If there is one term that writers dread hearing from critiques and readers alike, it is "Mary Sue." This is a popular phrase to categorize a character who is so horribly trite that you can more or less predict exactly how the story will run after reading the first two chapters. What pushes a character over this line is subjective, as every person will have a different opinion about certain aspects of a story. However, there are several traits that you want to avoid, particularly if three or more of them can be applied to just one character.

Physical Attractiveness - Let's face it; in general the main hero is good looking and the main villain is heinously ugly. This is more or less to be expected. However, things start getting annoying when the author draws attention to a certain characters looks over and over again, through other characters or narration. In the real world, most people aren't Aphrodite or Adonis, so unless it is somehow important for your character development, try to avoid making any of your characters America's Next Top Model material.

Angst - This is another common staple of a lot of characters that can all too easily be overdone. It's alright to have one or two tragic elements to your character's past as an incentive for them to take up the hero reigns demanded by the plot. However, if your character is an orphan, abused by his foster parents for a year, lived on the streets breaking a new bone every other month, contracted aids, got fired from every job he applied for, and spends the majority of the story moaning about how his life sucks and he wants to die... Let's just say this is very, very obnoxious to read.

Superman's Epic Older Brother - Not only can he move faster than a speeding bullet, leap tall buildings with a single bound, lift three thousand times his weight, fly, breath in outer space and shoot laser beams from his eyes, he is also a master detective and swordfighter. Did we mention he's constantly acquiring new super powers as the plot demands? Yeah, by now your eyebrows are probably getting friendly with the ceiling. If you write a character like this, your readers will feel the same way. Always limit your characters powers and qualities, and make sure to balance them with solid weaknesses.