Annoying Things In Internet Fiction

This is a list of some (but by no means all, alas) of the annoying things I've observed in my perusal of fiction on the Internet circa May of 2014.

Gratuitous dead relatives for main characters.

Family members who are killed at the beginning of the story for no real reason other than to give the main character something to angst over and/or leave xir free of familial responsibility so xe can start hobnobbing with the cool characters, but have no real bearing on the plot otherwise.

One story had a girl whose entire family died at the beginning. Every few chapters she’d talk about how much she missed her little brother. But for all the relevance her dead brother had to the plot and for all the dramatic impact he had, he might as well have never existed at all - because the story was actually about the girl hanging out with the cool people and discovering her secret powers and true origins.

It’s really hard to feel any emotion toward the deaths of characters we never knew anything about. If they were good people, we never had time to grow attached to them and feel a sense of loss. If they were awful people, we never had time to grow to loathe them and feel a sense of victory. Likewise, we haven’t had time to get attached to the main character and sympathize with xir feelings at this point.

No mental scarring for main characters.

The character goes through an event that should be extremely traumatic, but comes out of the whole ordeal with nary a psychological scratch to show for it. For example, one character was kidnapped, kept in a basement, and abused for three whole years. When said character is rescued and rejoins the rest of the world, the character shows no sign of of PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms and goes about as if nothing serious had ever happened. Or any number of characters have friends and family members die and show no emotional turmoil.

If the characters do experience any trauma, it won’t have any serious lasting consequences, and may be all fixed up and made all better through the affections of a lover or the encouragement of a sufficiently cool character, never mind that it doesn’t actually work that way.

Pointless point-of-view changes.

The writer switches the POV around for no particularly good reason, and shows us nothing that couldn’t have been shown just as well without switching the POV.

For example, one character passed out in a story that up until that point had been told from the first-person perspective. The story switched to third-person perspective so we could see what was going on while she was unconscious. The writer could have just as easily had other characters fill the main character in on what happened after she’d woken up and maintained first-person perspective throughout the whole thing. Or the writer could have kept it in the third person the whole time and simply switched perspectives when necessary.

POV/perspective switch announcements.

Whenever the writer announces a POV switch at the beginning of said switch. This yanks a person right out of the narrative of the story. The whole thing could be handled much more elegantly by starting the new perspective with the perspected character’s name and something observed from xir perspective, eg: "Jordan walked into the kitchen and immediately noticed the freshly-baked cookies in the counter."

Random and illogical character names.

Where the author couldn’t be bothered to make or stick to a coherent and sensible naming system. For example, OCs in a science fiction or fantasy world with an established naming pattern have names that are completely out of place, or characters in an original world have a bizarre mishmash of whatever names the writer thought appealing at the time with no rhyme or reason in-universe as to why these characters should be named thus, or the characters live in a specific historical place and period and are given names completely inappropriate for it. (“Hi, I am Hikaru, princess of Egypt!”)

Older characters being totally swept away by someone.

For example, someone over the age of twenty-four who hasn’t been living under a rock/in a tower/on a desolate asteroid somewhere sees an attractive person and is instantly captivated by xir and is utterly baffled and flustered over how this special snowflake has such a profound effect upon xir heart and/or loins. The older the character being swept away is, the more absurd this is - it's pretty hard to believe that a vampire at the age of two hundred, let alone a human at the age of thirty, has never seen anyone who roused xir passions before. Extra points for squick if one of the characters is underage and there’s more than a ten-year difference between the pair.

Piles of pretty pale petite protagonists.

A ridonkulous amount of stories feature pretty petite protagonists with nigh-ethereally pale skin. Yanno, you are allowed (and are in fact encouraged) to have a bit more variety than that. Can't some of your fairer leads be a bit broad and pudgy? Can't we see a story about a teen who's more terracotta than porcelain? What about a gangly dark-skinned protagonist at some point? How about some leads who don't look like perfectly made-up models when they step outside their front doors?

Rule 63 shipmates.

When a character created to ship with someone looks like, if not acts like a genderswapped version of the character they’re created to be shipped with, even to having the same skills and interests. Most people in real life don’t fall for people who are essentially copies of themselves. Furthermore, for two characters like this to fall for each other, it sorta implies that the characters are in love with themselves. I guess if that the kind of characters you want to portray, then go ahead, but otherwise... uh...

You might also be interested in:

Annoying Things In Internet Fiction - Part 2
Things To Avoid When Writing Romance Novels
So You Want To Have An Attractive Character?
Basic Tips To Create Better Characters With Tragic & Traumatic Backstories
"I Need Help Naming My Character!" - What To Do When You Don't Know What To Name Your Character
Tips For Writing Better Human/Humanlike Characters Who Are Really 700 Years Old (Give Or Take A Few Centuries)
Writing Better Prompts, Starters, & Beginnings: A Few Pointers
Tips For Writing Fanfiction With An OC Protagonist

Back to General Storytelling & Other Things
Go to a random page!