"Hutch," Starsky called out, as his partner climbed inside the Torino holding a brown paper bag containing their lunch.
"Hum?" Hutch answered, absentmindedly. He produced a tuna sandwich and a soda can from the bag.
"Hutch, are we fictional characters?" Starsky looked up from the pocket book he had been reading while Hutch was at the deli.
"Say what?" Hutch asked, raising an inquiring eyebrow.
"Fictional characters; you know, like Superman, Frankenstein, or Batman and Robin..."
Of all the bizarre questions his imaginative friend could have come up with, that one was perhaps the only one Hutch wouldn't have ever expected.
"What kind of weird question is that, Starsky?" Hutch answered, frowning. "We're real people... We have names, ID's, jobs, apartments; we eat, sleep, and we pay our rent and bills. Of course we're not fictional characters!"
"Then… what's this, Hutch? What does all the stuff in this book mean?" Starsky handed the small book to Hutch, with confusion and something that looked a tad like fear reflected in his indigo eyes.
Hutch returned his unwrapped sandwich and soft drink to the paper bag and cleaned his fingers on a napkin. Opening the book at a dog-eared page, he began to read aloud.
Chapter III. How to write the perfect Starsky & Hutch Mary Sue.
Let's start at the beginning. What IS a Mary Sue, you may ask. Simply put, a Mary Sue is either a representation of the writer or else she is the person the writer would most like to be. In short; she is the writer's alter ego. Mary Sue's are often referred to as "perfect" characters. Their perfection, however, is their worst flaw.
Most readers hate Mary Sues and, in this chapter, you're going to learn why.
As a rule, stories with a Mary Sue in them are stupid, boring and predictable; in a nutshell, just plain bad. However, if for some strange reason that's beyond the comprehension of the author of this manual, you still want to write one, then this book is for you. It's your choice. Go for it. Have fun!
The purpose of this book is to help fanfic writers (especially those in the Starsky and Hutch fandom) improve their writing skills. With that in mind, I'm going to give you several helpful tips on writing the perfect Mary Sue. And what's more, even though I really dislike the thought of doing it, I'm going to summarize an imaginary story just to help you grasp as clearly as possible the concept of a Mary Sue.
Okay, let's start our story:
To begin with, our fictional characters, Starsky and Hutch will respond to a robbery call in a grocery/ bakery/flower shop, whatever.
Once there, one of them (the author's favorite, which in a Mary Sue is usually Starsky) gets shot by one of the armed felons.
Hutch had to stop reading. He swallowed the lump that had formed in his suddenly dry throat.
"…which is usually Starsky," the brunet repeated tonelessly. "What the hell does that mean, Hutch? Why I am the most likely one to get sh-" Starsky cut himself off in mid sentence. "Oh, my God." He ran a shaking hand through his curls. "If I'm not the one who gets shot, then…"
"Where did you get this piece of crap from, Starsky? And what the hell is fanfic?" Hutch asked bluntly, in an attempt to divert his friend from his unsettling train of thought. The blond detective turned the book and read the title engraved on the front cover. "Fanfic Writers' Manual - How to Write the Best Fan Fiction, by Florence F. Masters."
"I bought it in Danny's bookstore, Hutch. And according to what I've read so far, fanfic or fan fiction are fictional stories written by amateur writers. The subject matters those stories deal with are original, but the characters aren't. They are sort of borrowed from movies, novels, TV shows and stuff like that." Starsky explained as Hutch's gaze traveled back to the words printed in the third chapter of the book.
"And according to this book, we're fictional characters?" Hutch asked in utter disbelief.
"Yep." Starsky answered, sullenly. Hutch shook his head and kept reading.
After getting shot, our character collapses to the floor and lies there in pain, while bleeding profusely. His partner freezes for one terrified second before rushing towards him. He doesn't reach him. A blow to the back of his skull makes him to fall to his knees and hands, dizzy and too weak to react when one of the felons grabs him forcefully and pushes him against the nearest wall.
"That's nonsense… The worst nonsense I've ever read," Hutch said, but he couldn't take his eyes from the book.
