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Story cliches, word fumbles, cringes.....and fixes. Part 1.

*NOTE: If you find this offensive, know that is not my intention*

We've all had those moments when we are trying to get into a fanfic/reading a fanfic that we love and all of a sudden we're like no. This segment is for those moments. However, this isn't meant to trash people or choices. TBH, some of my favorite stories have some really cliche parts....the author just carries them very well. At the same time, using too many of them and/or poor execution can bring down a story. So, along with listing a few of those moments, I'll include some possible alternatives. I appreciate any help that those of you reading can give in identifying more. I'm sure that I'm going to leave out a cringe-worthy moment or two, as well as a few fixes. Pay it forward, peeps, because we are all constantly improving and learning.

 


 

CRINGE

FIX(ES)

It's been less than a dozen chapters and in that time the OG and Michael have met, fallen in love, had sex, and developed cutesy nicknames for one another

    • Have one person get cold feet, back them off and start again slowly
    • Reveal that this is a pattern for one character, thus lessening the readers' disbelief and adding another layer to the plot

 

Michael and/or the OG is/are PERFECT

  • Poke a hole. Make the other suddenly start realizing that person's flaws.
  • Make the person confess that they've been awkwardly on pins and needles, trying to be perfect. < lead up to this.

 

The story goes from conversation to conversation to...X weeks/months later, thus disrupting the flow of the story and skipping over a good chunk of the momentum the author had built up.

  • Insert flashbacks
  • Make a couple extra scenes/deleted scenes/interludes and parse them out. This can be especially beneficial if you are writing H/C and the H scenes go on for a while. Throwing in a happy/C interlude can help tide your readers over.

 

The plausibility of a good relationship between the OG and Michael is under serious doubt by readers.

  • First: don't ignore readers when they point this out. You know what is in your head and that influences how you see your writing. They just know what they are reading, making them a more objective source of information.
  • Second: the correction. Either have them not get together, or show a veerrrrry gradual change in them. I'm not talking 4-5 chapters. Think 10. Maybe more, depending on how off track the relationship got.
  • Third: Admit defeat. Take down what you've written, carefully revise, and repost.

 

Most/all of the periphery characters in the story are "bad" guys/girls or have slept with the OG and/or Michael

  • Unless you want to convey that Michael and/or the OG are super slutty, rethink how many exes hang out with them. As to the bad guys, keep in mind that usually someone has to do something for another person to not like them. Not all the time, but most of the time. Why should we root for an OG if she inspires so much hate? 

 

The OG alienates herself from every single person but Michael, and he encourages that.  This makes the OG look like a fair-weather friend and Michael look controlling.

  • Have one of them realize this and increase the prominence of a supporting character or two.
  • Have this cause drama between the OG and her old friends

 

The OG is very naive and innocent; Michael is wise and experienced and assumes the role of father parental partner. He helps the OG continuously, often as an almost heroic/savior-type figure, making her dependent on him and unable to handle adversity herself.  While not biologically related, the relationship feels almost incestuous.

  • Have one of them point it out and split up for a while. Maybe she moves away to live on her own for a bit. 
  • Have them fight and break up, leaving her to face the reality of the world and develop as an individual. After a decent span of time (months to years), they can reconcile.

 

The story has a ginormous banner, long summary, tons of individual shout outs, and/or something else that causes your display to take up a considerable amount of screen space

  • Downsize. Yes, it is that simple. Chances are that if this applies to you, you are annoying readers and authors alike. Longer displays mean that other authors' stories go farther down in the screen, sometimes by several page scrolls per one updated story.  This doesn't make people more likely to read your story.

 

A storyline unintentionally breaks a serious real-life rule (e.g. a character somehow attends medical or law school while in college, a psychologist has a relationship with a client, a minor has a romantic/sexual relationship with an adult and it doesn't raise an eyebrow or have consequences) or in some way defies what happened in a rather obvious way (e.g. Michael does a non-US tour in the US in the wrong era w/the wrong songs, Michael is able to go around without fans/press stalking him, Michael meets strangers and invites them to stay at his house for unlimited periods of time, Michael hires incompetent women just to watch their asses/have threesomes with them, etc) <- Yes, I had to cut myself off.

  • These are harder and need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. With most of these, I'd argue that it has to be completely rewritten unless the author doesn't care about plausibility/alienating more readers than they'll have reviewers. In some cases, it is possible to alter the course of the story to avoid the huge faux pas, if the point of no-return hasn't been met (e.g. statuatory rape has yet to occur and the author waits until the girl is of a reasonable age; the psychologist ends up losing their license, all credibility in the field, and facing ethics hearings; and/or the area in which Michael is walking around is locked to the public). Again, it is a case-by-case call.

 

They forgot a condom/the birth control failed.  It's a one night stand and....she is now pregnant (bonus points if the pregnancy test magically shows this within a week of them having sex)

  • Make the way this happens (or the after effects) less played. Off the top of my head:
    • They enter into negotiations for child support or a fake marriage
    • She hides it from him b/c she doesn't want to risk losing custody
  • Have a miscarriage

 

 


Here are some of the common within text problems:
What was written... what was meant
sense (as in smell) .... since (because)
consitent (not a word).... consistent (occurring at regular intervals)
collage (as in a form of art) .... college (a level of schooling)
mines (multiple weapons or sites for digging).... mine (possessive 'my')
is (singular) .... are (plural)
will (is going to) .... well (healthy or a source of water)
were (past tense of 'are') .... where (location) or we're (we are)
ganster (not a word) .... gangster (aka gangsta)
there (place) .... their (possessive of 'they') or they're (they are)
to (destination) .... too (also)
half (1/2) .... have (to possess)
your (possessive 'you') .... you're (you are)
its (possessive 'it') .... it's (it is)
loose (aka baggy).... lose (aka go missing)

And because no one piece on the usefulness of punctuation would be sufficient, I'll leave you all with this:
lol

 

Chapter End Notes:

 


What fanfic moments make YOU cringe? (taking ideas for Part 2)


Thanks as always for your feedback :)

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