THE SELF-INSERTED MENACE
Part 2: Insert This!
His lordship Chaos here again.
In the last rant, we fatally neutered the somewhat unholy creature known as the author avatar...only to discover that avatars can rarely take a hint and stay dead. True, if classified properly, you'd discover that most avatars are of the genus known as "unnatural selection."
So now you're able to identify those denizens of textual Ipecac. What's next? Well, now that we've examined what avatars do wrong, the time has come to look at what avatars can do to better themselves. This is as much a "successful avatarhood for dummies" guide as it's a rant, so pay careful attention.
I've chosen a few of the more absurd author avatars out there, and selected excerpts from one of their fanfics. Here we get to observe the avatar in their native environment--namely someone else's. I'll be covering all the basic mistakes each avatar makes, and how they could have avoided making their readers nauseous. Skim through the excerpts, and once you've atoned for your sins before the porcelain god, return and check with my pointers on how these otaku succeeded or failed as author avatars. And on what should be done if they (or you) wish to be a successful god-like avatar in future fics.
Let's dissect us some avatars, shall we? Get out your scalpels, and make sure you've got those lab aprons on, because this could get messy. Probably because you readers here to study the dissection will turn the scalpels on yourselves just to end the pain.
In the tradition of ladies first, we'll start with the female specimens. While not as testosterone-driven as their male counterparts, those avatars of the XX chromosome persuasion do offer insights on how to be a better self-inserted deity.
[AVATAR (GIRL-TYPE) 01]
Our first avatar goes by the run-on name of 'princessfelinaaekabannon'. In all honesty, that last part sounds a bit like some exotic Japanese vegetable, but one can never be sure.
Now some liberties have been taken with the presentation of her fic...namely because the illustrious Hime-chan decided that the pesky concept of separating paragraphs was outdated. And rightly so, since this is her fic and she is the god! But I still opted for splicing things apart, if only to be contrary.
>Sailor Earth To The Rescue
Mistake #1 - technically, Mamo-chump is the guardian of Earth. Yeah I know: if Mamo-chump's in charge, the Earth as we know it is screwed. Perhaps that's why the Powers That Be elected a new guardian (Sailor Earth) to take over his job, but even still, there are so many constellations a Senshi could be named after.
>Amy sat at the lunch table during school. She was eating with
>her best friend Leah. Leah had been Amy's best friend since
>the beginning of Amy's 10th grade year. Amy was now in the
>11th grade. When the sailor scouts had entered high school
>they had been split up.
Commendation - having the Sailor team be split apart, thus allowing for the 'divide & conquer' tactic to come into effect. It's much easier for an avatar to squash the competition for the spotlight if you take them down one at a time, plus it means more scene time for each individual squashing.
Mistake #2 - a true avatar would either be class representative or the student council president. You should only mingle with the commoners when needs be, and if it means you can have more scenes with the Senshi...Scouts...I hate that English dubjob.
>Leah had shoulder length light brown hair. A lot lighter than
>Lita's hair. She was almost as tall as Lita though. She wore
>glasses and had dark brown eyes.
Commendation - it seems to be implied later on that when Leah transforms into Sailor Earth (oh, like I really spoiled that surprise for you), she loses the glasses. Recall in Gundam Wing how Lady Une would go from demure to bad-ass battle queen depending on if she was wearing her glasses? Same thing applies here: Leah can achieve the same sweet, domineering effect. Granted, Lady Une was sane and gentle only while the glasses were *off*, but I'm sure something can be worked out.
Mistake #3 - having light light brown hair in effect renders you a 'dirty blonde.' Naturally, an avatar can't allow such potential teasings to inflict any damage on their raging ego, so it's best to have hair colours that everyone loves and never laughs at, like shades of gentle peach or orange cantaloupe.
>"Hey Amy" Serena said running up and hugging her.
>"Hey Serena nice to see you". "You too Rini" Amy said.
Mistake #4 - Chibiusa's presence and subsequent involvement in the fanfic. Why Leah/Sailor Earth doesn't trounce Yamstur the Unnamable at once is beyond me.
>Floating in the air above the city was a man. He had on a
>black outfit of armour and a black cape on. He had long bright
>green with streaks of orange hair. Under on air he had a thick
>golden book. "Yes the child is here I can feel it, with her I
>can control the universe" he said to no one, but himself.
