1783: Heroes and Villains – Chapter Twenty-Two, Part Two (Now with RealTalk™)Posted: June 7, 2017
Title: Heroes and Villains
Author: Horrible’s Igor
Media: Television / Movies
Topic: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer / Kitchen Sink
URL: Heroes and Villains (Now Defunct)
Critiqued by TacoMagic and Eliza
Hey, guys! We’re finally here, the grand finale of Heroes and Villains! It’s celebration time!
*Eliza sprays confetti everywhere*
I have deep regrets.
Let’s see, last time stuff happened with the Malkavians. Mostly stupid stuff that involved horrible accents, German, and an illogical deal where Willow promised to hand over the city to them. Really, at this point the fic has lost all pretense of trying to have a plot and now it’s just random shit happening while Igor moons over IndigoStars.
“I still feel really embarrassed for Igor.”
Luckily this fic is gone and was super obscure even before she pulled it down. And now it’s being featured on a riff blog that is every bit as obscure. It’s unlikely Indigo will ever see it. Anyway, let’s see what we’ve got this week.
Also, to address the elephant in the room, I discovered today that Igor is transgender and prefers the feminine pronoun. My bad on that one, but I had to dig pretty deep into the internet to discover it, so I see it as an honest mistake. Regardless, I’ve corrected it moving forward.
“…and what does this one do?” Spike asked, showing it to Alicia.
It? You mean-
“Don’t you dare show the clown picture.”
“Ah…” she breathed, a smile curling the corners of her lips. “Zis one is special.”
“Her accent is back!”
She took it from his hand and caressed the green gem’s smooth facets.
Lady, put the gem down and back away from it.
“This one will aid you in matters of chance. Should you find your coffers dry… or your situation grave… this will give you a helping ‘and.”
“Her accent is gone again.”
Well, not entirely gone, just different. I think she transitioned from Hollywood French to Van Dyke Cockney.
“So basically a luck stone,” Buffy summarised, looking at it curiously.
Thank you, Igor, the audience definitely couldn’t have worked that out on their own.
“Zere is no such thing as luck, my child,” Alicia laughed. “Only opportunities.”
“Then why did she collect a luck-enhancing stone?”
Shh! Igor is trying to make Alicia seem wise and superior, don’t question it!
Buffy looked at Spike. Seriously?
Just play along, his face said back.
“Ahhh! His face is talking!”
Well, yeah, I mean, most people keep their mouth in their faceular area.
“I don’t think that’s a real word.”
Is too, see it’s even in my dictionotomograph.
Suddenly, loud footsteps started to thunder, coming down the stairs.
I hate it when people walk heavily. Mostly because I have kids and they always walk heavily. A seven-year-old tiptoeing is like an elephant trying to crush a field of walnuts.
“Mistress Alicia!” a high-pitched, reedy voice cried. “Enemies have come!”
*Porno music blasts over the intercom system*
I guess these vampires are very hands-on with their opponents.
Everyone whirled to face the stairs, where a painfully thin, black-haired man positively exploded out of the door.
*Wipes bits of vampire out of her feathers.* “I hate it when that happens. But at least it wasn’t one of the Darkwraiths this time. They’re really bony.”
He looked like an emo-wannabe who hadn’t slept in a week or bothered to change out of his outfit, which was disturbingly similar to Alicia’s.
“Disturbingly similar? Is it that outlandish for vampires to share a similar fashion?”
May as well add it to the list.
He raced up to Alicia, nearly falling on his face three times in the ten paces it took him to reach her.
It’s weird that Igor is singling out this OC for narrative abuse. Generally this level of bashing is reserved for Miranda.
“Foes!” he gasped. “Adversaries! Nemeses!
*The alarm explodes off the wall*
“Now look what you’ve done.”
At the mouth of our home, Mistress Alicia, you must come now!”
Well, the enemies already have, so she may as well, too.
Sorry, guys, already handled it.
“We will, Damien!” Alicia said, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him a little. “Calm yourself! We will emerge the victors!”
“Now he’s panicking and nauseous.”
She turned to the others. “Your hour has come. Follow me!” She and Damien sprinted for the stairs. The others followed suit, Buffy growling to Spike, “Y’know, I was expecting these guys to be something a bit more scary than abrasive.”
She obviously hasn’t been reading the same fic that we have.
“You wanted madmen, I gave you madmen,” he hissed as they ascended the stairs.
“She wanted crazy people?”
Yup. It was something she definitely said off page that she wanted.
But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause…
So, it wasn’t enough to regurgitate most of a chapter of Machiavelli, now you’re stealing snippets of it to act as commercials?
Igor, knock it off.
“Ve reject your offer,” Johann said sharply. “Ve do not require your permission to ravage your city. If ve so please, ve shall do so of our own volition.”
Finally, the Malkavians do something sensible! That sentence may actually be the most reasonable thing that’s appeared in the whole fic. And it’s said by an insane vampire. I think that pretty well summarizes the quality of the fic as a whole.
