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Question: What are some of the most common errors you find in fanfiction?
I can think of several, but I want to write a general 'no-no' list for yfandomfiction, so any suggestions would be appreciated.
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2013-01-02 04:13 pm (UTC)
This is probably less
and more one big rant about
Things That Annoy The Crap Out of Me
. Some of this may be a matter of personal opinion, but most isn't.
Dialogue: I'm such a sucker for good dialogue. Dialogue that is flowing nicely and naturally. I've encountered a lot of authors, though, who write dialogue that just sounds too wooden, too forced, too no-one-really-talks-like-that. I'm not a writer myself, but it may actually help to just read one's dialogue out loud and then think if there's actually anybody out there who would say something like that. Ever.
I especially hate paragraphs over paragraphs of dialogue that sound more like English-essays rather than actual spoken language. The same accounts to thoughts, really. This isn't even a problem only fanfiction writers have. I've come across some real books which had the very same problem: Pages of 'thoughts' that sounded like an essay, written by a 15-year old girl. And I almost died due the physical pain caused by secondhand embarrassment.
Talking about dialogue… dialogue tags! They're getting abused way too often. I don't think they should be abandoned altogether, but they definitely should be cut down in number. In most cases they're unnecessary and it would be better to let the dialogue speak for itself. Or maybe accompany it with some description of mimics and gestures (even though those are often over-used as well). When I constantly need to read how a character calls, answers, screams, shrieks, yells, gasps, whispers, bellows, asks, roars, cheers, croaks, gulps, pants, murmurs, sighs, shouts, cries, howls, insert-whatever-other-verbs-you-can-
think-of, I tend to develop the urge to throw my computer across the room. Oh! And let's not forget about the adverbs. You can say something heavily, earnestly, lightly, gently, softly, thoughtlessly, easily, quietly, roughly, warily, gingerly, happily, cheerfully, gloomily, huskily, … you get the picture. Usually the dialogue itself and the surrounding actions should be enough to tell you about how something is said without explicitly stating it.
Then there's… epithets! May I say that I abhor them? The shorter boy, the dark-haired man (or worse even, the ebony-haired man), the amber-eyed man, the biology student, the older man. Just. No. Enough said.
This kind of goes together with descriptions of the characters' outer appearance. I think that they shouldn't be overdone. They're okay to a certain degree, but I'm a firm believer of less-is-more. And there's really no need to repeatedly state a character's eye-colour for the 45357th time (I'm still scarred by the abomination that is 50 fucking Shades of Grey). Which reminds me: Eyes are eyes. Not orbs, not pools of blue or green, not liquid silver.
Descriptions in general are another problem I've encountered quite a few times. They really,
shouldn't be too long. Several paragraphs that only serve to describe rooms, clothes, whatever? That's just boring and most often the moment when readers space out. Of course, there are writers who are pretty awesome and they could write shopping lists and I'd read them because they're so beautifully written. But those are far and few between. So I think generally it's just better to only throw in the amount of description that is really necessary.
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2013-01-02 04:14 pm (UTC)
Next, smut: Oh, this could get a rant on its own. But I'll try to keep it short. If one has absolutely no idea what they're writing about, then better just let it be. Or get a book about gay sex. Tons of those out there. And while all the prep-stuff (aka, one finger, two fingers, three fingers, cock) isn't strictly necessary and there are a lot of factors that decide how much prep a person needs, at least some kind of lube is sort of a-must (and if I ever have to read about self-lubing arseholes again I will get a fit. Just. What?)
Anyway. I also realise that 'penis' isn't exactly the prettiest word out there, but a penis is just that. A penis. Or a cock. Or a dick. But not a throbbing member, not manhood, not a flesh tower, not a sceptre of love, and certainly not a fucking
(what even? I have really read that at some point).
Tongues battling or fighting for entrance are a major turn-off as well.
Also nice: People with no prior sexual experience suddenly being experts at everything. Blowjob (or deep-throating even)? Cunnilingus? Taking a penis up your arse without
preparation? Yeah, right.
