I'm writing this tutorial because it is extremely difficult trying to find a good reader insert on this site. For the purpose of this tutorial/guide/worthless thing, I will be focusing on Hetalia reader inserts, as those seem to be everywhere.
STEP 1. KNOW YOUR GRAMMAR AND SPELLING, FOR GOODNESS' SAKE.
Honestly, if I had a dollar for every time I saw a reader insert with bad grammar and even worse spelling, I would be on some tropical island in Mediterranean, instead of in a middle-of-nowhere town. Honestly, guys, you appall me.
If you aren't sure about the spelling or meaning of a word, Google it or spell-check it. It isn't that hard.
As for grammar, there are about 164 million results when you Google it. There are no excuses for bad grammar. And if you happen to be one of those people who don't use Google, then search for grammar guides on dA. They're everywhere.
Also, don't use excessive punctuation. Yes, that will be explained in the grammar guides, but I really wanted to include it here. You have no idea how annoying it is to read a fic overrun by exclamation points.
Same goes for tildes (~these little things~). I've seen countless fics using them at the end of sentences, usually for Italy or other cheerful characters. No. It's like text speak, and unless a character is sending a text, I don't want to see them. Instead, use adverbs (cheerfully, gleefully, blahblahblahly).
And please, please be open to the advice people give you on grammar. I had one author say, after I corrected her on her punctuation use, "Well, it doesn't matter. I don't really plan on writing when I grow up, and plus people can still understand it."
STEP 2. OCS AND POINT OF VIEW.
It's a reader insert, not an OC insert.
(P.S. OC stands for original character)
And as for 2nd person point of view (you) vs. 3rd person, well
That is entirely up to you. I personally prefer 2nd person when it comes to reader inserts. This makes the story feel more realistic to the reader, plus you won't spam up your fic with (Hair color) and (Name) all the time.
STEP 3. DON'T MAKE THE READER CHARACTER TOO UNIQUE.
If you make the reader character very loud and hyper, you aren't going to reach many people. Ok, yes you are, but most of the comments will be like "Lol, I liked the story but I'm not like that at all!!1!!one!" Which really gets aggravating after awhile.
That is to say, don't make the reader character too Bella Swan- esque. If you want, you can research in detail the general character that reader insert writers create so you have a better idea. And if you do this, report back to me so I can add it to this guide.
STEP 4. NO LAZINESS.
I'm not just talking about ending the story abruptly because you got tired (which is stupid, because if you get tired, just save the darn thing and finish it later - it's not like you have a deadline). I am talking about text speak.
Do not, DO NOT use text speak or emoticons (like c: or >.<) in the title, in the story, or anywhere, unless a character is texting.
That is all.
STEP 5. NO AUTHOR NOTES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORY.
What really annoys me is when I'm reading a great reader insert, and all of a sudden, BAM! there's an author note.
It can wait to the end.
STEP 6. KEEP THE CHARACTERS IN CHARACTER, UNLESS YOU HAVE A DAMN GOOD REASON NOT TO.
No, England is not a cheerful, happy person, nor America serious or quiet. No one likes OOC, unless they're weird. However, Dark!Character or Snapped!Character is ok, as long as it says somewhere that they're different.
And also, get to know the character before writing about them, and don't focus on minor facts about them (like, don't make Denmark a drunkard just because Himaruya said he drinks a lot). Try to get the gist of the entire character, rather than just the details.
STEP 7. PUT THE FREAKING READER INSERTS IN THE FREAKING FAN FICTION SECTION.
Please! If I had a dollar for every time I saw reader inserts while looking for actual prose or poetry, I would probably own an island in the Mediterranean. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, when you're uploading a fic, under category go to Fan Art, and from there Fan Fiction.
STEP 8. ON THE SUBJECT OF SONGFICS.
The general population and I would appreciate it if you wrote reader insert songfics well. They're hard to write, and even I have failed miserably at them. What you have to do is (very carefully) not follow the song too closely. It gets repetitive, especially if you include song lyrics in the fic. So, say you were doing a songfic using "Rhythm of Love" by the Plain White T's, don't have the reader character say to America or whoever is sitting on top of a roof, "Boy, quit fooling around," because that is directly from the song and it is annoying.
STEP 9. NO JAPANGLISH.
If you use Japanglish in your reader insert, I will
I don't know. Be very mad, I guess.
It's tacky, guys. Tacky.
STEP 10. SPEAKING OF TACKY - USE OF OTHER LANGUAGES.
I am guilty and you are guilty and we are all guilty of using pet names in other languages in Hetalia reader inserts, such as "mon lapin" or "schatzi" or whatever. Maybe because the idea of having foreign words meaning nothing to you whispered into your ear is romantic. I dunno. Either way, unless the reader character is not in America/Canada/England/OtherEnglishSpeakingCountry, they will most likely not be hearing "mi vida" anytime soon. That's just not how it works.
What also is annoying is when they have characters speak whole sentences in a foreign language.
No because of two reasons.
1. How the hell am I supposed to understand that?
2. Why the hell am I supposed to care what they said if I can't understand it?
STEP 11. IT'S A STORY, SO WRITE IT LIKE A STORY.
Ok, this isn't just for reader inserts, but fics in general. Unless you're doing a play, do not format the story like this:
Author: Hey, guys, welcome to the Whatever show!!!! Today we have a special guest, England!!!1!
England: What?? BLOODY HELL!!!
Author: Isn't he soooo kawaii1?!!L@#E>R
You get the point. I feel like my dignity has been crushed just by writing that.
Oh, and while we're on the subject, please don't have the whole fic be dialogue, unless you're skilled at doing dialogue stories.
STEP 12. LET'S WRAP THINGS UP.
Reader inserts are fun to read, fun to write, and fun to get angry at because they're spamming up deviantART. They're just a bucket of fun for everyone. However, sometimes they're a pain to read or even look at because of various problems, most of which I have addressed in this oh-so-helpful guide.
So I hoped this helped.
And if it didn't.
There is no hope for the world.