I BITCH, THEREFORE I AM
I'm old enough to be mom to some of you (if I had been like *ahem* those less than pristine fan fic AU teenage Bella's back in High School). But I don't, in fact, have any children. Therefore, I escape the Twihard mom title, or whatever it actually is. However, now that I think of it, doesn't that make me one of those....older, single, Twilight fans? Guh. Oh well. I own my love of boy toys - Hayden Christensen (back off, bitches) and now, Edward Cullen (to me there is a difference between E.C. and R.P., and I prefer the vamp to the Brit).
Fell in love with the Twilight-verse really late. Due to some reservations I had, I didn't read the first book until the week before Christmas ('08) but I knew before the first full chapter was done that I was a goner. I then went on to read all four books within five days. Between repeated viewings of the movie and listening to the soundtrack, I re-read the series until I practically had them memorized. Then I found Midnight Sun at SM's site and repeated the pattern. Yeah, I have a little obsessive-compulsive thing when I find a fandom I enjoy....let's just say Twilight isn't my first time at the Obsession rodeo - giddyup. So still in my Twilight throes I now use pretty much all my free time in search of fanfic to fill in the blanks and/or expand on the Twilight experience. Sound familiar?
Fanfic. Ah, fanfic. I have such a love/hate thing going with you - a kind of whacko literary Sid & Nancyesque relationship but without the gore - because a) While I have my irritants and issues with fanfic, and god knows I'll bitch up a storm about them, I'm neither psychotic nor a danger to myself unlike that infamous duo, and far more importantly, 2) I don't fancy becoming someone's bitch in cell block B merely because I got my knickers in a twist over bad fanfic and decided to off some idiot because of it. There, you can rest easy now.
With the hours and hours of time spent reading Twilight fanfics, the inevitable has happened: I've developed pet peeves and a reactionary twitch when it comes to certain repetitive things, such as overplayed plots/plot devices. I've been reading fanfic in several fandoms for about ten years now, and from that personal experience the Twilightverse rates at the top of the Canon Cliche Abuse Meter. I can't be the only one sick of re-reading the same stuff over and over. Or maybe I just have higher expectations or a lower tolerance for crap. Whichever one it is, I'm taking this opportunity to both vent and to offer up some - admitedly - unsolicited suggestions with regards to writing fanfic. Why? Because it's my bio and I'm literate, which is more than I can say for about one third of the "authors" on FF.Net. And with that statistic I'm being very, very generous, especially when talking about FF.Net, geebus.
Okay then, here we go!
Can we please, please declare a moratorium on the following?
Neutering Edward: I don't understand the fics that retell Twilight and simply remove the bloodlust aspect that - along with not being able to read her - serves as Edward's initial draw towards Bella. But more importantly the Biology classroom scene and Edward's recounting of it to Bella later in the book, lays the foundation for the dark, erotic, dangerous tighrope he walks. Some authors may decry the term 'hotness' as if it's a dirty word or act as if it's derogatory, that's their hang up. What ever word you want to use, the biology scene, the draw of Bella's blood, Edward's fight to resist - THAT is what made Twilight, and these attempts to water it down and have Edward be perfectly fine when they first meet is BORING. Yes, let's take all the conflict, all the obstacles out and just have them make goo-goo eyes and kissy faces at each other for 300 pages because THAT is really interesting.
Retelling information readers already know. This is especially bad when you're in the Twilight book timeframe. Everyone thinks they have a new twist on Twilight, and sometimes they do but damnit, nobody seems to be capable of picking up at a completely new point - yes, I'm generalizing here out of frustration. People, you're writing for Twilight fans, we already know aaallll about Bella moving from Phoenix, her views on Forks, the first day of school, the infamous meeting between E&B in Biology - so unless you're bringing something completely and utterly FREAKING NEW to the table, you don't need to rehash every single detail - I have the Twilight book already, thank you, in fact I'm 100% sure everyone reading your story has the book. For the love of Edward, pick up somewhere else in the story, fill in the gaps between what we KNOW and what Meyers wrote. But if you're just going to add that Bella now wears a school uniform, you don't have to rewrite EVERY FRIGGING SCENE just to get to where your story diverges (often minutely)! Part of fan fiction is being creative, figure a way to start your story in a different way. While we're at it, and again, we're already fans here, you don't have to tell us about the special ability of Edward/Alice/Jasper, describe the Cullens' house, or give the backstory on Renee and Charlie because we already KNOW - Not unless you change something. As a fan fic author you're in the unique position of not having to explain all of the minutia because the original author already did it. So stop wasting time and get on with your "special twist/take". And that goes for any fic set in any of the other books, or in any AU. If you aren't altering anything from the books there is no need to regurgitate it for your readers!
