What are your big no-no’s of writing?

  1. The illusion behind a hero . I explain , often this hero is written (and yes there is one fine exemple , but I aint going there lol) in a way that suggest the hero is your commoner . He can be poor , orphan…on the street , very shitty life . You are sobbing as you read the story . It really pulling on ALL your emotionals strings like a violon . Then at some point , the truth is revealed !!! his parents weren’t nobody ! He has a Big cash waiting for him at unamed Bank ! the life of the street is over…he has privilége ! ARGHHHHHHH…

fan 1: but hey look! he learned so much from being poor and orphan and stuff!
fan 2: yes it does ! The whole damn message was about starting from nothing and being able to be something !!! Then you switch half way there and show that it worked for him cose he was Destinited before he was even born !! So the whole ‘Hard work pay off’ is gone by the window , the whole ‘even a nobody can succeed is gone’’ and the whole 'Make your own destiny is shot to the ground ’ cose now he is overshadowed by privilége daddy . roll eyes Thanx for killing it !

And of course it get worse , when said true orphan with no privilége parents or ancestor end up dead or the bad guy . It’s like half way…it become about coming from a good crop . If you do…well chances are you succeed , cose you had those peoples who paved the way for you . If you are a nobody with Nobody to call family , if you are alone in the damn world…well too bad ! you either die young or turn evil .

You know , I hear often peoples say 'Oh I’m tired of playing the hero who save everyone! or the hero with a big destiny ! Let play a Nobody! Like a farmer or something ‘’ . But is a farmer really a nobody ? he actually have proprety you know . For me a nobody is someone who doesn’t even own a name , and has none and nothing . That’s a nobody .

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I hate this, too. (It’s one of the reasons why I stopped watching the Walking Dead.) I understand that you need that particular character to keep the plot going, but if that’s the case, don’t put them in that amount of danger in the first place.

LOL this is hilarious and so true! The “farmer boy who becomes a great hero” has its roots in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey; was your example going to be Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, which was heavily drawn from that? :slight_smile:

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never watched star wars lol and for good reasons . But no…my exemple came from somewhere else .

Hohoho I have a few, though these are mostly for movies and media that are more visual per say since I haven’t been reading too many books lately (I have to change that). Take note though that I believe most, if not all, tropes have some merit if used well, falling on the laziest of cliches or using one “problematic” trope to denote someone without other positive portrayals of those they are representing without good reason is what I find bad and annoying.

Anyways, heres the list:

Edgy Backstories - Main character is abused by people, lost their parents, then somehow gets kidnapped to be experimented on to become a death machine. By that point I tend to not take your story seriously anymore. Really, why can’t your character be who they are because of one specific tragedy? Not their soap opera level life! Its like the author is trying to garner pity points or something! Overly tragic backstories does NOT equal a sympathetic character! Really the only series that I believe got this to work is One Piece mainly because its world is so fantastical and exagerratted that its extreme goofiness tends to balance out its large doses of tragedy. A great example of this is Nico Robin whose backstory is what follows: She ate what is called a Devil Fruit and gained powers as a child, but because of this people viewed her as some sort of demon. She is neglected by her aunt, bullied as a kid, and her only good living relative, her mother named Nico Olvia, is nowhere to be seen. She would only find solace with the country’s archeologists but even they tried to drive her away in fear of her safety because they were researching something forbidden by the World Government. She did ended up befriending a washed up giant though named Sawl. But then the government figured out about their island’s research and slaugthered everyone, just when she met her mother once again whom chose to stay at the burning islands to save their research. Sawl died too, makig sure she escaped. Even as a child she ended up wanted by the World Government due to her knowledge about covered up history that she learned from the archeologists they slaughtered, so people whom she once seeked refuge with ended up betraying her in the end. This endless cycle pf beig betrayed or betraying people lasted for years until she finally found her true friends with the Straw Hat pirates. As seen there, her backstory is just layers of tragedy but I actually liked it because there are parts that are simply happy. It wasn’t drenched JUST by tragedy, and I believe that is the key to making this trope work.

