Cliches and Self-Inserts

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HatedLove6's avatar

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Clichés and Self-Inserts

While not the most desirable things to read, Mary-Sueism isn't based on whether the story or characters are cliché.  Writers don't stop writing about that one hero whom was prophesized to be the only one to be able to stop the villain just because a few hundred writers have done it before.  They take the base of the idea and make it their own by telling their story.  Every writer has something different to contribute.  If I wrote about a girl who fell in love with a vampire, it doesn't mean I'm copying from Stephenie Meyers (there are other books with that same basic concept), it means that I think I have something different that I can portray, and no matter how many times it's been done before, I want to write it.

So go on with the controlling all the elements, changing eye-color, and having the prince save the princess.  If you feel that you have something different you can contribute, then write it, and prove to your readers that you know how to take a cliché and bend it to your will.  

While I say this, remember that not every cliché is bad.  If writers were so concerned with being totally original, we wouldn't have sayings like "to break a heart" or other common but still quite acceptable phrases.  

Self-Inserts aren't necessarily bad either, not even in the professional world.  Take Anne Rice for example, her self-insert is Lestat; she admitted it, but does that detract from her talent, or should it hinder her from making money off of it?  Heck no!  All writers put at least a little of themselves into each character anyway—Anne Rice decided to write a character with her rebellion of religious views which she views is a big part of her.  Does that mean she would dance with a corpse?  No.  Lestat and she are two separate identities, but she merely inserted her religious views into the character, along with her humor.  Maybe it wasn't a "complete self-insertion," like you see in many stories online, but inserting a thing like religion tends to be a bad thing (political views too) in fiction.

So why is Stephenie Meyers getting yelled at for supposedly self-inserting?  All I know is that she's a Mormon from Arizona with a husband and kids.  There weren't any religious or political opinions in her book, although there were themes attached to the events (wanting to get married before having sex, yadda yadda), I don't know if she's clumsy—has anyone seen her trip over a wire every ten minutes?—at most I can only suspect that she's read all of the books her character Bella read and referenced off of.  Yes, she admitted that the music she referenced from was Linkin Park, and so she and Bella definitely like Linkin Park, but so what?  I like Linkin Park.  

You know what most of the people complain about?  Their looks.  Lots of girls have long brown hair—I have long brown hair!  Brown is a common hair color in America. So what?  Meyers could have done a lot worse if she had more fully self-inserted.  I wouldn't have wanted to read about how she thought most of the other teenage girls wore "trashy" clothes when in the subjective viewpoint would just say that the clothes were revealing (at most some of their cleavage, a little of their stomach and their calves).  

Then there are also people who say that Bella is just a plain vessel so that all the girls can latch on to and fall in love with the vampire.  Aside from the plain part, wouldn't any main character due if the reader really did want to experience falling in love with a vampire?  A blonde-haired, coordinated tennis player, with a totally laid back personality would have done just as well if you ask me.  Like I said in "'You' P.O.V.s" I got sucked in The Hunger Games, and Katniss wasn't plain with a dull personality.  It just depends on how much the reader enjoys the story.

Because different universes have different cultures or history, technology, etc., I say it's impossible to fully insert yourself in a fictional story.  In fact, the only way a one hundred percent self-insertion is possible, is in your autobiography where you can write about how you grew up, what your parents, friends, and teachers were like and how they changed you.  For purely fictional, whether it's original or fan fiction, stories, if you "dump" yourself in a story with different parents and friends, it would change the "you" you're trying to insert yourself in.  That's why Lestat isn't a woman writer who married a poet.  Self-insertion, whether it's only a small amount, or a large amount, will always be there, especially if the writer is passionate, but why should it matter?  If you don't know anything about the writer, and if he or she never shared their most private thoughts, no one would know, and if the story was well-written, I don't think anyone would even bother to ask.
If you haven't please read my Mary-Sue: Who is She? Series first.

© 2012 - 2022 HatedLove6
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Ju-chan09's avatar
I have a self insert. But I don't write any Fanfictions with my self instert. I don't write anything with her/me. 
In fact, I don't write anything at all. (Neither FFs nor original stories.) 

So you (and other people) might think: "But then ... how can you have a self insert?" 

And see, that always confused me. When ever I read/hear something about SIs people always talk about writers and writing. 
I don't write. I'm not a writer. And I don't plan to be. 

Now you (and others) might ask: "But if you don't write or plan to write, then what did you create your SI for?"

Well, the answer to that is quite simple: I just thought it would be fun to imagine myself in this other world. 

It all started with me thinking: "If I lived in this world I would join 'this' group" and then I started to imagine how it would be if I had been born in this world.
I inserted my RL-family - even asking them what they would do/be in this world. 
I either took things directly from my RL-self - like my SI would be born on the 09.09. and would like to eat carrots with peanut butter (yeah, I know that I'm strange - but try it! It's so delicious! I love it!) and other things I 'translated'. 
What do I mean by 'translated'? 
Well, for ex. I took my hight - compared it to other peoples hight - doing research on hights in our world, calculated how tall I am compared to that, then did research on the hight of the characters in the show and then calculated how tall I would be:
My RL-self compared to RL-people => my SI compared to the people of the fictional world. 
I even inserted my home 'country' in a translated version in this world. 
And of course, in this world different things would have happend to me than the things that happened in RL. 
But I always thought: "How would I react/would have reacted in this situation in RL?"
Then I even started to think about: "If I really was a character from that show, in which episode would I have first appeared in?" And stuff like that. 

I have all of this and so much more in my head and talked about it with my friend. 
And why? 

Beauce it's FUN!!! 
Because imagining yourself in other worlds/universes is just sooooooooooo much FUN!!!!! 

So ... you don't have to be a writer to have a self insert.