Re-using lines (or character traits/actions) from the books verbatum. Good God, just because Edward said it ONE time in ONE of the books doesn't mean YOU have to trot it out too. This is especially irritating because it's not like one author does it, it's more like 95% (e.g. A LOT!) do. And when you have a rabid fan base reading 98% of the fan fics out there, IT GETS REPETITIVE! Here are some examples (note this is not all inclusive and some are paraphrased because I didn't comb through the books for absolute accuracy):
"You don't see yourself/You've never seen yourself clearly, Bella."
"Don't be absurd/You are absurd, Bella."
"Silly Bella." (Although this one is less irritating than the others)
"You don't know what you do to me/You don't realize the effect you have on me." (For the love of all that's holy, find another way for Edward to say this, you don't have to run the same freaking lines into the ground!)
"My Bella/My love/Love." (Over use within a fic is more the complaint since Meyers started this one herself - Thanks, Stephenie. No, really. Thaaanks.)
And speaking of terms of endearment/pet names:
Terms of Endearment: The over use of terms of endearment/pet names between Bella and Edward in a lemon in general is an unbelievable turn off. Seriously, the number of times some authors have them throw out 'sweetie', 'sweetheart', 'love' 'angel' and 'my love' just within a short conversation is unrealistic and cloying, even for those two, and in my opinion - as well as several fellow readers I've spoken with - it can really be a put off. I don't remember Edward and Bella being so 'gooey' in canon, why do they have to be that way in fanfic? And if a fanfic author simply can't live without writing over the top lovey dovey dialogue would it be possible to get some kind of HURL warning at the very beginning? Awhile ago I was just beginning to read a RPF posted here, but it was a work night and I wasn't going to make much progress before I had to get some sleep. So, not being able to get on this site from work, I hastily copied and pasted the story into a Word doc and put it on a disk so I could read it off my personal laptop. But before I saved it I used that handy Find feature and got rid of every 'my love' and 'love'. It read SO much better after that, much more realistic, and I didn't have to stifle my gag reflex once! I sincerely believe every author should read their dialogue (and story) outloud before submitting it because if some heard how stilted and cheesy it actually sounded you would cringe..... Think about this, for those of you who've had sex (or a conversation with a guy/girl), do you really call your SO by any of those above names during the act? Continually? Really? Really??! Do you call your boyfriend 'my love' during everyday conversation in every sentence you utter? How have your friends and family, strangers on the street who happen to accidentally overhear you, not killed you yet?
"Char-Dad...I'm going to La Push." Bella starts to call her good old daddy, sheriff of Forks, by his first name and then catches herself:
Eye rolling to denote sarcasm, disbelief, or any type of emotion. Yeah, the majority of characters in the Twilight saga are teenagers and even Stephenie over-used this action, but do WRITERS have to continue the habit in the frequency of rabbits mating? There are other ways for characters to show frustration/disbelief, etc. Branch out a little, find your own freaking voice. Like word repetition, action (and phrase) repetition needs to be policed. It's called PROOF READING.
Edward's nose bridge pinching. It's not that he does it, it's that everyone has him do it. All The Time. Yes, it's an Edward charateristic, but stop over using it!
