A/N: So this is just something light-hearted I wrote a while ago about some of the things that I find to be cliche about a lot of fanfictions. Of course, if a story does include some of the things mentioned it doesn't make it bad and I've probably used a few myself in the past.
This is set at some point within the timeline of my main fics, not that it's necessary for them to be read before this but there might be minor details that are confusing to someone who hasn't.
Thanks for reading!
Link sat huddled over a table in his house. Tearing another piece of paper from the notebook he had bought in the market, he started scribbling various shapes on it.
"So that'll be the castle," he mumbled, drawing an uneven square with triangles on top. "And this can be…" he put the pencil to his chin in thought, having no idea what he wanted the deformed rectangle to be.
"Hi Link, what are you doing?" Saria's head popped up at the top of his ladder.
"Trying to write a story," he explained while shading in the rectangle.
"Oh?" she leaned over his shoulder. "Where are the words?"
"Um…" he rubbed the back if his head. "I haven't gotten round to adding them yet but I can tell you what it's about." Stacking the papers into a neat pile, he cleared his throat. "There once was a far off land known as uh… I haven't thought up a name yet. But anyway, in that land there was a beautiful princess," he held up a picture of a badly drawn princess with yellow and pink scribbles over her hair and dress. "She was perfect in every way and loved by everyone."
Saria shot him a blank stare.
"One day, an evil presence entered the kingdom-"
"An evil 'presence'?" Saria raised an eyebrow.
"Shh! Wait until you've heard it all!" Link flapped his arms, losing his focus. "The evil swept over the land and…"
He rambled on for another ten minutes while Saria almost fell asleep at his table.
"It was love at first sight! The hero and the princess didn't know each other at all, but who cares? The hero saved the princess from evil so that has to mean they'll get married!" Taking a breather, he turned to the last page of the drawings. "Ok, we're almost at the end now."
"Let me guess, they lived happily ever after? And there's a picture of them kissing at the end?"
"How did you know! Have you been peeking, Saria?" Link looked genuinely upset.
"Um… yeah! Sorry, I couldn't resist," she shot him an innocent smile.
"I guess I can forgive you if it was so good you couldn't wait to see it," he returned the smile.
"Yes, it is. But I think if you made some slight changes it would be even better." Saria brought out a book entitled 'The Big Book of Story Clichés According to…'The end of the title had worn away over time.
"Where did you get that?" Link blinked, not believing she had just pulled that out of thin air.
"I don't know, it appeared in the room so I figured I'd make use of it," she opened the page. "This would be known as a plot hole, something that happens but is never given a logical explanation. You should try to avoid these in stories."
"I see. My story didn't have any of them though, did it?"
"I think we should start from the beginning before diving into that," Saria turned the pages back to the start of the book. "You need make a name for your world to start."
"Hyrule?" he didn't have any ideas.
"We can go back to that too…" Saria flicked through the pages. "We need to work on your main characters."
"What's wrong with them?"
"Your princess is a typical Mary Sue and your hero is an unbelievable character." she read from the book.
"Wow, it really does say that," Link scratched his head. "I thought people liked characters who are good looking and have no flaws. And my princess has such a tragic past, you have to feel sorry for her!"
"What are you two blabbering about?" Mido barged into the house, pushing his way in between the two.
"Trying to create a masterpiece," Link frowned. "What did you want Mido?"
"A masterpiece, huh?" Shift over!" he snatched the pencil from Link and started scribbling on the paper. "I'll show you what a real story is made of."
"And what's that supposed to be?" Saria asked, looking at the figure he was drawing.
"That, is the hero of course! His name will be, uh, Mi… po."
"Are you basing the main character off yourself?" Saria flicked through the book. "You know, basing characters off yourself and people you know usually turns them into Mary Sues and stops them having their own thoughts if you base them too heavily on real people."
