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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Kate

The 10 Worst Writing Mistakes Fanfiction Authors Make

A few simple errors can take a fanfiction story from must-read to hard pass.

#1: Skipping Spellcheck

It doesn't matter how good a book is, if every other word is misspelled, most readers will get frustrated and abandon the story. With spellcheck and tools like Grammarly at your disposal, there's just no excuse for a book to be littered with errors. And don't forget, most search algorithms will prioritize content with clean grammar and spelling.

The worst offenders: Anyone who says "I know it's spelled wrong, but I like it better this way."

#2: Writing Characters Based on Tropes

Tropes are fun every now and then, but when characters are defined by their tropes they become boring. Readers have seen plenty of perfect, goody-two-shoes main characters (aka the Mary Sue archetype) or the troubled bad boy with a heart of gold. Instead of writing a one-note character you've seen everywhere, aim to create realistic characters with flaws that people can relate to.

The worst offenders: Most original character protagonists

#3: Going Overboard on the Tragic Backstory

If the main character lost their parents at fifteen, that's one thing. If they're an abused, homeless orphan whose fiancé cheated on them—things have probably gone too far.

The worst offenders: The "Angst" genre

#4: Forgetting to Give Characters Friends

Stories rarely start at the very beginning, friendships are the same way. If the main character meets everyone they know in the course of the story, those connections end up feeling forced.

The worst offenders: Anna Todd—we're looking at you!

#5: A Vague Story Description

The description is a quick way to explain to readers what the book is about. A short excerpt or a few mysterious sentences won't tell anyone what they need to know, and readers will just turn away frustrated.

The worst offenders: Books with "read to find out"as their summary

#6: Overusing the Thesaurus

Words don't need to be lengthy or complicated to be powerful. Using a thesaurus to replace every word will make writing feel clumsy and forced. When in doubt, stick to your natural vocabulary and avoid using words you don't know.

The worst offenders: Joey Tribiani (and most younger writers)

#7: Using a Story Crutch

If the author doesn't know where to go with the story, the reader can tell. Throwing in a trope or gimmick isn't going to save the story. Fanfiction authors will write in an unplanned pregnancy or a kidnapping to spice things up, but they're often telltale signs that the author has run out of plot ideas.

The worst offenders: Werewolf romances

#8: Ignoring Reader Feedback

Sometimes feedback can be hard to hear, but it's the most important part of writing fanfiction. Writers who get defensive over criticism won't be able to learn and will alienate readers. Not every piece of advice should be taken, but it should all be considered.

The worst offenders: Writers who say "if you don't like it, don't read it."

#9: Letting the Plot Control the Characters

The general rule of thumb is to let characters drive the story. If someone has to act out-of-character in order for the plot to happen, the plot needs to change. The last thing readers want to do is to fall in love with a character only to see them suddenly change and do something that doesn't make sense. Plot should happen because of the characters, not to them.

The worst offenders: Mafia and gang stories

#10: Forgetting to Plan Out the Ending

So many stories build up a great plot and then trip at the finish line because the author didn't have a plan. Sometimes that means that the ending will drag on while the writer tries to figure out what they're doing with it. Other times, they'll just suddenly end the story abruptly because they have nothing left to say.

The worst offenders: Harry Styles fanfics

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