Pouting/Pouty Lips - Sick. To. Death of reading/imagining Edward and/or Bella's inflated, overly-plumped blowfish-like lips. Thanks to fanfic when this term comes up I now imagine collagen injections gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Smirk. I never had a problem with this word until Twilight fan fic, now it seems like it's in almost every paragraph of every chapter of every story - specifically with regards to Edward. I love Edward, I want Edward. But geebus, get another smile descriptor. There is a serious need for Thesaurus use in this fan fic community. How about: leer, sneer, crook of the lips, half smile, snarky smile, twisted smile? And here's a thought, you don't have to use ONE word to describe a smile, use some freaking creativity - "Edward's mouth lifted at the corners in a mockery of a smile, his eyes cold and hard." Well looky there, it can be done.
Popping the 'p'. "Nope." She replied, popping the p' at the end of the word. (not an exact quote.) Bella did this one time, I believe it was in Twilight. I've read fics where she does it 3-4 times, and it wasn't that long of a fic. So. Freaking. Irritating. If I were Rosalie in one of those fics and Bella did this around me on a continual basis, I would have ended her. I mean, there is no way I would'vewanted to spend eternity around the 'p' popper some of you authors wrote Bella as because you rely on character trait repitition to get by.
Mushroom ravioli - Listen up fanfic authors, Bella NEVER said this was her favorite food/Italian dish. She picked the ravioli because, and I quote, "I picked the first thing I saw on the menu." ('Twilight' by Stephenie Meyers) Hmm, that certainly doesn't sound like a favorite dish now, does it? And while we're on the topic (sort of) - Port Angeles is a decent size town, they have more than one restaurant, okay? Please STOP using LA BELLA ITALIA as the ONLY FREAKING eatery to send Edward and Bella. How hard is it to either make up a restaurant name OR go online and find the name of an actual restaurant in Port Angeles?
What if authors stopped asking asshat questions in their summaries? What if they actually put some thought into it and gave you a SUMMARY of the story instead of annoying questions? What if they proofread their summaries and made sure there were no typos or misspellings? - Pretentious rhetorical questions in summaries begone. When I see them, especially the ones that ask something like "How will Bella/Edward react?", I just mutter "You wrote the damn thing, why are you asking us?" and keep scrolling. Andif there are typos in the summary? I assume the story is riddled with them as well and keeep moving.
Penis and Vagina are anatomical/medical terminology and should NEVER be used in an erotic sex scene. Don't believe it? Here's what it sounds like:
"Edward wanted Bella so very badly. He couldn't wait to STICK HIS PENIS IN HER VAGINA."
Wow...how...incredibly....hot. Yeah, so I'm exaggerating a bit but I'm telling you, those two words are ugly and clinical, and is that really how you want your lemon represented? Just think about it. And rethink 'dick' as well while you're at it. Just saying....
Screaming (with regards to orgasms) - overused, overused, overused. Look, I realize fanfiction is an escape from reality, and I love a well written, erotic lemon, but omg! the constant screaming orgasms that stink up some fics has passed the line of believability -especially if you aren't that good of a writer to begin with. You want to read a fic with some quality lemons? Read Honeymoon & Black Lace. Read Master of the Universe. Not saying there aren't some screaming orgasms but they are believable because they are done by authors who know what the hell they are doing. Know your limits, know your skill set, and know that every orgasm -even in fanfic - doesn't have to make you scream to be hot and/or interesting to read.
Formulatic sex - political corrrectness has gone too far when it's invaded fanfic, damnit. All I see now is this: A little kissing, light foreplay, Edward goes down on Bella, Bella just HAS to go down on Edward because oooh it tastes so good (yeah, right), and then intercourse and *snerk* screaming orgasms occur. I yawn and pray better fanfic comes my way. My absolute favorite *heavy sarcasm* is when Edward is actually performing some quality foreplay in the chest region and Bella stops him. Yes, she stops him. I. Have. No. Words. No wait, I do. Who the fuck stops a guy from chesticular foreplay? Sure, if he's bad at it but this is Edward Fucking Cullen! Obviously the Bellas that do this are complete and utter dumbasses. Wow, okay, I digressed. So, yeah, for some reason far too many people write this politically correct 'tit for tat'/'my turn-your turn' shit and it's predictability and lemon by numbers is so incredibly borizzzzzzzzzzzzzz
What's with all the nudity only sex? Our two lovebirds are in the janitors closet at school for a quickie. Now the logical thing would be to have Bella in a skirt and just shift some clothes to the side but no, they get completely undressed, in the closet, at school. Or in the dirty, deserted, dark alley. What the hell happened to partially clothed sex? The kind that says I need you so much I simply can't wait to get these clothes off? Does no one realize how hot a person can look with some clothes still on? What's the point of that sexy lingerie if you are just taking it off? Anyone can be nude but fucking while wearing a corset, stockings and heels is...........excuse me for a few minutes...or longer....
