I admit it. I'm a geek. I read fan fiction.
Specifically, I read Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Castle, and occasionally Star Wars and Star Trek fan fiction.
Specifically, I read Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Castle, and occasionally Star Wars and Star Trek fan fiction.
In no particular order, these are the things that will make me stop reading a Harry Potter story. They drive me up the wall in irritation. Please note that these aren't the only things that will make me stop reading a story... these are just the ones I've written down. I reserve the right to expand this list as I choose, when I choose.
Oh, and if I've left an unfavorable review for one of your stories, I don't want to hear how you're not really bad because you haven't broken any of these rules. You can be a piss-poor writer and not break any of these rules...
H-PINO stands for “Harry Potter in Name Only”. I’m all for a good AU story, but when the author has to begin their story with a full-page summary of all the differences between their version of the Harry Potter universe and the canon version, then they might as well be writing a completely original story with completely original characters.
A little angst now and again is fine. Sorrow and despair, especially in the wake of a tragedy, is reasonable for your characters. But multiple chapters of pointless moping and whining make me want to vomit. And hit someone.
Save the author’s notes for the beginning of the chapter, or even better the end of the chapter. Do not interrupt your narrative to make some unnecessary (A/N: This really sucks, doesn’t it? Throws you off because you were reading one thing and suddenly you’re reading another? It’s distracting, right?) comment because it sucks and it is a sign of a very bad writer. In general, readers are smart enough to get your references on their own; you don’t need to tell them every little thing, especially when you interrupt your stories to do it.
Actually using the word “Flashback” to indicate a Flashback.
Why not just insert the words "I'm a Fucking Horrible Writer" into your text and get it over with, because there are much better ways to indicate a flashback than actually saying “flashback”. Use those better ways.
I appreciate that some fan fiction writers are not native English speakers. That isn’t really a problem. What is a problem is when a person who’s English isn’t that strong tries to translate their story into English themselves. I’m sorry, but all this does is turn what is likely your truly wonderful story into a hard to read mess. My advice: if you aren’t sure about your English, find a native-English speaker who is fluent enough in your language to translate it for you. And don’t forget to give your translator credit for helping you; it’s the least you can do after all.
Now, when I say “slash”, I mean those stories that place characters that are strictly heterosexual in canon into homosexual relationships. This has nothing to do with homosexuality and everything to do with turning characters into something they are not. When you write slash, you are performing an action commonly known as an “asspull” (as in, “you are pulling it out of your…”). And no, you yaboons, there isn’t any “subtext” there, and I am not missing it. You’re just making shit up.
That counts double for Crack!Slash.
By which I mean pairing Harry up with Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, or any other male character for whom Harry’s first emotional reaction is violence and hatred.
Harry/Voldemort pairings especially.
Do I really need to explain this one?
Ridiculous Non-Slash Pairings.
Draco Malfoy is an arrogant elitist racist bastard. The last people he's going to hook up with are the daughters of a family he thinks of as poverty-stricken blood traitors, or a Mudblood who hangs around with his arch-enemy, Harry Potter.
They are not compatible. They are not romantic figures. They absolutely not the reincarnation of Romeo and Juliet.
A vendetta fic is a story in which the writer decides to “punish” a character he or she doesn’t like by portraying the disliked character in the worse possible light imagineable. I’m sorry, but how fucking childish is this? Specifically:
- Idiot!Ron/Rapist!Ron/Thug!Ron: I hate it when Ron is portrayed as a bumbling idiot whose best features are his lack of table manners and his obsession with Quidditch. In canon, Ron’s a flawed individual, sure, but that doesn’t make him evil. In point of fact, there are no perfect, shining individuals in any of the Harry Potter books, so punishing Ron for not being perfect is just plain dumb.
- Ginny Weasley Depicted as Nothing More Than an Obsessed Fangirl: Oh please. Could you get more off-base than this? Yes, she starts out with a crush. That crush is pretty much over by Goblet of Fire, so let it go already.
- Harry/Ginny Being “Oedipal” and Thus “Gross”: The idea here being that supposedly, Lily Potter and Ginny Weasley look alike because they are both redheads. This is one of the most retarded things I’ve ever heard. That’s like saying actresses Frances Fisher and Alyson Hannigan look alike because they are both redheads. (Hint: they look nothing alike; Google search the names and see for yourself.)
