In general, when searching through fanfiction looking for those special, horrible wrecks of literature you’re going to find here, we pass by a lot of stuff that isn’t quite bad enough. There are many levels of fanfiction outside the various genres and types you’re likely to find:
Good and Mediocre: Fics on top of the pile can range for rather good fiction that is worth reading, to mediocre works that nobody gives a crap about. We largely ignore these, as even mediocre fics don’t lend themselves to the level of mockery we aspire to.
The Bad: The fics you’ll find here are where we start to get involved. Plots range from lame to insane, spelling and grammar may or may not be good (but generally mechanics are pretty poor), characters are pretty flat and usually not anything like those they are based on, cliches abound, dialogue is extremely forced and wooden sounding, and we begin to see some of the more fun aspects of bad fiction. Specifically author insertion, Mary Sues, character resurrection, over-the-top villains, and disjointed narrative can all appear in this bracket. There is quite a bit of this out in the fanfic world, though in less amounts than you’ll find in the mediocre bracket.
The Ugly: An extreme version of a bad fic. These are the nuggets we dig hard to find for the Library. Spelling and grammar are atrocious, every cliché and awful plot device you can imagine will show up, Mary Sues will be pitted against Awesome Mcevils, the narrative will wander like a drunk hobo, and impossible situations will fly at the audience in quick succession. Things like research, proofreading, review, and redrafting are but whimsical fantasy in this bracket. You’re nearly scraping the bottom of the barrel, but there’s still more than enough of this drivel to go around. So what could be worse?
The Graphic: You will probably never see one of these on the Library of the Damned, unless we do it for Halloween or April Fools. Graphic fics are to Ugly fics as tentacle porn is to b-rated sci-fi. Torture fantasies, poly-erotic fiction, fetishes, vore (and if you don’t know what vore is, don’t look it up), incest, gratuitously described sex, and really… anything that by it’s nature is extensively graphic. It’s all the fics that are written less to express fandom of something and more to indulge sexual fantasy of some form or another. When things get this explicit, we tend to back away slowly, no matter the topic. We may not be a children’s site, but we want to keep ourselves below the NC-17 rating.
We also (try to) exclude fics of a truly sordid nature. While we do hit on fics with triggers, violence against minors, abuse, etc., we typically stay clear of anything that goes too far into that realm. That’s both because we don’t want to read that kind of thing and because I’m sure most of you don’t either.
The Fake: From time to time bad fics are faked. This is either done in parody (as you’ll find us do here) or to troll. These are generally easily distinguished from genuinely bad fics based on length. Somebody trying to make a joke or troll for reactions/attention won’t put a lot of effort into making the piece, so anything over 5000 or so words in length is generally considered genuine. It’s not a slam-dunk system and some fakes are going to get through our filter and we’ll riff them. In our minds this isn’t a big deal. If we’re going to go through all the effort to turn somebody’s writing into a joke, then we have to accept that sometimes the joke is on us. We’ll be leaving these up for the world to see and proclaiming our folly with a “It’s a Trap!” tag. Snidely speaking, it does say something rather unflattering about a person who writes 10,000 words of absolute dredge just to troll. These aren’t too numerous, but they are out there, and they aren’t always well documented. Many of us avoid these out of principle, but others hunt them down as a kind of choice prey.