Bad Boys Love Interests - This can also be applied to any gender but it is mostly prevailant with Guys regardless of orientation (though it is more common in straight guys written in YA Novels). Man this is such an annoying trope! If a character is such an asshole to the main protagonist then why the heck are they the main romantic relationship in the book?! I just absolutely despised the idea of “the more you hate the more you love” as some idiotic teenagers tend to apply that in real life. Oh they are bullying me? THEY MUST HAVE A CRUSH ON ME! Bonus points if there is a perfectly fine childhood friend cbaracter as the unrequited love interest in the forced love triangle cause I’ll pick them anyday! (Maybe its just my demisexuality talking though) Again this can be done well. Sometimes, when a character is just a Tsundere then maybe I can view their relationship as cute and fitting. A friendly rivalry between two love interests are cool too. But really, the thing that it really needs to make sure it works is that they don’t cross the line between likable and a downright asshole. Two stories that I thought handled this well is Toradora and its main love insterests, and Homestuck for the end game relationship of Dave and Karkat, with the latter working because the one always angry dude has been a likable jerk throughout the series and the friendly rivalry trope also works since he ended up being a nice foil to the cool dude Dave .

Very unrealistic villains in a realistic setting - I was bullied in middle school because of my love for animation, granted I was such a Weeb back then, but then I asked them what is it that they don’t like about animation? They say it is not realistic. I now regret not having slapped them by the truth that the soap operas they oh so love are beyond unrealistic as well! Reason being that the villains are all way too cartoonishly evil. I am all for exagerrattedly evil villains and even silly ones at the right setting. Yet, if you are advertising a story that is supposed to be a realistic view on forbidden romance or some crap, then if your villains somehow has the time to blow up every single freaking transportation our heroes are riding on then I’m sorry but I just noped out of your story hours ago (looking at you Half Sisters which is still one of the most horrible Filipino soap operas that I’ve ever seen. Forget that they are somehow TWINS despite being half sisters, cause apperently [TRIGGER WARNING: Rape Mention] being raped while pregnant make you pregnant again? Every 5 episodes or so some oh so dramatic Michael Bay style explosion happens. Their cruise ship explodes! Now their plane explodes! Then their friggin house explodes! Dude where the hell are you getting these bombs?! My undying hatred for the state of mainstream Filipino cinema lives on). Like I said this could work on a right setting or tone. The Joker could be cartoonishly evil if he wants but that’s because he’s a super villain in a superhero genre. Even One Piece could be deemed as another good example because a lot of its villains are very hateable, but at the very least you get to see them get their righteous punishment in the end, AND, the series is, like I said before, very exagerratted in tone, flowing from very silly to very dark without in between.

Avoidable Misunderstandings - How to add out of nowhere dramatic tension in the last third of your film 101: Have an out of nowhere misunderstanding that could have been avoided if both (or more) of the characters are either honest in explaining their situations or willing to at least listen on what the other has to say without judging them so quickly. Easy enough right?! Again, this could work if it makes sense on how the character was characterized without making them out of character for the sake of conflict, OR if this stupid misunderstanding wasn’t just added as a last minute conflict near the end of the story. Romances suffer from this trope GREATLY. Heck, even a decent film like Shrek is slightly brought down by this trope which makes it pretty hard for me to rewatch the very first film of the franchise. There are good examples though at least, like in Fate/Zero where a misunderstanding that happened on one character lead to utterly long lasting tragedy between him and the mother of one main characters for the sequel. Lets just say that it not only lead to his tragic downfall, but it also shaped the sequel to come, which makes the misunderstanding purposeful and not just hacked into the story for some conflict. Another trope similar to this that is more common in other genres besides romance is The Liars Revealed as when they are indeed found out, the story tends to halt as they mope around a bit regretting that they lied for some reason (this also happens in misunderstandings but that is more painful in my opinion as it makes the characters seem like idiots). Sometimes it works, as a very cunning liar as a character could sometimes be fun to read about, it is the sad moping part that is just painful to read for me, cause it is booooooring. This is what kept Rambo from being a classic film for me and what has kept me from watching The Road to El Dorado. For me, just please skip the moping part, please.