- Harry's friends turn their back on Harry because... um... because... hold on... I'll think of some stupid reason in a moment: This is another cliche. Usually, its the two youngest Weasleys who turn on Harry because of some really retarded reason that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and turns Ron and Ginny into complete OCs, because regardless of how much you dislike these two characters, even you haters would have to admit that their portrayal in these stories is out there like friggin' Pluto...
- While we're on the subject of betrayal, the idea that Molly Weasley playing the Question Game with a 10-year-old Ginny is part of a conspiracy is utter bullshit: You know how it goes, Harry starts wondering, "How could Molly have forgotten where the platform was?" and suddenly it turns out that the Weasleys are a bunch of backstabbers, so obviously Harry is better off with Hermione. Or something. Guys, all this bullshit does is shine a light on how little you know about actual parenting. Real life parents play this particular game all the fucking time. You ask your child a question to which you already know the answer, not to remind yourself of the answer, but to make sure the child knows the answer. I once had a nice half-hour session with my then-seven year old in which I pretended to forget which denomination of dollar bill was the highest, the 1, the 5, the 10, or the 20, because the point was to make sure the seven-year-old knew which was which. Thus, Molly asking Ginny what the platform number was is evidence of nothing more than Molly being a good parent. So get over it, you paranoid idiots.
- Ginny only having three settings: bitch, whore, and bitchy whore: Can we get more childish than this?
- Molly Weasley only having two settings: shrieking harridan and violently shrieking harridan: She's not as bad as the Weasley haters portray her as. Really.
- Harry-sent-to-Azkaban stories where his closest friends turn their back on him for no real reason whatsoever: It's almost like Hufflepuffs are the only ones capable of loyalty.
- SlytherinsAreTheKoolz!Fics, where casual cruelty and manipulation is a good thing, and everyone but the Slytherin are idiots, especially the Gryffindors, who aren't smart enough to even say "What just happened" when they're outsmarted: I mean, really... I know you suffered through high school and are now taking your outcast status out on the cool kids of the Harry Potter universe, but this sort of nonsense is just stupid...
- Harry's interest in Ginny first appears about the same time as love potions, ergo, Ginny used a love potion to ensnare Harry away from (insert other female here): And usually, the "other female" is Hermione, who's probably being dosed with love potions by Ron. Guys, this has to be the most addle-brained, paranoid, delusional bullshit I've read, and in that I am comparing it to most Conservative political screeds I've read. There's no canon evidence of it. None whatsoever. And no, you idiotic moron, I'm not missing the "subtext". Rowling is amazingly anvilicious with her subtext; she's not subtle at all. If this is what was really going on, she'd have been explicit about it. So get over yourself and stop acting like a loon.
- ... with Molly Weasley's assistance, of course: More bullshit on a galactic scale.
AnachronismsAn anachronism is a mistake in the history of the story, and they are very distracting. For example, if you want to write a story in which Harry is still at Hogwarts, unless he’s become a teacher, your story is going to take place some time between the summer of 1991 and the summer of 1998. Keep this in mind every time you include something from the Muggle world. For example, I read a story in which Harry and Ginny danced to a Rascal Flatts song at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. The problem is, the song they danced to came out in 2007, fully ten years after Bill and Fleur got married. And learn what sort of technology is available in the 1970s. Lily Evans would not own an iPod. She died before they were invented, remember?
Getting people's ages wrong, especially when it comes to Generation 3
Teddy Lupin could not be at Hogwarts at the same time as James S. Potter. Teddy is seven years older than James Sirius (in the Epilogue, TL is 19 and has been out of school for two years; JS is 12 and is just starting his second year). Scorpius Malfoy is in Albus Potter's year... which means he'd be a third year when Lily Potter got there; he wouldn't be in the same classes as she is in. Likewise, neither of the Scamander boys (Luna's children) would be in the same year as Lily Potter, as Rowling has stated that Luna didn't marry and have kids until the Potters already had their three...)
Moronic Inter-Personal Conflict
Too many so-called romantic stories supposedly build “tension” by introducing a misunderstanding that could easily be cleared up if the two people involved would just open their mouths and talk to one another. But no… the plot requires that these two otherwise intelligent people act like complete idiots by deciding they should “suffer in silence”. I blame this type of story on twenty years of boring, formulaic so-called “romantic comedy” films. They all have the same story: boy and girl meet-cute, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl break up because of something stupid, boy and girl finally get back together just as the film ends after clearing up the problem and realizing they should be together. I hate that. I hate it in films, and I hate it in fan fiction.
