Unresolved Sexual Tension--also known as UST--is one of the things that keeps us watching our favorite shows. We scrutinize every touch, every glance, every verbal exchange, we analyze it with our friends...but sometimes, we wish the writers and producers would just RESOLVE it already. Of course they won't, or if they did, they'd completely ruin it, so we try to fix it ourselves.
Like many home-repair schemes, this is almost never a good idea.
Every fandom has its 'shippers, and every 'ship has foundered on the shoals of badfic. We compiled a list of the ten romantic fic plots we never want to see again--
--But then we got to thinking, there's always someone who can take a stale plot and make it work. For each bad concept on this list, there's a writer that can make it seem like the brightest idea ever. Is that writer you? Pick something from our cliche list and turn it into something completely new--and if we like it, we'll post your story on the site with stars and arrows and such.**
Now, for our inductees to the Plot Hall of Shame:
1. "The three-hour tour..."
Those pesky responsibilities (running the country, administering justice, solving crimes, saving the world) are so distracting! That's okay, we'll just strand the characters of choice on a deserted island/deserted planet/deserted whatever. Great, we'll make them stay until they're so bored, they'll have to have sex to keep from falling asleep.
2. The Nine-Month Miracle
Maybe it really is his baby. Or maybe she's got some 'splainin to do about that one wild night she had when she thought he was lost forever in the jungle. Haven't these people ever heard of contraceptives?
3. Revelation in the ER Waiting Room
Pity the poor hero. He's got to get shot before the heroine will admit she likes him (or vice versa--we're all for equal-opportunity angst here). Liking him is fine. Turning into a major sap over him is not.
As an added note, there should be no sex after major surgery. You'd think this would be obvious, but sadly it's not.
Ahem. Actually, we mean no sex right after major surgery. Just to clarify that we're not suggesting characters should become celibate after a life-threatening ordeal (though they may wish they had done so).
4. "This romance will self-destruct in five chapters..."
"We'll just pretend to be married/lovers/partners in a criminal enterprise. And say, I never noticed you looked like that in a dress..." Wait a minute! I wrote this one! Okay, so we all have moments when the urge to write a really good lip-lock overwhelms our common sense. We'd like to see you do better. Really. We mean it.
5. Missing and Presumed Dead
"I would never have confessed my true feelings if I'd realized you had faked your death at the behest of the District Attorney! How was I to know you were taping me as I made my tearful offering at your empty grave?" Sometimes the only good hero is a dead one. Or at least, a sorta-kinda-maybe dead one.
6. Sleepless in...wherever
You know the part in Sleepless in Seattle where she flies nine gazillion miles to see him, sees the back of some random woman's head, and wanders off without saying a word? You'd think that, rather than assume she's been hiding a spouse for the past thirteen years, he'd just ask who the guy was that she brought to the dance. But you'd be thinking wrong. After all, it's so much fun to get him all worked up for absolutely no reason.
7. "I might not get back...by the end of the fic..."
The suicide mission, an ever-popular fic staple, often ties in with plot #2 or plot #3 or plot #5 (I suppose you could use them all for a real angst-o-rama). Fortunately for fic writers, most heros and heroines seem to have no sense of self-preservation and the luck of a thousand horseshoes.
8. "Are you doing anything this weekend? My college roommate's sister's niece's dogsitter is getting married..."
The guy's such a commitment-phobe he can't even order the same entree in a restaurant twice. But one look at another guy being hog-tied at the altar and, of course, everything's different. Have you noticed, it's always the woman who's looking for a date? Has she no shame at all? I would never admit to a cute guy that I couldn't get a date to a wedding. I'd just mail the happy couple a fruitcake and stay home with a pizza and a couple of Viggo-intensive DVDs. Then again, you don't see anyone writing fic about my life.
Oh, right. You don't see anyone writing fic about Celli's life, do you?
9. "Whose side are you on?"
Is she a bad guy? Is she a good guy? Is she a poached egg on toast? Often, reading this sub-group of fic, we aren't really sure. I guess it doesn't matter if she's a drug-running con artist with a trail of corpses in her wake, as long as the sex is good.
Note: We make shameless exceptions for any fic starring Spike, Webb, or Krycek . 'Cause we said so, that's why.
10. "You belong to me..."
Sure, she's being stalked by a madman who killed her family and her kitten and uprooted her daisies, but it gives the hero an excuse to camp out in her living room and see what she looks like in her jammies. And she'll be the first one at his bedside in the ICU, once the surgeons remove the bullet that almost nicked his aorta (see plot #3). Well-done hurt/comfort fic is a joy. Random terror to try and make us cry makes us want to hurt you, to comfort ourselves.
As we were saying, don't let this happen to you. Or if it does happen, send it to us so we can see if you can rise above the tired, the lame, the huddled masses of fic yearning to breathe free.
**Sweepstakes Rules for the Bad Plot Challenge:
Pick a cliche, write the story, then either post it at your site and email us the link, or email it to us directly. (firstname.lastname@example.org) If we like it, we'll put up the link or the story with the aforementioned stars and arrows. If we don't, we promise to be nice about it.
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