28 things I hate in fanfiction

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Title: 28 things I hate in fanfiction
Date(s): March 15, 2003
Medium: online
Topic: online here
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28 things I hate in fanfiction is a 2003 essay by allaire mikháil. The topic of the essay is fanfiction, specifically slash, and the tropes, genres, and writing that the author does not like.

"Listed on my personal page, these points solely repesent [sic] my own opinion. I also don't deny that it might be possible for a good writer to make me like a story with a number of these points in it. Still, experience has convinced me that they tend to be my personal turn-offs."

The author's website has the title: "28 things I hate in fanfiction" [1]. The essay itself is under the heading: "what are your pet peeves? the things you loathe above all others?"

It appears the essay was updated at some point, as rather than 28, there are 30 bothersome items.

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From the Essay

what are your pet peeves? the things you loathe above all others?


In fan fiction? Sure, there is an almost endless number of things that rub me the wrong way. I guess I'd better limit myself to the things I consider the worst (in no particular order):

1. Missing pairing information. There are lots of OTP fans out of there; I count myself among them. My primary selection criterion is the pairing, so I might miss out on a wonderful story simply because the author didn't include this vital point in its headers. A shame.
2. Insufficient warnings. When I stumble into a story I normally would have never read, just because the author didn't deem it necessary to warn me of its content beforehand, I will most likely never touch a story by that particular writer again. Ever.
3. Bad grammar. Nothing turns me off more than an accumulation of grammatical errors a foreign exchange student in second grade wouldn't commit. Use a spellchecker, then a beta reader, or please, for the love of God, don't post anything. Believe me, the world will be better off.
4. Bad style. No, I don't want to read a m/m Harlequin novel. A plot is not always vital, but I need to recognize the persons I'm supposed to read about. I want the writing to be in-character for the protagonists, I don't want to be buried under clichés, sap, morbid depression or other mental illnesses whose effects the author wants to share with his/her readers.
5. Mary Sue/HarryStu. Please spare me. OFCs and OMCs (and lately, also canon characters) who are so ethereally beautiful and eminently capable (not to mention armed to the teeth) that everyone just loves them. And they always save the day, of course. Gaargh.
6. Bad choice of certain expressions. Like, e.g., "soon-to-be-lover". Or laughable metaphors for certain parts of the male anatomy. In short, everything hopelessly over-the-top. Keep it simple, keep it understated, and it'll have all the more power.
7. Unhappy endings. I know I can't force authors to adhere to my own kind of story ideal. Still, I can't help but be emotionally affected by a long, beautifully written story that, after several 100 KB, ends in separation or death. Despite me knowing that sometimes a story just can't logically go into another direction, this always depresses me.
8. Stockholm Syndrome. Non-consensual sex and rape are things I can only accept when they are not the focal point of a story. So why should I read a story about nothing but? A story in which my heroes turn into unrecognizable, pathetic victims who don't act like themselves anymore? Unexplainable. The real world has enough of it without us adding to it in fiction.
9. Endless bemoaning of lack of self-worth. One of the characters feeling imminently unworthy of his oh-so-perfect lover who deserves so much more is unsettling. Are those issues the writer has suppressed so far? Please see your therapist and don't make me deal with it by proxy.
10. Abused as a child. Yeah, it happens in real life -- unfortunately. Still, why does every insecurity a character shows have to be linked to an incident in his childhood? It can't explain away or excuse said character's further actions in the present, or at least it shouldn't.
11. A rapist's wet dream. Criminals are evil, evil men are ugly, and ugly men don't get any. Right. Still, why can a villain be presented with 20 women and our hero, and pick our hero as his rape victim? Bloody likely, isn't it?
12. Irreversible Damage. No, I don't want to read about a character suffering an illness, getting hurt, losing part of his mental capacity, whatever -- when it's permanent. H/C can be delightful, but there's a limit. As soon as the damage inflicted can't be healed, I'm so out of there.
