Also, fandom. Because when work goes sour on me (and lady, make up your fucking mind; sorry, but you have no idea how that needed to be said, and the people who know about the violent offenders will understand this comment), I reel into the welcoming, porny arms of fandom (it's my metaphor and I can damn well fracture it if I wish, unlike certain violent-offender-obsessed people, who are not allowed to touch my metaphors, thanks), only to get. Well. Ranty.
What can I say? I give to fandom what I can't use in my everyday life. Which means I give: 1) sarcasm, 2) enthusiasm, and 3) my rapidly-decreasing tolerance of humanity. (Go away, violent offender lady. And while we're at it: go away, violent offenders. Go - offend yourselves.)
Your issues are showing, part one. Everyone overuses this word these days. I do it as much as anyone. But, please, before you drop it into your story, think: is the character a guy who communicates in single-word sentences and grunts? Does "issues" contain one more syllable than said character ever uses? Is the character a seventh-century monk? Because, yes, there are some characters who can believably discuss issues and needs and feelings. It'd work just fine to have Blair Sandburg do nothing else. But if you've got Jack Aubrey or Aeryn Sun using "I feel" statements, well, I just hope your story is about mind control, or the statement in question is "I feel like [killing/beating the shit out of/shooting/firing cannons at, delete as appropriate] [Napoleon/John Crichton/the Spanish/nearly everyone, delete as appropriate]." Hints: in general, if your character is all about action, don't have him reflect on his need to process and his commitment issues. Really. Also, long discussions of feelings that would not be out of place in a couple's therapy session? Not suitable for your average police officer, career military man, or contract killer.
Don't cry for me, dark lord Sauron. It isn't that I mind crying qua crying. It's that I mind how it's used – problem solver, confession of love, apology, indication of character growth, sandwich spread. Look. There are some stories that should feature crying. When a character dies, for example, it is right to have other characters cry. But, ummmm, how can I put this? There are some characters who just don't cry that much, and maybe that's the way they should stay, especially if right now they're crying more than pregnant women who can't stop watching Dumbo. Action is another good distinguisher here. If your character, say, regularly uses a gun, consider other ways he might express frustration, for example, or dismay. (Hint: shooting people, or sometimes things, is a very popular choice. In certain segments of society, and I won't mention violent offenders here, but - oh. I did.)
Your issues are showing, part two. There are only seven plots in all of fan fiction, yes, but if you consistently, throughout all your fandoms, have a character get abducted, subjected to mind control, and made the victim of a renegade biologist who grafts his upper body onto the lower body of an ungulate, that says more about you than about your fandoms. Hell, it says more about you than I really want to know. Sometimes it's more appropriate to seek a therapist than an audience, and this could be one of those times.
Yes, Virginia, you can have too many adjectives. I mean, you don't have to limit yourself strictly to nouns and action verbs ("Jim fucks. Blair moans. Reader yawns."), but please consider the overall effect your descriptives are bringing to your story. For example:
- Cock: Short and to the point. In some instances, perhaps too much so.
- Rock-hard cock: Rather cliché, yes, and not exactly accurate, but not excessively purple or unintentionally amusing.
- Hot, rock-hard cock: We're deep in Clicheland, but we're not yet over the top.
- Hot, throbbing rock-hard cock: OK, this is starting to be a bit much.
- Huge, hot, throbbing rock-hard cock jutting proudly from its gorgeous nest of wiry black curls: Ha ha ha ha. I mean, seriously; consider the effect of this phrase on your will to read further. Or, hell, your will to live.
Not every pronoun was created equal. So, for example, if Blair and Jim hop into bed together, they should stay Blair and Jim throughout and not suddenly transmogrify into "the younger man" and "the older man" or "the shorter man" and "the taller man." Yes, pronouns are a constant problem for slashers, but that's no excuse for this kind of writing. Unless Fraser is actually thinking of Ray as "the American" while going down on him (And if he is, what the fuck is wrong with him? Because in my experience Canadians don't typically have American fetishes, on account of proximity breeding resentment, or however that goes.), don't call Ray that in a sex scene. I've read so many pronoun-substitute stories that I have a special hatred reserved for the phrase "the other man"; I'm about two days away from writing a story called that, just to make my hatred clear. ("Loving the Other Man," by thefourthvine, a Kowalski/Fraser amnesia story. Look for it soon!) You never need that phrase in a sex scene, unless you're writing a third-party PoV.
