Can you appreciate a story without identifying yourself to the MC ?

ScramblinMan

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Yes I can enjoy a story I don't personally relate to. Tbh there are times were I don't like protags that are too relateable. I don't mean that in the sense that I'll turn away the instant I relate to a protag on some level, but I will turn away if the protag only does boring shit. I've done enough menial work irl, I'd suck start a shotgun if works about menial bullshit were my only forms of entertainment
 

Stepp

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Yes.

The things I like the most about stories are the characters. How they interact with each other, how they develop, that kind of stuff.

This is pretty much why I like series like Gintama and Tsurezure Children so much.
 

Armored99

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I feel that further clarification of what you mean by saying identify would help in this discussion.

Moving forward, I think there is a very relevant sub-genre of isekai where transported people become non-human ranging from animals to monsters to objects even. Which would seem like something that would be far harder to identify with than gender bender. One of the more popular works on this cite is about a guy getting reincarnated into a tree. Tree of Aeons, I think. and on the worse end is, respawn condition: trash mob.

Personally when it comes to characters its not about identifying with them, its about if I can emphasize and understand their actions. If those actions become too insufferable then I will start to dislike or even hate the character and may stop reading. Additionally if the character also make understandable choices, but is boring and uninteresting, would also lead me to stop reading.
 

NonReal

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In my case, I don't often insert myself in the shoes of a character. I prefer reading POV totally different from my own to stimulate myself. The only time I insert myself into the main character is when I'm really frustrated with their choices and decisions. Sth like, I can't believe how stupid he/she is, I could do it much better. Now that I think about it, happens fairly often when I'm reading random web novels.
 

SakeVision

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I never identify as the mc
Yes. The opposite, in fact.

I can relate but can't imagine actually self-inserting. As said in the comment above, it's a story, not roleplay. Not that RPing ever interested me ever anyway.

i never identify as my characters in rp, either.
 

Southdog

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Relatability is a very tricky thing to work around. Everyone is different and no character is 100% relatable to everybody. That's fine. Some writers miss the forest for the trees and assume in order to make a character relatable, you need to match superficial aspects to the audience. I think that's a toxic mindset, because it denigrates your audience- assuming they have no empathy for those not exactly alike them- and it speaks ill of you for making that assumption.

I honestly avoid boy's love/gender bender and power fantasy stories for my own reasons. I understand why folks like them. I find them completely unrelatable. I'm neither a queer nor is my self-esteem so low I need to project on a NEET handed superpowers. Hell even when I get character customization options I pretty much leave everything on the default. I kinda prefer the theatre approach of watching strong personalities on stage, rather than assuming the perspective of someone in that work.
 

AryaX

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The world building is more important... I guess... ?

Almost every time a good story captures my attention, I start to imagine various scenarios of what I would do if I were there... Sometimes in place of the main character, or some of the other existing character, sometimes as just adding my "self" there without replacing anyone... but generally, I don't imagine my self "as" any of the existing characters, so much as... possibly in place of them...

Like for example... I find the setting of Overlord interesting and I like to imagine my self there... sometimes replacing Ainz, sometimes also replacing Nazarick with a different dungeon of my own designs... sometimes Imagining my "self" there as an additional "player", while Ainz and Nazarick are also there... and sometimes just "me" alone, without Ainz or Nazarick being there at all... But I don't ever imagine my self as the Papa Bones, nor any of the other existing characters... Whatever the scenatio otherwise, I generally imagine my self as some kind of succubus character of my own design...
 

RavenRunes

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I can and do. If a story is well written with interesting characters, then I don't need them to be like me. Sure, something about their story will resonate with me or I wouldn't read, but I don't need them to be same sexuality, race or beliefs as me.
You asked if straights can enjoy gay fiction. Of course. I have gay friends. I assume that gays can enjoy straight characters too, they'd have straight friends?
I might even go so far as to say I like stories that most definitely aren't about me. I write them...
 

K5Rakitan

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It doesn't have to be 100%, but I do like to identify with the MC as much as possible.

Feel free to check out my story (link in signature) and please give me a one-star rating :)
 

Twistedskald

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Hell, there's plenty of stories where I've identified with the villains, granted it's usually with the big franchise, corporate own, written by a committee type of stuff where the villains are actually written very well so I begin to think to myself 'if it wasn't for this one atrocity or the occasional war crime this character would actually be the good guy.' Maybe I just hate forced, plot-contrived, cartoon villainy more than anything else.
 

Aaqil

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I am the spectator in the stands, watching the characters dance to my amusement!:blob_paint: :blob_cookie:
[Yes, I can enjoy a story without placing myself in a characters shoes, :p]
 

Sylthix

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No, not really.

What allows me enjoy/appreciate stories is boils down to how entertaining it is. The characters might be terrible people with terrible personalities or malicious intent but I might still enjoy seeing how it all goes down. Stories are primarily geared to entertain first and kick you in the shins with an enlightening message/ though-provoking question second.