Okay, we are still at the beginning of our story and already things are quickly going from bad to worse for our heroes. Both of them are hurt and defenseless, at the mercy of the bad guys. It looks like this story isn't going to have a happy ending.
But suddenly, from among the hostages (either customers or employees of the shop) a young woman steps forward. She calmly but firmly states her intention to help the injured cop, challenging if necessary the armed bad guys in her determination to be useful, or rather, to stand out in this story . Yes. You got it. She is our Mary Sue.
She's amazingly beautiful. Her hair/eyes/face/smile have some special quality that immediately attracts the attention of both our guys, even though the injured one (Starsky, as we've said previously) is probably puking his guts out and they both are in a hell of a bloody mess...
"I don't like this, Hutch… I don't like this at all... How about calling sick and going home for a couple of days, huh?" Starsky asked, fearfully.
"Oh, come on, pal! Get a grip. You're not scared of this piece of crap, are you?" Hutch tried to be logical. "Here, it says that we're fictional characters, but we aren't, Starsky. We are NOT fictional characters. All of this is bullshit. We have to look for the author of this thing, this Florence person, and then…"
Starsky cut him off. "There had been several robberies in shops in this neighborhood these last few weeks, Hutch. I... I don't wanna get shot, and I don't want you to get shot, either."
"No one's going to get shot, Starsk." Hutch soothed his increasingly agitated partner. Putting the book on the dashboard, he retrieved their lunch. "Eat. Get some food into your stomach and stop musing about weird stuff." The blond one held a cheeseburger out to Starsky.
Distracted, Starsky took the food with his left hand while with his right he reached for the book.
"Can't you forget that godforsaken book for just one minute and eat your lunch, Starsky?" Hutch snapped. Curiosity about the peculiar guidebook was nagging at him, and making him irritable.
Starsky, ignoring Hutch's scolding, read aloud, She is blond, but not just plain blond. Her hair is the color of sunshine shot through with gold, or sweet clover honey, or as white-blond as a snowdrift. Or perhaps her hair is black, but not just black. No, that would be too ordinary for our Mary Sue. It's black like the wings of a raven, or black as polished ebony. It is shining and as soft as a silk mantle covering her delicate shoulders in gentle waves. Of course, she might have instead brilliant red hair that shines like copper under the sun, or glows like a warm hearth fire. Or maybe her hair is an exotic blend of several colors, fiery red-gold, or rich chocolate brown with blond highlights. At this point, I assume that you, my dear and intelligent reader, must have realized that ugly or bald girls aren't allowed in Mary Sue's exclusive group.
Now, let's set aside her hair and shoulders to focus on the matter of her eyes:
Her eyes shine like the stars in a clear night sky, they might be as green as emeralds or as blue as the mysterious depths of the ocean. (Though, if you think about it, the depths of any ocean are far too dark to be blue, hence they must be plain black…Okay; never mind, let's just forget the eyes. )
Her name might be an unusual one (Annairis, Katioshka, Barbarella, etc) or, to make things worse, she might even be named after the author. (Yep. It's possible. The shamelessness of fanfic writers in love with a given fictional character knows no bounds.) The name in this case will be the same, or very similar, for example, Muriel for Marion, or something like that.
It's a bonus if her perfume reminds the injured guy of something like a baby after its bath, a lavender field in spring, or something else equally unlikely to occur to a couple of tough guys like Starsky and Hutch.
"Yep… That's right," Starsky stated, momentarily pleased.
"What's right Starsk?" Hutch asked, rolling his eyes as he took another bite of his tuna fish sandwich.
"That part about us being tough guys."
"Sure, Starsk. We are." The blond one agreed tiredly.
Starsky began reading again, without answering. Hutch strongly suspected that Starsky was too engrossed in his reading now to hear anything he said anyway.
Okay, let's get back to the matter at hand. The Mary Sue character has a wide medical knowledge, possibly even a Medicine Degree from Yale or Harvard, though for some inexplicable reason, instead of being doctor in a hospital, she now works as pizza delivery girl or is a waitress in a greasy spoon. Only God knows why, but most likely, the answer to such an enigma lies in her rough past. (As a matter of fact, a tragic and trouble-filled past, plus an equally tragic death at the end, are quite common traits in many Mary Sues.)
