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I just want to do a quick post here so I won’t go into too much detail or include all arguments.

There seems to be some sort of wired-in expectation that things should be more or less symmetrical. Let’s not get too into supersymmetry here – though I should point out that the supersymmetry theory (SUSY) took a hit recently from results at the LHC. BSmeson decay was set to one in every 300 million Bsmesons, close to what the standard model predicts. Those of you that are more science savvy will probably understand why this is a hit to SUSY but basically it’s like god of gaps argument. It is an ever-receding range of likelihood; if BSmeson decay ends up being the rate predicted by the standard model, there’s no space for SUSY any more. As I said above, one in 300 million is getting pretty close, so the possibility of SUSY being successful just got smaller.

Anyway, back on topic. We seem to think things should be basically symmetrical. You can see this on a spiritual scale, with the concept of karma. There’s even that sort of mentality where if you’ve done something wrong, you can assuage your guilt through good deeds (altruism). On a more scientific note, people have an expectation that the universe is perfectly balanced. Everything was “perfect” because if it wasn’t, the universe wouldn’t have formed the way it did. Everything was “perfect” for the conditions of life. We can get a little more technical and even claim the universe is perfectly “even”, as shown by the cosmological principle which suggests homogeneity.

Let’s take a look at this assumption of “perfect balance”. Well, first of all, people often quote homogeneity wrong. The universe is not completely even, nor symmetrical. That much would be obvious if you actually put some thought into it yourself instead of quoting homogeneity. The average density (as well as other factors) of the universe is the same no matter where you look, but it’s not completely uniform.

Next up, the matter-antimatter imbalance. People are often asking “if antimatter exists, where is it all?” or “how come we live on planets made of matter instead of antimatter?”. Well, let me put to rest any doubts you have about the existence of antimatter. It is real, and created on a daily basis at facilities such as the LHC. As for the imbalance? The leading theory is CP violation. Again, I don’t want to get too deep into another theory but basically CP symmetry postulates that all negative equivalents of particles should have the exact same properties (but reversed) as their positive counterparts. CP violation (or CP symmetry violation) is basically the violation of that rule. There’s quite a lot of evidence for CP violation and it can be reproduced in experiments to show that antiparticles do not, in fact, replicate their positive counterparts. Specific to the matter-antimatter imbalance is the fact that antimatter has a much shorter decay rate. Basically, it disappears faster than matter does, which is why we’re left with a predominantly matter filled universe (though I do have some evidence that could suggest antimatter clusters; I’ll save that for another post).

Finally, let’s go to the very beginning. After the Big Bang spread a cloud of cosmic gas, gravity acted to cause these to cluster and form stellar bodies. But think about it for a second. If this matter were spread perfectly evenly throughout the universe, then gravity would act on each individual particle with the exact same force in every direction. There could be no formation of anything unless there was an imbalance, an imperfection in this uniformity.

The reality? Our universe was born imperfect, and that’s why we exist today.

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The Sue couple are a negative feature in writing used to describe a poorly crafted character (where Mary Sue is the female character and Gary Sue the male – obviously). I just say Sue because it’s easier. Anyway, people are a little divided over the true definition of a Sue. I think the main reason there’s so much disagreement is because people are trying to identify specific traits that are representative of a Sue. It doesn’t work that way because writing isn’t so flat and two-dimensional that you can just say a group of traits is bad. Before I tell you my definition (which I think is – if not better – then at least more encompassing), let’s get some history down.

From: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue

The name “Mary Sue” comes from the 1974 Star Trekfanfic “A Trekkie’s Tale”. Originally written as a parody of the standard Self-Insert Fic of the time (as opposed to any particular traits), the name was quickly adopted by the Star Trek fanfiction community. Its original meaning mostly held that it was an Always FemaleAuthor Avatar, regardless of character role or perceived quality. Often, the characters would get in a relationship with either Kirk or Spock, turn out to have a familial bond with a crew member, be a Half-Human Hybrid masquerading as a human, and die in a graceful, beautiful way to reinforce that the character was Too Good For This Sinful Earth.

From that passage we can identify two things, a Sue is too perfect and is an “author avatar”, which basically means a character through which the author inserts him/herself into the story (most commonly in fanfiction). As a result, Sues have been categorised as having traits such as “too strong, too beautiful, too whatever”, which can collectively be considered as being too perfect. Others argue that Sues are when the author projects themselves into their story (refer to Twilight rant). By projecting themselves, I mean a writer who creates a character representing certain aspects of his/her own personality, and makes good things happen to that character to compensate for a feeling of inadequacy in real life.

These are very subjective measures though, hence the debate over the meaning of a Sue. The problem is that sometimes, your character may have traits that would normally be considered a Sue trait, but is not when placed in context of your story. Here’s how you can prove what I just said – take your most original character and do this test: http://www.springhole.net/writing/marysue.htm. You’ll find that you get a far higher Sue score than you’d think (try and be objective here and admit if you’re overpowering your main character).

Here’s a clearer explanation from me (the Sue test is just for fun – I make a lot more sense than it does). Just because your character has some traits that liken to Sue traits does not make it a Sue – it all depends on your story. For example, if you’re writing about a pickpocket-turned-hitman from the slums of a medieval setting, having him/her being ridiculously good looking, charming and the most sought after sexual target in the story is sort of pushing it. Not only is that ignoring the setting (hygiene was no where near current levels in medieval times), but it’s ignoring the fact that the character is from the slums. Even if you made the setting a modern day society, things get questionable when your character is far too attractive. If you throw in a few too many good traits, you’ll have a Sue. Next example: what if you’re writing about the political side of heaven, where angels debate whether they should interfere with the devil’s work on Earth or let things run its course? Well, it makes sense if your character is good looking because he/she is a freaking angel – they’re all meant to be good looking. 

As for Author Avatars, well, it’s one thing to take out your insecurities on a character and it’s another to base your characters off real human emotions. The distinction can be blurry to a reader, but I think the latter makes for a much stronger and more believable character. They key here is to include both good and bad traits – perfection is your enemy (unless you’re writing about angels)!

So, what is a Sue then? My definition is: A character that is unrealistic within the reality and mechanics of your fictional world. Unrealistic encompasses both perfection and a lack of emotional range. Realistic characters will have strengths and weaknesses. As a writer, you need to make your story engaging, and it isn’t when your character is unbelievable. This definition does not limit your ability to use supernatural abilities, magic, sci-fi technology or anything else “unbelievable” in modern day terms because these things are explainable within the reality and mechanics of your world. If you write a sci-fi, then technology is explainable. If you write about magicians, then magic is explainable. They are not unrealistic in your world. But if you write about cavemen, except your main character has a giant robot mecha suit and uses it to conquer the stone age, then yes, you’ve gone too far.

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