Fred and George Reduced To Being Nothing But Comic Relief
Yes, Fred and George are troublemakers and inveterate pranksters. They are also brave and courageous young men, one of whom in canon gave his life for the cause. As characters, they are more than just clowns put into place to make Harry laugh. If all you have them do is be personality-less pranking machines, you’re wasting them.
While we’re on the subject of the Weasley Twins, I hate hate hate hate hate it when a writer has them speak in broken sentences, where one twin says the first three words of a sentence and the other twin finishes. Not only is that fucking irritating to read, its not even accurate. Go back and re-read the books and you’ll see that the twins don’t talk like that! What they do is follow each other’s sentences with the next applicable sentence. Got that? They speak in complete sentences!
Gred and Forge.
Still on the subject of the Weasley Twins, they call themselves Gred and Forge exactly once in seven books. It’s not a running joke; it’s a singular occurrence. So cut it out.
Mary Sue Stories
I just can’t take these stories seriously.
Americans at Hogwarts. American Characters in General, in Fact.
I read a fantastic story once in which Harry and Ron have both become Aurors, and they are sent to the United States to pick up a Death Eater the American version of Aurors had arrested and were holding for extradition. Those American characters were fine, as they made sense. But an American coming to Hogwarts makes no sense at all, in my opinion.
Sexy!Snape and Debonair!Draco.
In Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy, Rowling put together a couple of really compelling antagonists. They seem like real people. Unfortuantely, its gone past some Harry Potter fans that these two characters are really unpleasant individuals. They are nasty. They are bulles. They are antagonistic and mean. Malfoy is self-centered and arrogant, and Snape is arguably a sociopath in the clinical sense. For some reason, though, there exist dozens upon dozens of stories in which Snape and Draco are dark, brooding sex-objects who attract women to them like flies because of their smoldering sensuality.
Are you fucking kidding me, here?
You know, I blame the films for this shit. I’ve met Alan Rickman; he’s a truly nice guy, an amazing actor, and is incredibly charismatic. He’s also smart, funny, and tell’s great stories. The man simply cannot help but project that charisma into Snape, who is supposed to be as uncharismatic as they come. I’ve not met Tom Felton, but a couple of friends who have tell me that he, too, is funny, charismatic, and down-to-earth. So I honestly think that these writers have formed their Sexy!Snape and Debonair!Draco opinions based on the actors, not the books.
You’ve seen these stories. Harry the master of wandless magic. Harry the master of elemental magic. Harry the recipient of direct training by the four founders, turning him into the most powerful wizard since Merlin. Harry as the reincarnation of Merlin! You get the idea. This is silly. If you want to make Harry as powerful as Voldemort, cool… I think that’s a fine idea, what with the prophecy implying that Harry is Voldemort’s “equal”. But don’t go nuts, okay?
Almost as bad as SuperPowered!Harry stories are stories in which Harry is secretly taught a single new spell… that one spell in all the world, usually some form of “Old Magic”, that no one has ever heard about and that “none can defense”, as Mister Miyagi put it. (I hate to break it to you, guys, but I’ve been a martial arts student since I was 15… my seven year old could have blocked that crane kick…)
Too many stories feature this idiocy, and all of them ignore the fact that becoming an animagus is supposed to be really super-rare and super-difficult. It is, in fact, hinted that not everyone can accomplish it. The idiocy really cranks up when Harry has more than one animal form. But even worse than having more than one form is…
This is just stupid.
Almost as common as Super!Harry stories are Super!Hermione stories. Usually in these stories, Hermione is a super-intelligent, all knowing beautiful Princess who is always right, always knows the answer to every problem, get’s any guy she wants with little to no effort, and is always the one who gets the boys out of trouble. Most especially:
Speaking of arrogant, delusional cretins who somehow think they have some sort of say in how the Harry Potter stories should have gone, let me give special mention to those Grangerverse morons. According to these acephalic creins, Hermione Granger and not Harry Potter is the central figure in canon, despite the fact that Harry’s name is all over the covers of the books. Harry, it seems, is merely a “frontkick” (defined as “a character who appears to be the protagonist but is actually the sidekick”) of Hermione Granger. These deluded individuals claim that since the Harry Potter books “occupy a larger space than the author intended”, Rowling really has no say in how the stories go.