“What about your Masquerade?” Doc pointed out.
“You handing them the city would disturb the Masquerade every bit as much as them taking it by force.”
Not to mention that if they were really interested in the Masquerade, they wouldn’t be living in a cave.
“Vhat Masquerade?” Johann laughed. “Zere is no Masquerade here! Ve have seen such! Ze unaffiliated Kindred regularly kill your kind vizzout consequence!”
*Facepalm* Igor, at least pretend to do research. There most certainly IS a Masquerade here! If these were unaffiliated Kindred, they would not call themselves Malkavians! The Malkavians are one of the six (seven) Camarilla clans. You know who the Camarilla are? They’re the ones who UPHOLD THE FUCKING MASQUERADE!
“Not true,” Willow said. “There’s the Slayer.”
And, more importantly, there’s also the Camarilla in Los Angeles. Although they’ve got their hands full dealing with the war against the Anarchs and Sabbat, they’d still take some time to at least come over and give you guys a spanking.
“You mean me?” Buffy said, appearing out of the cave with Xander, Spike, Marlowe, Olaf, and two other vampires, presumably other Malkavians.
You mean other unaffiliated Kindred.
“I’ll just go ahead and add Malkavian to the list.”
Add unaffiliated as well, just in case.
When Elsa saw Spike, her free hand clenched into a fist. He caught her eye and flashed her a smug grin.
Willow looked at Buffy with an angry glare. “Yeah, funny enough. You.” She tried to cross over to her, but Johann blocked her, blocking her from entering the cave’s shadow. “Back off, Johann.”
This scene has all the dramatic tension of a catty middle school stand-off.
“Your magic vill not deter me,” he hissed. “And you vill not take anozzer step closer.”
“Is that so?” she said, swinging her left hand towards his face. He caught her arm five inches from his cheek, unfazed. She tried to twist so he would break his arm, but he quickly let go. “The only reason I’m not blasting you to smithereens right now,” she growled, “is because you have something I want. Where are your jewels?”
And blowing him up would somehow prevent her from taking the jewels.
“Maybe she doesn’t want the jewels covered in goo.”
A shame about Damian already exploding all over them.
“We hid them,” the vampiress laughed. “Zey are far away from ‘ere.”
“If somebody says that to you. The item is either in their pocket, or it’s within ten feet of where they’re standing.”
“Oh?” Willow said, unconvinced. “Then what are the Scoobies doing here, huh?”
Yay for suddenly using canon terminology that hasn’t before been brought up, and that Johann shouldn’t understand.
“T-they demanded proof!” the other vampire said. “And we were all too happy to oblige!”
True to badfic form, Johann does not need the term explained to him. Which, with as much as we dealt with that bullshit with Elsa, is preferable. Though, better than that would have been never to have used the term ‘Scoobies’ in this conversation in the first place.
Willow frowned, as did the other villains. “You’re saying that you willfully showed the Slayer into your own home to prove you have nothing here?”
“Having all the characters constantly repeat the information they were just told is definitely not padding!”
It isn’t just me, is it? It’s Crunchy and Swenia, too, right? Yeah, I think protective custody is the best bet.
“Ze Slayer carries more authority zhan you ever vill,” Johann said, crossing his arms defiantly.
True, though given the characters here, that’s like saying a sixth grader has more political power than a fourth grader.
“Ve vould razzer avoid ze trouble of angering an arbiter of genocide. You, zough, have no such reputation.”
*Rubs forehead* We’ve been over this already. If anything, the Camarilla would support Buffy because her actions at exterminating aberrant vampires would help them maintain the Masquerade.
“What would do it, then?” Doc said, inching forward. “Killing your friends?”
“No,” Johann laughed. “Zat would just mark you as reckless. You von’t get in here, and even if you did, you vould find nothing.”
“Then why don’t you let us in?” Elsa asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow. “If there’s nothing here?”
“They’re going in circles now.”
“Are too times a million!”
Are not times infinity!
Johann considered it, then turned to the vampiress. “Mistress Alicia?”
Alicia looked at each of them in turn. “Just one of you.”
Really, that’s all it takes? I guess the idea that maybe the Malkavians just don’t like having people paw through their stuff never occurred to Igor. I mean, not wanting to be harassed by people looking for stuff that’s not there is the whole reason the US has that whole Fourth Amendment thing. Igor, having nothing to hide is not a justification for being searched.
“None of the Scoobies with you,” Willow said.
“You are in a position unsuitable to give orders!”
I see Crunchy has been sharing my Netflix password again.
“No,” Alicia smiled. “Just one of you, and us three. Does that please you?”
Why the hell is she worried about pleasing her opponents!?
“I think Crunchy calls it ‘evil host etiquette.'”
