For those who don’t know what SI stands for it means Self Insert and an MC is stands for main character. Having a character that is a self inset main character is something that people generally want to avoid. Sure, you want your character to reflect you some what, but you don’t want your MC to be you.
This is a problem that I faced when I moved from writing fanfiction to writing my own stories. I was unfamiliar with writing a unscripted character. It was like transitioning from a mold to a unformed lump of clay; anything that I wanted done had to be done by myself. And when I started writing these characters one thing that I noticed was that my MC reflected me a lot. In fact my MC was me and that was a problem.
Any story that I was lacking because each character was the same. Instead of creating something new I just created a new mold that was based off myself. I liked my MC loved all the decisions that they made, because they were simply the same decisions that I would have made in that situation. It made writing boring for me and it made my stories boring to others. My characters were one dimenional and any chance of character development was scrapped because changing anything about these characters was like admitting there was something wrong/needed improvement in myself. It was a new level of narcissism.
At that time for me, there was a lot of things that needed to change. I needed help with my plots and subplots, I needed help with structure and world building, but one of the most important things that authors need to address when writing a story is the characters. Your characters, especially your MC, are the movers and shakers of the world the story, they are what push the story forward. And if they are all exactly like you and agree constantly with your main character, then you don’t really have a story. You don’t really have conflict or growth in your story.
So how exactly do you avoid writing a character that is you? How do you avoid inserting yourself into your own story?
It was an odd process for me to learn how to make my own characters individuals and not photocopies of myself. I started off by basing characters off people in my own life. I would take the base personality of friends and family and then adjust the personality to fit my story. Personality traits would changes, interests would change, and the end result was that while they might have started off as a friend the tweaking I had done, transformed them into someone new. I did this by writing out about twelve traits that my friend or family member had, 6 good and 6 bad, and then would sub in and out traits until I felt that I had a whole new person. I used this list of character traits and several others in order to make these characters more well rounded. One thing that I started doing later on, was minimizing of changing the amount of good or bad traits a character could have. If I wanted a villian maybe that particular character would have 4 good traits and 5 bad. It all depended on what I wanted.
Later on, I relied on character tropes to help me shape characters. Remember TV Tropes? That lovely website that list common storytelling devices? Yeah, well they also listed character archetypes. Super helpful when you want your character to be part of a specific mold. When following an archtype though you always have to struggle to make them different from the mold. What prevents your anti-hero from being just another dark avenger? What makes your villian turned good guy so special? Seeing the tropes and the examples that are listed is a great way to get inspiration. Reading some of my favorite works was also a way that I tried to help improve your writing.
To this day I am stil very wary of one of my characters becoing a SI Mary-Sue. Those characters are unattractive, boring, and just serve as a way to bloster the ego of whoever is writing them. But luckily there are ways to safeguard against that. Happy writing!