In addition, because Rowling “refuses to recognize the truth about Hermione”, she (Rowling, that is) is “delusional and crazy”. In my opinion, the Grangerverse people need to seek immediate psychiatric assistance, because it is they, and not Rowling, who are nuts.
Hermione Granger is fine the way she is. If anything, she needs to be less bitchy and superficial, not more.
I really enjoy well-written “Harry Gets Sorted to Slytherin House” stories. It’s an interesting “what might have been”. But when Slytherin!Harry turns into just as big a Pureblood supremacist asshole as Draco Malfoy, simply because he’s sorted into Slytherin, it makes my teeth ache and I get the urge to punch the writer in the nose.
Harry Potter is not some romantic, sensitive guy who effortlessly woos women, getting them to fall in love with him in mere hours. The truth is, he’s pretty much fucking clueless when it comes to girls and isn’t mushy or romantic at all. He has a bad temper and he’s moody. He’s not intuitive or sensitive, and his relationship with any girl (even Ginny, the woman he ends up with) is likely to be a bumpy ride at first.
Lord Voldemort is supposed to be the absolutely darkest, dangerous, and most evil wizard every to have lived in the Harry Potter universe. Making him a moustache-twirling incompetent is just wrong.
Harry Potter, Expert on the Wizarding World.
I can’t stand this one. He leaves the Dursleys and immediately knows just what to do to make him fat, rich, and happy amongst the wizards, despite only having learned that he was a wizard himself about a femtosecond ago.
I understand why American writers include British slang in their stories; it gives the stories verisimilitude. That is, it makes them seem more real, given that the characters and locations in Harry Potter are British. But there’s a time and place for slang. Yes, “snogging” is a slang term used in Britain for kissing, as “shagging” is for having sex. But know when to use these terms and when not to. Snogging is what two teenagers do when their hormones overheat while they’re sitting on a couch in the common room. Kissing is what two lovers do while on a bed, gazing deeply into the eyes of their one true love, seeking the connection with their beloved’s soul, the passion seeping from their very pores as the admiration they feel for each other emanates from them like ripples on a pond in the morning. Get my point? Sometimes, the actual word needs to be used.
Of course, American writers who don’t even make the effort to sound a little bit British tick me off too. And I’m not just talking about writers who use “Mom” in place of the British “Mum”. I’m talking about continually using American references in place of their British counterparts (like calling them elevators instead of lifts, or calling the ground floor the first floor, and so on).
Sorry, but no. While it is true that the man was manipulative in canon, and while it is also true that the man was too smart for his own good as he sat at the center of his own personal spider-web, Dumbledore wasn’t harsh, wasn’t uncaring, and was absolutely not some criminal mastermind. Cut it out, already. I especially despite stories in which Dumbledore is just as evil as Voldemort, but is more subtle about it.
Before you start describing what it’s like to live in Scotland, please learn what the country is like. We’re talking about a rainy, chilly, foggy, windy, hilly (and sometimes mountainous) country. Make no mistake, it is a beautiful land, but Scotland is not the coast of the Carolinas, and does not share that climate.
Ginny Behind Glass Stories.
These are the stories where Ginny’s brothers (especially Ron and Percy, but almost never the Twins) threaten to murder Harry if he actually comes within sniffing distance of Ginny, despite the fact that Ginny makes it perfectly clear that she wants to be with Harry and isn’t going to put up with their shit.
Look, I’m glad you were inspired by the song to write your story. I do the same thing; I once wrote three whole chapters based solely on the emotions I felt when I listened to Jeff Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Elton John’s "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", and Chicago’s "Hard To Say I’m Sorry" back-to-back. But I didn’t feel the need to inject the actual lyrics of those tunes into the chapters in question, because doing that is stupid.
Luna Lovegood, the Font of All Wisdom.
I can’t stand stories in which Luna Lovegood is portrayed as some sort of mystic-earth mother figure who is in tune with some extra-whatsis source of worldly wisdom rather than simply being eccentric. Just because she’s smart and a little loopy does not turn her into the Oracle of Delphi. Similarly:
Luna Never Talking About Anything Other Than Nargles and Snorkacks.