Commendation - even the villains realise that this avatar controls the universe. Now that's respect!
Mistake #5 - green hair and orange streaks? Damn, and here I thought villains looked silly enough in the Anime. Remember, being an avatar is not an artistic license to make people's hair whatever colour you want. Try to keep hair colour natural, like a modest mauve tone.
>While this was going on Luna seeing the scouts needed help ran
>off toward the park. Luna ran on trying to ignore what could
>happen if the Black Night got a hold of Chibi Chibi Moon. Luna
>saw who she was looking for. "Leah, Leah the scouts are in
>trouble its time for Sailor Earth to be born", Luna yelled.
>"Ok hang on" Leah bent down and placed her palm flat on the
>ground. Her hand glowed. When she pulled it away a red rose
>grew up out of the ground. She gently flicked the rose with
>her finger and it opened. A gold key with a brown crystal
>floated up to her.
Commendation - Leah has the right approach in making the Scouts come to *her* for help. Not that you have to make them beg every time, but it's always a boost to know that you're in great demand.
Mistake #6 - "The key which hides power of the Dark! Show your true form before me! I, Sakura, command you under our contract! RE--" Whoops, I mistook the resident Anime of this fanfic for a moment there....
>"Earth Crystal Key" she yelled. The key floated down around
>her neck. Brown lights swirled around her covering her whole
>body in a bubble of light. When the lights stopped she was in
>her Sailor outfit. Her out fit was brown with light green bows
>like the rest of the Sailor Scouts. Her terra had a brown
>crystal with sparkles in it. Her gloves the light green rolls
>on the ends also had sparkles. Near the top of the skirt was
>a belt. Light green with sparkles. And hanging from the belt
>was a thick, foot long poll. Her boots were brown go go boots
>like Mercury's with light green on top with sparkles.
Commendation - low-cut shirts and long, supple legs will guarantee hordes of adoring fanboys worshiping your feet. Male otaku reading a fic like this are easy suckers that way.
Mistake #7 - what, no ruffles? No corsets? No long, frilly laces? And go go boots?! What kind of magical avatar accessorising is this?! This is why it's always best to discreetly hire a fashion consultant for your fanfic. Why not Setsuna, if she's not doing much at the Gates of Time this season?
>The other Sailor Scouts were awake but they were to hurt and
>tired to move. Sailor Earth reached down and grabbed the poll
>from her belt.
Mistake #8 - while I do commend Leah for using as unique a weapon a poll against an enemy, it's doubtful the villain-du- jour will recant of its evil after seeing how the people of Tokyo voted you as having the most attractive body, the most vibrant eyes, the most charming self-inserted personality, and so forth. Unless the poll was asking Tokyo citizens which method of ass-kicking they prefer she use against said youma.
>It was like Pluto's Hey Staff except the staff park was dark
>blue with green zig zags going down it. The top went into a
>oval shaped ball. It was green with the symbol of the Earth in
>blue in the middle. On the very top was a small Earth. She
>spun it in a circle above her head.
Commendation - avatars should always have the use of some large medieval-like weapon to help slice, dice & Julian Fry their daemonic victims--er, opponents.
Mistake #9 - Leah's mistake here is taking her cue from Setsuna and having a look-alike Time Staff. Avatars are wholly original god-like creatures, so it's only fitting that their weaponry is original also. In this example, good substitutes for a staff would be a halberd, a katana or an airhorn.
>"Mother Nature Strike!" the earth stopped and blue, green and
>brown balls of light shot and the creature. The creature
Commendation - mother nature can be a bitch sometimes, and Leah here is proving that she inherited said bitchiness from mommy dearest. Everyone loves a babe who can kick ass. Why else would Xena have lasted as long as it did?
Mistake #10 - even in an attack, the colour brown just detracts from the overall coolness. Regardless if it *is* considered an earth tone, other more neon colours should be used. And followed by detonating the youma in a large explosion of fire too. Readers are always into fanciful pyrotechnics displays.
>The Sailor Scouts got up to think Sailor Earth but she ran
>off. "Who is Sailor Earth" Sailor Moon asked Luna.
>"She's the Sailor Scouts of the Earth she's even stronger then
>Saturn" Luna answered.
Commendation - as Tim (the Toolman) Allen used to say, "More power!!!" And as we all know, where avatars are concerned, more power is a good thing.