Other than that, I always appreciate research. You can tell whenever a fic is really well researched and it's usually such a pleasure to read. The other way round, a fic about a subject that would require research, but isn't well researched at all? That more often than not will end up in ridiculousness.
I guess you've got the most common grammar mistakes covered? I'm not exactly an expert on that anyway, so umm, yeah.
Tenses are a really common problem. Point of views can be difficult, too. I've read some fics in which they changed frequently without any sort of pattern or warning, sometimes within the same paragraph.
People should really stay away from first or second person pov, unless they actually know what they're doing. You can do great things with these two pov's, but they usually go oh-so-wrong in the hands of fanfiction authors.
Also, spellcheck is a nice thing. And it's always good to, you know, actually get the characters' names right >.>;;
There's really way more than just these few points, but that's what first came to my mind (and way too long already)
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2013-01-02 09:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, I plan to write an entire post on the follies of badly written smut. There's just so much that I've seen that just boggles my *mind*. It's like people don't know basic biology-- something that's always annoyed me? A guy can't get hard again within ten seconds of orgasm. That is biologically impossible, and I see it so often.
Another thing, and this is something I've seen GOOD writers fall prey to: the magnificent 'first time'. It's a bit of an extension to what you said about "expert virgins". I don't know if it's because it's been so long since the author's first time that they've forgotten what it was like, or because they're still virgins themselves, but the first time (penetration wise) is RARELY comfortable, if ever. I know it's not all that sexy to write about feeling weird and possibly in pain, but that's how it is-- I've known people who couldn't even get off on penetration the first few times because they were so distracted by how unusual it felt. Which brings me to another point: WHY, when it's involving two men, does the first time ALWAYS have to involve penetration? There's more to sex than that, and it would make more sense (if one or both were virgins) to go a different route the first few times, at least. It's even more aggravating when neither partner should have any prior knowledge of the mechanics of gay sex, and yet somehow they just mysteriously KNOW.
Also, conveniently placed lubrication that shouldn't be there. Or hilarious lubrication, like cooking oil (WTF?).
Research is definitely a must. It annoys the shit out of me when someone writes something that I just know isn't true, especially if it's medical (I have medical professionals in my family, so while I'm no expert, I do know a few things). For instance, I once read a fanfic where a guy was stranded in a blizzard and somehow alcohol saved him from hypothermia. That is complete and utter bullshit. Alcohol thins your blood, it HEIGHTENS the possibility of hypothermia!
On the other hand, well researched fanfics impress the shit out of me. Most people don't know that one of the possible treatments for necrosis is
. I know I didn't, and when I found it in a fanfic I had to give props to the author for being so informed and inventive.
Grammar in fanfiction is like a giant black hole of failure. I know I'm not perfect, and I'm guilty of typing very informally when I'm just chatting with someone (like now), but there's a difference between splitting the occasional infinitive and
forgetting to use punctuation entirely
. I've seen writers just completely ignore the fact that a period goes at the end of their sentence. Yup. No periods. Come on now, they're not even trying.
Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm going to try and compile a nice, comprehensive list, and hopefully people will actually read it and take notes...
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2013-01-02 09:43 pm (UTC)
Excessive dialogue tags get on my nerves, too. It's not even because the dialogue doesn't need some kind of description, it's just...there are better ways to do it. Why say 'he purred' when you could say 'his voice rumbled deep in his chest'? Okay, admittedly that's not the best example, but cut me some slack, I'm still half asleep XD And you're right, you don't always have to announce that the character is speaking. They could always cut to an action, something that might show that the character is distracted, or worried, or nervous, without coming right out and saying "distractedly", "worriedly" or "nervously".
Oh god, epithets. In my opinion, you have ONE free epithet card to play per character in an entire fanfic. Any more and it's just fucking annoying. We KNOW Morinaga's the younger man. We KNOW Souichi's the blonde man (lol that sounds so strange).
As for long descriptions, I just don't know why the hell some authors do that. It's been drilled in my brain that in creative writing you need to be clear and concise regardless of your writing style, and throwing adjectives around like that is not concise goddamnit. I find myself completely skipping those paragraphs in fanfics. Like you said, though, there are some writers out there who just know how to carry a good flow and their descriptions are enjoyable, if a bit long-winded. In general I just think it's not a good idea.
