There is a point that I have been trying to make for a long time. About Mary Sues.
These two characters are identical. Their traits are also identical. But what a difference! Why is one nice, and the other obnoxious? It's the voice of the author at work: for good... or bad.
'Mary Sue traits' mean nothing. Those litmus tests you see around are not useful. A Mary Sue can have all the same traits as an otherwise normal person, much less any fictional character. It's how the author uses those traits that matters: in a confident, reasonable way, or a self-serving or even insecure way.
Mary Sues are inherently insecure of themselves. Why would they try and convince us that they're so cool if they were confident in their coolness?
And while it is the author's fault, the author's not the one to be scolded. It's the product they make that must be questioned and examined rather than blindly fav'd or 'cool story bro'd'.
The fact that many Sue/Stu authors lash out when their work is questioned is proof of the insecurity. And only with criticism and sometimes even parody and satire can anybody get over it?
I did. I think.
(Part one of two)