Mistake #11 - okay, so Leah has established that she's more powerful than Saturn. Only problem is that (Sailor) Galaxia was credited as being the most powerful and feared Senshi in the galaxy. This is a matter of pride for an avatar; you can't let someone else upstage you like that!
[AVATAR (GIRL-TYPE) 02]
Next up, we have a young self-inserted lass by the name of Serene, who proves that sometimes soap opera plot devices are still the best plot devices around!
>Where Oh Where has my Serena Gone (part 2)
Commendation - the title indicates that we no longer have to worry about Serena. Now while I'm not a big dub fan, I will admit that the original voice actress for Serena (who also did the voice for Shrieky in Carebears...don't ask how I know that) was perfect. But if this fic takes place in the S and Super dubs, where we encounter the new but definitely not improved VA for Serena, I say "Sayonara, Serena, and good riddance!"
Mistake #1 - the only thing more distracting than the use of the dub cast is having hybrids between the Japanese and English versions. In this case, the use of 'Serene (and Darien) Chiba'. This sort of thing will distract readers from the avatar, whose magnanimous presence is what the readers came here for in the first place. Remember: if you're an avatar, you can't let anyone or anything steal your spotlight, even for the briefest of paragraphs.
>"All right you guys, we've got to talk." Artimis said. "If the
>Negaverse is going to return well.... I hate to say it but we
>will need to find a replacement for Sailor Moon."
Commendation - Serene shows her initiative in taking over the central role of Sailor Moon here. Who needs to create a new slot to fill, when you can just catapult one of the central characters out of an already cushy slot? Swift, simple, and this automatically guarantees a high status of power for the avatar.
Mistake #2 - has no one clued in that the Negaverse is like a bad reality TV show? No matter how many times you try to kill it, it keeps resurrecting itself and coming back to suck. Not necessarily sucking your blood or your braincells. It just sucks, period. Negaverse plot devices are often overused, so a new sort of villain should be created to keep the fic original. Why not have hordes of Elder Gods or Angels suddenly start attacking Tokyo?
>Suddenly [Darien] heard a knock at the door. >the girls.
>When he opened the door he saw a Woman about 30, with short brown hair, and
>big brown eyes. She wore a big smile, and a
>T-shirt with genes.
This isn't as much a mistake as it is a curious note: anyone know where I can buy Tshirts with genetic sequences on them? It sounds like a cool thing an avatar would wear.
>Holding on to her hand was a little girl about 9 or 10 years
>old. She had big blue eyes,(just like Serena's)And short blond
>hair put up in braids. >though I am looking at Serena
Commendation - note how Serene is roping in her victims--I mean, the audience by acting all shy and innocent. This is a good way for female avatars especially to attract attention in the initial stages. No one can resist a cute little girl-type avatar; everyone will faun & coo all over her, putting all the focus on her.
Mistake #3 - being only a 10 year-old avatar. Even though you're cute, no one will really take you seriously...even if you have to smite someone with your god powers just to prove a point. Teen avatars allow for the best angst, WAFF, fanservice, you name it. Not to mention if you're a teen avatar, you also qualify to fly any mecha you want--so long as you're under 17.
>"Are you Darien Chiba?" She inquired with a hopeful look in
>"Yes, and you are?"
>"OH. Sorry, I'm Janice Shonday from Cross Roads Orphanage,
>and this is Serene."
Commendation - the troubled, angst-ridden orphan is a sure-fire way to get everyone lavishing comfort and attention on you. The avatar has to make little effort at all to get pampered, as Serene demonstrates in later chapters.
Mistake #4 - being from a local orphanage takes away from all your potential, avatar-enriched angsty scenes. I'd recommend you check out a map of Japan and point to a city at random. That's where your orphanage was, which allows you to talk for a long time about how alone you felt in a strange city, how you coped in a new surrounding, and of the grueling travels you underwent to reach your family. No one can resist a gut- wrenching story like that!
>"I would appreciate it if you get to the point."
>"All right. Serene is your little sister."
>He gave her a questioning look. "What makes you think she is
>*my* little sister?"
>"We've traced her back to the accident when she lost her
>parents. She was found in the Chiba home with her sitter the
>night of the accident. The sitter told us she had a big
>Brother named Darien Chiba."
