Welcome to the Library of the Damned. On this blog, a team of snarky literates will take you on a journey through some of the worst fanfiction ever created. Perhaps the best way to introduce this blog is by a series of questions.
What is fanfiction?
Fanfiction (or fanfic) is a story written by a person in response to a published piece of work that they adore. It can be based on a movie, a book, a comic… just about anything. There are websites that are devoted to allowing aspiring writers to put up their fanfiction for others to read. These websites are non-discriminatory, which can be good and can also be bad. These sites do not scan for literary ability and thus, the internet is filled with self-inserted, MarySue drivel written by people who have no business putting a pen to paper, or fingers to a keyboard as this day and age allows.
Basically, fanfiction allows someone to expand on a story they liked, using their own flair, and sometimes their own characters. They could merely borrow the characters of the original story, or just borrow the setting. Or it could be a ‘re-write’ on an original work with all the original characters, altering scenes to fit the taste of the writer.
Some fanfiction is actually very well-written. The plots are complex, the characters are multi-dimensional, and the writing is to the point where you have to ask yourself: Why hasn’t this person written an original work as they could very well get published (and sometimes they have; some fanfiction of public domain works even is published in its own right)?
Then there are the fanfics that make us cringe, make us laugh, and make us hit our heads on the desk with how utterly bizarre, nauseating, and horrible they are. The stories that fall under this category at the ones you’ll find us critiquing here.
Mary Sue? Who is that?
Oh, you noticed that term, did you? Mary Sue is a very important and very contentious bit of terminology when looking at fanfics. There are too many competing definitions to give a simple one, but it generally refers to a “special” character (theoretically usually female, though we’ve actually seen more Gary Stus) who is either just a bit too perfect or at least takes up more attention and space in the story than they really warrant.
What about self-insertion? That sounds kinky. It’s something to do with sex, right?
Self-insertion is when an author creates a character that, in their mind, is either a stand-in for themselves in the story, or at least is someone they wish they could be. Sometimes it’s as simple as naming the character after themselves and giving him/her/it similar physical characteristics and personality traits. Other times, it’s less direct. The character is unbelievably awesome and loved by everyone (i.e. a Mary Sue). Many authors, especially adolescent ones, use this latter form of character as a way of inserting into the story someone they wish they could be. It’s not actually them, but they imagine it is.
Ok, that makes sense. So, why are you doing this?
It sounded like fun.
Making fun of people?
Making fun of inability to write.
What gives you the right to do this? Seems mean to me.
For three simple reasons. One, I wrote horrible, drivel-y fanfiction when I was young. Two, I actually listened to the constructive comments and criticisms given to me for it. Using the things people pointed out to me, I improved my writing. I started actually paying attention to mechanics and learned how to round out characters so they would be believable. I learned how to write like a story-teller and not like a teenager talking to a friend. And lastly, being mean can be pretty fun. Especially when hiding behind the veil of anonymity the intertubes provide.
Many of the fics we will be critiquing have been given a chance to improve and the authors have basically turned their noses up at the attempts, defended their Mary Sues, and gone on sucking it up. No spell-check, no concept of grammar, and no willingness to learn how to actually make it better. Most of the authors of these fics have decided against using a beta reader to proof their work and rely instead on reader-submitted reviews that are usually of the “plez rite mor” variety. People who won’t listen to those trying to help them have bypassed their chance… they’re fair game now.
Some of you seem pretty violent. What’s with all the author abuse?!
Our fictional abuse of authors, be it Taco’s gong, Lyle’s cattle prod, GhostCat’s crowbar, etc., are all meant as comedic devices and are not an expression of a desire to see actual violence befall the authors of the fics we riff. Specifically our author abuse is a form of Slapstick Comedy which is really an extension of the Schadenfreude response in humans. Our “attacks” here are merely an over-the-top expression meant to entertain rather than threaten or cause harm; in fact, many are aimed at the characters themselves and not the authors. We need to stress here that we are not actually violent people. Indeed, many of us are pacifists in the real world; however, that does not preclude our using the long standing comic device of slapstick in order to both punch up the humor of our riffs (pun may or may not be intended…), and add emphasis to points we feel are particularly important. We do not condone assaulting anyone, let alone based on the sole merit (or lack thereof) of their writing.
So… how can I get in on this?
You’d like to help? That’s great! There’s two ways you can help with this project.
1) Submit a story for critique in the Suggestion Box at the top. Alternatively, we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for private communications.
2) Apply to be a guest snarker. Are you snarky? Great! Do you know how to write? Perfect! Head over to The Enlistment Office for our submission guidelines!
I don’t write much, but I do blog… can I add you to my blogroll?
Do fourteen-year-old girls write terrible Twilight fanfiction? Yes, they do. And yes, you may.
Don’t you have a Cards Against Humanity deck now?
Why yes, we do! If you want to see the deck, it is on CardCast right over here!
By the way, I’ve noticed some of your links to the fics aren’t working.
Yeah, that happens. Fic authors will sometimes either delete their stories or their profiles. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
1.) Rage-quitting the fic due to a bad review
2.) The author has grown out of writing it and wants to delete the badfics from their lives
3.) Fanfiction.net has been notified of a violation of site policy within the fic itself and has removed the fic due to the author breaking the clearly-stated rules.
We make it a site policy not to remove any riffs. Even if the source material is no longer available, the riff stays up.