Oversexed Bella (warning - graphic language but nothing that isn't in fanfic) - there is a fine line between canon Bella and a whore with forty years of experience inhabiting either canon Bella or the body of OOC Bella, if many of the fics out there are anything to go by. Normally I'm the LAST person to read about a couple NOT having sex for three and a half books. But what I discovered I loved in S.M.'s books was the sexual tension that was built, the little moments that sent that shiver through me. When fanfic "authors" who don't know what they're doing write about Bella turning into this overly knowlegeable sex kitten giving Edward a handjob in the meadow out of the blue, it's not just OOC, it's a bad fanfic - especially when she's a virgin yet still knows all there is to know about sex. I gave feedback to a story just like that (handjob in meadow, virgin sluttyBella), and was told that Bella wasn't slutty, that in the books Bella came onto Edward all the time so it was completely logical for her to behave like she was behaving in the fanfic. Really? My bad. My copy of the books must have had those pages missing, the ones where Bella was rubbing Edwards cock all the time and offering up her prebitten palm for him to try her blood. Anyone else have copies of the books with those pages? And don't get me started on this weird and down right disturbing attribute that fanfic Bella has developed - a little something I call 'Diving for Dick': A grossly exaggerated enthusiasm and unrealistic love/hunger for fellatio characterized by mouth watering and lip licking at the mere sight or thought of Edward's cock. This over the top and, again, unrealistic reaction, is followed by a complete shut down of all common sense, as Bella will give up any foreplay she is receiving in order to perform said fellatio. Even if she has never done it before, even if she is a virgin. In short, she dives for his dick. I can't figure out if the authors writing this are a) men (not likely), or b) trying to convince themselves that they do indeed love to give bjs THAT much. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the "idea" of the bj but for god's sake, write it a bit more realisitically - write about how the girl enjoys the power of giving the pleasure in the moment but STFU about her mouthwatering for his cock in her mouth or his cum. Unless it's vamp cum, then, well, although it's still questionable that virgin canon Bella would be salvitating, she could at least have more of a chance to enjoy *ahem* the final product.
Death to fics that propose a "cure" for vampirism. Vampires are dead, get over it. You don't come back from that. To unashamedly underline my complaint, I paraphrase and bastardize a line from the great Monty Python - "They, sirs, are ex-humans."
Death to the stupid ass notion, and here Stephenie Meyers is herself to blame - though fanfic authors continue to perpetuate it - that Bella needs to be "equal" to Edward before "blank" happens. STFU Bella. What is this notion that some sort of 'equality' needs to be reached? What? You love him, he loves you. So what if he can run faster or tear your head off. SHUT UP. No two people are ever equal!!! EVER!!! Rich men marry poor women. Smart women marry dumb guys. Etc. GET OVER YOURSELF BELLA.