*Eliza flips open Crunchy’s “Ethics of Genteel Evil.”*
“‘Making sure the hero is comfortable and well fed before explaining your plans to him or her is of utmost importance to the truly refined evil mastermind.'”
I didn’t notice it before she started twirling it, but Alicia has one hell of a mustache.
“…It’ll do,” Willow decided. She turned to Doc and Elsa. “I’ll be back in less than five minutes.
“She must not be planning to search very hard for it.”
Are you kidding? That would require her to put forth effort!
Don’t let these guys try anything.” She followed the vampires into the cave and was swallowed by the darkness.
So the Malkavians are just leaving their guests standing out with their enemies?
“Not only are they crazy, but they’re also really rude.”
One out of five stars. Worst vampire lair ever.
by her dulcet VOICE
The fuck is the point of that, Igor? I’m sure it’s a fragment of something, but it’s so generic that it could really be from anything.
“I think it’s a sign that Igor has finally given up the pretense of caring.”
Probably. She can’t be bothered to copy in full references, so now she’s just typing random stuff.
“You filthy liars,” Willow exclaimed as they entered the chamber, spotting the stack immediately. “You snakes!”
So they just show her the pile anyway? The fuck is the point of any of this, Igor!? Why do you so delight in wasting your readers time with scenes that are immediately rendered pointless!?
“Johann ‘as said you made an offer?” Alicia said, stepping in front of Willow in case she tried to take anything. “Let us hear it.”
“The jewels for Sunnydale,” Willow said. “Free reign.”
Yup, that deal is just as stupid as when it first came up. I was worried that it maybe had become more plausible in the meantime.
Alicia tilted her head, confused. “What stops us now, hmm?”
“The same thing that would stop you even if Willow somehow gave you permission to romp through Sunnydale. Something about a Mask.”
“The Slayer,” Willow said. “Buffy. She’s stopping you.
The same slayer who was quaking with fear of having to square off against a Malkavian.
“The same slayer who is doing the Malkavians a big favor by killing off feral vampires.”
Yeah, I’m sure they view her as a big road block.
The second I’m gone, she and her little pals will turn on you and burn you alive.
“Like she has with all the other vampires that don’t kill people. Like Angel, Spike, Dracula…”
I can prevent that. All I want is the jewels. Sunnydale could pay that back with a week’s searching.
Apparently Sunnydale has a limitless supply of silver somewhere in it.
It’s a treasure trove.
As opposed to the treasure trove THEY ALREADY FUCKING HAVE! Igor, be honest, you weren’t even trying to make this seem legitimate, were you? You had completely run out of ideas and were just throwing shit at the fic hoping something would stick.
More riches than the whole of Amsterdam.
“Next she’ll be telling them that there’s a Nigerian prince who wants to transfer 10 million dollars into their bank account.”
If you give me the gems, I’ll ensure your safety in Sunnydale. Sound fair?”
I’d like to pretend that the Malkavians were too smart to agree to something so obviously a con. But let’s be fair here, everyone in this fic is two of the stupidest people you’d ever meet.
Alicia turned it over in her head. “What guarantee do we ‘ave zat Sunnydale is so bountiful? Your word?”
“And the word of any other supernatural creature you ask,” Willow said. “You won’t be disappointed.”
“As long as those creatures happen to use bountiful as a synonym for ‘the very pit of hell itself’ then yes, that is true.”
Alicia thought some more. “How about this: you will come tomorrow, after sundown, to take these. We will verify your claim while you are away.”
“Willow’s only weakness! An opponent who takes time to verify her claims!”
“…Only if I get one jewel to take with me in exchange for keeping her off your tail while you check,” Willow requested.
Seriously, this is not how bargaining works. Like, at all. Willow has no base to make this requirement of the deal! She’s not bringing any kind of collateral to the table, and she’s offering something that the Malkavians aren’t all that interested in, so there’s no reason at all that they would accept this condition!
“Mmm… Deal,” Alicia said, extending a hand.
I’m so sorry, Indigo, I’m sure you aren’t this stupid in real life. And I’m sure you never intended for your character to be portrayed as this much of a moron.
Damien and Johann gasped. “Mistress Alicia!” Damien exclaimed. “You cannot be serious!”
“Finally, a voice of reason!”
Don’t get too excited, I’m sure the overwhelming stupidity is about to squash it.
“All will be regained in time,” Alicia soothed him, stroking his hair with her other hand.
“If she is to be believed.” She kept her eyes fixed on Willow. “Will you shake on it, my dear?”
“Why are they scared of the slayer, again?”
Because the plot demanded they suddenly be concerned.
“If they aren’t scared of Willow, why would they think she would be able to curtail the Slayer, who they actually fear?”
Look, if the thing made sense, we’d be riffing something else!
“Yes,” Willow smiled. They shook hands. “I want your jewel that turns stone to silver. Please.”
“It is not at all suspicious that Willow would make such a specific demand right after they agree to it.”
“Johann?” Alicia called sweetly. “Would you?”
