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Cliché Fan Fiction Elements

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Lady_Moonbeam, Apr 18, 2003.

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  1. Lady_Moonbeam

    Lady_Moonbeam Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Aug 4, 2002
    We all have some we dislike, don't we? A concept that has been used too many times (even if it is often thought by the author to be Something Completely Different) and stands little chance of being successfully revamped and made intriguing and likeable. Now, we can discuss Mary Sues, what makes Mary Sues, a Mary Sue plot, transforming a canon character into someone else (the infamous Luke Sue and Obi-Wan Sue). Anything and everything that will make you seriously consider not reading a story if it appears in the summary.

    If you dislike a certain general theme in "Obi-Wan finds romance," discuss. If you think "a girl from Earth" could never, ever, ever become a good character, say so. But this isn't just for bashing elements--

    The more important thing is, can they be fixed? How can we turn Mary Sue into someone human (or alien)? What or who put a new spin on the "Qui-Gon survives Naboo" AU angle?

    Any examples of elements used to excess? Any suggestions on how to turn old to new? Any recommendations? Let's all help each other.
     
  2. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 31, 1999
    One that immediately leaps to mind (and is by no means limited to fanfic) is the situation where a man and woman meet, immediately annoy each other, yet are naturally fated to fall in love.

    I'm guilty of using this one myself. [face_mischief]

    Now obviously this is an example that the Flanneled One has used (see Solo, Han and Organa, Leia) but it's used so much in television and everywhere else that it's now cliche.

    When watching a television program and you see two people meet and they dislike each other, you can practically bet that by the third season they'll be a couple.
     
  3. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Excellant thread idea Lady_Moonbeam.

    I'd just like to reiterate her point though. This is *not* a thread for bashing other posters, specific characters, or concepts such as Obidalas. It's fine to discuss the idea and to say why you dislike it - as long as you give clear and logical reasons to do so. Saying "I hate Obi-wan" and giving your reason as "just because" or "because he sucks" is not good enough. Any trolling within this thread will be looked harshly upon by myself.

    * Ahem, moderator voice Off!*

    Excellant point Herman :) I always find that too, especially in movies where you can pick the fact that two characters are going to get it together because they spend all movie trying NOT to get it on.

    If you want a good series, that does that cliche in a really, really entertaining and non-cliched way then I'd suggest "The Demon Child" series by Jennifer Fallon. It's excellant.

    I've always found that Mary-Sues were one of the most interesting developments/categorisation of characters in the writing world. In some genres (detective stories and Bond spring to mind) they are the mainstay of making a main character. However, in serious settings Mary Sues just don't work at all because people can see through them so quickly that they rapidly become boring and readers begin to hate them.

    On the opposite end of the scale, I have thought for a long time that there was such a fear of Mary Sues that many people will go to the opposite extreme and hence create another sort of Mary-Sue - but like a Dark and disturbing one who has too many faults and not enough redeeming traits to make them 'likeable' (for want of a better word).

     
  4. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Oh, dear. Moonbeam may have opened up a nasty can of worms. I might get in trouble, and I could rant at length. I'll just say two and then bite my tongue.

    My pet cliche peeves:

    Snide, sarcastic Bad Girls redeemed by the loooooove of the hero. I'm thinking it's some kind of male "Taming of the Shrew" fantasy ("I'm man enough to reform her.") Some writers mistake these for "strong female characters." No. They're not.

    Adorable precocious kids who outwit the adults and are just so cuuuute with the antics they get into. They usually save the day. Bonus points for adorable, precocious twins. Triple word score for adorable, precocious telepathic twins. ("Wonder twin powers, activate!") Mystery authors (the pros) are the most guilty of this.

    In general, I think telepathy is overused. Especially with Jedi. George himself said in an interview that Jedi weren't telepathic. I try NOT to use this. If Jedi are telepathic, why would they talk to each other on commlinks?

    I can think of at least five more. But I won't say it.
     
  5. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    My roommate wants me to add: escaping from/entering the villain's stronghold via the ducts.

    I dunno, but in my apartment the ducts might allow a small housecat to squeeze through, but not even the afore-mentioned "adorable precocious kid" could make it.

     
  6. CieSharp

    CieSharp Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 18, 2002
    "In general, I think telepathy is overused. Especially with Jedi. George himself said in an interview that Jedi weren't telepathic. I try NOT to use this. If Jedi are telepathic, why would they talk to each other on commlinks?"

    I'm glad you posted this, because for a very long time, I thought that they were telepathic (the old WEG books had receptive and projective telepathy as force powers). So what to call the conversation between Vader and Luke in the very end of ESB when the Falcon is about to escape into Hyperspace?

    Was that a different kind of "telepathy", where the parties spoke out loud, and the sound was somehow "projected", or did neither Luke nor Vader hear each other, and were merely calling out to each other in a futile sort of way?
     
  7. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    I'll grant them empathy. And there may be a few species with SOME telepathy.

    As for Vader/Luke, I thought it was more Luke's own fears in his head, which an empathy with Vader might have heightened, rather than a genuine connection. Though in their case, Vader did have an extensive amount of training and they had a biological link that most other Jedi don't have, so maybe in their case it was genuine. Even between Luke & Leia, it seems pretty obvious (in the films) that their connection is empathic, not telepathic. Certainly, Vader wasn't finding it easy to track down Luke after ESB. I'm sure they weren't holding long conversations. If Vader really had that kind of ability, couldn't he have followed Luke back to Dagobah & bagged Yoda (now THAT would have been a confrontation I'd like to have seen!)

    The "Master/Padawan bond" that people like to use I have never been able to interpret as true telepathy. Rather, it makes more sense that when two people are very close friends & work/travel/study/eat together, they just get to know each other. I mean, I often will pick up the phone to call my best friend and find she's just about to call me, even though we live in different states. We joke about the Force, but that's not what it is. It's just what happens when you're close to someone else... you know what they're thinking or how they'll react to something just because you know them well, not because you can really hear their thoughts.

    In an attack, I'd rather have Obi-Wan try to flank the bad guys on the right because he's seen Qui-Gon nod his head or raise an eyebrow as a signal, or because he knows from experience and practice sessions that that is how they work best. Not because they've had a four paragraph conversation discussing tactics. It's a crutch that I think writers rely too heavily on (and not just fanfic writers, either).

    I don't HATE telepathy in general. I just think it's overused, and I'd love to see people try some more challenging approaches to getting around it. Anyone else?
     
  8. AERYN_SUN

    AERYN_SUN Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 1, 2001
    Since I've come to the fanfic boards, I have seen way too many fanfic crossovers. Crossovers with Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, X-Men, anything.

    What ever happened to writing an original story, an author has to borrow from a completely different galaxy apart from Star Wars to make a story?

    I will admit I used to write crossovers, but there should be a limit of what you can and should not do.

    ~aeryn
     
  9. Daughter_of_Yubyub

    Daughter_of_Yubyub Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2002
    In general, I think telepathy is overused. Especially with Jedi. George himself said in an interview that Jedi weren't telepathic. I try NOT to use this. If Jedi are telepathic, why would they talk to each other on commlinks?

    Well, I'm guilty of the telepathy, as half the dialogue in one fic takes this form. Although in my defence, one of the characters is dead. :p

    For that matter, I've used air ducts. Not as an escape route though. Just as a way for one of the "adorable precocious children" to torment adults. :p

    The cliché that really annoys me is the need to have a million fics where Jag dies. It seems half the J/J fics out there have this.
     
  10. sabrelight

    sabrelight Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2000
    I agree M Renata, telepathy is overused in SW fics. Though most of the time authors use it to jump difficult plot hurdles, over using telephathy can ruin the plot at the same time when at some later point in the plot misunderstanding or something like that is required by the characters then it will seem lame that suddenly the characters cannot communicate.



     
  11. Alion_Sangre

    Alion_Sangre Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    This is not a jab at any writers here, but I look at the fic boards and I see a gazillion A/A, J/J, H/L, K/J and space knows how many other pairings. It's not really a cliché, but I'm really more interested in seeing OC or minor character fics that look at stuff that hasn't been done before. Granted, some of the above fics are very good - Tahi does a great job of filling out Anakin and Tahiri's relationship - but sometimes I look at the fic titles and wonder if 90% of the stuff is the same genre.
     
  12. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2002
    I HATE Obidala's with a screaming blue passion. I feel that the very idea is 'offensive'. It degrades ALL of the relationships (Anakin and Padme, as he usually ends up as a Psychopath), Obiwan is almost always cradel robbing as they are usually TPM era (14 will get you 20 Obi-wan), and it disrepects the relationsip with Anakin and his master (Sorry old boy, I just couldn't resist playing with your girl...) .

    So in a word. No.

    Pet peeve 2. Anakin is niether the personification of Lucifer nor is he a backstreet boy. He's a young man who made some bad choices.... He's more human than we'd like to admit.

    Just my
     
  13. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    I will admit I used to write crossovers, but there should be a limit of what you can and should not do.

    No, there shouldn't. Nor will there ever be limits on crossovers unless it violates the TOS or the rules for what is and isn't acceptable in the fanfic boards.

    Fanfic is specifically about bending normal rules. People should only be censured for their ideas if its going to violate the rules of the boards.

    There are some great, well written crossovers on the boards. There are some that are simply fantastic with what they have managed to achieve and how well they are written.

    Kithera

    Edit: I'm watching this thread closely. I'll reiterate the request NOT to bait, flame or bash people who like a certain idea.
     
  14. AERYN_SUN

    AERYN_SUN Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 1, 2001
    Don't close thread, kit. This thread is a wonderful idea,lady_moonbeam. Guys, don't flame each other, please.

    ~aeryn
     
  15. rogue11lovesjag

    rogue11lovesjag Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 13, 2002
    I think, (and am guilty of it as well) too many people are using Jaina getting pregnant as a plot device.

    You can come up with something original to have Jaina being pregnant and have it really add to the story. TKL's fic, Echoes of the Past--Jaina's pregnancy is a driving force behind this new part...but not just for the sake of having Jaina pregnant.

    I tried to keep mine from being too mainstream by using Jaina's pregnancy to set a great many things in motion. The fact that she was pregnant meant she had to go and hide with Jag's parents. She tried to get the Chiss into the war, and they said no. So Jaina leaked her position to the Vong secretly.

    Whoops.

    If you want to know the rest, read the story...*grin*...but I think people do fall into having a character pregnant for really no reason at all, and it really gets old after a while.

    And something else I've noticed...once Jag and Jaina are married...they're not as much fun to write about.

    ~Rogue
     
  16. Lady_Moonbeam

    Lady_Moonbeam Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Aug 4, 2002
    Okay, to kind of calm things down a bit, let's get on to a discussion topic from what we have so far. That's not to say that you can't come in with other ideas, we'll just start focusing it for the moment on a topic.

    Telepathy was mentioned, but I don't see much of an angle coming out of that, as it is unlikely that a plot will essentially be dependant upon telepathic connections between Jedi. So let's go with the extremely precocious children.

    1) Can a very precocious child that shows up the adults be a good character? What would make him/her "human?"

    2) What are some detailed aspects of the child hero that are irritable?

    3) Are there any good examples of child heroes in either fan fiction or regular stories (Star Wars or otherwise) that you could mention or provide a link to? (Kudos to Kit' for providing the link to a story that uses a cliché but isn't one! I'll have to check that out)

    I'll come in later with my opinions, but for now, I'll let someone else get the ball rolling.
     
  17. AERYN_SUN

    AERYN_SUN Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 1, 2001
    I just want to add, if anyone anti-Obidala's want to flame, [link=http://october-rain.com/revolting/] this [/link] is the place to go. It's an anti-Obidala clique thing.

    ~aeryn
     
  18. Melyanna

    Melyanna Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 2001
    Children are extremely difficult to write in big roles in stories, and this seems to be mostly because the author just doesn't know what's realistic for the character's age. This isn't just confined to fan fic; The Crystal Star drove me absolutely crazy because Jaina acted and talked more like a twelve-year-old than a five- or six-year-old. (It's been a while since I tortured myself with that one, so my memory's a little fuzzy.)

    Kids don't think the same way as adults; in fact, there was a time when children under the age of eight were considered insane because their thinking patterns were so different from adults. We have a better understanding of that now, of course, but the fact still remains that a child will not look at a situation and think about it the same way an adult would.

    "Precocious" or "gifted" is one thing, but having spent much of my childhood with other gifted children, I can tell you that most gifted kids don't act older than their ages. Being particularly talented in some way rarely speeds up the maturation process, and from what I've observed, often slows it down. For the purposes of fan fiction, I see Force sensitivity the same way. Sure, the kid may be as powerful as Anakin Skywalker, but he's still got to grow up somewhere along the line.

    (Yes, I realize that there are some kids who mature very quickly, but those kids are quite the exception rather than the rule.)

    The plot where the overly grown-up child saves the helpless adults irritates me in many, many ways, mostly because it seems to display a lack of research on the author's part. If the adults are stuck in some situation and the child accidentally stumbles upon the right action to save them, that's okay. But if a three-year-old comes rushing in to save them... umm, that three-year-old probably doesn't even understand what's going on.

    So to wrap up a longer-than-usual rant, if you're going to write a child character in a big role, do everyone a favor and get to know a kid of that age first. That more than anything will help you write a realistic child and prevent me from ranting about it. :p

    Mel
     
  19. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Wait wait wait....
    Before this turns into a "Lynch Darth Breezy for discussing Obidala in a negative light."

    No where in my post did I bash the writers... This is how I feel and at least I gave a reason other than "they Suck".

    *deep breath*

    Starts to type.

    *deep breath again*

    To state it simply, I would like to point out that I know of at least two authors that use the element of telepathy and a young child (who is classicly precocious but so beautifly written that it's anyting but...) but I think I'm just going to bow out of this discussion. I'm not in a space to deal with another round of Breezy Beating because I disagree with a faction of the boards.

     
  20. Lady_Moonbeam

    Lady_Moonbeam Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Aug 4, 2002
    Wait, DB, I wasn't implying that you had flamed anyone. I thought that your reasons were very well-given and that they made sense and wasn't flaming at all--since flaming is senseless and would be like screaming "I HATE _______ BECAUSE THEY'RE STUPID!"