13. Partner Betrayal. Again, what's the point? I like to see love triumph over anything else, overcome all obstacles. When you can't trust your partner, who else can you trust? Some things can't, shouldn't be forgiven. Not if you want to keep your sense of self-worth.
14. Domestic Discipline. What the heck for?! Sure, we'll go to the supermarket, and you can pick out the brush I'm going to spank you with, naughty boy, you! And no, it's not sexual. It's just that I can't trust you to make your own decisions, so I 'discipline' you whenever you dare to march to a different drummer than the one I deem correct. Sure.
15. Chicks-with-Dicks. This syndrome ranges from Sally-Homemaker to weepy, whiny 'little boy'. The characters behave like 14-year-old girls and are pretty much unrecognizable. Makes me shudder.
16. Male Pregnancy. The ultimate feminisation of a male character. Normally goes hand-in-hand with the "Chicks-with-Dicks" syndrome. Also usually sappy to the extreme. Very, very seldomly well-written, and a big turn-off for me.
17. Lack of equality. Most often encountered in the bedroom: only one of the two guys bottoms all the time. Huh? Why not write het then? I can't imagine that to be an equal, happy relationship.
18. Bad sex scenes. Ranges from multiple orgasms to the same-old preparation method (one finger, two fingers, three fingers...), to endless stamina. Oh, and penetrative sex on the first date! No matter the other just realized he's attracted to his male partner.
19. Threesomes. In my opinion, three's a crowd, that is, one guy/girl too many in bed. Don't try to tell me that such a relationship has a future; it'll be always two who are closer to each other than the third, and therefore this person will feel left out, alone. So in the end, it'll all turn sour.
20. Bitch-yfying of female canon characters. Not all former girlfriends, ex-wives, love interests etc. are The Bitch From HellTM. They may have left our hero, but that doesn't makethem automatically evil, abusive, cold-hearted or insane. Which goes hand-in-hand with...
21. Devaluation of past loves. Often enough, one or both main characters used to be married, and happily at that. To make it less of an obstacle in the course of "true love", often enough you encounter the justification "Oh well, I really only like cock, and my marriage was one of convenience; I barely tolerated her.". Which is bullshit, because, hello, canon? Deal with it.
22. Unbelievably tolerant environment. The boss, colleagues, friends, family members who are instantly overjoyed upon learning that our heroes are gay... don't exist. Sure, we wish they did, but they don't. So deal with it instead of sugar-coating it.
23. Character A being built up as the hero to the detriment of Character B. Many series revolve around one/several characters, among them Character A, while Character B is a recurring guest-star/sidekick. Deal with it. Don't diss Character A just because Character B is oh so unappreciated/pretty/cool/interesting. Writing Character A as a stupid ass and Character B as the best thing since sliced bread doesn't make for an equal relationship.
24. Elves. A nightmare become reality. Who ever invented it should be shot. This compulsion to write AUs in which one of the guys is an Elf is just -- scary. Deeply scary.
25. Hair. Don't get me started. Anyone who uses sugar-coated denomers to describe it is severely anime-/manga-challenged. It's the stuff on one's head, ok? Nothing more ,nothing less. It can be pleasurable to the touch, but it's not the epitome of sexiness.
26. Cooking. Why this trend to describe in excruciating detail how m/m couples cook? Yes, they do. We all do. They also go to the toilet, but no one describes that. I wonder why.
27. Gay Pride Parades. Yes, they are an admirable display of people's identification with their sexuality, and strength to stand up to it. Still, I can imagine only few characters who'd march in one without making themselves into laughing stock. Reality check, please.
28. "I've never watched [...] before!" The scariest words in an author's notes to a story. Writing solely based on fanon might even work out ok, but I'd rather advise against it. Please wait until you've seen at least a couple of episodes.
29. Feedback blackmail. I absolutely detest authors who have to resort to this sort of thing. Everyone should write for him-/herself, of course with the potential readers in mind, but still, it's not something a writer should have to be pressured into. Otherwise it shows in the story.
30. Nightmarish HTML-Coding. Fifty cookies, twenty pop-up windows, flashing neon lettering, a story that's unreadable if you didn't download the background because text and background font color are the same, more HTML-code than text, the like... scare off readers. Trust me on that.
Hmmpf. That was me limiting myself to the most annoying ones. Sure. Did I mention under my faults listed above that I can't be brief? No? Well, I should have. [2]


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