See? Nothing to be concerned of.
Johann snarled, but he went over to the stack and gingerly pulled out a small blue stone from the side.
“We’re so sorry, Johann. You tried to do the smart thing, so here’s a cookie!”
He’s a vampire, he can’t eat cookies.
“It’s okay, I’ll eat it for him!”
He brought it to Alicia and presented it to her. She took it, then gave it to Willow. It was about the size of a tennis ball, sapphire blue and polished into a dodecahedron. It was also feather-light in her hand. Alicia smiled. “Are you satisfied?”
Willow smiled back. “Yeah.”
Let’s just move on. The stupid is so thick here that I’m starting to want to hit something.
Do I dare hope we transitioned into a less stupid scene?
“You’ve changed your outfit,” Buffy noted.
*Stares into the void* Yeah, the mist is swirling clockwise today!
“You’ve changed your players,” Elsa retorted. “Hello, by the way, Spike.”
The word is ‘added.’ She added a player.
“I’ll add ‘change’ to the list!”
Isn’t it already on there?
Well, can’t you check?
“Nope! I don’t actually have a list.”
What!? But you kept saying you were adding things to it!
“The idea of having a list made you so happy, so I just went with it!”
Ah. Well. Thank you.
“Well, you certainly don’t seem surprised to see me ‘ere,” he replied lazily. “Thought you wanted me outta the picture.”
“I do,” Elsa said frostily. “All of us do.”
“Well then,” Spike sighed. “Tha’ll be fun for you, won’t it?”
Thrill as Igor pads out the last scene of the fic!
“You must be Doctor Horrible,” Buffy assumed.
“You are correct,” he said.
“I heard about that thing with the NSA,” she said. “You must be proud of that.”
Oh fuck, not this bullshit again. Igor, the NSA thing is not impressive. It was NEVER impressive. You know why it was never impressive? Because of how pointless and generic it was! Ohhh, Horrible crashes some servers! Scary! He didn’t do anything with it, he just did it so that you’d have a bragging point for him. Problem is, crashing servers, even government ones, is a mundane crime. It’s something bored computer science students do just to prove they can do it. Dr. Horrible is supposed to be a super villain! His crimes need to be up to that level! He needs to ride a robotic dragon into Washington DC and steal Lincoln’s hat from the statue!
“That doesn’t seem any more practical than crashing servers for the heck of it.”
True, but at least it’s more supervillain-y, if perhaps more the kind of thing Gru would do.
“Okay, why does everybody keep mentioning that?!” he barked, looking to Elsa exasperatedly.
“Why would I know?!” Elsa exclaimed, throwing her free hand up in confusion.
Because the author has had you guys accomplish literally nothing else, so she has to grasp at the one straw she’s actually written.
“I don’t know!” he huffed, turning back to the Scoobies. “Yeah, it’s one of my more recognised achievements.”
“What made you join up with her, then?” Xander asked pointedly. “If the ELE was keepin’ you happy?”
“It’s called the PCC worker exchange program. For only two boxes of commas, you can transfer a worker of your choice form one organization to another!”
Ooof, pretty steep pricing, there. I doubt we could even gather up a tablespoon of commas these days.
“She made a better offer,” Horrible replied icily.
“Don’t believe everything you read,” Buffy warned him.
“Oh, believe me, I learned that a while ago,” he said darkly.
I suppose it’s too late in the fic to hope something actually happens.
“We can at least hope something interrupts them, though.”
Willow came out with the Malkavians. She had a blue stone in her hand. “It was a ruse! They’ve got a whole stash of stuff!”
“Oh, I was sorta hoping they would be interrupted by something less…”
“Not the word I’d use, but yes.”
“What?!” Xander exclaimed, whirling to face Alicia. “Seriously?!”
“I couldn’t hide ze truth,” she smirked evilly.
BAAAA BAAAA BAAA BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
At least somebody is having fun.
“Where’s the rest, then?” Elsa asked.
“We can’t get it just yet,” Willow said. “I’ll tell you when we get back. Not in front of these guys.”
“Alright,” Doc nodded. “Let’s go!”
They ran off, back into the woods.
And with that, the fic mercifully peters out. But, not before some scene breaks and an author’s note.
strong i HAD no
Which is funny, because I can’t an even.
That new Suicide Squad trailer is fucking awesome.
And that’s it. That’s the last author’s note. She couldn’t even be fucking bothered to say anything about her own fic. Just mentioning a movie trailer. That really does encapsulate something that is essentially at the heart of why this thing was so bad. But we’ll get to that in a second. Before we go there, I want to thank Eliza for sitting co-pilot with me.
“No problem! I’ve enjoyed having us time!”
Right, anyway, I’m going to cut you loose. I’ve got a bit of a tirade to go on, so you can go find something better to do.