I think I'll add on to your list of annoying things in fanfics:
changing language in the middle of a sentence for no fucking reason whatsoever.
It's one thing when you're dealing with a bilingual character who doesn't have a firm grasp of the English language. It's another when someone randomly screams "That's so KAWAAAIIIII!" Hey, jackasses. We have an English word for that.
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2013-01-03 03:30 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah. (Pseudo-)Japanese language in English fics. Most of the fics I read are not connected to anime/manga, so I completely forgot about that one. I remember having stumbled across it in some boukun fics and it really annoyed me >.<
I'm actually looking forward to your post about smut, haha. It's a topic where I'm always caught in between amusement and horror. Getting hard again within a few seconds (or remaining in that state: "What you just came? And you're still so hard." >.>) is just one of those killers. It's actually a reason for me to drop a fic (right next to crappy dialogue, bad grammar/no punctuation, horrible characterisation, etc.).
I've read some really wonderful fics with awkward/bad 'first time'-sex and every time I was like
. Thank you. I'm generally all for, well not bad sex exactly, but sex that isn't perfect. At least every now and then. Of course it's nice to read about the mind-blowing sex life of fictional characters, but it can get rather boring. Or ridiculous. Or both.
Also, yes yes YES! about sex between two men always revolving around penetration. I never tire of complaining about it. It's something that also really annoys me about BL manga in general. It's always buttsex.
Talking about the research, another pet peeve of mine is when there's absolutely no consideration given to the environment the characters live in. This is often the case with fics that are set in Japan. It's understandable, to a certain degree, seeing how most writers have never lived there. But one can at least
? Or, taking HP as an example: With the ship I'm interested in, everything is set in Britain, in the 70s, in a boarding school. And then you get boys kissing in the common rooms, half the school is gay and everyone is cool about it. Yeah right,
. Or, well, in general things often feel too modern and that just feels wrong. Then again, people who really work with that time period, who incorporate it into their stories... that's just a pleasure to read.
(I've once seen a very graphic documentary about how maggots are used to treat necrosis and it haunted me for days. Thanks for reminding me of that.) :p
I actually won't read any fanfics that have obvious grammar issues. If I start correcting the grammar of someone whose mother tongue is English then something is seriously wrong. And reading something like that is just not worth my time. The occasional slip-up doesn't bother me and typos are bearable, to a certain degree (and there are just some that automatic spellcheck won't help you with). But missing punctuation? Yeah, thanks but no thanks.
What also bothers me is how people think they have to press a couple into the stereotypical (1950s like) roles of man/woman. One of them (= bottom) often ends up way too feminine (I actually hate using this word because it's degrading to women; what I really mean is wussy and a crybaby—and it's not like those
actually female character traits; maybe let's say they end up exactly like the stereotypical woman you can find in a lot of media, most notably shoujo manga, which is a portrayal that I also disapprove of), no matter his characterisation in the original series. And the tops are manly men. And of course taller than the bottom. Just, urgh.
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2013-01-03 10:26 pm (UTC)
Oh man, it annoys the hell out of me when people try to force gender roles on characters! In general, I hate it when characters are written with cookie cutter personalities...when it's obvious that the author can't connect with them, it doesn't matter if their writing is good or not. The story becomes completely uninteresting at that point.
You see a lot of it in doujinshi, too. One of my favorite doujins is like that, unfortunately...and the only reason I still like it so much is because the art is gorgeous. I find myself cringing when I read the dialogue because it's so ridiculously out of character. And you already know how I feel about characters being pigeon-holed into being 'bottom' or 'top'! Sure, some people prefer one or the other, but why do authors always pick the one they see as being the most "girly looking"?
Adding to that, I don't see why people don't find it exciting for the more dominant personality to bottom. That would make for some pretty wild smut, especially if there's a power struggle! And just because someone has a dominant personality doesn't mean that it carries over into the bedroom. Sex tends to bring out a different side of people, which is something that's horribly underplayed in fanfiction.
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