. They're comically stupid characters; they'd feel at home in a setting where the characters are generally ridiculous, but here you have Rachel and her father just being real, normal people having a real, normal conversation while in the background there are these two idiots who are so exaggeratedly dumb and generally strange that they sound like they come out of one of those zany cartoons. They feel completely out of place. You can't put characters like this into a setting where comedy overriding characterization isn't the norm; in this context, Jill comes off as severely mentally challenged rather than simply "chipper", and that makes it just feel vaguely disturbing rather than funny when Jill happily declares Rachel her "best friend", fails to pick up on her sarcasm and general contempt for her, and goes on to excitedly tell random people about it - it seems like something my boyfriend's autistic brother would do.
To me, Jill may be one of my favorite characters I've ever written about. xD I don't really intend to make this fic something overly serious, since that's what my main fic is for. I kind of wanted to take a break from seriousness with a nice detour into comedy - hence Jill and Barry. As the fic gets slightly serious over time, it's nice having fallback characters that I can always use to add a bit of comedy from time to time. :3 Though Jill comes off as mentally challenged... that's partly because she's meant to. Lol.
This did amuse me, though, assuming the reference to internet piracy was intended.
I'm glad you caught that one. xD Anyone who I had read it didn't hahah.
Adam and Steve really aren't acting like people here. If Adam genuinely wants Mary to think he could be interested in her, one would expect him to at least keep the public flirting with Steve to a minimum - even if he knows she's thick, he should at least be worrying Rachel might spell out the obvious - while under any other circumstance he should at the very least feel extremely awkward here as Mary is talking about him like a piece of meat she's planning to buy, even if he doesn't want to make it explicit that he's not interested for one reason or another.
I do like that you named them Adam and Steve, though. Subtle but amusing.
Alright - that's a fair idea, actually. I'll take that into account during the re-write.
Also, I'm glad you enjoyed the name play. Like I said before, I had fun writing this chapter by incorporating small things like that hahah.
Also, I see where Farla's coming from with the bashing-the-Sue-while-the-Stu-gets-off-scot-free thing, too. You made the Sue into a laughingstock who's obviously petty and mean and stupid and even though she's pretty we're assured she's a fashion disaster in the making, but even Rachel the "villain" thinks the Stu is pretty awesome. Is there a reason you went the antagonized parody route with the Sue but kept the Stu as just a fairly standard 'perfect' Stu character, only relegated to a background role? One would expect a fic that makes fun of a Sue and also has a Stu in it to also make fun of the Stu in a similar fashion, but there's no sign of that here.
To me, it wasn't some misogynistic attack on the sue/stu spectrum - I just genuinely didn't bother with him because my focus was on Rachel and Mary. The stu was just kind of there as a way for Mary to get protective against Rachel and show her true colors. I never really thought about the sue/stu thing though, so it was a silly addition. I'll be changing that up a bit. ^^
So yeah. Like I said, this is an interesting concept and I actually quite like Rachel's characterization and most of the writing, but you really need to watch the believability of how other
characters react and relate to her, and because Mary Sue is made so obviously unlikeable, the villain-POV aspect of this currently doesn't actually come out that way, in the end.
I'll try to follow this, though you should always take it with a grain of salt when I say that, since I have a horrible tendency to fall behind on fics that I fully intend to read.
Thanks for all your help, Dragonfree - I'm still somewhat crunched for time since there are essays due tomorrow, but it made my week that I got such an in-depth review.
My fic shall be 100x better now with all that advice. I really appreciate the effort you put into that, and I honestly can't thank you enough. I hope you have a fantastic day, and (perhaps) I'll see you when I finally get Chapter Two up next Sunday! c: