Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ficpeeves and Hard Limits

We, fanfiction readers, are a particular bunch. We all have our quirks and oddities, and this is apparent when you take into account what we will read and what we refuse. I’m not sure how it is in other fandoms (Apparently, there is NON-Twilight fanfiction out there? Huh. Who knew? Not interested, thanks.), but some of us are very rigid in our tastes.

Everyone has their “ficpeeves” – things that make you want to smash your e-reader and rip out your own hair. I recently asked friends to share theirs with me. The answers were diverse, as I expected. From fanfiction clichés to weak characterization to unrealistic plotlines, we are all bothered by something. For me, I take issues with sloppy grammar and punctuation, especially if the story has another person acting as the “beta” (the second pair of eyes whose sole purpose is to catch those mistakes). And I also get really annoyed by the author overusing one particular word. Just as an example, I’ll use the word ‘said’. There are so many synonyms for that word. Suggested, told, exclaimed, demanded, argued, wondered, mumbled, etc. If one word is used over and over and over, it stands out and takes the reader out of the story.

I remember a few months back, one night on twitter, where many people were participating in an airing of grievances, if you will, about ficpeeves. Most of the ones mentioned were the clichés we see used in story after story. And most of them had to do with phrases that come up time and again in “lemons” (sex scenes), such as tongues that battle for dominance over the other during a particularly racy kiss.

Most of these annoyances are read with a laugh or roll of the eyes, but sometimes, if extreme enough, they cause a reader to “flounce” (throw the story down in disgust before finishing, never to return).  

Ficpeeves are very different than hard limits (a phrase we know from E.L. James’ Fifty Shades Trilogy that has taken on its own meaning in regards to reading preferences). A fic hard limit is something that you just won’t read. Usually it’s subject matter that makes the reader too uncomfortable or strikes to close to home, but sometimes strictly preferences. Again, I polled some friends and the answers varied from huge age gaps between romantic couples or abusive parents to stories that are written by teenagers and inserting real life personas as characters.

A big thing for many Twi-fic readers is that they like “canon-pairings” and won’t read anything else. Edward has to be with Bella, Jasper with Alice, Emmett with Rosalie, Carlisle with Esme, etc. These are the pairings Stephenie Meyer wrote and what we fell in love with. But there are loads of stories out there which change it up. Jasper and Bella, or *cringe* Alice and Charlie. I am obviously a huge fan of canon couples. I CAN be flexible but I feel that, no matter who the other couples are, Edward and Bella always have to be together. This is why I read fanfiction. I love their love.

My own personal hard limit revolves around Edward (as does my whole world, according to hubby). I have a very strong attachment to this fictitious guy. One may even say I’m obsessed. And I’m very protective of him. He must not die! I cannot read stories where the author kills off my beloved Edward. Unfortunately, you don’t often know these things until the end and it’s too late.

(One thing that should be noted, when you read stories written by your friends, all bets are off. I leave my comfort zone time and again for friends. It’s a true testament to how much I love them.)

I tell you these things with humor. In all honesty, fanfiction is free and the authors are all bravely sharing a part of themselves with us. That should be kept in mind. There is a lot of hate out there and I don’t understand that. I’ve tried my hand at writing once or twice and it is not easy! Even the most horribly written stories have some merit. Try to find that next time you want to bash a fic.

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