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epsi10n PM
Joined Feb '14

Hi there, this is epsi10n. Just want to say that I really enjoy all your lovely stories!


Summaries and status updates for my works in progress:

Hamlet: Dilemmas abound: This is my story on Starcatcher, where you play as Hamlet and get to take over all his decision making. When to act? When to plan? Who to trust and who to trick? Or, perhaps the prince will meet his doomed fate once again.

Updates: This story has 6 endings so far - 3 death scenarios, 3 "live" scenarios.

Hermione Granger and the Serpent's Renaissance: This is my longest story, in which Salazar Slytherin is reborn as Hermione Granger. Year 4 is now being posted approximately once every 2 weeks.

This story was a crack-fic when it first started, but after I paused my Harry-Shruikan story (around year 2) this one became my plotty story instead. After multiple partial revisions to make year 1 fit the rest of the story better I think I might've messed it up. If you notice the tone of the story changing unpredictably early on, this is probably why. The good thing is that nothing major actually happens in year 1 except the appearance of some mostly dormant butterflies, so feel free to skip it if you like.

A note about the pairing poll: the story has a small romantic subplot that begins year 4. The direction of this subplot already been decided, and was mostly based on the poll results at the end of year 3. I kept the vote open because I wanted to see if people's opinions would change (they did), but for the most part pairings are locked in at this point. I might still adjust the amount of words dedicated to the pairings based on popular vote, however.

Please don't read this story for the pairing. You'll be sorely disappointed.

Who am I?: This is my first fanfic, in which the soul of MoD!Harry - having passed on to the next adventure - merges with Shruikan to save the enslaved dragon from Galbatorix's ritual. This act of compassion turns a pawn into a serious player, with Harry-Shruikan working to exact revenge on Galbatorix while searching for his own Name.

This story is unfortunately still on hiatus, and no clones or adoptions have appeared yet to my best knowledge. I might pick this up again when I finish my other two stories, especially if nobody else has adopted it by then. Feel free to message me if you'd like to finish this story for me, or if you'd just like to see the remaining plot I've planned!


Something I've realized about Mary Sue: I think over the years, she's grown into a name so feared that the Sue-hunt has turned into a sort of a witchhunt. Many writers deliberately stunt their powerful characters in fear of the "Sue", a title that must be avoided at all costs, even if those characters have the potential to be brilliant if allowed to grow naturally.

The biggest casualties of the Sue-hunt seems to be characters that take off after Sherlock Holmes, Batman, the Count of Monte Cristo, and James Bond. These are not underdogs trekking arduously to Mount Doom. These are giants who lead their comparably less powerful entourage into battle, or even gods that lay the chessboard and manipulate everyone as easily as moving their fingers. Characters in this camp are always winning, and actually drive the plot with their competence. We're intrigued by what Sherlock is thinking because we know he's bound to be right. And the complex web of plots in "The Count of Monte Cristo" is made possible because the Count is so omnipotent that he can afford to strike down his enemies in elaborate and extremely ironic ways.

I don't think writers should feel the need to take these kinds of characters down a notch just because "Mary Sue".

One of my favourite stories on this site features a deviously cunning protagonist who executes all kinds of clever and hilarious plots. Nevertheless, the author felt they had to work hard to rein him in so that he doesn't turn Gary-Stu. As a result, the protagonist has to make human errors such as getting accidentally bitten by his own pet, panicking and in the process exposing his identity to yet another person against his wish. What the author does is their own choice, of course, and the story is brilliant enough either way. I just feel that even if such a character never makes a single mistake ever, I still wouldn't mind at all. You don't need to create suspense by having the readers ask "Is he going to succeed?" if the "How is he going to succeed?" is interesting enough.

Just because a character is always ahead of the game, always seeming to win or at least have everything under control, doesn't mean they're poorly designed. In my mind, a character is only illogically successful and Sue-ish if their victory looks like a miracle. For example, there's a difference between:

-*Death Star comes into view*

Sue: "Ha! I knew this all along because I'm a genius!"

- vs -

-*Death Star comes into view*

Good character: "I suspected something like this. The Empire's tax records that your spy procured indicates expenditure on a very large project, and etc. etc. only confirms it. In addition, etc etc."

While the outcome is the same, one is a miraculous arrival at the conclusion while the other is a reasonable deduction based on information that the protagonist can logically have access to.

There's also a difference between:

Sue: *claps her hand* "This rivalry is stupid! You should all be friends!"

Two warring factions: "Omg you're right!"

Then, some random person that nobody likes: "But I hate those guys!"

Everybody else: "Didn't you hear Sue you meanie? We should be friends!"

Random person then either apologizes profusely or do something horrendous to get killed off.

And within the year, miraculously, everyone is living harmoniously together.


Good character knows she can't just march in and scold everyone into being friends. Instead, she engineers numerous event to bring people from the two warring factions into contact, allowing them to familiarize with each other a little at a time in controlled settings. Meanwhile, she uses persuasive arguments to help the people realize that the other guys might not be so bad - starting with the more impressionable people and working her way up to the more stubborn war-enthusiasts. Eventually, she manages to coerce the leaders of the two sides into signing a peace treaty by playing on their emotions and personal agendas.

And within the year, seemingly miraculously, everyone is living harmoniously together.

Again, while the outcome is the same, one is unrealistic while the other I think is perfectly fine.

I think rather than using those "Mary Sue litmus tests" that the internet provides us, we should evaluate our stories by the ultimate litmus test for all literature. That is, "if this isn't my work, would I enjoy reading this section/chapter/story?" Or even, "if this isn't my work and I've never heard of a thing called Mary Sue, would I enjoy reading this section/chapter/story?" Because many of the so-called rules of fanfiction, such as "Always have an equal number of wins and losses" and "Always distribute the competence. Everyone has to lean on one another" or even "Never give Frodo the Lightsaber unless you give Sauron the Death Star", are really meant to be generalized guidelines. Following them to the letter will produce decent work, but breaking some does not necessarily make a bad story. In fact, it just might make an extraordinary one.

Anyways, don't be afraid to make your protagonist kick-ass brilliant! The rules of writing might be more flexible than one might think.


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