Here are some tropes that annoys me a little but I am more ok with so I felt like I didn’t need to rant that much about them

Bland “Placement” Characters - Bland protagonists for the sake of ralatability (CYOA stories suffer from this a lot) and main love interest/Comedic relief/Emo rival character/Bullies added in just because is just lazy writing for me. Forgivable if you give them an original twist or if you only have one pf these tropes (for me at least)

Annoying Accents - It does not have to be racist! Characters with an annoying accent is hard to listen to/read through. It is just painful. I am ok with this however if the character has a very hard accent for understandable reasons (like being illitirate and living on the streets, as seen in a few stories about impoverish people), but not if its a comic relief character (that is just a combination of disaster).

Airport Chase Scenes - This had been made fun of to death that even subverting this trope is a cliche onto itself. Its just a minor annoyance since a few of my fave shows (Here she is!! Web Animation and Friends) used this cliche.

Sent to a generic RPG world stories - Isekai, as anime fans call them, are currently the bane of the community. Though I have a bit of nostalgic fondness to its female counterpart (Inuyasha and Fushigi Yuugi) the male version I just groan at. There are however great subversions to this recently (Re:Zero has a horror like twist to it while Konosuba is a hillarious parody).

Urban Fantasies - YA Novels ruined these for me. Just having vampires and ghosts just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. Maybe sometning with a unique twists, like Shakugan no Shana’s concept of monsters eating people’s existence or D Grey Man’s akumas which are the embodiment of people wanting to revive their loved ones may catch my attention, but otherwise this genre just borez me.

There are also other stuff like Blatant Political Preaching on stories where the political messages shouldn’t make sense (cough Battlefield 5 cough) is something that bothers me a lot in this modern age. But, that is not only going to be a looooooong rant, but it shall be very political which I try to avoid if I can. So, I guess I’ll leave it as this. Man this is long O_O

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Oh and I also forgot!

Revival Mechanic - The moment reviving people from the dead ends up becoming like an easy chore then the tension in the story becomes non existent. Biggest offenders of this trope is Dragon Ball and DC and Marvel comics. For me, if a ressurection mechanic is introduced it should either be very hard to pull off (Some DnD stories shared across the internet are like this), is limited (Dragon ball once have a limit of being revived once as a drawback which I thought was ok, until they introduced way too many loopholes in the concept), or has very dire effects on the person (While I personally haven’t read or watched it, I heard that The Song of Ice and Fire has a great mechanic where ressurecting someone causes them to lose parts of themselves to the point where they become different people once abused, or heck even Harry Potter’s Ressurection Stone has great drawbackw).

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In keeping with my fondness for stylistic heresies, here’s a lovely article about something many people would call a big no-no of writing:

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Personally I think the “rule” of avoiding long sentences is there for the same reason I tell my ESL students to keep their sentences short as well: it’s because most people are super duper bad at writing long sentences.

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Okay what will forever grind my gears reading fanfic and playing these games, is when the author tries to be ‘sassy’ and make comments about you, the reader, reading it.
Like it tries to be ‘relatable’ or ‘cool’ but it just ends up like a cringey, incoherent mess.
Another thing that bothers me is when characters just exposition dump certain events or places. It can be done right but usually characters just end up as mouth pieces and start talking about the economy of said place?? Seriously, it sounds so out of place and the characters sound awkward and stiff. “This here is (insert random place). The people here are more poor and the rich usually never help them. It’s a standard monarchy with blah blah blah.” and I’m like??? What is this??? I didn’t ask for a history lesson.
-Another thing that really annoys me is making basic mean rivals for the main character to make them look better in comparison and excuse their poor actions towards an RO because “oh, [so-and-so] would’ve not made him happy! That’s why it’s cool we sneak off to random dates even though he’s still dating someone!”

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Like some of the people early on in this thread, months back, I have different standards based upon the medium I’m consuming.

No for Books
  • Pages and pages of unnecessary prose. I adore Tolkien and have read all of his works, however there are cases where you can read two lines of conversation then skip 7-8 pages and not have missed a damn thing. It’s very frustrating and mind-numbing.