Of course, she has to perform a difficult surgery under very adverse conditions to remove the bullet and stop the bleeding, saving the life of the injured one of the duo, (Starsky, wasn't it?) while simultaneously soothing him as only his partner has heretofore known how to do. She might sing him a song, coax him to picture a beautiful tropical beach, or something like that. (NOTE: Reciting to the poor guy your grocery list, the multiplication tables or all of the US Presidents in order has never been reported as having any calming effect.)
The mental image that crept into Starsky's mind of himself or Hutch in these circumstances was more than the curly-haired detective could take. He stopped reading and looked at his partner with wide, frightened eyes.
"Okay, Starsky, enough is enough," Hutch said, firmly. The until this moment off duty Hutchinson finger made its appearance. "I'm going to dump this so-called 'book' in the nearest trashcan, while you eat your lunch. We'll uneventfully finish off the rest of our shift, and afterwards we'll drop by the Pits where you'll buy me a burger and a couple of beers and I'll show you how to become a pro at playing pool. How does that sound? Huh?"
"Wait, Hutch, wait a sec. Here, it talks about you!" was the only response from the brunet. By this point Starsky was truly scared by what he was reading, but he still had to know what he thought fate had in store for them.
Meanwhile, let's address the other half of the duo (Hutch, to be precise). He will have been tied up by the perps, as if he were a freshly-cut Christmas tree. For most of this story he has about as much importance as a piece of furniture. In other words, NONE. We mustn't forget here that what matters in a Mary Sue story is Mary Sue herself. Second, and quite far behind, is the author's favorite main character. The other one could be abducted by aliens for all that the author cares about him and his role in this story.
Okay, we are nearing the end here. As you can guess, the Mary Sue character saves the life of the injured one and somehow she will ensure that they all survive in, more or less, one piece. A possible scenario for this part of our story: Mary Sue throws something and knocks out one of the bad guys (any heavy item will be fine). Then she sneakily unties our trussed-up character, Hutch, allowing him to take the bad guys by surprise and subdue them using the gun she managed to sneak to him when they weren't looking.
Next phase of the story: Mary Sue will visit the injured one in the hospital, and he'll feel with her as comfortable, if not more so, as he feels with his partner.
"Oh, no. No way! That's bullshit," Starsky exclaimed.
"My point, exactly," Hutch wisecracked. By then he had given up in his attempts to make Starsky forget the manual.
"No chick is going to make me feel as comfortable with her as I feel with my partner!" the brunet voiced his inner thoughts.
"Thanks Starsk. You're a pal." Hutch answered, amused, just as Starsky began reading the next paragraph.
During these visits, he'll learn more about her amazing (and at times, quite bizarre) skills. She knows how to cook wonderful Indonesian recipes, she sings Gregorian Chants, or she plays masterfully the ukulele and talks fluidly in Medieval Chinese; whatever. Perhaps, (it's just a possibility) she might also do something much more normal, like volunteering in a rest home for the elderly in her free time. Needless to say; the recovering guy (Starsky, you know) falls helplessly in love with her.
That's a very clear example of a Mary Sue story, though most of the time it isn't so blatant. (Thank God for small favors!)
Of course, the story background can be anything. The same goes for the main character in it. That wouldn't change the meaning and purpose of the story in any way.
Now I'm quite sure that all of you, my dear readers have gotten the picture, haven't you?
Starsky was reading the last word when the radio in the Torino crackled to life.
"Control to all the units in the vicinity of Maverick Ave and 43rd. Control to all the units in the vicinity of Maverick Ave and 43rd. Silent alarm at Maverick's Deli."
"Control, this is Zebra Three." Hutch answered the call. "We are in the area and responding. ETA one minute."
Actually, the Torino was parked only a few feet away from the entrance of the small deli, which turned out to be the same one where Hutch had gotten their food just a short while ago. Both detectives, silently readying themselves for the action to come, climbed out of the car and headed towards the small restaurant.