An example of this is The Hero Laughs While Walking the Path of Vengeance a Second Time. It's a pretty horrific story with the main characters brutally murder and torture others but I find it entertaining seeing the consequences of their actions as a result of that.

Stories where a character's personality that do just happen to line up with mine do make me appreciative of it though. After all, it's kinda like watching yourself go through a journey, passing by the mistakes and highlights. I would hate a story that had a character with a personality like mine breezing through life without and sort of complications at all though because it frankly wouldn't be interesting. This issue is shared with other power fantasy stories but sometimes I may just read/watch one just for the kicks or find the premise cool.

Regarding GL, GB and BL genres, I do read them if they push forward an interesting concept/setting/character, but I do find myself avoiding stories with a focus of large amounts of BL erotica due to personal preference. That's not to say I would enjoy/seek out stories where the opposite is true but I would be slightly more tolerant towards them but still drop 'em if they're dull. GB is fine since it generally pushes out unique scenarios/dialogue or character interactions you pretty much wouldn't find elsewhere and I find it entertaining but same situation as the boring thing.

Overall, all about the entertainment or interesting messages and themes. You write good, you get my approval.
 
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i don't really identify as the MC, but I need them to be someone whose exploits are WORTH looking forward to.

i often dropped the story because i don't like the MC and how they act, even if the story's premise is decent, so yeah.
 

halfBlooming

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I've never had this question until I read Lolita and The Picture of Dorian Grey, or in a sense The Phantom of the Opera(I found that many actually relate to Erik). Relability helps, I guess. But I never searched for them for my readings.

I realized most of my favorite stories don't have narrations where the authors make them seem pretty much 'sympathetic' to MCs. I would go as far as to say I'm avoiding that kind of thing. Because usually, it's a hell of RP and self-insert shit show. I can't continue reading a story where MC did questionable things but the author wrote them off in a way that they seemed to be saintly deeds. Such disconnections put me off. I can read evil-aligned MCs without all the sugar-coatings allright. So everything looks like to me as unnecessary works just for the sake of 'relatibility' and 'loveable' MCs.
 

human

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Yea.

I don't read stories to roleplay, I read stories to immerse myself in another person's story. I actually find it difficult to self insert myself into an mc, even if I see similarities with myself.
 

Sabruness

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yes. If i want to self-insert, i'll go do some RP.

Yea.

I don't read stories to roleplay, I read stories to immerse myself in another person's story. I actually find it difficult to self insert myself into an mc, even if I see similarities with myself.
+1 to this.
 

NobleTalon

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Yes.

The things I like the most about stories are the characters. How they interact with each other, how they develop, that kind of stuff.

This is pretty much why I like series like Gintama and Tsurezure Children so much.
Gintama is the best manga/anime ever made by far.

That's not an opinion btw, but a fact. :blob_shade: Gintama > all

Joke aside, Gintama is the perfect example of what I meant when I said that as long as there is at least 1 character I can identify to, I'll probably follow and like the story (unless the rest is really bad - world-building, plot, storyline etc.)

I'm a huge fan of Gintama, and while I like the MC Gintoki I found myself more in sync with another protagonist (Hijikata). What's funny is that all of my friends who liked Gintama are all cheering for a different character, I even have a friend who is a hardcore fan of Madao and another one said her fav characters were the duo Elizabeth-Katsura.

That's probably why I like Gintama so much, this manga is the perfect example of how to develop characters properly while keeping an interesting main storyline. Every major character has 1 or many arcs centered on them, and even secondary characters that would be forgotten in another novel/manga get their dedicated episodes or arcs.

No matter your personality, you might find what you seek in Gintama and that's the perfect example of what I consider the best manga/anime that has ever been made.

It's just my opinion tho, but following a novel where I can identify myself with either the MC or another major protagonist (might even be the Villain) feels more enjoyable for me than reading a novel where I don't like the MC/protagonists.

It's not about RP btw, if I want to role play I can just play a tabletop 40k game with a friend or start an RPG and immerse myself in it. It's more about relying on and having something in common with a character to better appreciate the story.

I have no fun following a MC who does the opposite of what I would have done in the same situation. Ofc you can't really find an MC that is the exact same as you, but as long as his personality is likable for your taste and he's not too much retarded, then it's what I consider an MC to follow. He might be different, but not so much that he makes you uncomfortable with his choices.

I don't know if my words make sense, but that's how I think about it. And once again, it's just my subjective opinion.
 

Moonpearl

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As a queer woman, I'm happy reading pretty much anyone's perspective as long as I don't despise them. I don't need any self-insertion, and I find the most relatable parts in characters are their human (or human-like) emotions and reactions.

That said, I can't really read stories with straight men MCs.
I might just be unlucky, but every story of that sort I've picked up in the last few years had the MC act like some sort of sexual predator and/or was full of blood-chillingly awful descriptions of women...
Like, if you're going to sexualise every woman who passes the scene, could you please make sure your descriptions are sexy and not borderline body horror?
 
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