  • Giant jumps in logic. Sherlock Holmes, as much as I adore Doyle’s work, is a great example. Nobody can tell where someone’s been based purely off 1.2 seconds of observation. It is difficult to suspend disbelief. Same goes for you, too, Christie. Poirot is a loveable dork, but he’s worse than Sherlock, lmao.

  • Assuming the reader is an idiot. Your twist wasn’t that unexpected, murder mystery writer. Don’t act like it was. Your readers have likely been reading murder mysteries since they were in onesies. Every trope has been done. Stop pretending you’re unique and just roll with the story. We all knew who the killer was in chapter two.

In Games
  • Being gender-locked as either gender I am female, but I don’t generally like being stuck as a female in games.
  • as a sub-point to this, it is very rare I can even enjoy a game wherein I have 0 customization on characters. It’s a little more bearable, if the story is linear, but if it’s open world in any way, or my choices matter…Why am I being forced to play this arbitrary character with a set name? I’ve made exceptions for a few fantastic games, but for the most part, I hate this.
  • Limited character customization. Why is my female character forced to have short hair or an updo, Bioware? Let me have my luscious long locks, gdi. I sort of understood for Mass Effect 1, but after that…come on, bro. And Dragon Age? come on.

  • Limited side quests. Let me play out the story and explore the world. I don’t want 2803947203987420394 codex entries. I want to learn the world and history and culture by experiencing it, not by reading lore. Many, many, many games are guilty of this, unfortunately. Codex entries should be supplementary, like what color hair some random person has, not the primary source of information in the game.

In IF
  • Gender-locking of any kind. Don’t do it, fam. I don’t even like the really popular female-locked one. You guys know which one.

  • Being forced into friendships. I’m okay with having set relationship scores - it’s fair to assume that your MC has a history before you took control of them. But let me change these scores based upon how I personally perceive the NPCs. What one person may find charming, I may find downright annoying (I seriously can’t stand the friends in Totem Force, lol).

  • Being forced into a romantic relationship. I have incredibly high standards in my personal dating life, due to some scummy situations and mistakes, and I need to have a feel for a character before I can feel any sort of romantic/friendly attachment towards them. For instance, in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, I hated Hans Capon so much, at first, that I save scummed until I was able to kick his ass in our bet. I have since come to adore him. Had he been forced as Henry’s friend, though, I probably would have rage quit the game permanently.

  • Characters being “player-sexual” without a reason. I far prefer having gender-locked romances than just having everyone be pansexual. That makes no logical sense to me. Or, at least make them pansexual, rather than player-sexual. Have them make comments on all people’s appearance, regardless of gender identity/femininity/masculinity/androgyny. Have them have a history of dating folks of various gender identities. Don’t just have all the ROs all be attracted to the MC without any effort. That’s BS, imo.

  • Unnecessary stats. I’m totally cool with a game having lots of stats - but when you give me a 70,000 word game, 25,000 word average playthrough, and there are 18 stats on the stats screen, I’m going to wonder how you’re going to manage to have a use for all of them. Every stat involved in the game needs to have some sort of use - and not just a one-time thing.

  • For that matter, IF shorter than 130,000 words is ridiculous to me. It may be a high number, for a novel, but for IF, that’s pretty small. I speed-read, so 130,000 words, average playthrough 55,000, I’ll have it finished 3x in 6 hours. Anything shorter feels like a waste of my money.

  • Too much railroading. A certain amount is necessary, but too much feels ridiculous. I was more forgiving, in the early days of CoG, before I even joined the forum, but the standards have risen so much in recent years. To the point that games I adored are widely considered some of the worst, in terms of replayability and stat-managing. poor HR

  • Asking for appearance details then never using them. Don’t just ask for appearance to put it in the stats screen, please. It’s a waste of time. I know what my character looks like in my mind. Have some use for it - customize the family members, make long hair a hindrance in a fight, etc. etc.

Honestly…there’s quite a bit more, but these are the major ones.

