Sometimes, authors like to put themselves in a story. Basically, there’s a character that the author directly based on him (or her) self. They may be a character with the author’s real name, made obvious, or using a different name/appearance, but still a character the author sees as him (or her) self. Obligatory TV Tropes link here.
My most extreme example was back when I wrote the Mysteries of Valleyville. I, using my real name, was a character in the stories – a writer who lives on the end of town, documenting the odd happenings there. I honestly did it as a joke at first, but eventually realized my character was quite knowledgeable about the town, and I realized I could be useful for exposition (this is a pronoun nightmare). I think it worked out pretty well.
The problem is that I can’t make this character too directly involved in the plot, and ego has to be kept out of it as much as possible. I can’t have my character end up too perfect, or they’ll become unlikable/annoying. I believe this is what they call a Mary Sue.
I’ve had experience with this. The protagonist of my Swogprille series was originally based on an idealized version of myself. Unfortunately, this caused me a lot of problems, and made him seem overpowered, so I definitely had to rework his character later, and in the later years of the series, and revisions of the earlier years, I was able to improve his character. He’s still very powerful, but has clear flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
These days, I do still have self-insert characters to some extent. I mean, authors do create the characters, so the characters are, in a way, an extension of them.
When I do create a more explicit self-insert character, they tend to be flawed antiheroes. In some ways, I know and accept my own weaknesses, which allows me to make such characters more realistic. Or maybe it’s just because I know how dangerous ego can be when working with this trope.
But these days, I don’t really do this explicitly in my more serious stories. I might take a few of my real traits/thoughts/feelings, and give them to a character (a good idea – write what you know), but I won’t overdo it. At least, not intentionally. So long as I don’t see myself as the character, ego should be better to keep out of it.
Or I can always just use the self-insert character for laughs, have a joke or two at my expense. At least, that’s what I would do if I was still writing humor. Well, I think I’ve said enough, White Rakogis is signing off.