One more useless guide to not help aspiring writers on this site. This time, I'm going to get really, really in-depth with the topics of Mary-sues, anti-sues and clichés. That is it for this one, but I may decide to give some real advice. If I can be bothered, which isn't likely.
I seem to mention these in ever guide. Is it beginning to irk you yet? Yes? No? Maybe so? Okay, this is a very difficult subject to address, and I know a lot of authors who will want to kill me for this, but they really aren't that bad. A lot of people think that a 'Sue is the worst thing ever, and then rather than balancing them properly they just give them no good qualities, and create an anti-sue. Which is much, much worse. The trick with a 'Sue is you match it to the genre. If you're writing romance, it's fine to have a pretty-boy jock that secretly gets As in maths and is in 'love' with the science geek. If fantasy, you can put super-kick-ass ninja-princess who beats everybody up, because if she was a wimp she would get killed, and the same if she was stupid. (Most people say that the damsel-in-distress is a 'Sue, but since nobody writes them anymore they aren't anymore.)
It is perfectly alright to put a 'sue in, in my opinion, but many people will not agree. What I can suggest is you put in several characters, and give them all different qualities. For example, put in a big scary tough guy and a super-genius. Then when a flamer calls them 'Sues, you can say "But the tough one is stupid and the smart one is a wimp so they can't be". This is a really easy way to ovoid the 'Sue problem, and gives you more characters to work with. Or you can just to what I do and tell the idiots where to shove their flames. It works well enough.
Now, I hate these, with a passion. These are the characters everybody wants to see get floored, and for a good reason. They just don't work, and sadly everybody seems to be writing them. Everybody deserves a slap. However, I've seen some people tread the line of Anti-suedom and pull it off quite well. It's all about balance here. You can't just make a character all faults and say "Now they're like a real person", because they're not. Some people are genuinely like that, but most have a few redeeming qualities.
Case-study 1: Artemis Fowl. In the first book, he is an arse. The only reason I didn't hate him is because I hated Holly more. But he does have redeeming qualities, and you see that at the end when he gives up half a ton of gold to cure his mother. (Sorry for any spoilers) He lies and blackmails in the second book so that he can rescue his father and the same in the sixth one to cure his mother again. He does horrible things, but it's alright because of the lengths he goes to for his family. This is a big difference, because, I can tell you, this sole fact is what makes him human, it's what makes him not evil. It is a heroic trait, which is something an Anti-sue never has. So he isn't all bad, and the author managed to save him from Anti-suedom.
Case-study 2: Inuyasha. Now, I haven't watched this in ages, and I just started watching it again, so I can't remember most of what happens. What I can tell you: yes, for the most part I want to slap him, but he does occasionally make up for it. His redeeming quality is his love for his dead mother and his affection towards humans. Sure, he wants to be a full demon and become super-jerk, but he treats humans a lot better than other demons. And when it comes down to it, he may act like he wants to kill what's-her-name (I can never remember it) but he doesn't want to see her get hurt. He tries to make her stay behind so she doesn't and lends her his protective coat thing and gets hurt because of it. He refuses to abandon an old woman whom he hates, after she tell him to. So he isn't a complete jerk. And he does want to protect her. Hence the sword. (You'll get that if you've watched the anime)
Anti-sues are a very fine line, and you have to make sure you don't cross it. Inuyasha does on a few occasions, and each time it is difficult to redeem the character. If you cross the line too much, you won't be able to fix it any more. You have to keep tabs on characters that walk close to this line; else you may find the get harder and harder to control. And people will want to see them get beat up. Personally, I would suggest staying away from this line, but if you can risk it and pull it off, then stop readig this and give me some bloody help.
Now, I am a Turus, through and through, and although I can adapt quite well, I do not enjoy change. I like some degree of familiarallity. This is probably why I like cliches so much. But let's face it, you can't base your target audience on the star-signs, that would just be weird. But I'm sure you see what I'm getting at. Everybody has their own opinion of a cliche, whether they like it or not, and although I respect that fact, if I see one more Moan-about-cliches forum there will be blood on the walls. Not because they insult cliches, but because they insult those who write them, which is pretty much all authors. Me espicially. So it is a big insult to me.
I'm sorry to say this, but everything has been done before, so learn to live with it. One of the most frequently moaned about plot-lines on this site is 'normal person goes to magical world and saves everybody', which happens to be the plot of one of my favorite series (The Chronicals Of Narnia). Another one is 'Hero goes to find/steal/destroy/save magical oblect/person', AKA the hero's jurney, which is one of the I-don't-know-how-many primary plot lines. And it's the entire plot of three whole books which, although I don't like, are very popular (Lord Of The Rings). And then there's the 'Previously-normal-person-finds-out-they-are-prophical-saviour', need I say it? Yes, Narnia, LOTR, and Harry Potter are all cliches, but they're all good. Except the middle one, which is the most boring thing I have ever failed to read.
Saying that, originality is always good. And mean it's good when it's good, sorry to tell you but the gretest idea ever means nothing if you're a crappy writer. Seriously though, there is no reason not to come up with something new, none at all, but there is nothing to say you can't use cliches either. Heck, the protagonist winning happens in every book/film I know, beside Shakespeare, so surely it is a cliche, but people would get angry and flame you if it didn't happen. As with everything else with writing, it depends on how you write, the story you're writing, and what you want. This, like everything I've talked about, is completely up to the writer.
Wow, this may just be the longest guide I've ever written, and the closest thin to real advice I've ever given you. Pointedly, you are always aloud to tell me I know nothing and am an idiot, and I never claimed otherwise, and I will ignore you. Or you can make use of this guide. But the best advice I can give you is simple, and it doesn't take a whole guide to give it you: Just Write! And ignore the god-damn idiots unless they say something smart, in which case they are no longer idiots.