Once outside the deli, peering through a window, they saw a scene that, oddly, rang a warning bell in the back of their minds; it was something that went beyond the usual effect of the adrenaline rushing through their bodies. They were unable to put the unsettling sensation they felt into words.
Inside, there were a bunch of terrified hostages pressing their backs against one of the walls, while a man, whose face was hidden behind a Minnie Mouse mask pointed his gun at them. His partner in crime, wearing a Mickey Mouse mask, was aiming his firearm at the deli owner, a terrified older woman who stood behind the counter too frightened to move.
It had to be a routine case… That, and nothing else. One more among the dozens of cases Starsky and Hutch had faced and solved in their long years in the force. Back up had arrived and two uniformed officers were climbing out of their patrol car, ready to help the detectives subdue the perps. Everything was under control and nothing could possibly go wrong.
But it went wrong anyway…
A short while later, a cloud of pain and dizziness wrapped around his wounded body, Starsky found himself lying on the hard, cold floor of the deli. A piercing pain came from a bullet wound in his chest and a pool of warm blood had began to spread under his body soaking the back of his shirt. Gathering his fading strength he craned his neck, looking for his partner. After a moment he spotted a half-conscious Hutch lying in a heap on the floor, his back against the wall, securely gagged and tied up…
Tied up like a freshly-cut Christmas tree, the brunet thought grimly, unable to pinpoint why such nasty comparison should be so familiar to him.
Then, a soft, calming female voice reached his ears, filling the scared man's mind with a feeling of warm serenity and safety.
"Look sir," The unknown woman was saying firmly to one of the perps. "I don't want give you any trouble, but that man over there is seriously injured. He needs help and I'm going to help him."
"Yeah?" The masked man mocked. "And tell me, honey. What if I don't let you go and help him, huh? What are you gonna do?"
"I don't want to argue with you, sir. But let me put things clear here." She answered bravely, keeping her coolness despite the fact that the man's gun was pointing straight at her. "You have only got one way to stop me from helping that man. And that way is by shooting me, too." Her words were followed by a noisy burst of guffaws from both felons.
"See, pal? The chick has got guts!" one of the men said to the other one. "Oh, it's okay sweetie," he added, turning to look at her defiant eyes. "Go. Go help him. He's a goner, anyway. But I don't want no tricks; do you hear me? No tricks or you're dead, too."
The next thing Starsky noticed, as he fought with the pain and nausea racking him was a comforting presence beside his prone body; a soft aroma that instantly brought to his mind the image of a lavender field in spring. Then he saw a beautiful, angelical face framed by soft shining locks of hair, hair as gold as summer's dawn,cascading in gentle locks over the delicate shoulders of the unknown woman.
Looking at him through large blue eyes that to Starsky looked like the azure depths of the ocean, she took his hand in her smaller one, offering him comfort and safety with a simple touch, in a way that only Hutch had been able to give him until then.
"What's your name, dear?" she asked Starsky, gently caressing his soft curls.
"D-Dave…Dave Starsky," he mumbled through waves of pain.
"Nice to meet you, Dave. My name is Rainbow, and I'm going to help you. Take it easy; everything is going to be alright…"
Then, at that very moment, a scary and unsettling realization hit Starsky like a freight train.
The woman kneeling beside him, her amazing beauty, her courage in challenging the perps and risking her own life just to help him, her uncommon name… All of this could only mean one thing. He had found Mary Sue. Or maybe Mary Sue had found him. The difference wasn't important. What was important was what most likely was going to happen from this moment on.
If everything was going to follow the expected course of events, then Mary Sue was about performing a dangerous and painful surgery on him under very adverse conditions. He would survive and eventually he'd be taken to the hospital where he'd fall in love with that woman just to, in all likelihood, lose her a short time later under tragic circumstances.
All of that was upsetting enough for Starsky, but there was something even worse... a thousand times worse.
If the woman by his side was a genuine Mary Sue, and at that point the injured detective was entirely convinced of it, then he, David Michael Starsky, was a fictional character… And so was Hutch.
Unable to keep thinking further and suddenly invigorated by a cold, powerful terror, Starsky did the only thing he could do…