Gather 'round everyone, for the cat is about to speak.

Gather 'round, gather 'round all ye fanfic authors. It’s time to listen to the cat.

Now, I’ve given a little rant about sex in fanfics, and now it’s another serious subject.

That subject is “self-insertion”, as I like to call it.

Now what this would be, to those who may not know, is putting yourself (as an alterego) into one of your works.

This isn’t necessarily a BAD thing. I’ve done it myself. Robert in <u>Enter a Warmage</u> is modeled after me. He’s my alterego. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself into a fanfic. It can also be quite enlightening.

After all, writing fanfics allow us to enter a world which otherwise we could by no means take part. It brings our fantasies into a semblance of reality, and makes us feel a part of the world. Self-insertion is the next step, actually interacting with the world and it’s characters.

However, it’s not always done well. Often you’ll find fanfics where the alterego comes in, and all the characters fall in love with him/her, sends the evil packing, though the entire world was afraid of it, and finds a cure for cancer. In the first five minutes.

They are always stunningly beautiful. They are always more powerful than God. They are Mary Sues.

Or Marty Stus, or whatever, if the author is male.

Mary Sues represent an idealized alterego of the author. They are perfect, they cannot be wrong, and they are ridiculous.

Now, I can’t blame people for doing this: After all, who doesn’t want to be perfect? Who doesn’t want to be loved by everyone?

The problem is, it’s not possible. As humans, we are essentally imperfect, and we can’t please everyone. And having even one character as such tends to spoil the fanfic by ruining suspension of disbelief (something I will get to at a later time, perhaps). While a lot of things can spoil a fanfic, Mary Sues are the worst. Unsurprisingly, often you can find Mary Sues in lemons.

However, it can be done well. But it takes some thought. I know I spent SEVEN YEARS in thought before I actually wrote <u>Enter a Warmage</u>. As a person who feels that a person puts a bit of themself into their works, I would say that ultimately, all fanfics are self-insertions. But it’s a bit too broad.

You see, this is an excellent opportunity for an author. It gives us a way to examine ourselves in a way we normally cannot. A way to put down ourselves on paper or Notepad and look at ourselves as others would see us.

I once read that when we look in a mirror, we see a skewed version of ourselves. When you look in a mirror, it’s you. But subtly different. To get a true vision of ourselves, we need a reflection of that reflection. As such, we can never see ourselves as what we truly are, our vision is altered by our perspective. To truly learn what we really are, we need another viewpoint.

Self-insertion allows for that, and thus can be quite an educational and enlightening experience for the author. It also exposes ourselves to the world, allowing readers to get to know us better than the work without the self-insertion.

Thus the dislike of Mary Sues. Ultimately, the Mary Sue is the ultimate in hubris and vanity and it CLEARLY shows. Add on to that, as mentioned, it spoils suspension of disbelief, making the story less real and less enjoyable. Not to mention that Mary Sues tend to be intertwined with lemons, but let’s not get into that.

So, perhaps you are intrigued by placing yourself into the fantasy world of your story? I will give you a few tips.

  • If your character is respected by the canon characters off the bat, make sure there’s a backstory. Robert had spent seven years with Cecil and company before <u>Enter a Warmage</u>. If your character is not in the story from the start, let them earn the character’s respect the old fashioned way: they earn it.

  • Avoid entanglements with canon characters. ESPECIALLY romantic. But this can also be extended to familial attachments. This is the mark of an idiot fanboy/girl. Rinoa should NOT break up with Squall just to be with your character. You should NOT be Cloud’s long lost brother or son or whatever. Entanglements with other author created characters is good, as long as it doesn’t eclipse the canon characters.

  • On that, remember: while you may want to be the star, it’s often better just to concentrate on the canon characters, or make sure everyone shares the spotlight. Not doing so, and consigning the canon characters to bit parts makes you look vain.

  • Also, while you may want your character to be uber-powerful, resist that temptation. This eclipses the canon characters, like the example above.

  • Finally, you are not perfect. Neither is your alterego. Respect that and your story will become more real. Allow your character thier faults and mistakes. Besides, they make excellent plot hooks. Why deny them?

To sum it all up, self-insertion can make a story fuller, stornger, and adds a little variety to fic. It also, like any other plot device, can doom it beyond mediocrity if not used well. If you’re not sure you’re up to it, write it out anyway and give it to a beta reader you trust.

Self-insertion is an unparalleled opportunity to get to know ourselves better, along with giving our readers a better story. Do us all a favor and don’t screw it up, ok? We’ll al be grateful, and you never know… Maybe the story will continue from someone else’s pen.

Spazzy out!

<img src=“”> I thought you were talking about masturbation when I saw “sex” and “self-insertion” so close together.

You dont like it, don’t read it.

/me points at PPC thread

I take a more pro-active stance against bad self-insertion.:hahaha;

Recently it’s been the FFX category of FFnet that has been flooded with bad MS’s. Tidus sister/cousin/whatever comes to Zanarkand with him and screws up the entire story is the newest.

Self-insertion can be done well, but for some reason the people who could if they wanted to don’t seem to want to - Excepting present company of course - so we get a load of crap. If more decent writers did them, then maybe they wouldn’t be looked down upon so much.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop assassinating them though.

Um…does this mean the sagas are bad?

Gallo, I’d be the LAST person to say the Sagas are bad.

There are always exceptions to the rule.

