There is a lot of bad fanfic out there but since I’ve stopped actively participating in IYFG and no longer feel the need to read at least one chapter of all nominated fics I spend most of my reading time reading good stories. This is mostly because after years in fandom I have a lot of good authors on notify, know whose recommendations to trust, and have gotten pretty good at screening stories based on the summaries.
I have also developed the self-discipline to bail on a story after a page or so if it looks as if it will not live up to the promise of the summary. Actually, I have gotten to the point that I have ditched a story after two or three chapters instead of feeling as if I’ve gotten that far and must finish like I used to do.
Sure, I may miss a pretty good story because the summary isn’t well written, or the first page wasn’t the greatest, but most of the time if an author grows that much in the course of writing as long fic I’ll discover her work with one of her later stories and give her earlier stuff more time to prove itself when I attempt to read it.
Most of the bad!fic I end up reading lately though started out great and then jumped the shark. There will be a really great first chapter, possibly followed by a good but not great second chapter and maybe a readable third chapter, followed by OMGWTF??? What drugs are you ON woman????
Or maybe it’s a series and the first story or two (or three) is really good but then suddenly you realize that you've wasted hours of your life you could have devoted to Torchwood reruns when the author introduces something that completely eviscerates her plot thus far
Do some authors think that if they have established an AU series that all of their stories for a particular fandom have to fit that series no matter how much damage they do to their structural integrity when they shoe horn the new story in? Do some just get bored and decide to shake things up? I see it in professional fiction too so it’s not just a fanfic thing. Yes, I’m looking at YOU Russell T. Davies.
There has to be a term for these stories other than just a story that jumps the shark. We need a short term like “Mary Sue” or “Rape!Fic” to apply to these when warning off others. Anybody know if there is one? Maybe shark jumper?
Anyway, the post I made a few weeks ago at Weeping Cock sprang from one of these stories. The first chapter wasn’t great but it was good enough and set things up to be interesting. The second had some elements that were a bit dicey as far as characterization and canon were concerned but wasn’t too bad given the context from the first. The third??? Indescribably bad. It had detailed descriptions of everyone’s Hot Topic outfits, OOC behavior, angst, really bad and cheesy dialog, and a disconnect with how things work in the real world that is a sure sign that the author is under the age of 18.
Did you know that all you have to do to get into a club if you are underage is to wear the right clothes and give the bouncer attitude? He totally won’t check your ID. I didn’t know that either.
That chapter was so unintentionally funny that I read the rest of the story simply to mock it. I kept feeding quotes from the best of the worst to Christina on chat and making the cat look at me funny when I would suddenly start giggling maniacally.
Unfortunately the series I’m currently reading didn’t become bad in an entertaining way. The first 3 or 4 stories were pretty good and, except for an odd quirk of language that makes me wonder if English is the author’s first language, I would have no problem recommending them to someone looking for a decent read. These were longish stories for the most part, not one shots, so it took a few days to read through them.
One story ends in a way that would make a really satisfactory end to the series as a whole and the next story picks up 10 years later. It includes elements that are completely out of left field that not only screw with canon characterization but with the characterization of characters as established in earlier stories in the same series. It includes an original character getting pregnant by a main character (but that’s okay, she dies tragically so she can’t sue up the place too much), a couple who are telepathic with one another suffering through a Grand Misunderstanding that drives the plot even though you’d think if anyone would be safe from that sort of thing it would be telepaths, rape, torture, two resurrections from the dead after dramatic death scenes (Way to milk an idea. There was already once such scene in an earlier installment), a character who was a sympathetic ally becoming a bitchy villian, and the sudden introduction of the concept of “mating marks” along with lots of angst surrounding them.
I could do a whole rant just on mating marks in general and the way this author handles them in particular.
If this had been the first story in the series I would never have spent several days reading the others and I can’t seem to get myself to stop reading in the hopes that somehow the author will dig herself out of the pit she has written herself into even though it just keeps getting worse.
There really is no way to avoid stepping in something like this and the fact that the author is capable of better just makes me want to hunt her down and beat her.