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Tutorial How To Not Be A Self-Insert

Tefka

L Admin
Admin
Answer: You can't.

That's it, it's over, you can stop reading and click back or reply with "haha ok" <insert zoomer emoji>
BUT if you want more keep reading.

Q: What is a self-insert and why does it matter?

Well, I've heard it tossed around in other roleplay communities these past few years and it... well, it definitely applies here. For years I've always warned against the clique mentality that threatens these roleplays communities, those of us who've been around a few blocks know what they look like. Back in my more fiery years, it was my main fiery OOC stance that could cripple a community - in conjunction with "corrupt leadership". These're the two things I always warned against if we wanted to keep Chaos around, and I feel like it actually resonated throughout our time here. And now it's come full circle with these new term I've learned RP communities are using, the "Self-Insert".

Q: Ok you didn't actually explain it though.

Well, cliques are just like friends right, literally thats it. We know what those are. The Self-Insert is the person and his/her relationship with the character. How much of that character is YOU.

Q: I write all my characters differently, I can separate OOC and IC, I just want stories.

Right, but that's not an honest response. Some are very good at separation, some aren't, but all are guilty AND IT'S NORMAL. I literally cannot stop being me. I cannot ask you to stop being you. I never expect people to change, though sometimes I hope they do. That's what the Self-Insert is. How much of that character is YOU. Because if you follow that rabbit hole, and your character has all of your flaws, then you're not IC or "In Character".

Q: Okay but like, my character is a Jedi and I'm not, ya derp.

Word, break it down like this.

Have you made any friends here at Chaos in this community? Is it because of your character or because ya'll get along? Do you find yourself writing with those friends more often? Do you find yourself writing with strangers less? That's not 100% SELF-INSERTION bro, and there's nothing wrong with it and it's 100% healthy. Literally everyone here can probably name someone they PREFER writing with.

But... is that because of your character or because of you? Answer that question internally, and that's the first step towards realizing HOW much of a self-insert you have on your hands.

Q: So is like, being a self-insert a problem?

Again, no! Well, not entirely.

It has it's positives, it has it's negatives. A positive would be it's probably a hell of a lot more immersive for you. Writing is likely a lot easier, too. But, to me, the negatives are way worse.

An example of a negative is, now your biases OOC, now they reflect IC. Literally everyone has this. Just as everyone has a writer they prefer, they probably have a writer they don't. And trust me, as an Admin here, I'm aware of the REALITY of this more than any positive virtuous response could attempt to convince me. It is what it is! I'm not about painting reality to be what you think it should look like. Recognizing the ugly makes the pretty prettier. And that's why I lean towards warning against being a Self-Insert.

In my duty here as the Owner, we've had so many bad moments OOC, and I gotta say, most of the non-OOC stuff was because of self-inserts. People getting too invested because they poured themselves into this one character or another. People getting too invested in their faction, and not taking a step back to breathe and recognize this game for what it is. And while I'm about recognizing the ugly, I don't think I need to pull up any examples to actually prove that, I want to believe that we all just know it to be true.

We all have flaws. Self-Insertion for IC isn't a big one for me, but trust me, I'm aware of my many other glaring flaws and I try to work on them. I hope this tutorial on Self-Inserts helps someone recognize one of their flaws, and they try to work on it.

You'll fail. But that's life. If you can't be good at anything else, start with getting good at failure.
 

Grand Admiral Burtch

Just some blue dude
Writer
First, I really enjoy these deep dive discussions on playing a character and how they reflect their writers through one way or another. I find this topic very fascinating and it applies to actors, writers, and other artistic forms of expression that Thrawn would dissect until the end of time. But I do worry about this discussion being taken in the extreme opposite direction where people might get paranoid in assuming that everything that happens in an intense RP setting is some sort of self-insertion. I hope that by bringing this facet up that we can expand on this discussion.

As an example, I have two active characters that I based on parts of myself, and two more that are based on people that I know IRL. And, while I agree with Tefka — in that it’s impossible to keep your own identity from seeping into your characters’ actions entirely — I do feel like I do a fairly decent job of staying true to the source materials in my life. IRL, I imitate these people quite often and I carry that into my writing. In summary, these characters do and say things that I would never replicate in a real social setting (except in imitation, of course). But then I worry that people would assume that those moments are a reflection of my own opinions or personality.

In the past, I have found that the best solution is to follow up in OOC, especially if you make a rather cringy post to adhere to a character or create an impactful moment. In my mind, it’s best if you come to the other player first and explain that “hey, my character is __ but I’m not really __”. I find that if you get ahead of any concerns and come to the individual right away instead of waiting for them to come to you, flapping their arms saying “what the hell, man?” you show that you are already taking their own thoughts and feelings into consideration. At least, that has been my mindset of late.

However, there are many, many RPers here with much, much more experience than I, and so I end this blurb on a question for you, hoping that others have the same question in their minds:

In your opinion, what is the best way to handle intense character interactions that may be taken out of context?
 

Tefka

L Admin
Admin
I'm not answering that. Too broad, would take too much time that I don't want to spend.

I do worry about this discussion being taken in the extreme opposite direction where people might get paranoid in assuming that everything that happens in an intense RP setting is some sort of self-insertion.

This point is simpler to drive home though and answer.

THOSE PEOPLE ALREADY EXIST.

IT'S ALSO NORMAL.
 
In your opinion, what is the best way to handle intense character interactions that may be taken out of context?
Do nothing.

If your character acts a certain way, that's the character. It isn't you. If someone chooses to believe some heinous action from the character is a reflection of you and chooses to condemn you for it, that's on them. They're the cringe weirdo. There's always certain elements of your real self that seep into a character, yes, but it's clear as to which qualities those are.

The best way to handle intense character interactions that may be taken out of context is to not handle them.

Just write your character as you've made them.
 

Salis

Killer
Writer
While I actually am not bothered by self inserts and think they can be done perfectly fine. I can't agree that all characters are self inserts any more than all paintings you make are paintings of you. Sure they may draw from your own style or your own knowledge, which is inherently mostly about you, but they are not necessarily about you. The same applies to the friend thing, when you join a group of people you can get along with, you're just more likely to continue doing things with them. They kind of bounce off each other, not are exclusively one way. It's also important to know that while I don't do that on here, elsewhere I actually tended to write very little with the people I actually spoke with the most even on that site specifically. In fact, on one case the group I hang out with the most casually, was the group that I did not actually write with almost at all.

While I have made characters that are partially self inserts with only few being truly meant to resemble me mentally, most are different in most ways and may even be styled off other people. Nexus Krae and Xos Drikre are both on extreme ends of morality and neither is like me in almost any way that I can think of. At least not that were meant to come from me (they're both humanoids, they both experience fear, but that's a human thing. Not a me thing). I have a very specific way that I write 'me' characters, way they look, fight, think, etc. Though, surprisingly I don't actually have one of those on this site. Which seems odd since I usually try and make at least one eventually. Amusingly, the characters I write the most here are Salis And Rocho. And the only genuine resemblance to me either of them has is that they are very rarely angry, at least naturally. Rocho may do it on purpose. Other than that? Almost none, at least not that is actually styled after me.

Now if you bring the term down so much that it just means you use your own experience or knowledge to write a character then sure. But then everything you do is self insertion anyway.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts on the matter.
 
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