"What…? I don't know what you mean, Mipo is nothing like me!" Mido carried on drawing. "Just because he has orange hair and wears a green tunic doesn't mean he's like me at all! Now, he needs a girlfriend…."
"Why not a boyfriend?" Link grinned.
"'Cause, I- I mean Mipo, isn't into guys! Now let me see, I think I'll call her… Maria."
"You what? That's my girlfriend you're basing her off!" Link went to grab the pencil but missed.
"Nuh-uh! Besides, she's my girlfriend in this story- I mean Mipo's!" the Kokiri smirked, drawing in the new character.
"You know, I am in the room," Saria said from behind the book. "Basing the main character off yourself Mido? Then basing someone you want him to be with off someone you like in real life? The book says that's kind of sad."
"I'm not basing it on anyone!" Mido huffed, his face burning with anger. "And I don't care what the book says, it ain't the boss of me!"
"Hey everyone, what are you doing!" A voice called from Link's ladder.
"Malon?" Link blinked. "How did you get here?"
"I don't know, it's only a plot hole so who cares?" she smiled. "How did I even know what a plot hole is? Again, who cares!"
"And there's their palace!" Mido announced proudly.
Saria didn't even bother to comment.
"Oh, are you making a story?" Malon squeaked. "Let me help." Taking the pencil from Mido, she scribbled out 'Maria' and started drawing her own version. "This will be Malone, isn't she cute!"
"is there any point in you telling her about basing characters off herself?" Link interrupted Saria.
"Probably not," Saria sighed, turning a page in the book.
"You see, Malone has had a tragic past. She lost both her parents at birth and is now on a quest to avenge them."
"So, at the moment we have Mipo the 'noble hero' who has no back story and Malone, the girl with a terrible past who is on a quest to get revenge." Link read over the paper, not liking where this was going.
"Wait! I haven't showed you Mipo's awesome powers!" Mido grabbed the pencil. "He can shoot lasers from his eyes!"
"What the heck are lasers?" Malon asked.
"No idea but they sound cool," he grinned.
"How does he manage to shoot 'lasers' from his eyes?" Saria frowned. "You can't just give a character super powers like that without any reasoning."
"He can because I said so!"
"Well if Mipo can do that then Malone can… walk through walls!" Malon exclaimed.
Saria slapped her forehead.
"Okay, Mipo can shoot lasers, Malone can walk through walls. What next?" Link spoke before either of them could come up with something crazier. "How will they meet?"
"Um, Mipo can blast down a wall Malone was walking through one fine day?" Mido suggested.
"Yeah! But Malone doesn't get hurt at all because she's so tough." Malon took the pencil, adding in the important details.
"I'm surprised she can do anything, what with the memories of her tragic past forever tormenting her," Saria said sarcastically from behind the book.
"Hmm, you have a point," Malon pondered the situation. "I'll add that she can deal with it very well since a friendly goat adopted her when she was a child and took good care of her."
"Mipo was raised by like-likes in the desert!" Mido wouldn't let Malon's character have the most interesting past.
"Oh yeah? Did I mention the goat could turn into a castle!"
"Really? Well, I forgot to tell you that the like-likes had their own kingdom beneath the ground! And Mipo was destined to be their ruler!"
"This is ridiculous," Saria mumbled. "The book says all of that is unrealistic unless it's a normal thing in your world."
"How do you know there isn't a like-like kingdom beneath the ground?" Mido challenged her.
"Yeah and what proof do you have that goats can't turn into castles?" Malon crossed her arms.
"What proof do you have that they do?"
"Um, yes, you better take that back! Glad you admitted you're wrong," Malon shot Saria a satisfied smile.
"Alright, now we need a villain," Link insisted. "What about-
"A figure draped in shadow!" Zelda appeared in the room, with her own pencil ready to write.
"How cliché can you get?" Saria read from the book. "Next you'll be saying the villain should be a dark clone of the hero."
"Thanks for stealing my idea Saria!" Zelda sat at the table. "What's wrong with shadow clones? They're so mysterious!"
