Happy (Belated) New Year, moviepiloteers (spelling intended). I hope you didn’t party too hard or miss me too much during my extended absence (it’s been a looong three months, y’all).
But, you know, instead of boring you with the minute details of my absence, I’m just going to jump right to business by presenting my first article of the year. What will it be about? Why, I thought the title made it obvious: I’ll be sh*tting on bad fan fiction.
Good ol’ fan fiction. Its reach is far and wide. From your favorite books/comic books and graphic novels to your quintessential movies and TV Shows, someone has probably written some fan fiction about it. Fan fiction is odd in that everybody likes to sh*t on it, but it would be a complete lie to say that most of us don’t—in the very LEAST—read it or write it once in a while.
That being said, great fan-fiction is so exceedingly rare that it usually comes off as a gift from the gods. On the flip side, bad fan-fiction is so abundant and so commonplace that it has the potential to scare away even the most resilient and unbothered of readers.
So, as a result of this and because I slick haven’t made an annoying list in a hot minute (that’s right. That is exactly what this is), I present to you 7 hallmarks of bad fan-fiction:
1. Everybody likes you.
Seriously. Everybody likes you (as in your character). First of all, I don’t even know in what world this is possible, but in bad fan-fiction, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE. The main character is so likable that even the obscure ass janitor or red shirt (yeah, I went there) in the background can’t help but praise or love this character unnecessarily. And I’m sorry, but that is entirely unrealistic.
NO ONE IS 100% likable.
People hate Pikachu. People hate Batman. People even hate Jesus.
NO ONE IS 100% likable. Deal with it.
2. Everybody wants you.
Translation: Everybody wants to f*ck you.
Much like #1, the main character—be they male, female, or otherwise— is not only liked by everyone, but they are desired by everyone. As in every. single. last. character. in their chosen story/universe wants to bed them.
Like #1, this is stupid as f*ck in that I am pretty sure that established characters are not about to fight over or even like the same person like that (because, you know, compatibility is a thing). That’s like Tony Stark or Steve Rodgers vying for the affections of the same exact woman (would that even be goddamn possible? Like what type of eclectic chick would you have to be for this to happen?). That’s like Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn stabbing each other over the same guy (do you see how stupid that sounds? Not only would Harley get outright murdered, but WW wouldn’t even bother in the first place. This scenario is extremely petty to begin with).
There is no f*cking way that your one character is romantically/sexually compatible with everybody; so you can just stop.
3. Your origin story is whack as hell…or nonexistent.
This usually applies to any and all cases that include a completely new and created character that was not established canonically. We’re all familiar with the fact that origin stories can usually go either way and that not all origin stories are created equal, nor are they perfect. That being said, fan fiction origin stories are usually sh*t. To explain, usually, they are so haphazard and thin that the writer should have skipped it all-together, or the character usually has some dumb-ass—also known as unexplained—connection to an established character that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Example 1: Main character arrives, does something pivotal to the plot, is probed about back-story and offers up details that are so obscure that there is not point.
Example 2: Main character arrives, establishes themselves as the long lost sister/cousin/brother/lover/wife/lovechild/ex/father/mother/spawn/black sheep of an established character.
For sh*ts and giggles, let’s make this established character Spock (my knowledge is limited, but I’ll be referring to 2009’s Star Trek).
Which, you know, would make no sense since the whole of his motherf*cking planet was blown up 32148970089 years ago; so…
But of course, logic is usually not a thing that exists in bad fan fiction; so there’s that. And the writer of this hypothetically bad fan fic would probably find some half-assed way to explain how this character survived the explosion of their home planet, but I digress.
4. You are stilling everybody’s “shine”.
One of the most prominent hallmarks of bad fan-fiction is the complete or damn-near-complete erasure of an established character in favor of your lackluster new character. New characters are cool, but I find it really and truly lazy when that character basically turns out to be a replacement for the old one. And usually, this so-called replacement is only sporting like one or two “different” traits that are not even enough to differentiate this character as “new” (and that in itself is its own foul).
On top of that, this is usually a DEAD GIVEAWAY that the author is not aiming to create a good character or a good story at all and is instead using this new character as their own gateway into blissful wish-fulfillment.
*COUGH COUGH FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and the ORIGINAL MARY SUE COUGH COUGH*
Just…just don’t do it.
5. You are “Overpowered Oliver/Overpowered Olivia”.
Continuing in the same vein of #4 comes the subject of overpoweredness. Characters that come in and steal people’s shine usually turn around and display a number of unbelievable (seriously, like you would not believe how ridiculous their powers/skill sets are) and immeasurable skills, abilities, and powers that make absolutely no f*king sense when put together.
Example: Newly created superhero The Bronze Toothpick displays a genius level intellect, has sonar senses, super speed, can control the weather, is a powerful telepath (that displays unprecedented—that’s the keyword here—telekinetic abilities), has impenetrable skin, can somehow speak 20 languages, can breathe fire, and has mastered every known martial art to man (why be only adept when you can master everything?).
What. The. F*ck.
With a name like The Bronze Toothpick, your character would be LUCKY to have control over all tooth picks with a 50-100 mile radius, talk less of the rest of these random ass powers. Like, what are people thinking when they create exceedingly unrealistic characters like this? What, that it’s cool?
No. It ‘s not cool. In fact, it is annoying as all hell and makes your character look like sh*t. I mean, obviously, you have existing characters who are ridiculously OP (Batman, Superman, Goku, the whole damn Grey/Summers clan, Franklin Richards…you get it), but becoming an overpowered character in a fan fic is a completely different ball-game. You know why? It’s because you literally have no right to be here. At all.
6. You are “Flawless Fannie/Flawless Freddie”.
The only thing more annoying than an overpowered character is a FLAWLESS character.
And no, I am not using “flawless” in a complimentary way.
Writing 101 tells us that a character without flaw—without blemish—is one that is not only boring and uncompelling, but it is also a character that should simply not exist. And no it does not count if your character’s flaw includes them being without flaw (that is so f*cking circular and nonsensical that it hurts) or being too perfect.
Flaws are part of the human condition. They are part of what makes life so beautiful when triumph is involved and simultaneously so goddamn ugly when failure laughs in our faces.
They drive us. They challenge us. They convict us.
7. Some way, somehow, you are “the chosen one”.
This one needs no explanation. The “chosen one” as a trope is so rampant and overused in various mediums already. Why bring that to your crappy fan fic? I mean, who are you, Harry Potter? Neo? Jean Grey? Twilight Sprinkle for My Little Pony?
All in all, if you are a repeat offender of even one or all of these fan fic sins, you have my permission to do the following:
- Take a writing class class. Purge yourself of your bad habits.
- Grab your fan fic. Burn all of it. Repeat.
- Stop writing. Forever.
What about you guys? What do you think are the hallmarks of bad fan fiction? Let us know in the comments below.
***Check out the original post in all of its GIF-fy glory here.
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