“Kay! Think I’ll go see what Jiwe is up to. Bye everyone!” *Eliza waves and scampers out of the Riffing Chamber.*
Okay, Igor, it’s time for the real talk. Your ‘fic,’ and I’m hesitant to even call it that, sucked donkey balls. It’s easily the most boring thing I’ve ever read, even compared to the ON Semiconductor Data Book because at least the ONSDB is useful.
Now, you could read everything I’ve written on your pile of shit up to this point and understand everything that you’ve done wrong at a granular level, and I encourage you to do just that, but let’s go over everything again and take a broader overview of your writing in this fic. I’m going to break this into sections so you can easily digest it and give you a grade so you kinda know where you stand. For everyone else, it gets a bit long and dry after this point, so you might want to sit this out if you’re not interested in a more objective and less humorous break-down of the fic.
Now, mechanics is probably one of your stronger areas, and if we just go by spelling and grammar, you’d be getting a much higher score, in the range of a B or higher. From a starkly mechanical point of view of spelling and grammar, you’re one of the best authors I’ve reviewed. You rarely make spelling mistakes and your punctuation, while not perfect, is good enough to not merit any comment. But there are several things mechanic-related that you did that really, really hurts your writing.
First, you utilized a terrible Beta reader. I’ll get to why (s)he was terrible later, but just know that the Beta reader wasn’t doing you any favors. See, your spelling changed from American to British about a third of the way through the fic. Not only is that inconsistent, but since you are writer who is American, suddenly changing over to the Queen’s English looks immensely pretentious. If your Beta reader had been doing a good job, they either would have insisted on going back and changing the chapters you wrote before they agreed to help, or they would have kept the spelling consistent with the first three chapters. Even if this was something you did and not them, any Beta reader worth their salt wouldn’t have let it fly and would have made you stop doing it.
Second, and more damning, you misused words. A lot. And you did it two ways. Most noticeably you simply picked the wrong word for things fairly consistently. Usually this happened when you overreached your vocabulary and tried to use a word that you thought would look more impressive. This is a pretty common mistake that most young fic authors make because they’re too preoccupied with making their writing look profound and not spending enough time trying to make their writing good. Set down the the thesaurus and pick up a dictionary. I would much rather read an entertaining and interesting work written in simple language then read an over-elaborate soup of boring shit.
However, that wasn’t the only way you misused words. Another subtler misuse was the one I saw a lot more often, but is something that’s a bit harder to fix because it’s a bad habit in your writing that I’m pretty sure you aren’t even aware you’re doing. See, the thing you’re doing is using lots of inappropriate words as flavor words. That is, you’re using words to add impact by just adding them to sentences as a kind of sentence garnish. The problem is, and it’s something I kept screaming at you, WORDS. MEAN. THINGS! You can just add a word to pad out a sentence. It doesn’t work like that. If you add a word to a sentence to make it longer, that word can change what the sentence means. The only way you’re going to break this really bad habit is to actually read what you’re writing and think about what you’re writing.
And, beneath all that, is yet another misuse of words you’re guilty of. This is even more subtle, but links to a broader problem you have. This misuse is that you constantly use words to say things, and then move on and have everyone act as if that sentence had never existed. For instance, when you had somebody say that there was a thing they should never do, and then they all agree to do it a sentence later. This is part of your more general issue with inconsistency. Your writing is very inconsistent. I can tell just from reading the fic that you did barely any proofreading just because of the glaring inconsistencies that would shake out in a conscientious re-read.
The final thing I’m docking you on is the accents. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it: If you’re thinking of doing an accent, don’t. If you’re a distinguished writer who is certain that you can do an accent properly and consistently, and you’re willing to put in the time to make it sound right, don’t. Accents almost never add anything to a story, and it’s only the most skilled and dedicated authors who can pull it off, and even they usually screw it up. I’m not saying it’s impossible to pull off because there are many literary works that actually do accents properly, it’s just that most of the time it’s unnecessary and creates more problems than not. And, to be blunt, you aren’t a skilled writer. Your accents were, at best, sloppy and inconsistent. If you want somebody to sound different, play with the way they chose and order their words, not by utilizing a cheap letter-swap gimmick.
Amazingly, you are probably one of the best authors I’ve seen in the Library for being able to correctly write characters in-character. So, you might be wondering why you got a C on this one. It’s because not only are you very inconsistent with it, but you had several characters that came nowhere close to their canon counterparts. And the characters you did write correctly often veered deeply into out-of-character moments that really should never have happened. For instance, your depiction of Olaf was rather good most of the time, but near the beginning he spiraled out of control into Emo-Olaf because you were angling so hard to pack some drama into this thing. Olaf, at his core, is a comic relief character. I’m not saying he can’t have dramatically important moments, but you have to handle it correctly, the build-up has to be there, and he has to remain true to the tenets of his character when these moments happen. You didn’t do any of this when you made him go all sad and depressed and, more damningly, he bounces back from it with no lasting impact on his character.