Jacob. I'm not a Jacob hater like some bashers out there. I don't like it when authors turn him into an abusive boyfriend/husband, etc. I like him the way he is in the books. I also think it's really weird that Jacob kissing Bella in Eclipse has been likened by some as assault. Has anybody read ANY historical romance or romance book in the past thirty odd years? Good lord that's all most of the male leads do/did at one point or the other - grab the girl and arrogantly kiss her. And I will say here and now that if Edward had acted like that towards Bella for reasons that would have fitted the plot, the same contingent of people whinging about Jacob would have fucking cheered him on. Now, back on point, so I like Jacob as the besotted friend doomed to lose the girl. However, I DETEST AU fanfic where he's been intimate with Bella. Now I don't care if he's kissed her, but anything else and it's WRONG,WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. You Jacob lovers can rewrite "reality" all you want to help you deal, but ultimately you can suck it (Hey, I mean that with love!). Because Edward and Bella are together, and right now, as much as I would rather that stupidly named plot twist and (Scottish lake monster) had never been been concieved or born, Jacob is wooing/bedding her at this very momennt in the Twilightverse. *Heh*
New Moon AU Stupidity - Maybe it's a generational thing, but what is with the plethora of fics set YEARS after "Edward left Bella in the forest but now they meet again, what will happen?!"? Edward will always look seventeen, and a young seventeen at that. And these premises are usually along the lines that poor Bella will go on to (more than likely) be changed at 24/25/28 and, of course, look it. Don't try and tell me how vampy beautiful she'll be to pacify me! Fuck that! She'll still look like a freaking cradle robber for eternity! Those of you who write these fics have GOT to still be under 25 or younger. It's the only explanation for this unrealistic viewpoint and blissfully unaware self-image you probably have of yourselves as well (I'll be young forever, I won't look any different at 30 than I do now. Tra la la!). Hey, we've all been there, it's just the way it is. But the clock is ticking for you, oh yes, it is. SPF100 won't keep the wrinkles at bay forever, my pretties....
Banners - Enough with the multiple banners! Pick ONE and go with it.
Author Notes - Some information is necessary and needed, but the use of these can border on abuse at times. Do we *really* need the link to the dress Bella wore in Chapter 9? The hotel Edward took Bella to in Chapter 19? If an author can't describe something adequately in their prose maybe they shouldn't be posting their fan fic. After all, the written word is supposed to paint pictures in the readers head. I gave up picture books when I was around three or four years old. And for the love of Edward's abs, stop with the begging for reviews. I'm all for reviews, a good fic should be rewarded with comments from the readers. However, when an author pleads and whinges for reviews or threatens to withhold the next chapter unless reviews are received, it's just needy and pathetic. A simple: 'Reviews are much appreciated' says what is necessary without asking/begging and at the same time it thanks the reader in advance for reviews received.
And now some friendly advice (I know, right? Friendly, me?):
SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK! BUT IT'S NOT FOOL PROOF....
Hey, guess what? Spell check doesn't catch everything! Especially if the word is right but used incorrectly. Things like: loose/lose, vile/vial, there/their/they're, it's/its, peek/peak, to/too/two, conscious/conscience, shudder/shutter, pore/pour, know/now, site/sight, and bare/bear. There are more but the list is looong. Hey, I get it, I really do. My fingers type the wrong thing even though my brain knows the difference. But that's why you PROOFREAD, then you do it again. Then you set it aside for a few hours and do it again. And that's BEFORE you send it to your Beta, who should proof it in the same manner. Oh, too much work? It's just fan fic? No, it's NOT just fan fic. Just because you aren't getting a grade or a paycheck doesn't mean you shouldn't be giving 100%. If you're putting it out for public consumption then have some pride in what your are doing and have some respect and courtesty for the people you want to read your story.
Remember how to use capitalization - seriously, what's with the undercase 'i' instead of I? The first letter of the first word of any sentence is supposed to be capitalized. And that goes for your summary too.
There is no such word as 'anyways'. Really. Real life people may use it but that doesn't make it right. I hear people say "Those ones." but it's grammatically wrong and it certainly doesn't give the go ahead for Edward to say it. Hell, Mike shouldn't say it. So when authors have their characters use 'anyways' or any other grammatically incorrect word or phrase, (not talking about slang) they end up with ignorant sounding characters.* But hey, if that's what they're going for.....
When there's a number it should be written out. Nothing looks more amateurish than seeing "Do you want 2 cups?" It's "Do you want two cups?" Some exceptions would be addresses, phone numbers, science/math jargon, and ages - depending on the style of writing, ages may be accompanied by 'years old'. And please don't use text abbreviations in your prose, you're writing fiction, spell things out!! Of course if the characters are texting each other.....but a kindness to your readers would be to keep this to a minimum.
Make sure every word in your summary is spelled correctly. Yeah, that seems like a no brainer but even here, a site dedicated to quality fic, there are summaries with misspellings and typos. Summaries with errors do not inspire confidence. If the author can't get the one paragraph summary right, what hope is there for the story?
