"I BASED THE MAIN CHARACTER ON MYSELF."

Posts

Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
author=Archeia_Nessiah
A lot of people do self-inserts in their plot though? Like, Sol Badguy from GG or Batman are technically self-inserts but they're cool so :D;;


...I think you are using a different definition of self-insert from the one I am. I think you're thinking "Mary Sue," which is more an ego insert than a self-insert.

I mean, just for the Batman example, neither Bob Kane nor Bill Finger were orphaned by crime, did detective or any sort of crimefighting work, or adopted young orphans as apprentices. They were both members of not-rich Jewish immigrant families. Pretty much nothing matches up.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9159
Yeah gotta agree there.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
I've read that almost every "writer" does this in their first story whether they're aware that they did it or not. As Max said, I feel like most writers eventually move away from this. However, there are advantages to drawing on your own experiences.

In general, some of the best writing advice you'll ever hear is "Write what you know." Good writers are great at taking elements or details of their own life and inserting it into the story without it being clear they're writing about themselves. Many writers give protagonists occupations that the writer has had, because the writer knows what it's like to do that job and can portray it realistically. This is a good thing and certainly not an indication of bad writing.

The criticism of self-inserts usually comes from the fact that such characters are often written by teenagers or very young people who don't have a well of experience to draw from. They haven't held many jobs or had that many meaningful relationships, they might not know what it's like to be in love or have children, have to pay bills or have truly traumatic experiences happen to them, but they want to write about those things because they seem interesting. That's why you see a lot of young people write characters that seem flat or uninteresting and go about their lives worrying about superficial things.

What's more, when people write characters based on themselves they often have difficulty confronting their own faults,especially very young people. They sometimes need to "protect" that character or always have that character be in the right, generally having the character be inexplicably awesome or super smart and liked/respected by everyone in the story and have very few serious problems (unless the story is about something traumatic happening to them) because they're afraid people won't like the character if they're not 'cool' enough or have any negative qualities. But characters like this come of as self-righteous or at best just boring. As you get better at writing you start to realize that characters with obvious flaws are generally more interesting to read about, and often a lot more fun to write about.

One thing I recommend is to draw inspiration from everywhere and expand your stable of experiences. Even really bad works of fiction often have at least one interesting concept or idea worth building off of, hopefully in a much better story.
I think Solitayre hit the nail on the head. Very well articulated.
author=Sooz
author=Archeia_Nessiah
A lot of people do self-inserts in their plot though? Like, Sol Badguy from GG or Batman are technically self-inserts but they're cool so :D;;
...I think you are using a different definition of self-insert from the one I am. I think you're thinking "Mary Sue," which is more an ego insert than a self-insert.

I mean, just for the Batman example, neither Bob Kane nor Bill Finger were orphaned by crime, did detective or any sort of crimefighting work, or adopted young orphans as apprentices. They were both members of not-rich Jewish immigrant families. Pretty much nothing matches up.

We're talking about self-inserts in RM-games though. From what I read in the OP, I was under the impression that we're talking about the type where you're doing a self-insert where you are technically projecting yourself in an alternate reality where you can control the outcome and experiences of your character. Which is in a sense could be a Gary Stu/Mary Sue experience. Or putting your wish fulfillment character in a pedestal (that's why I said Sol Badguy or Batman).

If I want to say a terrible example of a self-insert, then Kirito from SAO. The author was bad in MMOs so he made a story where he became one of the high leagues and how without prior experience or idea how MMOs work. Or even real world rules.

You don't literally need to experience the stuff your characters do, it's because part of self-insert is wish fulfillment. IDK :p
author=SnowOwl
I'm sure a skilled storyteller would be able to make it interesting, the problem is no skilled storyteller would actually put themselves in their own story.
Because doing that is something unskilled storytellers do.


just sayin
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
12986
Everything Solitayre just mentioned reminded me how terrible "My Immortal" was.

Honestly, I don't mind self-inserts or stories centered around the author, just don't glorify yourself and essentially turn yourself into a Mary-sue, because reading something like that is like watching someone masturbating in front of you. No one cares and its difficult to find a connection with a such a self-centered type of story.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9159
In general, some of the best writing advice you'll ever hear is "Write what you know." Good writers are great at taking elements or details of their own life and inserting it into the story without it being clear they're writing about themselves. Many writers give protagonists occupations that the writer has had, because the writer knows what it's like to do that job and can portray it realistically. This is a good thing and certainly not an indication of bad writing.

