So, my good friend arithilim
recently wrote a post on the most common fails of fanfiction
I, being the strange person that I am, went one step further - how to fix
the ones she didn't give advice for, herself.
Starting every sentence with the same subject
It’s awkward and redundant. Switch it up. Add some variety. Invert. Add a clause. Whatever. Repetition for emphasis is good. Repetition because you only know one format of sentence structure is not.
To take her advice a little further, think about the way you're intending to write - usually a bit like the way you talk, right? Well, think about the way you talk - is it always the same format? Is it always the same structure? You also need to understand that you need different formats for different tones.
During fast paced action sequences, the stiff, simple structures mentioned as useful. During slow, languid scenes, you want to use more slower, elongated sentences. Work your way up and down the scale from there.
The story that just won’t die
Stories need to end. One fic cannot possibly have every important life event in great detail. It gets too long and drags on and on, and I get very bored. Just end it and go write something else. I know it can be tempting to just keep a story going, but really, it ruins it. HP fandom, I'm looking at you.
My simple answer: plot
, damnit - plot your story before hand, from beginning to end, with the keyword being end
The no good dirty rotten horrible day and other melodrama
Look, things can go wrong. Multiple things can go wrong. But everything in the entire world all colliding at once to create a giant swamp of melodrama ruins the angsty effect by making it look silly and exaggerated. Reign it in some and it becomes much more effective. More is not always better however tempting it might seem.
Impact and Temperance, they are your friends. If everything
is going bad, it start to get difficult to figure out what's good, what's bad, and what's worse. Everything feels the same, and the angst and melodrama that's important loses its impact. You need to have some average things to be proportionate to the not-so-average, you need some good things to balance out the bad things, and you need some great things to provide contrast with the terrible things.
Otherwise, it all becomes one big, pointless blur of melodrama and angst.
Just don’t. On very rare occasions it’s appropriate to have an epithet – perhaps when it’s used to emphasize something, to introduce detail, or to reference an unnamed/unknown character. Every sentence is not appropriate. It just makes your writing sound lame and makes me want to kill things. So please, just say no. If I read one more fic with 'the teen', 'the blond assassin', 'the blue-eyed prince', 'the older boy', or 'the noble Gryffindor', I will scream.
There are these things called pronouns
. Use them, for they are your friends. Even if you're using the same pronouns (i.e. multiple men/women in the same scene, ect.), for the most part, you can use them in all the cases necessary - most people can usually figure out who's talking/doing stuff. In those rare cases where it's difficult, use their names.
And for the names thing - seriously, use them. So long as it's not like every other word or something, most people won't notice the names as repetition - their minds and eyes will gloss over it beyond simply recognizing who it is.Only
use epithets for emphasis
, nothing more.