Is there any need to say you should never, ever say "I suck at summaries." in your summary? Apparently there is. If you suck at summing up your story then I don't think I'm going out on a limb to think you suck at story writing (and probably spelling, and grammar). That goes double if you spell it "summeries". There's a popular story up right now with that word spelled incorrectly. Really.
If you are a first time writer don't tell the audience it's your first fan fic in an effort to garner sympathy, e.g. so reviewers will go easy on you (or for whatever purpose people do it). For a lot of experienced readers/reviewers, nothing makes them more skeptical of a fic's quality than seeing that "disclaimer". Usually it brings to mind the work of a fourteen year old trying to write about Bella and Edward "doing it" for the first time. Just keep that bit of info to yourself and write your story.
Proofread your work. This bears repeating because seriously, if you're going to publish your story, and yes, putting your fan fic out there means you're publishing it, then you owe your readers the courteousy of doing your very best. If you're deliberately half assing it because you think "But it's only fan fic." then you shouldn't post it. And if you do post it with that attitude, don't whinge when you get critical feedback.
Contractions are your friends, authors. People generally don't speak without using them - not without sounding stilted and fake. When writing dialogue read it back outloud to yourself or to a friend. You'll discover how often you type without contractions. It looks fine on paper or the screen, but when you SAY IT ALOUD then you can actually hear how formal it comes across. That is great if you are writing an Alternate Universe story set in Victorian times, but not if you are writing one set in 2007 Forks. Read that last sentence outloud...no contractions. No one talks like that. At least not the majority of characters in stories set post WWI-ish. I suppose a case could be made for the Cullens to be more formal in their speech, but if they're trying to blend and be inconspicuous with the modern world, they'd use contractions some of the frigging time.
And yes, I write fanfic (though in another fandom), I've ghost written fanfic, I've co-authored fanfic, and I've been a beta (no, I will not beta Twilight fics, no time), and I run a few Yahoo fanfic groups - again, in a different fandom - so I do know what I'm talking about and I do practice what I preach.
What? I'm just a little cranky about Midnight Sun cutting off 1/4 of the way through with slim to no chance of it being finished by SM. Not to mention the reality is sinking in that neither Edward nor Jasper will be showing up at my bedroom window to make me their immortal beloved. *glower*
I know, right?
Meh. The prospect of no vampire sex tends to make one a little bit (ha!) bitchy.
What's your excuse?
*Use of 'anyways' - There are obvious exceptions to this - some fics would have circumstances where poor grammar would be reflected by circumstance and or the times, etc., and the nature of the OOC level and/or the genre, e.g. AU).
The following are some of my favorite stories here at Twilighted - though by no means is this list all inclusive! Unless otherwise noted, the stories are vamp oriented, although not necessarily canon. Only if I'm still unsure (because it's a WIP - work in progress), or if I think it might hurt the suspense/ending of a story, will I leave out an AH - All Human - designation. All of these recs, unless otherwise noted, can be found at Twilighted:
Bright Like the Sun (WIP) by Dryler
Ethan Church (Complete) by Dryler
Honeymoon and Black Lace (Complete) by addicted2twilight (no longer posted. I am bereft. May be able to find it via google if you friend her on her journal/blog)
Midnight Desire (Complete, AH) by Twilightzoner
Master of the Universe (Complete, AH) by Snowqueens Icedragon - I love, adore and worship this story HARD.
Out Of Choices (Complete) by Picklewinkle
Hide and Drink (Complete) by Savage
The University of Edward Masen - no longer posted.
Blood Play (WIP) by kissyfur
An Abridged Account (WIP) by alchemilla
Living Backwards (WIP - but close to being done, AH) by ciaobella27
With Teeth (Complete, AH) by Talula Blue
The Worst of Weather (WIP) by YellowGlue
Last Rites (Complete, WIP) by HaloJones
Summer of Salt (Complete, AH) by lolapop
Ladders (Complete, AH) by marve
How Dirty Boys Get Clean (Complete) by luvcali76
La canzona della Bella Cigna (WIP, at Fanfiction(dot)net) by philadelphic