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.

For more on fic terminology, please visit our ever-growing Dictionary.

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 lotdguestriffs@gmail.com 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.

43 Comments on “About”

  1. TacoMagic says:

    What gives you the right to do this? Seems mean to me.

    Addendum by Taco: Also, being mean can be pretty fun. Especially when hiding behind the veil of anonymity the intertubes provide.

  2. sootopolis says:

    Hey there! I love your blog and I think I’ll end up lurking around here probably more than is healthy. I’d like to add you to my blogroll if I may :)

    Just curious, have you seen Farla’s LJ, Meaningless Exercises? She does write about fanfic too but the part I loved the most was her ripping-to-shreds of The Hunger Games.

    • "Lyle" says:

      Hi! Welcome, I’m glad you decided to come visit.

      I haven’t seen Farla’s page. If you have a link, I’ll toodle over and look at it.

      We’d love to be on your blogroll, thanks! We appreciate all the promotion we can get! *cough tell your friends cough* :)

  3. sootopolis says:

    Doh! Here’s the main link: http://farla.livejournal.com/ and THG section: http://farla.livejournal.com/?skip=50&tag=the%20hunger%20games%20series
    Besides a great deal of snark, her critique contains the attention to detail and meticulous research that the author really ought to have done.

    ps *added to blogroll*

    • "Lyle" says:

      I’ve never read the book but, after reading a synopsis, it sounds interesting. I may have to pick it up at the library so I know the source material.

  4. Moira says:

    Spell-check is not *always* your friend.
    “We’ll add it to our queue.”

  5. TacoMagic says:

    Given the recent events, I’ve added a little blurb about our use of Slapstick in our Riffs to make it clear our intent there.

  6. Guys, you should TOTALLY do My Immortal!

  7. Leobracer says:

    Been lurking here for some time now, mostly just to read Herr Wozzeck’s review of Parallel Realities. Thought I’d make my presence known here.
    And believe me, when I say that I knew that that fic was going to be bad just from reading the summary alone. But I didn’t think it was going to be that stupid.

  8. baffleblend says:

    Hey-o! I’ve been loyally reading the blog since last year, and it’s cheered me up more than once. I’d like to maybe submit a guest riff sometime, provided I find a fic bad enough. :p

  9. JIMMIE says:

    Become health care a love hurricane’s centre

  10. baffleblend says:

    I haven’t gotten a reply for my latest submission. Did you guys get it?

  11. Noblescar says:

    I really don’t know what to think of this site. Part of me hates what is going on here. No matter how you attempt to justify this, it’s still little more than bashing the work of someone who has invested a lot of time into something they want to share with the world. As someone who struggles to write fiction, this kills me a little inside.
    However, another part of me, the part that can’t help but cringe at some of the ridiculous plots, does enjoy reading this and the way you write.

    TL;DR – A whole load of indecisiveness.

    • baffleblend says:

      Most of these authors have clearly cut corners. The fics on this site, for the most part, could have been saved if the authors HAD spent time or care on it. Don’t feel bad for cringing; Even one brief revision could have fixed most of the mistakes we come across, and if you publish something for others to see, you’re going to be open to criticism, and that’s just a given.

      Signed, someone who’s also a struggling fiction writer.

    • TacoMagic says:

      Of note, beneath our rampant destruction of these fics, there are actual concrete criticisms. We’re not just bashing to bash, but rather we’re bashing things that are actually wrong with the fics.

      For an author who is honestly trying to improve upon their writing, there is a lot of solid information on how these fics could be improved. It may be obfuscated beneath attempts at humor, slapstick, and feigned rage (or real rage), but it’s there. Perhaps it is mostly bashing, but if there’s something there to bash, then there’s something there to fix. If an author ever came to the blog and asked us why we thought a particular passage they wrote was awful, we would oblige and provide a much more concise criticism. And, indeed, the vast majority of the authors who’ve found our little corner of the web have been surprisingly sanguine about the whole thing, which is heartening. I’m not going to pretend all our criticisms are spot on, sometimes we go overboard, but that’s part of comedy, occasionally taking things just a little too far to push the reader outside their comfort zone, and then telling them they can laugh at it.

      Beyond that, anyone, like yourself, looking from the outside might be able to spot some of the places where your own writing could use some work. If even one person learns something from our blog and subsequently improves something that they’re writing, then everything will have been worthwhile.

      On a personal note, I’m not a fan of sugar coatings. If I do share something with the world, I don’t expect people to shield my feelings, nor should they have to. If I pour my heart into something, decide to throw it out there for the world, and it turns out to be crap, then I have to steel myself to receive the criticism that is going to come. No matter how good I think something is that I make, I have to accept that my view of it is biased, and that the critics will fall all over themselves telling me how horrible it is. Some more constructively than others. I can either let the criticism crush me, or I can listen to it, learn from it, and make my next attempt better. Not all criticism is worth listening to, sure, but if somebody tells me something is wrong, I sure as hell am gonna take another look at what I’ve done (or failed to do).

      And if my work gets riffed, well, I may just have a laugh too.

    • All of the fics that appear in the Library were posted in public forums and in many cases the authors requested (or even begged for) reviews of their material. Rather than the short one or two (usually non-constructive) sentences you often see in ff.net’s reviews, we present an in-depth analysis of the work. It’s true we slant more towards the humorous and use quite a bit of hyperbole, but there’s never been an instance where we’ve pointed to something in a fic and said “this is wrong” without also explaining why it’s wrong. In many cases we do the research that the author should have done themself.

      Like the other Librarians, and you yourself, I’m an author. I know writing is damned hard work and would never publish anything I wasn’t absolutely certain was the best work I could produce. During the editing process I’m far harsher with my own work than I would ever be to someone else’s. If someone read one of my pieces and found a problem I missed, I’d want to be made aware of it.

  12. agigabyte says:

    Where does one submit a riff?

    • "Lyle" says:

      Submit your riff to literarytravesty@gmail.com

      Please include a link to the original fic, a name you want to go by, and make sure you indicate what is being quoted from the source material (putting [ quote ] before those sections works fine.

      We will review it and if we like it we will send you the post date and I will format to the site.

  13. agigabyte says:

    Not a suggestion, more of a “What the hell did I just read? https://literarytravesty.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/03-its-my-life-chapter-one/

  14. DasCheesenBorgir says:

    I am but a humble cheeseburger who, after a relatively long absence from this venerable institution would simply like to renew his membership here, in hopes that if someday, the dutiful custodians of this glorious library may find me guilty of literary heresy I may be personally alerted in advance before I find a team of Spec Ops Darkwraiths busting in through the door to drag me to the riffing chambers.

    …hi again. :p

  15. agigabyte says:

    I’m tackling a big one hint: AL CAP AN TERIBEL SPELIN!!!1!1!1!1!!

  16. AdmiralSakai says:

    Hey, my friend Nick has been having some trouble reading the site’s quote text. Would it be possible to alter the theme so that it is darker / has more contrast? I don’t know how many other people are having that problem, but I thought I’d pass it on.

  17. agigabyte says:

    I’ve got a TVtropes page ready. Is there anything anyone feels should go on the main page?


  18. agigabyte says:

    Anyone else interested in a LotD Skype chat?

  19. Kara O'Connor says:

    For the record, my story that’s on here, “The Creature in the Meteorite”, is not fan-fiction. I can take the heckling; I just object to it being called a fan-fiction when it’s not. That weirdness was all me. Kara alias Raidra :-)

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