    Your opinion is completely welcome here, no matter what aspect it's on or whether it is positive or negative.
     
  21. Mcily_Nochi

    Mcily_Nochi Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 23, 2001
    I have had little contact with children, and I really don't know how they act at any given age, so I try to steer clear of writing them, because I doubt I could do it realistically.

    I have seen at least one story where there is an obviously precocious child, but she is used well. I don't know if others will agree, though. She isn't smart enough to try to change things, but she is the daughter of a Sith Lord, and is the focal point for several of the events of the story. She figures out a lot on her own because she is smart, but I think she also acts her age for the most part. (See above-- I am not an expert. ;) ) I'm referring to Denilee Ismaren Rage from Lisse's [link=http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=1641900&page=1]The Circle[/link] (linked here with Lisse's permission for the purposes of discussion).
     
  22. Heather_Skywalker

    Heather_Skywalker Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 13, 2002
    Although children are sometimes just what a fanfic needs, they always tend to be way overdone and (espically if the main character) get into a grove that just stays the same. (The oops when they do somthing bad) It just gets boring. But that's all I'm saying for that one. ;)

    DB, In a way I do agree with the Obidala idea; Anakin and Padme's love is something great, but for a writer to expand there scope and write something not exactly "right" is pretty cool to me. I'm wishy washy on this subject, becuase I've been on both sides and know what they both hold. :)

    A_S, for me it's more the crossover planning. Do the story or don't do the story. I don't mind one or another here or there but now it's "I'm thinking" or "Should I" ask once and let us read it :) Where not going to bannish you because you've done it. Just stop planning! :)

    I'd have to say that my number one of pet peeves is these long Anakin and Padme romances that just can't end and they should have been cut about 25 posts ago. I understand that that's the author's choice and I can stop reading (which I do) but on the other hand I would think that readers would get sick over the same old, they break up and a big mess brings them back together; then when all else fails- "Ani I'm going to not just have twins but triplets!" idea. Sometimes it's funny to see what will come up next, but really it's just sad.

     
  23. Jane Jinn

    Jane Jinn Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 12, 2000
    Elements used to excess? Well, I've pretty much stopped reading JA fics unless they're extremely well written, and I'm not widely read in any other genre, not enough to see all the trends anyway, so let me think back to what I remember about JA.

    The idea that Obi-Wan hates being at the healers. The first few times, it was okay, but now, after three years, it's horribly overdone. What can be done to better it? Have Obi-Wan not care one way or the other if he's in the healers' ward or not. Have him actually enjoy it! Somebody should go all out and write a fic where Obi-Wan has a secret interest -- even a passion -- for medicine, to the point where he's always asking questions about procedures and maybe even trying out some things by himself, using Qui-Gon as a guinea pig, for instance. "No, padawan, you don't need to sew up this little cut, it'll heal on its own, and I definitely don't need an IV or a portable heart monitor. Just put that stuff back in your belt pouch and remember to return it to the medcenter when we get home."

    Of course, there's always the danger that, once somebody writes a fic that goes in the opposite direction (of any cliche), many of the other writers will follow and do the same thing because it was such a good idea in the first place. Then we'll have a new, overworked cliche. *sigh*

     
  24. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Just to note - my warning was a generic one, not targetting anyone specifically.

    *

    I guess I may be guilty of bad child writing. I have a couple of children characters (only one I write now). However, I don't think I've ever made any of them out to be precocious (PM me and tell me if I have). Most of my child characters seem to have some deep insecurities about themselves and where they fit into the Jedi temple.

    As for children acting older then their age, I aree that that doesn't go with gifted children all the time. However, major life events can often make children behave as if they are older then their age would say. .

    It's probably trying to find the balance between a precocious child and a real child. Working with kids everyday makes you suddenly realise how diverse and different each one is and how that much of the time they can actually be like little adults (especially at nine to ten) but it doesn't mean they are. Conversly, most children don't talk with a lisp at age 5 (unless they have a speech problem) and 3 year olds don't talk like little babies "Mamma, I wanna go potty now." in that fake little whingy voice. They do mispronounce words though, which can be rather cute.

    Kithera

    Note: The Demon Child Series that I mentioned earleris an actual published series of books. They are put up by Voyager, the fantast division of Harper and Collins. However, I'd still recommend that people read them.
     
  25. Daughter_of_Yubyub

    Daughter_of_Yubyub Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2002
    I work with a lot of kids, and none of my five year olds have ever had a lisp. I wish that if people insist on giving the kid speech problems to be "cute", they go with one that isn't so horribly overdone. For instance, I had trouble with the letter l.

    I find children work best in humour stories, because a child is much more likely to be tormenting all the adults around them than charging to the rescue.
     
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