This is a waste of the character.
Hufflepuffs As Incompetent Boobs.
I cannot stand stories in which all Hufflepuffs are portrayed as nothing but a load of uncreative nabobs incapable of actually achieving. If Cedric Diggory being chosen as Hogwarts Champion during the Triwizard Tournament isn’t a big enough clue that this idea is complete bullshit, how about the fact that Ernie MacMillan, proud Hufflepuff that he is, was the first Hogwarts student to demand the chance to throw-down against Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the last book?
Draco Malfoy, Prince of Slytherin.
Sure, Draco Malfoy usually has a small handful of hangers-on around him at any given time, but Slytherin House is larger than just Malfoy and his followers. There is no evidence in canon that Malfoy “rules” his House in any way, shape, or form. This is especially true when he’s an ickle-firstie! The sixth and seventh year Slytherins already in place when Malfoy gets there would control the House a lot more effectively than a loudmouth prig like Malfoy. And given that his dad was in the crapper with Voldemort during his seventh year, I doubt even the “seniors rule the school” effect would have made him “prince of Slytherin”, assuming Draco made it that far.
Harmonian Stories Described By the Writer as Fixing Things.
The arrogant implication in this is that canon is somehow “broken” because Harry ended up with Ginny, and that the writer of the Harry/Hermione story is “fixing” things or “correcting” things by writing their story. Look, if you want to write a Harry/Hermione story, go for it. But don’t pretend that the Harry/Hermione ship is the correct relationship, because it isn’t. The books are over. Rowling sank your ship before it ever left the dock. Get the fuck over it already. On related notes:
Harry and Hermione Cheating on Ron and Ginny With Each Other.
Marital infidelity, to me, is one of the worst kinds of unforgivable betrayal possible between one person and another. The fact that writers of such stories general portray Harry and Hermione’s affair as a good thing just sickens me.
Magical Oaths Made on One’s “Life and Magic” Having the Same Effect as an Unbreakable Vow.
Where the hell did these things come from, anyway? The canonical Unbreakable Vow is a special ceremony; its this big important thing because it will kill you if you break it. If all it took was waving one’s wand and saying “I swear…” there’d be no need of such a ceremony… not to mention no need for Veratiserum.
Draco Malfoy “Seeing the Light” and Becoming a Nice Guy.
No, sorry… even if Draco did realize he was on the wrong side and jump ship, he’d still not be a nice guy. He’d be arrogant, nasty, bigoted, and mean, even if he was fighting against Voldemort.
Not only because the basic idea is stupid, but because the basic idea is really, really stupid.
Romantic Eleven Year Olds.
Because we all know how many eleven year olds engage in torrid, Harlequin Romance-style romances.
Sex Scenes That Are Obviously Written By Thirteen Year Old Virgins.
Look, this is going to sound harsh, but if you’ve never done it (and by God, if you’re only thirteen you’d better not have done it yet), don’t write about it, because you don’t get it right. Trust me.
Harry, Not Harold or Harrison.
His name is just “Harry”. Similarly, the names are Lily, Percy, and Draco, not Lillian, Percival, and Draconis.
Hermione’s Parents Being Named “Dan” and “Emma”.
In the words of a much wiser man than I, naming Hermione’s parents after actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson is hair-pullingly awful, so cut it out.
Itemized Shopping Lists.
I don’t need to know every little thing Harry buys on his trip to Diagon Alley. And by the way:
You know what, that trunk that Barty Crouch, Jr. stuffed Mad-Eye Moody into was pretty cool, but there’s no reason for Harry to have one. And the stupidity only increases when the trunk doubles as an studio apartment.
Excessively Detailed Physical Descriptions.
I once read a story where the writer took three long paragraphs to describe how an OC looked. We got details on her body type, her hair color, her eye color, what sort of makeup she was wearing, how she had her hair done, what she was wearing, her facial expression, and even the scent of her perfume and how she held her wand. And all it did was make me want to hit the back-button as quickly as possible.
Casual Female-On-Male Violence.