Very soul. What the fuck is a very soul? Someone tell me, because I am flat mystified. From extensive and often painful reading (though, let me tell, you not nearly as painful as the statistics on violent offenders), I've been able to deduce that people have two kinds of souls – the regular or non-very kind, and then the very one, which is apparently the one that's involved in sex and romance. ("...to the bottom of his very soul.") But beyond that, I'm totally confused - why do humans have two souls? Is it all humans, or just the ones in romance stories? Help, people. (And, yes, I know it's from Hamlet, so you don't need to quote that in your answer. It's just – we don't write much like Shakespeare did these days. How did the very soul stick around?)
Mine, mine, mine. Did I miss the memo on this one? Because on my planet, you don't claim people like territory, and fucking someone doesn't give you any rights beyond, you know, maybe a blood test. Or child support. But I've read so much FF that equates fucking and possession that any minute now I expect Daniel to fuck Jack while saying, "I'm a peaceful explorer" and then Jack to return the favor with, "I claim this ass in the name of the Tauri of Earth." Until someone forwards me a copy of the "penetration is a marriage ceremony among our people" amendment to the social contract, I'm going to shout my gospel from the rooftops: Marrying someone gives you rights. Moving in with someone gives you rights. And cosigning on major debt sure as fuck gives you rights. But just fucking someone doesn't mean you own his ass (except, of course, in prison), and if you'd like to think it does, take this moment to reflect on all the people who, by your definition, have the right to get territorial over you.
Be real. Or at least realistically fake. It's called fan fiction because it's about characters other people created. Which means that you should be familiar with said characters. If even I am reading your story and saying, "But he isn't taller than she is" or "Wait, no, they both have blue eyes," you've got a problem. I don't care how you picture it – Spike does not have a body that will win him the next Mr. Universe competition. Late canon Daniel Jackson is not scrawny and weak. Cordelia Chase does not have broad hips. Basically, if I am noticing problems with your descriptives – me, the woman voted Most Likely to Fail to Recognize Herself If She Ever Visits an Alternate Reality – it's back to canon kindergarten for you.
It's a dark, dark world. But that doesn't mean you need to use a black background, people. Backgrounds should be light. White is ideal – the gold standard of page backgrounds! – but anything pale is fine. While we're at it, text should be dark. Let me repeat: dark text. Light background. And you will be blessed and your line will never be extinguished and one day you'll wake up and the morning news will feature pictures of Orlando Bloom kissing Viggo Mortensen, unless you'd rather see them kiss other people, in which case that's what will happen. But this utopia can only come into being if you avoid the Unforgivable Website Sins, which include: headache text (in bright red or yellow or similar), blending text (dark gray text on a light gray background, as a single example), and the ever-popular light text on a dark background. While such Unforgivable Website Sins are still in existence, the world can only contain migraines. I hope you feel bad.
A ripping good time. I know you can tear shirts off people. I've done it myself, actually; I've even done it unintentionally. But the accidental ripping occurred in college, when people tended to wear things until they fell apart (and often even after that). The thing is, not all fabrics tear as easily as ancient concert t-shirts with no surviving legible text. If your character is tearing a good shirt off someone, he's leaving some marks. And people don't always appreciate having their clothes torn, you know. Just once I want to read a story in which the characters kiss, their hands roving wildly over each other, their hips thrusting almost violently together, both half-crazy with lust, and then character A rips off character B's shirt and he gets all pissy: "Jesus Christ. Ever heard of taking two seconds, Caveman? This cost three hundred dollars!"
And now I return to the sweet, sweet embrace of violent offenders. Think of me. Think of me fondly. Or, hell, just write me some Beecher/Keller porn.
Think I missed something? Previous FF rants are here, here, here, and here.
Got some FF bitching to get off your chest? Share in the comments section. I like to know I'm not alone in my insanity.
Hate me and want to make sure I know it? Remember to flame with class.