I have actually seen this old saw ("Write What You Know") chokeslammed and its back broken and it shattered into a million glittering pieces. There is the argument "Fuck that, write what you DON'T know, and get yourself well out of your comfort zone and see what happens". But I'm more interested in one of the coolest things I learned in college, and it came down to something like this:

If you write what you know, and all you know is how to be a writer, you will never write anything interesting because you DON'T FUCKING KNOW ANYTHING. So stop being a writer, go live life, and come back in 10-30 years when you know something worth writing. Without the fuel of interesting and challenging life experiences that have nothing to do with writing, you will never KNOW anything worth writing, and you will never WRITE anything worth reading. Donald Ray Pollock is my favorite living exemplar of this and probably discovering and reading him in senior year of college is where the ideas really crystallized, although honestly a lot of what a lot of different professors had said up to that point contributed to the revelation. Writing is predicated on possessing meaningful insight of the world. Garnering meaningful insight of the world is predicated on every part of being a living human except being a writer.

It is a very tough pill to swallow for young "careerist" writers like the bushel I went to school with, but it did help explain to me why most of my classmates' work was totally fucking uninteresting to me unless it included the kind of stuff that made my own work interesting to me because it included aliens, robots, vampire zombies, an angel-borne apocalypse, demons, cults, drugs and nonphysical intelligences that warp space and time, and so on, with one exception being the one guy who was 10 years older than everyone else and had been working in a gas station all that time. His prose wasn't as polished as the hollow eggs in the rest of the class but he fucking had something to say.

Quick Note: None of the above was meant to be disagreement, just adding on to what you said.

***

Anyway, I want to talk about Mary Sues. Honestly, I find the idea of a Mary Sue to be so, so overused nowadays that it's kind of annoying. The term obviously has its origins in fanworks--I say obviously, but with so many things that have been in use since forever, I don't think I'd ever heard of it before 2006--but whenever I see it used to describe a character in an original work, I tend to shake my head. Like...Sephiroth is not a Mary Sue. Cloud Strife is not a Mary Sue. They're just characters--protagonists and antagonists--doing what said characters do. Many of the 'defining traits' of "Mary Sues" are honestly just the defining traits of garden variety narrative protagonists and antagonists. So whenever anyone says 'X, Y, or Z' is a Mary Sue now, I'm skeptical.
Ebeth
always up for cute art and spicy gay romance
4390
Lol I'm 99% sure I'm one of the devs Unity is referring too so I thought I'd add in my perspective. When I started on my first game I had to choose a set of characters from the many that I have lying around. But um I was 99% certain my first game was going to be a flaming disaster (as it turned out it was just "meh" in my opinion) so I didn't want to sacrifice any of my better written characters to it. So I just ended up using the (revised) version of a cast of characters I made in eighth grade. This was probably a bad decision but it happened. Anyway the character who is me was actually not created with the intent of being me but like later on looking back I realized that I had created an idealized self insert (not overly idealized though as um self hate is def a thing for me too but anyway) upon rewriting her I tried to put more emphasis on my negative qualities to hopefully create a more interesting character. I still feel that's she's pretty bland but that might be because I view myself as being pretty bland as well and that was reflected in the writing. Anyway it was really done more for connivence than anything else and I don't think I'd ever do it again. Personally I think it's a trope that could potentially work well but most often falls flat. That being said I think if you make a project with you as the super awesome hero for yourself it's just harmless fun you do you.
unity
You're magical to me.
12540
author=Ebeth
Lol I'm 99% sure I'm one of the devs Unity is referring too so I thought I'd add in my perspective. When I started on my first game I had to choose a set of characters from the many that I have lying around. But um I was 99% certain my first game was going to be a flaming disaster (as it turned out it was just "meh" in my opinion) so I didn't want to sacrifice any of my better written characters to it. So I just ended up using the (revised) version of a cast of characters I made in eighth grade. This was probably a bad decision but it happened. Anyway the character who is me was actually not created with the intent of being me but like later on looking back I realized that I had created an idealized self insert (not overly idealized though as um self hate is def a thing for me too but anyway) upon rewriting her I tried to put more emphasis on my negative qualities to hopefully create a more interesting character. I still feel that's she's pretty bland but that might be because I view myself as being pretty bland as well and that was reflected in the writing. Anyway it was really done more for connivence than anything else and I don't think I'd ever do it again. Personally I think it's a trope that could potentially work well but most often falls flat. That being said I think if you make a project with you as the super awesome hero for yourself it's just harmless fun you do you.