I had…a lot. My standards are high, because I hold myself to high standards, too, lol. I won’t not read something for failing to meet my standards - and a lot of the games/books/IFs I enjoy the most break a few. :slight_smile:

(also, side note: my biggest peeve in writing in general is not breaking up your paragraphs. I struggle to comprehend a paragraph longer than about 100 words or 3-4 sentences. This is an eye issue as well as dyslexia. It’s just so much easier to parse and understand)

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Minor point re: short hair in video games.

It’s easier to model. That’s the reason!

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I would also argue it’s less an issue with writing and more with just game design in general! :sweat_smile:

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I know. Doesn’t mean I like it. Totally breaks immersion for me. Curly hair, too.

I have nearly-hip length hair (when straightened. roughly shoulder length otherwise) that is curly and a deep red naturally (currently black, woo)…not being able to have hair that makes the game feel like a self-insert makes it a little less fun for me :sweat_smile: So that was less writing and more just a nitpicky thing, because I was on the topic lololol my bad.

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I’m a guy and my hair is maybe a couple inches shorter than yours it sounds like, The struggle to find a game (and even an IF game a lot of times) that lets the hair flow is very real.

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I’m one of those weirdos that genuinely likes playing female characters and I always have to settle for a ponytail when I really want luscious black waves that cascade down my back. But until recently even triple-A games have taken the easy route in texturing and animating hair (they don’t do it).

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Yeah, that’s where I was going with Mass Effect. At least there’s an in-universe reason for that - a marine can’t exactly do whatever they want with their hair (Lord knows, I know that much. I live very near a marine base, and every male marine is obvious on sight. Short and tight, boys. Short and tight).

Even Dragon Age, I can soooort of understand, because of the whole fighting thing.

But it’s like…I’m playing a fantasy game, right? Let me put myself in the fantasy, pls.

@JMH the struggle is soooo real, hahaha. I just wanna feel like a skinnier, prettier, Mary Sue version of myself, okay

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  • Something that just tries to be everything at once… If you try to make a compelling thriller while also making it a comedy with a heavy romance influence while also making things wrapped up in an allegory about the nature of human greed vs nature with a massive cast of varied characters, well, you reading this at home probably had to reread some of that to even just wrap your head around it. It’s not impossible to make something that has a little bit of many genres, themes, and ideas, but it’s usually best to just try and focus on making your main draws really good.

This ties in with a similar problem of ‘Don’t have a pointless adventure.’ If there’s no lesson to be learned, then it probably wasn’t an exciting tale. People develop by learning, and plots develop through people. So if there’s no ideas, not matter how simple, being put out by the text, then it’s not likely an entertaining read.

  • For the love of god space out your paragraphs and have decent syntax. Anything from a book to a webcomic, if you’re staring at nothing but a big chunk of text exposition it becomes a draining task to get through.

  • Not having a decent voice. Seeing dry boring drawls of exposition with uninspired dialogue and narration that feels like it’s going through the motions is awful to get through. It’s not something that can really be easily learned, but it’s what separates good narratives from bad ones.

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don’t try to be everything at once

don’t have a pointless adventure

I’m really enjoying Stronghold (from the COG lineup) because it feels really focused on the trade-offs and compromises of running a little medieval town without skimping on the things that COG titles are known for (relationship management, character customisation, NB options, impactful choices, etc). I love how tightly woven the narrative is.

I also enjoy Stronghold for being what it is, but felt they’re missing a lot, speaking of “don’t try to be everything.” Especially the inheritance part, especially if you let Petta become your successor. I don’t mind if one of the arc revolves around Petta, but to my disappointment, she’s still nobody when she took charge of the town, and even I adore her!.

Speaking of which, nice Hollow Knight profpic you got there.

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I feel like Stronghold had a lot of good build up and potential, but the game felt quite railroady and in the end the problems never cultivated into a real definitive climax or true test of your planning or skill. It just felt like “Well this is a thing now, which one of my stats is the highest and can allow me to get by?”

It’s a shame for me personally, because I was quite invested in it when I felt like it was building up to something bigger.

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Let’s keep this discussion to general writing-related dislikes and tropes—discussion of Stronghold specifically should go in its thread or other related topics. :slight_smile:

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