Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

ninjacrat: *snap*

Hear that sound? That's the sound of me snapping at the staggering number of people who are brain-damaged to the point of being incapable of reading a trope's description before adding examples.

Every few months, I go along and move all the obviously wrong examples from this page to Write Who You Know and Life Embellished. Then they fill up again. The exact same ones.

    Here they are 

The overwhelming majority of them are duplicates of examples from other pages. Pages where they actually belong. One or two might even be leigitamate examples — readd 'em if you find 'em.

And for the love of god: literacy. Learn it. Love it.

DomaDoma: Okay, Phil and Kaja's characters in Girl Genius most definitely fit the trope, and the same is likely true of dozens of webcomics I don't read. But you know, if we're dividing the trope into "humorous little cameos" and "author as main character in fanfic"... that leaves a pretty big gap in the middle, and the trope should be redefined.

No, wait, that is Write Who You Know. How about a rename? "Humorous little cameo" is not how people generally understand the term "Author Avatar".
Dark Sasami: Why doesn't Adult Child appear in the navigator below this entry?

Looney Toons: Huh. Weird. Yeah, it should be the "left arrow" choice.

Gus: That should be fixed now. It was a code problem, not a markup problem.

Ununnilium: I don't think Piro and Largo count - not only do they influence the plot, they're the main characters.
Looney Toons: Watanabe Shinichi isn't "hidden" as Nabeshin — that's the way he really looks and dresses (and reportedly, acts). Check out pics here.
YYZ: I was able to find a couple of Tezuka's self-portraits (I thought one would make a good example for this page), but I can't get into the Media Uploader for some reason.
Space Ace: I don't see how this is marked exclusively as an Animé/Manga trope, seeing as it's used in Western story-telling as well. Hell, the most cited example in my own country (The Netherlands) is somewhere around a century old. Don't give Japan all the credit. Tokyo isn't the centre of the universe, you know.

Seven Seals: That would be Max Havelaar, I take it? You're right, they're not exactly unheard of in Western fiction. That said, the author avatar as a character in a series seems to be much more prevalent in anime/manga. Hermione Granger doesn't really count, since she's a Mary Sue. Clive Cussler seems to be the only real example.

Space Ace: And Hitchcock, who's already mentioned. Quentin Tarantino also isn't exactly camera-shy, and far from a Marty Stu, as his characters get killed 9 times out of 10 and are all borderline psychotic. Then again, so is he. But these things might not be prevalent in Western serials, I still think it's significant enough to move the trop to equel status. After all, we can all pretend this wiki is all about TV-series, but the truth is that many tropes here have their origin in the movies, or are confined to those. And there are separate videogame and comic book sections. As such I don't think that's a reason to simply forget about this, trivial though it may be. And yes, it's Max Havelaar, moralistic and actually never read by me. Probably for that reason.

Seven Seals: I don't know how prevalent Hitchcock is as an example of a self-mocking insert, since I haven't seen many Hitchcock movies (Dial M for Murder and The Birds, that's about it). The author avatars that are actually just (mostly neutral) cameos (Stephen King, Stan Lee) aren't very interesting.

Quentin Tarantino is a very good example, though (and you're right, he's not a Mary Sue). As for making it an equal-status trope, go ahead; it's just worth mentioning that this seems to be more or less an established trope in anime/manga, while it's more of a novelty in Western fiction.

And Max Havelaar, while moralistic, is also well-written, and may be enjoyed on those merits alone. :-)

Space Ace: A trope needn't be ever-present to be considered a full trope, does it? And if Hitchcock did it, it's not exactly novel, either. And although his insertions weren't selfmocking (we just got to see him for a few seconds, it was something you had to pay attention for to notice, even), I don't believe that's a prerequisite for this trope.

Now, I'm not into Animé and rarely watch it, and probably hear more about it thanks to otaku (this place hasn't exactly been minimal in that respect, either) than I see for myself. But I recognised this trope for what it was with all my gaijin knowledge, so that must at least count for something.

Seven Seals: Well, the way I see it, the trope "author insert" appears to break down into these subtropes:

  • The Mary Sue. The author is doing a larger-than-life self-insert as wish fulfillment. The character bears little to no resemblance to the actual author, just to the author's idealized self image. Examples: most fanfics; little respectable material, though Hermione Granger certainly has a big Mary Sue aspect.
  • The Cameo. A well-known figure makes a brief and inconsequential appearance, and it happens to be the author/director themselves. A "blink and you'll miss it" moment for those who don't know the original. Examples: Stephen King, Stan Lee, from what I understand, Alfred Hitchcock.
  • The Author Avatar. The author is present as a character, recognizable as the author even if they're not literally the author in the story itself. This in turn can be either:
    • The (semi-)autobiography. The author is telling a (possibly heavily fictionalized) account of their own life. Examples: too many to name; mostly confined to novels — so prevalent there, in fact, that a common reader error is to identify the protagonist with the author when this is not at all the case.
    • The mocking self insert. The author plays a small role in the story, as a generic farcical character or a parody of themselves (or their public image). Examples: most of the current material on this page; Quentin Tarantino's roles in his own movies.
    • The genuine insert. The author is a genuine part of the story, and the character is more or less true to the author's actual persona (flaws and all), minus of course actually being the author of the story they're in. Example: Multatuli in Max Havelaar.
    • The meta-insert. The author is a character, and that character is aware they're the author. The story usually isn't very serious, since this premise is obviously absurd. Example: Douglas Hofstadter; some postmodern literature.

