One of the hallmarks of the amateur writer is the self-insert. Hey, it's fun! We've all been there/are there/wonder if it's so bad to go back there.(..?) My very first story was a portal-fiction self-insert (I also abducted real members of my life without their consent I'm sorry I will never do that again) and it was LOADS OF FUN. And also terrible. But that's just because I was a terrible writer, not because the story was a self-insert.
THEY WANT YOU TO BE A SNOB
Stick it to the man! I grew up(ish) and learned more ABOUT writing, and I developed a disdain for self-insert fiction. Pfft. Amateur writers. Can't distance themselves from their writing. PFFT. How pedestrian. All their characters must be flat reproductions of themselves and their own opinions. PFFFFFT. I can do better than that. I can create unique, stand-alone characters and numerous different story-arcs that have no connection to my own life experiences because I AM A GOOD WRITER.
THE GHOST IN THE SHELL
And then I grew up some more. You know that awful adolescent stage when you think you know everything but in reality you know zilch about anything? Yeah... Recently the common sense of storytelling struck me and I realized, EVERY STORY YOU LOVE IS ABOUT YOU.
It's true! If you are emotionally invested in your story, if you have a creative connection with the characters and the plot, YOU ARE THERE. This is YOU. Perhaps the early days of ACTUALLY being a character in the story are gone (and that's a good thing), but if you care, if you are writing this from your heart, you are the ghost-character within the novel. Shh! Don't speak of them too loudly or they will get shy, but EVERY author of EVERY story they have ever written with love and investment is within that story, through and through.
THE BENEVOLENT HAUNT
Don't be afraid of the concept of self-insert fiction. In its mature form, it strengthens the story immensely. Every novel is haunted. The ghost of every author is taking you through their story, unspoken and unseen, like the ghosts of Christmas. So be YOU. Write your stories. Get in the muck. Dig deep. Open your heart. This is your time to grow something beautiful from your soul. Be there. It's the best thing you can do for your story.
Welcome to The Penslayer! I'm Jenny Freitag. Sorry for the mess. Order will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, add me to your list of blogs you love for more short + sweet, writing-related posts to help you on your way! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest + Twitter. <3
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