Okay, please don’t lynch me. I will say in advance that if you are in the habit of doing any of the following things, if what I have to say hurts your feelings, I’m sorry for that, but I’m not sorry for disliking any of these habits/clichés.
First Person Point of View Switch
This one is almost an insta-flounce for me these days. It annoys me so much that it makes it very hard for me to continue reading what may otherwise be a very enjoyable story.
What it is: The narrator changes in the middle of a chapter or one shot, usually denoted by ‘BellaPOV’ or similar at the switch.
Why I hate it: I’ve spent all this time in Edward’s head. I like it there. I don’t want to suddenly be thrust into someone else. At best it pulls me out of the story. At worst I end up utterly confused as to who is telling the story.
What to do instead: If you absolutely cannot do it in one POV, use third person (but don’t head-hop). If you absolutely must write in first person, switch only at chapter breaks, and then only if you absolutely have to.
I’m not fucking perfect: I have a WIP with a POV switch at chapter break. I’m determined to one day finish it, but to be honest, I kinda hate it now because I don’t know who I am.
Where I’ve read it done well: Breaking Dawn. One POV switch, at not just a chapter break, but a ‘book’ break, and it was for a bloody good reason. Another switch back into the original POV at a similarly appropriate time. Also BRONZE by mothlights for very similar reasons.
Quotes From the Books or Movies Inserted into Fic
Eyeroll-inducing if it actually fits seamlessly into your story. Insta-flounce if it doesn’t fit, ‘cause it sticks out like a sore thumb and makes me go O.o <—that’s my WTF face, by the way.
What it is: “Say it. Out loud. Say it!” You with me? Good.
What to do instead: Just don’t. God, please don’t. Unless you can surprise me with an original twist on the line, come up with your own damn material.
I’m not fucking perfect: Actually I do this all the time, but I steal from Joss Whedon when I quote.
Where I’ve read it done well: All My Secrets by venis-envy.
I stood to introduce myself properly to the lady. "Um…sophomore, design major, Jasper Whitlock, ma’am."
Head Hopping in Third Person Limited
Way to confuse the vamp. “Hang on, who was having dirty thoughts? Was it him… or the other guy?” *reads whole paragraph again*
What it is: The characters head that we are in switches without notice in the middle of a scene, paragraph… or sentence? O.o
What to do instead: Look up third person limited and third person omniscient. Use one or the other. Not both. Switch at scene breaks or at the very most, paragraph breaks. Being aware of whose head you are in and being focused on that characters thoughts, feelings, and experiences should keep you focused. If you get distracted easily, get a beta who can see head hopping to help you fix your drafts.
I’m not fucking perfect: Actually, I kinda am. I’ve never head-hopped as far as I know, though I rarely write third person. My NaNo ‘09 might be a bit dizzy-making with the switches in POV from scene to scene over six different characters though.
Where I’ve read it done well: Sorry, I’ve got nothing.
Telling Me Stuff I Already Know
I have read the Twilight Saga. That’s kinda why I’m here.
What it is: Unnecessary exposition is what it is. Anything that details events that happened in canon at length is utterly yawn-worthy. I don’t understand why anyone would waste time re-writing it when we’ve already read it.
What to do instead: Give me just barely enough information to indicate when in canon we are so I know the jump off point of your fic. Barely. Same thing works for recalling or referencing previous events. Don’t assume your readers haven’t read the saga, and don’t assume they are completely stupid.
I’m not fucking perfect: I could be. I’m an inordinately lazy writer, and so anything I don’t have to write, I don’t. If there’s one of my fics where I do this, I’d love to have it pointed out to me.
Where I’ve read it done well: Nope, drawing a blank.
*ducks* @BbEyedGirl made me do it. I’m bound to offend someone with this post, but it says over there –> somewhere that I’m opinionated and fic-snarky, so, umm, yeah. In the words of Joss Whedon (via Cordelia Chase): Tact is just not saying true stuff.