A few weeks back I was reading some fiction on another site and as I was reading one particular fic, something really jumped out at me that I suppose I've noticed all along but I never saw it so blatantly done. Even though this was an original work and not fanfiction, after a few pages it was glaringly obvious that the writer didn't care a bit about good characterization but instead only used the characters as a vehicle to attempt to manipulate the emotions of the reader. Then while at some pointless company meeting the other day, something that actually made sense snuck through. The speaker was trying to make a point about company image and perception and pulled out some quote that I'll paraphrase. Essentially, every poem is really three poems. There's the poem that the writer hears in his head, the poem that the writer puts on paper, and then there's the poem that the reader perceives. All three are supposed to be the same but are usually different. So flashing back to this piece of badfic I'd read, what became clear was that the writer didn't want to allow the reader to form his/her own opinion, but instead was using the character reactions to force the readers to read the story in a pre-determined way. Admittedly this was an atrocious example of original fiction, but with fanfiction the danger of attempting to manipulate the readers is even worse because we're dealing with characters that so many people already know. While there are admittedly differences of opinion about how characters might react to a given situation, there's no question that when attempting to write an established character there are guidelines that shouldn't be crossed. For instance, Palpatine would not make slapstick comedic remarks in a non-parody story. It just doesn't fit his character. So, to finally get to my point, as writers how hard is it to evoke an emotion with the reader without tampering with characters to manipulate that reader? As readers, how often do you come across stories where the writer clearly wrote someone out-of-character for no reason other to make a point? As always, if you want to cite an example of bad writing, only use your own work. Otherwise, consider these questions as generally as possible.