You also had several characters who were okay, but who were overall bland counterpoints to their canon representations, such as Buffy and Xander. Mostly this was because their dialogue lacked the punch that it normally has and was just ponderous and clunky. If you’re going to write characters who are snappy and quick-witted, you need to make sure you can actually support that as an author.
Along with this you had other characters like Doctor Horrible and Willow who never really came within range of what their characterization should have been. In these cases you were trying so hard to bend them into the plot you had designed for them, you never stopped to think about whether this was natural or expected from their characters.
Finally, Jim was unnecessary. Not only was he a modest Stu in his own right, but his only function in the fic seemed to be working out things that were obvious enough to not need him in the first place. If you’re going to add an original character, you need to find a place for him. Not only that, but that place has to feel natural. Jimmy was just sorta thrust info place because I guess you thought you needed an OC just for the sake of having one.
Setting and Dynamic Prose: F-
There’s no way to say this nicely, so here it is: You fucking suck at this. You almost never describe anything, and the times you do attempt to describe things, you do so only in the vaguest of terms. Or, worse yet, you do comparative descriptions, like when you described Elsa’s new castle as being just like the old one, but with a list of changes. This also goes for your character descriptions. You only went out of your way to describe three characters in any detail, and even with those, two of of them were still comparative descriptions, one of them (Alicia) was so purple and over-the-top that it reeked of author bias. Do yourself a favor and pick up a few dozen bestsellers and read them. While reading them, pay close attention to how the authors establish their setting, describe characters, and depict action.
Additionally, you never describe anyone really doing anything! Sure you have the odd set of actions to compliment all the talking, but when it actually came to a scene where they might do something, you skipped past it and then just have the characters react with dialogue after the fact. Not only does that rob your fic of any action it might have tried to have, it also makes it feel like every scene was exactly the same. Just characters standing around a random room talking at each other. And, to be honest, that’s all your fic amounted to. Bland people having boring conversations about unimportant things in a nondescript room.
Now, I’m sure your counter-argument would be along the lines of: “But this was a fic conversion of a TV script!” Okay, let’s tackle that one. First; don’t bullshit me, kid. In order for this to be a conversion of a production script, you would first have to have written a script to convert. And both you and I know that no such script ever existed. If anything, you said there was a script just so you could be lazy and not write any setting. Second; even if there was a production script, that’s no excuse for a lack of setting in a fic based on it. The fic is still supposed to be a work in its own right, so it needs things like descriptive setting. Third; if you had written a production script, a lot of the setting should have already been done, so that’s even less excuse to have omitted it.
I think part of this was that you don’t actually understand what’s in a production script. A lot of fanfiction writers don’t seem to understand this because every “script format” fic I’ve ever seen has been almost entirely dialogue. In essence, authors are using “script format” to be lazy. A real production script has so much more than just the words the actors speak. There are stage directions and marks, set designs, prop lists, director notes, and foley requirements, just to name a few. Before you sit down to write something in “script format” actually pick up a script for a full stage production so you know what it’s supposed to look like.
Your dialogue, on the whole, was stilted and uninteresting. It was also filled with examples of the characters repeating already known information, saying things of absolutely no impact or consequence, and in general just producing an endless steam of entirely pointless word filler. Your fic could serve as a master class in how to pad out a an idea worth a thousand words into a fifty-thousand word juggernaut of boredom. This wasn’t helped by the fact that this fic was almost entirely dialogue, which only served to drive home the fact that nothing of any interest was ever going to happen.
Still, there were the occasional redeeming moments where the characters said things that were reasonable or in character. Mostly with Spike, now that I think about it. A shame that he showed up so late in the fic because he was the only character you did consistently well with. A little more punching up to give him more of his characteristic bite while also having his more “real” moments, and he’s have been good to go.
If there’s one thing you did every bit as badly as you did setting and dynamic prose, it’s the plot. The plot of this thing sucks on toast. When the characters aren’t standing around doing nothing, they’re acting illogically, coming up with asinine plans that don’t go anywhere, or just otherwise wasting the audience’s time. Because you spend so much time with word padding, your plot limps along at the same pace as a wounded sloth. If that wasn’t enough, what little plot that does make it through the gauntlet of reactionary dialogue is either illogical or just flat out stupid. What’s even worse is that all of the major plot points that should be explored by the fic are either skipped and then just referenced by dialogue, or entirely informed right as they become pertinent without any kind of build up. Combine this with your constant talking-down to the audience, repetition, and forgotten plot threads, and you end up with a near unreadable mess.
See, the thing is, you suffered from the badfic author “Idea Syndrome.” You get an idea in your head that you think will make a good fic, and then you expect that idea and that idea alone to support the entire work. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. Not even close. The idea is the primordial ooze that could potentially evolve into a good story, but is not the foundation of it. Just as there are stories like yours where that ooze fails to evolve into something good, there are also stories started on cliché ideas that managed to evolve into something great. A novel idea in a vacuum is about as worthless an asset to a story as you’re likely to find. Your story has to be more than just a good idea, because a lot of things are good ideas until they meet reality.
