Okay, this is one of my favorite topics. Twinkies. No, not the cream filled, American pastry delight. At least… not unless you’re being metaphoric.
In Fandom, we have hijacked the word “twinkie” and now use it in reference to anyone who writes characters that make you want to gag.
I imagine the origin has something to do with the fact that twinkies (the tasty pastry) are sometimes so sweet they make your teeth hurt. When the word first came to be used in fandom, it referred to writers who invented Perfect Characters. You know what I mean: she’s tall, lovely, has a dulcet singing voice, loves animals (and they love her), is appreciated by adults because she is such a hard worker, has had to turn down three proposals of marriage, and had to fight off one man who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer with her own bare hands. And she’s psychic. And has pointy elf ears. (Okay, those last two are just for bonus points.)
Yes, that’s what Twinkie originally meant. We apply the term to the writer and not the character, because we assume it’s the writer’s fault that the character is so gross. Over the years, we’ve also begun applying the term to any writer who is clueless.
Most fandom writers start out as Twinkies, unless they have some other fiction writing experience under their belts before they come to us. Usually it doesn’t take too long to scare the twinkiness out of a person. As soon as they realize that their MarySue characters aren’t very much fun to write about, they’ll move on to more interesting things. But not always. Sometimes, Twinkies stay twinkie for life.
I started as a Twinky. My first character was beautiful, very short (a dead-twinkie-giveaway), had black hair and green eyes (hair color for Twinkies is optional between black and red, but the eyes are always green), ran away from home because she was misunderstood by her evil parents, lived by herself in the wilderness where she managed to construct a castle out of a cave, impressed five firelizards (mini-dragons, for those of you who aren’t in on the Pern scene), and eventually was rescued by a dashing dragonrider from Benden where she went, saved the lives of several important major characters from Anne McCaffrey’s books, and then impressed the gold dragon. It was awesome.
It took me a couple years to get a clue, I think. My theory is that people write Twinkies because they are trying to idealize their own personalities and become the star of the show. In a game like this, though, there aren’t any stars – only stories. Sometimes your character can be the star, but not always. Sometimes he has to be someone else’s backup singer (sequins optional).
Until you realize that, you’ll probably continue to wallow in your twinkiness and wonder why no one else wants to write with you.