"It's just lazy. According to this book, heroes aren't all 'sweetness and light' so why do they need a dark clone to show that? It makes more sense to show both sides of the person as a whole, not split them into two because it's 'the cool thing to do'."
"Saria and her book have a point," Link was starting to understand what the book meant.
"Fine then, no shadow clones. But I do think the villain needs to be all powerful with laser eyes!" Zelda clasped her hands together in excitement. "Imagine a final showdown like that!"
"Hey, Mipo has laser eyes, maybe the bad guy can be his father!" Mido shouted over Zelda's swooning.
"Oh my gosh, what a great idea!" Malon joined in. "And the goat can be Malone's real father after all!"
"What is it with you people and laser eyes?" Link mumbled. "Even if they do sound kinda' cool…"
"We need a name for the villain now, and a species," Zelda started to think of all the villains she'd read about.
"Oh, I know!" Malon screamed, almost knocking the paper to the floor. "The bad guy can be a giant sloth who lives in a huge cave in the mountains. It can be the one who killed Malone's parents by eating them!"
"Having parents who were eaten by a sloth sounds like a neat back story," Zelda nodded her approval.
"What would the sloth's motives be for doing that?" Saria asked, curious to know what Malon had to say on the subject.
"Um, the sloth could have been abused when it was younger by….. other sloths. They would tease it for not being fat enough so it declared that it would be the biggest sloth in the land. To do that, it had to eat lots of people!"
"Sounds super!" Zelda smiled.
"Mipo needs a more tragic past to keep up with Malone," Mido sighed. "Maybe he can have an extra leg sticking out of his chest or something? Nah, maybe not."
"So your characters aren't going to have any flaws at all?" Saria was reading a part about well balanced characters.
"Well, duh, the sloth eats people!" Malon reminded her.
"Mipo tries too hard…" Mido sniffed. "He's such a good guy."
"Malone's stunning beauty gets her in trouble with everyone because they're so jealous of her." Malon shook her head in sympathy. "Such a harsh life."
"The villain needs a name," Link pointed out.
"Slothererer the Second!" Mido clapped his hands. "And our kingdom can be called Hyrule Two!"
"If that's how you want it," Saria skipped a few pages. "What's the general plot?"
"They all meet and go on an adventure to destroy the evil sloth!" Malon thought that sounded perfect.
"But how will they destroy it?" Link read over Saria's shoulder.
"With bubblegum and kitties!" Malon squealed.
"Hey, Mipo and Malone gotta fall in love!" Mido insisted, opening a new page for the new scenes.
"Did someone mention love?" a new voice entered the room. Crashing through Link's ceiling without leaving so much as a scratch on her scales, Princess Ruto fell into the room landing neatly on the table.
"Wow, she left no hole," Saria looked up at the ceiling which looked as good as new. "I'm losing count of the plot holes we've got here."
"The secret to any story is love and conflict!" Ruto dove off the table, stealing the pencil from a startled Mido. "Let me show you."
"How did you even know we were making a story?" Link asked.
"Since when did details like that matter, Link?" Zelda snorted. "Let Ruto share her ideas with us!"
"Thank you Zelda but there's no need to suck up to me, you and I will never be more than friends."
"Excuse me?" Zelda scowled. "You're insane!"
"My character is called Starla Firelight. She's exotic, sophisticated, smart, witty, friendly, always willing to help. Perfect in every way."
Wow, Ruto is the only one not to base her character off herself, Saria thought to herself before laughing out loud.
"Is something funny?" Ruto frowned.
"No, just something I read," Saria smirked. "The name you made up sounds like a typical flawless character though."
"Meh, that book doesn't know good taste when it's shown it!" The Zora waved a fin at it. "Now, let's practice the kissing scene!" she grabbed Mido by the collar, kissing him dead on the lips.
"Hey! Who said Starla gets Mipo!" Malon clenched her fists. "We haven't worked out the details yet!"
