I came across a little blurb the other day about Mary Sues, and fanfiction, and how the writer of a fanfiction is basically writing a fantasy, inserting themselves as the character at the center of attention, immaculate, glittering and perfect. Basically everything you want to smack into a different galaxy, in both fictional and real lives.
(And yes, I was caught in the quicksand that is TVTropes… I confess. I’m not sorry.)
There’s no doubt that self-inserts, especially by inexperienced authors and/or teens, can be a remarkably painful experience for an audience, whether in novels or in comics (especially in comics- you’ll probably see one center-frame unicorn/rainbow/neon haired douche in a sea of brunettes until your eyes bleed).
But is it really an issue of self-inserting, rather than unskilled writing or writing with a purpose other than that of telling a story to an audience for that audience’s entertainment and/or stimulation?
Just how much can anyone really claim writing a story WITHOUT self-inserting EVERYWHERE?
We are the puppeteers, the creators, the ones who breathe life in our characters. In order for them to move, no matter how much they go against our wishes when they DO move, we have to slip our own hand into the glove. And in doing so, no matter how much and how well we mask it, we can’t help but leave something of our own, a little morsel of our self in each and every character, from the one we identify with the most, to the ones we feel the farthest away from in terms of who we are and what our personality is.
I think that’s why in comics, especially mainstream ones where several different writers write for the same characters, we can tell who is the one breathing life into them, even though they keep faithful to the character’s parameters.
So for example, thinking about my cast in Without Moonlight, I can’t help thinking that in every character, from Fotis the Resistance-initiate and foolhardy leaper to Raban the overly enthusiastic Nazi soldier and loyal friend, there’s parts of me in there that make them tick, simply because when I write them, write their dialogue, I have to BE in THEIR shoes; think how THEY think; react how THEY would react.
For the tiny little while that I need to write their parts, I have to become them. And in becoming them, I cannot but leave the traces of me in the sum of what these characters are, even though I as a person will never ever resemble most of them in personality or actions.
And, what is that if not a (potentially terrifying) self-insert?
So what do you think? Do you pour yourself into your characters in some way, or do you feel that at least some are completely disjointed entities from you as their creator?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 26, 2016
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