The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with Western culture and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this article, discuss the issue on the talk page, or create a new article, as appropriate. (February 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Sandro Botticelli's painting of the Adoration of the Magi has an inserted self-portrait at the far right: the position in the corner and the gaze out to the viewer are very typical of such self-portraits.

Self-insertion is a literary device in which the author writes themself into the story as a fictional character.[1]


In art, the equivalent of self-insertion is the inserted self-portrait, where the artist includes a self-portrait in a painting of a narrative subject. This has been a common artistic device since at least the European Renaissance.

Similar literary devices include a first-person narrator, an author surrogate, and a character somewhat based on the author, whether the author included it intentionally or not. Many characters have been described as unintentional self-insertions, implying that their author is unconsciously using them as an author surrogate.[2]

"X-insert" or "reader-insert" fiction has the reader appear as a character in the story; their name is substituted with "you" or "y/n" ("your name").[3]

Mindy Kaling has been accused of using self-insertion in her movie roles.[4][5][6][7]


Self-insertion has being criticised as writing device as being unoriginal.[8][9]


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

See also


  1. ^ "Self-insertion meaning". Retrieved 20 February 2022.
  2. ^ Morrison, Ewan (13 August 2012). "In the beginning, there was fan fiction: from the four gospels to Fifty Shades" – via The Guardian.
  3. ^ "The A to Z of fan fiction". Inquirer Lifestyle. 22 March 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  4. ^ Ampil, Izzy (18 January 2023). "Mindy Kaling's Comedy Has Gotten Tired And Now She's Being Dragged For It". BuzzFeed News.
  5. ^ "6 Tweets That Perfectly Sum Up Our Disdain For The New Velma". HuffPost UK. 19 January 2023.
  6. ^ Losciale, Marisa (15 January 2023). "HBO's 'Velma' Series Slammed by Fans Following Season Premiere". Parade: Entertainment, Recipes, Health, Life, Holidays.
  7. ^ "Mindy Kaling's Velma emerges as the worst-rated show on IMDb and other review-aggregator websites - EasternEye". 25 January 2023.
  8. ^ "I Love When Women TV Writers Write Themselves Hot Love Interests". Jezebel. 17 February 2023.
  9. ^ ""Triggering" Manhattan: The Ethics of Self-Insertion – Confluence". 28 October 2021.
  10. ^ Mason, Fran (2009). The A to Z of Postmodernist Literature and Theater. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 338–. ISBN 9780810868557. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  11. ^ Klinkowitz, Jerome (1992). Structuring the Void: The Struggle for Subject in Contemporary American Fiction. Duke University Press. pp. 52–. ISBN 9780822312055. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  12. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Dirk Pitt Revealed | An Official Web Site for Bestselling Adventure Novelist | Author Clive Cussler". 16 June 2015.