You’ve seen it before. Harry makes a joke that irritates Ginny. In response Ginny punches Harry in the shoulder hard enough to make him wince. Everyone around them laughs. Ron says something insensitive. Hermione hits him in the head with the book she’s reading hard enough for him to get a lump. Everyone around them laughs. Why are the other characters laughing? Why are such situations considered humorous? Would the writer think Harry hauling back and punching Ginny in the shoulder hard enough for her to bruise because he was irritated by something she said funny? Would it still be considered “comedy” if Ron slammed a heavy book onto Hermione’s skull because she said something he considered rude? Double standards suck ass, folks, especially when they are used to turn domestic violence into comedy. Do not let them into the door.
Bizarre Names For Female Characters.
Now, I know you’re thinking, “But Jack, you’re talking about a book series where female characters are named Ginevra, Hermione, Narcissa, Bellatrix, and Andromeda!” Yes, but most of the female characters in the books are named basic, normal names. The Black family is a special case in which all the children are named after constellations, so unless your character is a Black, there’s no call to name her “Summerwind” or “Rayven” or somesuch bullshit (and since “Summerwind” and “Rayven” aren’t constellations, don’t name your female Blacks that either). The most common female baby names of 1980 (the year Harry and most of his classmates were born) in Great Britain were (in order) Susan, Emily, Jessica, Hannah, Daphne, Chloe, Mary, Ruth, and Cheryl.
Harry’s Quidditch-Toned Muscles.
Could someone please explain to me how sitting around on a broom while looking around until he sees a small glimmer of gold, then riding the broom as fast as he fucking can to catch a little winged gold ball small enough to fit into the palm of his hands would make him ripped and muscular? Willing a broom to go where you want it to has nothing to do with bench-pressing weights or running laps. You basically sit there and let the broom make all the effort.
House Elves Who Speak Like They Were Retarded.
Go back and re-read Dobby’s dialog from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets guys. In fact, see the movie, since Dobby’s dialog (while not whole) was accurately presented. Dobby speaks in whole sentences. Sure, he refers to everyone by proper noun instead of using pronouns, but he doesn’t mispronounce any word but “Weasley” and he doesn’t speak like he was five years old. Neither, for that matter, do Kreacher or Winky.
Naming the Sorting Hat… Especially If You Name It “Floppy”.
I don’t care how cute you think it is. It’s not cute, its fucking stupid.
Too many writers forget that, once upon a time, Peter Pettigrew was a good friend to James, Lily, Sirius, and Remus. If he hadn’t been as trusted as he was, his betrayal wouldn’t have been so painful. He’s not going to be so obviously untrustworthy as to remove all doubt of his loyalty to the Potters.
Harry Getting Vernon Dursley Fired.
The first sentence of the second paragraph of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone mentions that Vernon is the Director of Grunnings. In the UK, the Director is a corporation’s chief executive. This means Vernon Dursley is the boss at Grunnings; there is no one higher on the totem pole than he is, and it would take more than his being shown to be an ass to get him fired.
Harry and His Pet Snake.
I have no idea why the authors of some stories like to pair him up with Wanda the Friendly Cobra, nor do I care. It’s stupid and it should stop.
Oh come on! As Rowling described them, the goblins are a bunch of arrogant, mean-spirited, hard-case putzes. Arrogant, mean-spirited, hard-case putzes aren’t won over by remembering their name and wishing them well.
The Dursleys acting more evil than Heinrich Himmler.
You've seen these stories, right? In them, the Dursleys torture Harry. They abuse him sexually. They conspire to get his money and kill him and his friends. They strangle Hedwig, set fire to his school things, and stab Harry multiple times before dumping him back in the cupboard. I'm surprised writers of this sort of story don't have Vernon grow a Snidely Whiplash moustache, just so he can twist it.
Girl!Blaise stories written after 16 July 2005.
Before HBP was published, you might possibly be excused for writing one of these pieces of shit by claiming ignorance of the fact that Blaise is a boy's name, has always been a boy's name, and will pretty much always be a boy's name. But after? Well, now you're just being pig-headed... And don't you dare tell me "Oh, well, it can be used as a girl's name!" Only by people who have no fucking clue what they are doing to their daughter when they give her a boy's name. And even if people do give a girl the name Blaise, that doesn't change the fact that its still a boy's name. I can name my daughter "Edgar" if I want... doesn't mean that she's not toting around a dude's name!
Describing a fancy meal and getting it wrong.