Now, I do think the distinction between the author-as-featureless-cameo and the author-as-avatar is important/interesting, because the former is just a Shout-Out, while the latter has some effect on the story's message and reception (even if it's minimal).

How all this is divided between Western and Eastern fiction is less important, I think, and the page doesn't seem to be making the point that the author insert is a Japanese invention. It obviously isn't; it's probably one of The Oldest Ones in the Book. If the author-as-avatar is common in anime/manga (as the examples suggest) that's worth mentioning. If the only beef is that the article mentions how it's "typically a holdover from manga" and listed exclusively as an anime trope, that's easy enough to correct.

Space Ace: Yeah. Furthermore I'd merge the examples as is done in many other tropes, as there's no need to list them separately per culture.

Dark Sasami: Well, originally, this entry was designed to document weird little nonhuman characters that hung around anime and didn't actually participate in it, or at least mostly didn't. Lumpers have expanded on it since then, and I think it's hit critical mass and needs to split.

Ununnilium: Indeed. May I suggest Creator Cameo, Auto Biography, and Self-Parody, and move the Mary Sues into that entry?

Space Ace: I see. Well, that seems sensible enough.

Seth: Because of the recognisability of the term Mary Sue should stay a page though (I got the vibe you were going to lump it with another trope - Mary Sue is not a Self-Parody most are designed with something else in mind). I think we have an entry on The Cameo which can include the Creator Cameo bits but Self-Parody and Auto Biography (Which is actualy a pretty large medium, didnt spielsberg do something like that) can be troped.

Ununnilium: No, no - not move Mary Sue into Self-Parody, move the Mary Sue entries in Author Avatar into Mary Sue.

Seth: Phew you had me worried. Well i'm cool with the suggested changes.

Ununnilium: Argh. Okay, I guess I can make the changes now. Note to self: Add Author Guest Spot and Life Embellished, as well.
Seth: From one of my posts in Megatokyo forums:
Self insert characters fit into dozens of categories, one shot characters, side character, mentors, character inspiration, character shorthand for the author that is fleshed out. Soap box. Ect.
The Ace, Marty Sue, Mary Sue, the Nabeshin only make up a small percentage of those.

Saki and Youko are inspiration characters. The writer used herself and people she knew as a template in her mind when she wrote the book. But it didn't overly affect the plot because she fleshed them out and made them their own without adding Mary Sue qualities.

How many of these are already tropes and are there any here that need to be?

Umptyscope: Incidentally Stan Lee only makes cameos in films where he can claim that he created the characters. Thus, X-Men and Spiderman movies, but not Ghost Rider.
Ninjacrat: This page has a beeeeg problem: viz. that the examples aren't even pretending to be related to the trope description any more.

I've moved a few of the most obvious offenders to Write Who You Know. But there's still a big grey area. Should the trope description be expanded, or a new page split off?


- re: Hermione Granger. I don't think mention of the following belongs on this article's front page, but it might be common enough to warrant finessing the categories. In later books (Oot P and beyond), Rowling, who had a seven-book Master Plan cast in concrete before the first book's release, had a real problem with something most writers look forward to: characters writing themselves to the point of reinventing themselves away from said Master Plan. Granger was the worst, said Rowling in one of her interviews (I think it's mentioned on her site), to the point where she would write it all out and then tear it up and doggedly write what was in her master plan. Rowling apparently even went so far as to change HJG's middle name from Jane to Jean, trying to uncouple the character-so-far from the destined character. Are there other instances of such dogged determination-to-manifest in an SI?

- re: Whateley Universe. Most of the canon authors have barely- or not-renamed Author Avatars in the series (the Lit Chix of Dickenson Cottage), who even star in their own plotflow-impacting story "The Clue of the Unseen Switch".
Mr Onimusha: I'd guess the reason that nobody mentioned Matt Groening was because Bart's not his Avatar. One of the Simpsons comic book collections contained a preface by him where he discussed how Bart was created - he was intended to be the way Groening thought Dennis the Menace (the American one, not the possibly-psychotic version of the Beano) should have been. The fact the Simpsons share the names of his family is hardly a smoking gun in this instance.
Ethereal Mutation: Here's the text of the Author Stand-In page for anyone who feels it has points worth porting over.

    Author Stand In 

Some Sort Of Troper: Holy crumbs, I just remembered I did the merge for this page ages ago and forgot to make a note of it. Here's the discussion.

Girl Without Hat: Would Lemony Snicket count as an example of this trope?

Anonymous Trope Dude: Why isn't Josh Schwartz (Seth Cohen from The O.C. and Chuck Bartowski) on the list?