I think this may be why you make so many of those damn asinine references. You’re grasping at something to make your writing good, something that actually supports the idea you’ve formed, so you naturally reach out to the things that are already successful. The problem is, that’s not how they became successful. You would do much better to stop making references and instead study these things to figure out why you liked them so much. And I’m not saying references can’t be done in a way that adds to your work, indeed many great works make such nods, but you’ll notice that none of these works make such constant, obnoxious references to every little damn thing that the authors were exposed to. If you work is nothing without the reference, then it’ll be just as empty and worthless with them.
I’m not going to bullshit you, this was among the more painful things I’ve put myself though for the Library. Certainly it wasn’t all that offensive, though it had it’s moments, but it was definitely the most uninteresting and most willfully obnoxious thing I’ve forced myself to read through. Couple this with the parade of astoundingly idiotic, do-nothing characters, contrived and illogical plot arcs, and near complete lack of descriptive prose, and you have a boring mess of shit that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Even the likes of A Jedi’s Destiny: Rise of the Sith, as ridiculous and stupid as it was, was far more fun to read than Heroes and Villains.
So, now we get to the nucleus of this whole breakdown. The part where I go back and address those points I said I’d talk about later. And that is, what you are really doing wrong. What your biggest failings are that caused this thing to suck so hard.
Well, first off, you were extremely inconsistent. And we’re talking at a very basic all-encompassing level. When you tried to do accents, they came and went. Characters would say they were going to do something, and either did the opposite, or didn’t do it at all. You had plot arcs that didn’t go anywhere, build up to plot points that were skipped or nullified as soon as they happened, your spelling switched from American to somewhat British, you only put description into certain characters, most of your characters didn’t have a set characterization and just sorta acted how you needed them to at the time, your prose would tell things at odds with what we were being shown, and even the way you handled line breaks would change from chapter to chapter. You lacked any kind of reasonable consistency in your writing. And I think a lot of that could be solved if you addressed the next big failing.
Second, you didn’t proofread nearly as much as you should have. I wouldn’t be surprised if you said you did spelling and grammar checks, but I would be massively surprised if you said you had proofread this thing for content. And if you did proof this thing for content, you need to do a much, much better job. A lot of the inconsistencies would jump out at most authors if they set the chapter aside, let it sit a few days, and then did the first redraft of it. And, along those lines, you needed to be doing way, way more drafts. Given your cadence and the “double post” week you did toward the end, I know for a fact that you were only doing a single draft with error correction. That isn’t enough, not by half. Not by quarter. If you’re going to put something out there that you care about and want people to like reading, you have to do a shit ton of drafts. And when you’re doing drafts, you need to be savage to your own work. The shit I gave your fic should pale in comparison to the shit you’re giving it. You should be prepared to rake that thing over the coals until it’s but a shadow of its original draft. The first and harshest critic of any body of writing should be the person who writes it. If you put something out there that you’re one-hundred percent happy with, then you aren’t being hard enough on yourself. Even when something is done and you feel that it’s ready to be presented, you should still be able to find fault with it.
And that leads into the second half of this point: your Beta reader was garbage. If you’re supposed to be the harshest critic of your work, then your Beta readers should be the second harshest. A Beta reader who only corrects spelling and grammar and makes a handful of suggestions is one who doesn’t know shit about doing a proper Beta read. They should be ready to drench your fic in corrective red ink. Plot, characters, description, dialogue; nothing should be safe from them. The fact that your Beta reader was able to do corrections to your fic and then hand it back to you as ready to be posted speaks volumes of how unqualified they are to have taken on the job for you. If you get something back from a Beta reader that makes you feel overwhelmed by all the corrections they suggest, then you may just have a good one. Granted, it’s not a perfect system because there are Beta readers who are more than happy to give you loads of bad advice, which is why it’s good to have more than one Beta if you can find them, but you know for sure you have a bad one if they barely say anything to you, or if they only have good things to say.
In addition to all that, you needed to be proofing this work as an entire work, not just as the chapter you’re currently working on. You should have been periodically going back to read the entire thing just to make sure it all makes sense, is consistent, and is interesting.
Third, your research needed to be better. I won’t lie, your research was a damn sight better than what I’m used to seeing, and it was noticeable that you did indeed do research; but as the fic went on and you got deeper in, your research noticeably got worse. The lack of solid research was especially obvious when you started to get into a canon that you didn’t know much about, i.e. the White Wolf Vampire canon. You need to be doing lots of research, especially when writing in settings that aren’t your own. When writing fanfiction, you should be in a near-constant state of research, if for no other reason than to double-check that you know what you’re talking about.