"Who cares?" Ruto tossed Mido aside, leaving him to pass out on the floor from the shock. "I see my kissing skills still leave men falling at my feet."
"Acting out your own story? You must be bored," Saria read from behind the book. "Let me guess, your character has a tragic past too, Ruto?"
"Hmm, yes. Many years ago, Starla was kicked out of her homeland because she was just too great for the peasants who called themselves her family. Making her own way in the world, she befriended a poor, defenceless blind rat. However, one day, the rat stole all her money and left her to die in the burning sun!" Ruto stopped for a dramatic pause.
"What does a rat want with money?" Link whispered so as not to disturb Ruto's moment.
"Struggling onwards, the brave Starla vowed from that day forward to fight for what was right. To stand for love! To stand for justice!"
"In the name of the moon?" Saria grinned.
"Why?" Malon wondered. "Because a rat stole her money?"
"I haven't ironed out all the details yet but you get the gist!"
"I really don't feel sorry for your character Ruto. If she's dumb enough to let a rat steal from her," Saria commented.
"What! You're meant to feel sorry for the girl! Did I mention she has a rare disease that is incurable but won't kill her? Now you feel bad for her, right?"
"And this disease doesn't have any effect on her?" Saria read from the book, thinking Ruto's character was the most unbelievable so far.
"Of course not! It just makes her a better person because she has to deal with it." the princess smiled, proud of herself for thinking up such a complex character.
"Deal with what? You said it doesn't have an effect on her,"
Ruto stood there with her mouth half open, trying to work out the answer. It didn't work.
"Okay, so we have the basic stuff, we can start writing now," Zelda took her pencil and started writing.
"And why do you get to do the writing?" Mido narrowed his eyes at her.
"Because my handwriting is the neatest."
"Says you," Ruto mumbled. "I bet mine looks better."
"No, I think mine would be best," Malon said.
"I didn't think you knew how to write," the Zora princess snickered.
"This was my story, I wanted to write it," Link sighed, no one wanted to listen to him.
"It would be better if you all wrote your own separate stories, would cause less confusion," Saria read from the last pages of the book. "And you could-"
"Saria?" Zelda interrupted her.
"NO ONE CARES!" Everyone apart from Link screamed.
Grabbing the book from her, Zelda picked it up and slammed it over Link's head.
"Ow! Why'd you do that?"
"Because you didn't join us so you must be on the side of the book!"
"If I want the villain to be a shadow clone, I'll do it!" Zelda shouted, tearing a page out of the book.
"If I want Malone to have a tragic past, I'll do it!" Malon snatched the book and tore another page from it.
"If I want Mipo to be based off me then I'll do it!" Mido ripped out some more pages.
"If I want Starla to be the person I dream of being then I'll do it!" Ruto screamed, tearing at the book as if it were her worst enemy.
"If I want to write a story, I won't do it since no one will let me," Link sat in the corner sulking.
Suddenly, the pages of the book started to repair themselves. In a matter of seconds it looked like nothing had happened to it.
"Oh look, another plot hole," Saria smiled, picking up the book.
"You hold down Saria while I grab the book," Zelda whispered to Malon and Ruto.
Moments later, Saria and the book flew from Link's house. Dusting herself off, the Kokiri picked up the book and headed off towards the Lost Woods. She could still hear them arguing in the house.
"Our story needs a title!" Mido reminded them.
"The Legend of Zelda!" Zelda exclaimed.
"But there's no one called Zelda in it," Malon reasoned. "How about… Bubblegum and Kitties - One True Love."
"Um, no," Ruto rolled her eyes. "I think it should be called Starla Firelight and the Rest of the Cast Who Aren't as Important."
"There's only one good title for that sorry excuse of a story," Saria smiled to herself. "It's a shame they'll never work it out."
Opening the final page of the book, she read the one line that was written there.
'Once Upon a Cliché'