I do not write. I read. Sometimes I criticize. Mostly I read Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter based fan fiction.
Gripes:Mary Sues. Those shameless self-insertions that are really just a veiled insult to the reader. Fine if you like fantasizing about bonking Orlando Bloom in the privacy of your own mind, but to subject me to your poorly disguised OC getting it on with Legolas is just beyond cruel. Just bloody stop it already. Slash. The poor man's, or rather poor woman's, Mary Sue. Mary Sue takes over a canon male, takes the extra appendage in stride and goes off to bonk Orlando Bloom, Tom Felton, etc. etc. etc. It is just so insipid and so mind-numbingly boring. Orthographic ignorance, grammatical atrocities and the casual molestation of canonical names. You know who you are.
Some other gripes:When the story serves the Romance and not the other way around. The silly shipping wars in Harry Potter are usually a good example of this. I am definitely not interested in a 70K story about the courtship of two minor characters. Boring. Nothing of interest ever happens. Twins. I know twins in real life. They do not behave at all like the Weasley twins. Twins are not automatically mischievous, nor are they natural pranksters, or whatever insipidity is driving your perception of Elrond and Elros, Elladan and Elrohir, etc. etc. etc. The word 'Unsung'. Whenever I encounter that in the synopsis, I just roll my eyes and prepare for a descent into the pits of lame. If you're going to write a shameless self-insertion, have the grace to disguise it better. This also goes for suddenly appearing brothers and sisters to canonical characters. You (and your friends) joining the Fellowship, taking Orlando Bloom (-- Well, Legolas, but you know what I mean --) to the mall (WTF?!), going to Hogwarts, etc. etc. etc. Still Mary Sue and still very boring for anyone that is not you. Drabbles. Don't get me started.
Harry Potter gripes in no particular order of importance:Harry gets a really cool name like Harrison, Hadrian, Harold or other assorted nonsensical wish fulfillment reflecting on author insecurities. If the name Harry is good enough for the House of Windsor, it is good enough for Mister Potter. The Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Deus Ex Machina. From just a casual mention of Black snobbery in OotP this has grown into a fanon cliché of monstrous proportions. In all of the books, there is NO evidence of wizarding nobility, and even if such a thing existed it would not grant instantaneous power-ups for the protagonist. And it makes Harry part of the same reprehensible system as his side claims to fight. Some authors even manage to use it to turn Harry into an entitled little wanker who lords it over whomever does not have his exalted ancestry. So Mote It Be. Just stop it already. Whether used in conjunction of the House of Deus Ex Machina or to just illustrate the validity of a sworn statement, this has become a terrible cliché, indicative of a poorly thought out plot. There are countless other methods of keeping an oath, each with their own limitations, such as an Unbreakable Vow, Verita Serum or a contract. A good Canon example of the latter would be the DA's membership list as it was written by Hermione. The Wizengamot. "The Wizengamot is wizarding Britain's high court of law", -- The harrypotter wikia. It is not a hereditary parliament or House of Lords, where members of the Most Noble and Most Ancient Houses of Deus Ex Machina drink tea, oppress the masses and say "So Mote It Be" a lot. Just don't. The Goblins. They're bankers. That should tell you all about them that you need to know. They do not like wizards. They're in it for the money. They're not Deus Ex Machina Elves that can put everything to right for the protagonist. They also do not do inheritance tests, resulting in the protagonist being the heir of several Most Ancient and Most Nobles Houses of Deus Ex Machina. Nor do they do Magical Ability tests, where the protagonist gets this magical printout of all his abilities in percentages. It is boring. Harry is not mega rich. He will not be informed by Goblins of his seven vaults, filled with coins and indexed to the Knut. He will not receive magical printouts listing magical and Muggle investments to rival the holdings of Warren Buffett. Nor will he receive a list of magical properties he owns around the world. There might be some cash stashed away for him to find, but by Merlin's soggy underpants, keep it realistic. Dumbledore. Good, misguided or bad, however you choose to write the man, he does possess a formidable intellect. If you write him as an evil force, make him genuinely dangerous. He will not use 'For the Greater Good' in every other sentence or thought. He will have a plan. And backup plans. He will be adaptable. A good Dumbledore may listen to reason and should be able to be persuaded to change his plans. Therein might lie a challenge for the protagonist. Movieverse. Just don't. Flat, exaggerated characters. Ron Weasley as just a greedy, jealous slob with poor table manners. I'll admit that he isn't one of my favorite characters, but there's more to the boy than just that. Ginny Weasley as the Potter obsessed fan-girl. Molly Weasley. Severus Snape. Albus Dumbledore. Frigging Voldemort. Give them some depth already. The shopping spree. Have you any idea just how boring that cliché is? Especially when Harry buys one of those mega cool chests. Yawn. Straight up rehashing of canon or retelling of canon events through page upon page of dialogue. We've read the books. We know all this stuff already.
More to follow.