Nah, Gallo, you have nothing to worry about. You can spell, the story works, you get your ass kicked before you can even consider winning in most cases, you don’t screw the game/other characters in there, and they’re damn funny. Bottom line; the sagas are definitely exceptions, because you know how it’s done :slight_smile:

Y’know, in “Retaliation” I got close to a Marty Stue in fact…

Cause all those thoughts Squall had in his mind in “Retaliation” and “Retaliation:Afterpiece Noir” were, in fact, my own thoughts at the point, my own point-of-view to life. THough the lines he said were Squallish, the lines were the way I talk.

Did that count in as Marty Stue?

No, no, don’t worry Joker. A Mary Sue/Marty Stuart is an original character whom wasn’t in the game, a perfect, superstrong fellow who everybody awes or falls in love with. Putting a bit of yourself in a standard character is just fine - as long as s/he’s not brought completely out of character of course. I put a lot of myself in Lise when I wrote Those not Chosen for example :slight_smile:

Read the piece of shit that is The Sephir if you want an example of a Stue.

So you all wouldn’t want to read my story built around me having a three way with Lucca and Marle then, do you?


I’m kidding, of course. We all know I’d never write something like that. Total crap. Totally beneath me as a serious fan artist.

It was Selphie and Quistis

JokerLoire: No, no, no, not at all. That’s good. That, in fact, is what a good author is supposed to do. Put some of his/her own genuine memory/emotion into his/her characters (or someone else’s in the case of fanfiction) to make them that much more honest and real and complete people. DON’T STOP DOING THAT EV0R.

For Reference: The Best and most famous example of a Mary Sue/Marty Stu character would be the Simpsons episode where “Poochie” is added to the Itchy and Scratchy show.

Poochie is in his essence a Mary Sue.

Very good essay, StarStorm, and very true. Here’s what I have to say on the subject:

Self-insertion is not bad in and of itself, as has been pointed out. Like any story, it’s HOW it’s written, not about whom, that makes it good or bad. God knows there are lots of fanfics written about already-stablished characters that are as bad as Mary Sues, since the writer’s love for the character blinds him or her to how overbearingly perfect they are making it.

(And a few ACTUAL series and shows I have seen are like that, too…) :fungah:

Thereby, I think we, as readers, should also give the fan writers a break. If your first reaction to a fanfic is, “Oh , NO! This guy wrote himself in! And as the lover/lost brother/whatever of the main hero!!” you’re being prejudiced yourself. Just read the story far enough to tell if you like it or not. If not, stop and move on. Oh, and maybe write the author to explain why you dislike it, IF you feel like it. Granted, as SS points out, most such stories are NOT enjoyable to the rest of us, but hey, let’s never lose sight that this is all CASUAL FUN, nothing more. It isn’t like they ruined your favorite show and you have to do something about it.

Oh, and when you people see what I have planned for my RPGC self in my New Origin Story, you’ll see I agree with many of Star’s points above (Val already knows, I told her some of my plans.) (And for the record, my FIRST version of myself was a JOKE, since it was meant for JOIN MY ARMY, which started in the Tower of Babel, of all places. Val pulled the carpet under my feet by turning it into a serious story!) So don’t worry, no threesomes or anything in THIS one!


PS: I like d’s stories.

PPS: …My post is longer than Kaiser’s! YEEESSS!!! :yipee:

I, too, hate Mary Sues. Yet, the only reason I love 'em so is because they are so incredibly stupid and outrageous that they’re actually boderlining funny.

I thought about writing a Mary Sue for the heck of it. Wonder how crazy I can make it . . . just thought of a new fanfic to write. ~_^:mwahaha:

No, that’d go against all that is sane. I’m really sick of the plotline though ‘Girl/Boy-gets-sucked-into-video game- and-is-now-trying-to-beat-the-boss-while-gaining-the-main-guy/girls’-affection’

Does that plotline bother anyone else as well or is that just me?

The author-being-sucked-into-the-gameworld plot is the worst ever. No need to specify the save-the-world, or main-character-romance parts to qualify it. I suppose if anyone serious about writing did it, they might create something worth reading, but it would be more effort than it is worth, so most writers who have any idea what they are doing don’t consider it.

I absolutely despise Mary-Sues! They are my worst enemy. Because they seem all perfect, they seem like they are all blondies and are twirling their hair around their finger practically. I loathe them!!!

The whole being-sucked-into-the-game thing pisses me off, too. What’s the point? We all know what it’ll end up like, anyway. He/She will be saving the world and making a character fall in love with them and all that! Geez!

It’s not getting sucked into the world that’s the problem, it’s what they do there…

Captain N is very good, and that’s based on someone getting sucked into the game world when playing a game…
(When playing Punch Out for NES to be more precise. And he was just about to beat King Hippo, too… :P)

So it’s not how they get there that’s the problem, the problem is that they’re always too perfect and that they always have some sort of ridiculous relationship with a character…

And how they manage to hug and seduce the main villain too sometimes if he’s cool enough. Without getting turned into shishkebab?
But I most say, that on that tangent I was about to laugh my jaw to pieces yesterday when I saw the picture of Sephiroth from Advent Children. Can you imagine how all those lemon-Sues will screech in horror when they see what the one they lusted for REALLY looks like?

AFTER I’ve taken another dose of calming pills I’ll resume cackling at the mental images.

I don’t think thing’ll change, but he reminds me of Kefka.

But the next time I get a Sue-Sephy-lemonfic I’ll (AFTER poking my eyes out) I’ll just send her that pic and see what happens :mwahaha:

…And I really wonder how many FF7-fanfic authors commit unspeakable acts upon themselves when they notice their rendition of the future is wrong?