Finally we get to the big thing, the thing that’s holding you back the most. The thing that, more than anything, is where you failed hard. The thing you needed to do in order for this thing to have been better is: you needed to care. It’s absolutely critical that you care about the writing. Now, before you say anything, before you assure me that you did care, let me be one-hundred-percent clear with you: You did not care when you wrote this. I haven’t read much of your other stuff, but it’s likely that you don’t care as much as you think you do when writing in general. See, I’m sure you think you cared when you wrote this. You had this big, super-awesome, epic project that you wanted to write, but you failed and you failed hard. You failed because you didn’t care about the writing, not really. The lack of caring really shows through in what I read over the past year of riffing this thing. You had no shits to give this fic, and the fic shouted that lack of investment in every word I read.
See, the thing is, the reason you think you cared about the writing is that there was one thing you actually did care about. What you cared about was yourself. You cared about writing something big and awesome because you wanted to be associated with that kind of project. You wanted big word counts because you thought it would reflect well on you. You used over-elaborate language and words you didn’t properly understand because you thought it would make you look more intelligent. You constantly referenced classical music and literature because, deep down, you want people to think you’re smart and clever. You created TVTropes pages to get the word out that you were writing something, and that it was important enough to have its own Tropes page. It’s the reason you do these things with your other fics, too. Heck, you start Anatomy of a Snowman with an author’s note that indicate you’re concerned with viewer traffic; there is no clearer indication of the real reason behind your writing. In the end the reason you were doing all this was to get attention. When this particular fic failed to get that attention, you abandoned it in favor of the ones that were getting traffic. But, writing for attention is a shallow and unrewarding experience even when you are getting that attention, so I imagine that’s why it’s been over a year since you’ve put up any writing; either because you learned a lesson about writing only for attention and are now writing more privately, or because the attention wasn’t satisfying the social itch anymore. So, you have to be honest with yourself before you move forward. Why are you writing and do you truly care about the writing? These are very hard questions and ones you likely aren’t going to like the answers to when you finally come clean with yourself. And maybe you already have, which is why your page remains dormant. I can hope, at least.
If you had honestly cared about the writing, you wouldn’t make excuses as to why you didn’t or couldn’t do all the things I’ve listed above. You wouldn’t tell me how you couldn’t go out and find a better Beta reader, or why you didn’t do more proof reading, and why you didn’t do more research. And I’m sure you have plenty of reasons why these things didn’t happen. You didn’t have enough time, you were busy with school, you had a social life, you had to work, and so forth. You’ll have a dozen very valid reasons as to why you couldn’t do any of the things I’ve said you should have done. And that’s fine. It’s your life, and you are the one who gets to set priority. I certainly set priority in my own life, and, frankly, writing isn’t at the top of my list. The problem is, though, all those things that you didn’t and couldn’t do are the things that writers do. These things are the hard work that they put themselves through in order to write the way that they write. This is the work that they make the time to do. This is the work that they do because they care about it, that they care enough about to make it a high priority. But when you don’t truly care, the excuses come much easier than the motivation to do all that hard work.
See, I recognize this in your writing so much that it hurts because I was in the very same place once. I stopped writing for a very long time because my answer to these questions was the same that yours would be: I didn’t actually care about the writing, I cared about myself. I cared about attention (and in one case, the free loot). Eventually I got past it and started to write again, but when I did so, it was for a whole new reason. Which, coincidentally, is why you will never see any fiction I write. See, when I write fiction, I write because I care about the writing, not about what the writing might do for me or how it might make people see me. And, until I am one-hundred percent comfortable with writing in this way, of improving my writing, of learning to write for the sake of the writing itself, of writing so that the written thing is earnestly enjoyable to read, nobody but me will get to see it. I don’t know if that day will ever come, most likely not to be honest, but it doesn’t matter to me anymore. Hell, the only thing I’ve put out there in the last fifteen years is a poem I wrote for Terraria as part of a competition. It wasn’t a great poem by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a sincere one. One that I actually cared about. And the difference in quality between that and the likes of The Fallen Lords is painfully evident. If you want to see a master class in not giving a fuck about what you’re writing, go read The Fallen Lords; that shit was awful. But at least it was brief.
So, that’s the thing you need to honestly, openly ask yourself: If nobody was ever going to read the things you are writing, would you still write them? Ask yourself that question, and be true to yourself with the answer. The answer won’t tell you if you’re ever going to be good at writing, but it will tell you whether you should be writing at all. And maybe you’re already at this point and have asked these questions. Maybe you do have a huge folder overflowing with stuff you’ve written just to write it. I hold out hope that this is just an old shame and that’s why you pulled it down. I will remain optimistic, and I’ll say that I’ve read some of your other stuff and, while the other stories aren’t great and have, to some extent or another, many of the same failings as this one did, those fics are markedly better as a whole. Certainly they’re improved enough that I’d never pick them for the riff treatment.
And, in parting, I’ll say this: keep up with your music. At the very least, you seem to have more interest and passion for it than you did for this fic.