Actually, this wasn't about your game at all. I honestly really liked all of your characters XD You may have made them back in eighth grade, but they suited the story and gave it a charming feel.

In fact, I didn't even guess that your main character was a self-insert :D
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
I'm less inclined to advise "write what you know" than "know what you write." Either way, experience and observation are a jillion times more valuable than cultivated skill.
Ebeth
always up for cute art and spicy gay romance
4390
author=unity
Actually, this wasn't about your game at all. I honestly really liked all of your characters XD You may have made them back in eighth grade, but they suited the story and gave it a charming feel.

In fact, I didn't even guess that your main character was a self-insert :D


I'm really glad to hear this :D I know I mentioned it in a blog post so I figured you had read that since I knew you had played the game recently.
It reminds me of authors claiming that whatever it is you write first .. you can almost certainly trash it as it's all about yourself. Unconsciously or not.

author=Darken
author=SnowOwl
I'm sure a skilled storyteller would be able to make it interesting, the problem is no skilled storyteller would actually put themselves in their own story.
Because doing that is something unskilled storytellers do.

just sayin

I haven't watched Louie but I guess what you're getting at is that it's about himself and good? There are always exceptions to the rules, would be my answer.

I may have come on strongly in my post, but I think it makes for more interesting characters if people try to come up with someone interesting instead of just self-inserting. Some snippets of your own self is unavoidable and probably necessary to make a believable character. But let's be honest here, most people don't live interesting enough lives or have interesting enough personalities that other people would actually read (or play) their life stories. Another reason it fails is because the majority of people haven't looked at themselves hard enough to know their own personality. The hardest person to know really well is yourself, as some people say.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
The thing about using oneself as an emotional basis of a character is that one usually has a pretty decent grasp of one's own emotional workings and why things happen that way.

Really, it's not totally necessary to insert personal feelings if one has enough empathy and understanding of other people. It's all about being able to portray why a person reacts and makes certain choices.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9159
But let's be honest here, most people don't live interesting enough lives or have interesting enough personalities that other people would actually read (or play) their life stories.

This is a really coarse oversimplification of what's actually a really complex topic. So I guess here's another one?

Actually, broadly speaking, most PEOPLE are infinitely fascinating. But almost the entire apparatus of authorial technique lies in teasing that out onto the page, the screen, or whathaveyou.
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
32077
author=Max McGee
But let's be honest here, most people don't live interesting enough lives or have interesting enough personalities that other people would actually read (or play) their life stories.
This is a really coarse oversimplification of what's actually a really complex topic. So I guess here's another one?

Actually, broadly speaking, most PEOPLE are infinitely fascinating. But almost the entire apparatus of authorial technique lies in teasing that out onto the page, the screen, or whathaveyou.


We're all superheroes in our dreams.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
The thing that makes a person interesting is the choices they make. You don't need anything particularly extraordinary to be interesting.

The real deal.

On topic: I am using my own traumatic experiences for my game, kind of in a therapeutic sense. I don't want to make some whiny, morose story starring *me*, I have actually thought critically and at length about the characters, setting, themes, etc.

Basically if you are deliberately transferring yourself/your experiences into your story, you should try hard to make it more interesting than it otherwise would be...
unity
You're magical to me.
12540
author=Ebeth
author=unity
Actually, this wasn't about your game at all. I honestly really liked all of your characters XD You may have made them back in eighth grade, but they suited the story and gave it a charming feel.

In fact, I didn't even guess that your main character was a self-insert :D
I'm really glad to hear this :D I know I mentioned it in a blog post so I figured you had read that since I knew you had played the game recently.

Haha, I didn't go back and read the blog until just now. I never felt like your main character was a self-insert as she had her own problems and stumbling blocks to overcome. ^_^

I guess that this ties back into what Link mentioned earlier: If it's done well enough, you'll never even know the character was a self-insert unless the author says so somewhere.