Mistake #5 - even avatars have to bow to the thin line of realism sometimes. The fact that Darien and Serene wound up stuck in different orphanages during their childhood and never learned about or remembered each other is a stretch. Rather, a good technique is to make your avatar (in this case, Serene) a distant relative, like a cousin twice removed. She became orphaned and only Darien can take her in & care for her. The bonding begins quickly when they identify so well with each other. Ladies, this means your talons sink into him faster than you can beat down a Bon-Bon Baddie!
>He looked at Serene and noticed she had a very interesting
>look in hereyes. OH how she reminded him of Serena. "How do
>you feel about this Serene?"
>"I want to get out of there. It's to crowded and the kids are
>so mean." He thought he saw a tear form but she blinked it
>"All right, but I'll have to get some things in order first."
Commendable - avatar tears: are there no better crocodile tears to shed in order to get your way?
Mistake #6 - obviously Serene isn't working her full influence on Darien, otherwise he would have immediately glomped onto her and insisted she not go back to that horrible, terrible no good very bad place. Give us some godhood, Serene! Don't be afraid to use it!
>Rei had asked Darien to stay a minute. After the girls had
>left Darien asked her to tell him what she wanted. "There was
>something in my vision that I didn't tell the girls, but I
>think you should know."
>"What is it Rei?" She definitely had his attention.
Rei: "I wasn't wearing any pants in that vision."
(Just kidding! ^-^)
>"My vision also showed a little girl that we should be on the
>lookout for. I didn't get a clear picture of her, but she try
>and find you. To seek refuge with you if you will. This new
>enemy is after her because she has some special connection
>with Serena that hasn't been revealed to me yet."
Commendable - ooooh, intrigue! Readers love it when they put the pieces together faster than the characters. It makes them feel all superior--though we really know who's the superior one in this self-insertion, don't we?
Mistake #7 - at this point in the story, a reader might mistake the avatar for a Serena clone, thusly ruining all the avatar's sheer lusciousness. Clones never work out, even when DNAvatar is concerned.
[AVATAR (GIRL-TYPE) 03]
Our last contribution to the female side of the self-inserted coin is from Sailor Sirius (not to be confused with the similar-sounding avatar, Sailor Serious), where we get to see some original spins on the old avatar ideals.
>The Mysterious Guardian By Sailor Sirius
Mistake #1 - the only thing more evil than some avatars is AOL. It will corrupt even the most benevolent of the self-inserted masses, so avoid AOhelL at all costs! But on the good side, if you are stuck using AOL, you can then spam the chatrooms and message boards with your fic, that way gaining yourself more adoring fans. Always try to look for that silver lining in the cloud, ne?
>As I glanced at the crisp pages, my thoughts turned to the
>recent defeat of Galaxia, my mother. Now that the Sailor Wars
>were over for this generation, what would happen next? After
>Galaxia I thought I could handle anything, hopefully anything. Maybe, for
>once, there could be a chance that I could actually
>live a somewhat less hectic life for awhile.
Commendable - Sirius gives herself incredible plausibility for being so damned powerful. Come on, the offspring of Sailor Galaxia has to be able to send comets across the solar system with just the flick of her wrists. Bonus points are awarded if her father's a Super Saiyan, since all human/Saiyan progeny wind up even stronger than their parents.
Mistake #2 - wanting a less hectic life. Sirius should know better. The avatar manifesto demands that if there isn't already some action, then avatars must create the action themselves! How else is an avatar supposed to display their radiance? In a game of strip Backgammon? Say, that gives me an idea....
>I sighed and went back to my book. Suddenly the laptop on my
>desk cackled to life. It spun around and the electric cord
>broke lamp that Hotaru gave me. "Computer!" I yelled.
>A distorted image appeared on the screen, a face I knew every
>"Sailor Vesta?" I said as I grabbed the computer from the air.
>"Sirius, can you hear me?!" The image started to fuzz.
Commendable - having a voice-activated computer system to take all your calls. Hands-free communication allows the avatar to strive for more spotlight-filled action. Not to mention it makes any avatar seem more important when other Senshi have to call you on the phone.
Mistake #3 - a laptop? Come now, this sort of hyper sci-fi computer should be akin to something that came out of Washuu's lab. Ie., computers with shadow-like keyboards that float in the air and disappear when you're not using them. The screens should also be very large, and have onscreen menus accessible by touch. Sirius should also have a sailor beeper handy too, because you just never know what might happen.
Besides...that was one of Hotaru's favourite (and cutest) lamps!