I know this is a bit specific to me, but what can I say... I'm a chef by profession, I take pride in it, and I know that the writers who aren't chefs are doing their best, but I'm sure there have been times with you guys out there when a writer has someone do something involving our chosen career and gets it wrong. You sort of cringe, right? Stories where the characters go to a fancy black tie dinner and the writer either describes the food wrong (for the record, Jerusalem artichokes are not "just another kind of artichoke"... they're the roots of the sunflower plant and thus closer to potatoes or jicama than artichokes, which are flowers), or select a menu that is either badly combined (duck followed by mussels? not if you don't want your dinner guests to get nauseus over the conflicting lingering aftertastes) or are simply in the wrong order (the aperitif comes after the appetizer course, not after the main course...) bug me, because its clear in these cases that the writer just googled "fancy food" or something and tossed together what looked really, really classy regardless of whether or not the food in question worked together. I know its a nitpick, but it bugs me... So to combat this, I hereby offer myself as a food consultant, should anyone wish to write this sort of scene in their upcoming stories.
Stories with summaries that talk about OCs as if they were part of the canon crew.
I refuse to read stories that have summaries like "Harry, Luna, and Cynthia have to jump through hoops and achieve an unlikely outcome to stop Voldemort". My first reaction is to think "Who the fark is Cynthia?" My second reaction is to think, "Probably a MarySue. Pass."
Future wrap-up chapters.
You know, the ones where in a handful of paragraphs the writer describes the next hundred years after the story ends? I hate those. I don't know what it is that gets under my skin, but I hate them.
Time travel re-do fics where there are no (or virtually no) unpleasant consequences to changing the timeline.
Its a long-held principle of time travel stories that the further you go from the point of change, the less like the original timeline the new one looks. Make too many changes, and you lose you eventually lose the ability to predict what happens. And (and this is vastly important), bad things happen all the time, so why shouldn't they happen in the new timeline also?
Pairing anyone with anyone "just because".
I don't mind stories where Harry (for example) ends up with Hermione or Tonks or Luna or heck, even Pansy Parkinson if the basis for the relationship is laid in a reasonable, intelligent manner that doesn't involve Ginny suddenly becoming the reincarnation of Elizabeth Bathory or Lucretia Borzia or something. I can even dig stories where Ginny just isn't that into Harry. But I want something more than some one-liner reason for Harry to be with another person. And this applies to every ship out there. I hate it when authors throw characters together just because without explaining why those characters would make a good couple.
Everything cool was created by wizards, and everyone important in history was secretly a wizard.
Albert Einstein? He was a wizard. Benjamin Franklin? Wizard. The Beatles? Wizards. And they were wizards because obviously Muggles suck ass and can't get anything done themselves.
Continual misspellings of words taken from canon.
I'm not talking the occasional homonym-substitution that gets missed by the spell-checker and the beta, or the occasional typo that still manages to slip through despite the spell-checker and the beta. I'm talking about spelling it "Voldermort" instead of "Voldemort" every time you use the name. Or spelling it Arvada Kedavra. Or "Expelliramus" every time you mean "Expelliarmus". That sort of thing is easy to prevent, so prevent it.
Everybody needs a "Marauder Name!"
No, everyone bloody well doesn't need a Marauder name. Doing so is dumb and takes away the special nature of the Marauders. And if you have Harry called "Prongslet" in your story, you deserve a good caning.
Hypersensitive and self-deluded quasi-authors whose over-inflated sense of self-worth is a boon to compulsive Snarkers like myself.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It was suggested that I add this one by a friend of mine who shall remain nameless. This friend, however, said that she got it from the Jack's an arrogant asshole" thread over on Dark Lord Potter. When she told me that, I immediately agreed to add it. Who am I to turn down honest criticism after all. Its only the arrogant critics whose attitude is "my shit-don't-stink that land on my Fun With Idiots list. And this one I agree with. But I do want to add something...
Reviewers and critics who don't understand the concept of "deconstruction" or "parody", or even "subtlety".
That's a clue, folks. Follow it. See where it leads you.
Descriptions of hair as a way of "identifying" the character.
This is a sure sign that the writer of the story is a teenage girl. Consider the following, taken from an actual story: "She sat up and ran her fingers through her gently curling shoulder length auburn hair and yawned." We didn't need to know that her hair was a) gently curling, b) shoulder length or c) auburn unless the color and length of her hair actually mattered for some reason. Referring to a character, especially a main character, by their hair color is simply bad writing.