>"Sirius Silver Star Armor!"
>Silver plates covered my body and replaced my street cloths.
>My feet were covered in silver knee high boots and finally my
>helmet appeared and ended the transformation. Lita walked into
>the room, a feather duster was in her hand, and she raised an
>"No time to explain, I need to go," I explained.
Commendable - already Sirius has got the right idea. Lita's her personal maid!
Mistake #4 - another case of mix & match with the Japanese and English names. First Hotaru, then Lita. Readers will be perplexed and forget all about you! They should never forget about an avatar's elegant performance.
Mistake #5 - Nevermind that silver is a soft metal and unsuitable for armor...or that people might try to mug her for it so that they can smelt it down and resell it. But while silver plated armour looks fancy, it's heavy. The last thing an avatar needs is to be weighed down. Granted, some avatars are so strong they wouldn't notice, but all that armour will make you look bulky. Plus, helmets are meant for Power Rangers (gyaaaaaa...) and mecha pilots, not magical girls. Avatars are not exempt from this either.
>I leaped over the buildings to get to the apartment Serena and
>Darien shared ... I landed on the balcony, I didn't bother
>knocking this late at night. I put my hand directly through
>the sliding glass door, the rest of my body followed. Ever
>since I had realized my powers existed, I have been able to do
>many things. Going through walls, creating holograms, reading
>minds, telepathic, and telekinesis were some of the first
>things I could do.
Commendable - anyone who can mimic Miss Deep's ability to pass through solid matter (from the great anime, Read Or Die) deserves kudos. That can create some very cool fight scenes where you can really get the readers riled up & cheering wildly for you.
Mistake #6 - let's consult the god-powers checklist: passing through solid matter, holographic projection, telepathy, telekinesis and mindreading. Yet I note the all-important ability to make great dim sum is missing. Making good dim sum is harder than it looks, so all avatars need to include that in their list of god-powers.
>"Wait, I recognize her," Hermes grasped the mirror to get a
>better look. "That's Sailor Sirius! I remember her from the
>"She's still alive?"
Commendable - Sirius proves that real avatars never die, they just take a nap and graciously allow any secondary characters (in other words, everyone else) to have a chance at the spotlight for a short while.
Mistake #7 - Silver Millennium past lives are definitely not in vogue. These days, everyone's from the Silver Millennium. My French poodle had a past life as Queen Serenity's royal cat, and my pool cleaner's the reincarnation of a garden shrubbery in the Moon Palace. If you want your avatar to be really cool, go for a funky past life, like being the reincarnation of Leonardo DaVinci or Patrick Stewart's hair.
>Again she threw the bolt at me and I didn't dodge this time.
>Instead I caught her weapon before it hit me.
>"Some trick there," I replied, "but just not good enough."
>"How can that be?! My bolt can only be caught and held by me!"
>"Well not anymore."
>I threw the bolt back at her. She tried to catch it, but
>unfortunately she missed. It scorched her arm and red blood
>started to drip from the mark.
Commendable - Sirius demonstrates a good way to make a villain wet their codpiece. And rightly so, since catching their most powerful attack proves you are the god, not them.
Mistake #8 - I find it hard to believe that Sirius only grazed her opponent. Whatever happened to taking the enemy's weapon and just impaling them with it? You can't have that "tee hee! I win I win I win!" giggle and victory dance without having first impaled your opponent now, can you?
>The Guardian is a senshi who is a Staris, the last of a
>powerful race that had long lives and great power. She is more
>powerful than any other Sailor Senshi in the Universe and is
>a servant to the Lord. No one can kill her, until her destiny
>has been accomplished and her destiny is unknown. The Guardian
>can destroy galaxies with the snap of a finger and can kill
>whole civilizations with a stomp of her foot. She spreads the
>good word of the Lord and shall serve Him for eternity. What
>is hard to believe is that the Guardian is me.
Commendable - stomping on civilisations, good. Destroying galaxies by snapping fingers, also good. Most powerful Senshi in the universe, excellent! See, Sirius has honed her avatar skills to near-perfection, so take all you rookie self-inserts take notes on these abilities of hers.
Mistake #9 - Sirius indicates that she's serving a Lord, when in fact she should be the one being served, worshiped, adored and so forth since the avatar is really meant to be Lord. Unless the Lord she's referring to is her author...which would really be weird since the avatar's a female and the Lord is mentioned as being a He.