Ever wondered what goes on in the minds of LOTR badficcers, and why they come up with their horrible creations? Here's a handy primer.
Warnings: This is a rant that has been building for some time. If you're an LOTR writer, you're probably going to be pissed off, because it's very likely that you're lurking somewhere in this list.
THE TYPES OF BADFIC:
1) The 'Three Girls Dropped into Middle-Earth' story.
Characters required: The author and her two best friends. A variant is the Two Girls in Middle Earth story, written by an author who can't find a third person in her life stupid enough to want to be friends with her.
Scene requirement: One girl must yell at the others to shut up, and this line MUST be somewhere on the first page of the story. The loudmouthed characters must be so annoying you want to kill them. Anyone who insists that only men like The Three Stooges, and that it's a 'male gene' thing, has obviously never come across a TGDIME story.
Note: The "Single Girl Dropped into Middle Earth," story is NOT a variant of the above, since it is the basis of the following:
2) The Legomance (or Viggomance, etc.): Too well-known to be described here, I will only mention it requires a Mary Sue. By the way, the concept of the Mary Sue only proves that few people bother to read books anymore. The older term for a wish fulfillment character was a 'Walter Mitty,' and I have yet to come across a fandom person who's heard of it. Nor is it as misogynistic as Mary Sue, since it is applied to both male and female characters alike.
If society gave teenagers contraceptives without questions or complaints, cured all sexually transmitted diseases, and trained teenage boys how to make it through a date without telling a fart joke, the Legomance would disappear.
3) Elladan and Elrohir as pranksters story. Subvariant, Merry and Pippin as pranksters.
Author Requirements: Not enough literacy to have read the books. Favored by the "I couldn't get through them at all, they were SO DULL, now Dennis McKiernan, there's a REAL master of fantasy," set. The author is also allowed to squee over any other modern 'doorstop' fantasy novelist, as long as the book example is fat and derivative enough.
It has been conjectured by the Wisewomen of Metafandom that Elrohir and Elladan stories were inspired by Fred and George Weasley, meaning the author is emotionally incapable of separating the two different fantasy series. In other words, if HP has stock characters of a certain type, then their counterpart must be created in LOTR, if no equivalent exists.
This Harry Potterization of LOTR results in LOTR personalities being transmuted thus:
Freaky and Weird Trelawney=Freaky and Weird Galadriel. (Although there is a stronger argument that vaudeville ham acting influenced both Emma Thompson and Cate Blanchett even more).
Any Dursley family member=Thranduil (Thranduil has been turned into Legolas' abusive father, though there is no text evidence for this). This also results in the occasional Twisted!Bilbo story.
Unwanted romantic female accessory Ginny Weasley=Unwanted romantic female accessory Arwen (Fans-You mean Harry/Aragorn is in love with WHO? Oh, fuck, just kill me.)
Bossy-know-it-all-Hermione=bitchy Eowyn. (The mean Eowyn in fanfics bears little resemblance to the one in the books.)
Silly House Elves=Silly Lord of the Rings Elves.
Excuse me, there. On to the next category.
4) Cute Little Estel stories.
Requirements: Too much secretion of the oxytocin hormone, too much wholesome small town and rural living. Psychological or religious inability to click any higher rating than 'K' on FF.net. I have never been able to make it all the way through one of these horrors, so I can't give you much in the way of details about the genre.
Characters necessary for a Cute Estel: Estel, pranksters Elladan and Elrohir, dingbat Glorfindel, exasperated Erestor, and Elrond as the deus ex machina. Arwen is normally absent, though Legolas often makes cameos. As noted, this genre has cross-bred with Elladan and Elrohir prankster stories. All the humor must be sickeningly cutesy.
5) Little Hobbits in Hobbiton stories.
Author Requirements: The same type of writer that creates Cute Estels, except even more precious and cute, if you can imagine that.
Scene requirements: Always set pre-LOTR, so the authors can concentrate on important things like Merry and Pippin stealing blueberry pies and falling into ponds, and none of that scary War shit.
Character requirements: Several of the female hobbits listed in the appendices, who dominate the story to unbelievable excess. A Merry and Pippin so young, prankish, and annoying that you want to vomit. Often Frodo and Sam make an appearance, and they're irritating as hell, too. It's the female hobbits, the mothers, sisters, and girlfriends, who always get the better of the male hobbits by the end of the story, and they do it with a self-satisfied smirk, too.
6) Sick!Frodo stories. The victim can also be Merry, Pippin, Faramir, Aragorn, or Legolas. Often a case of Munchhausen's Syndrome by Literary Proxy, in which the author gets a psychological 'reward' via positive reviews by making a character sick or injured. Don't ask me about the author's mentality here, because I don't want to know any more than I do.
7) Tortured!Aragorn or Tortured!Legolas stories.
Not quite the same thing as a Sick!Frodo, since the appeal is sexual in nature, and injury, not illness, is the important point. The reader has a hurt-comfort kink, and this sort of story is often favored by women who secretly like slash but can't face the concept for emotional or religious reasons. Instead of fucking like bunnies, the male characters bind each others' wounds and get all gooey. The injurious effects of being penetrated by sword or arrow (i.e. penis), as in sex, will magically disappear by the next day, except that the character doesn't get pregnant. HOWEVER . . . (see below).
8) LOTR Mpreg. Also caused by too much oxytocin. Often Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Faramir or Legolas is turned into the unwitting vessel. The thought of a pregnant Arwen or Eowyn completely squicks the author. The existence of this genre proves beyond all doubt that those old myths about Athene being born from Zeus' head, and his son Dionysus from his thigh, were created by women. Mpregs (as well as slash) also prove that what Freud did not know about female sexuality could fill a library. Gay men do not write Mpregs, enough said.
A variant of the Mpreg is the Mpreg soap opera. Male character A seduces male character B, B becomes pregnant, A abandons or carelessly loses B somehow, B undergoes trials and tribulations until being rescued by A again, and all is healed by Twu Wuv.
This type of story in its original form was a fempreg soap opera, and a staple of women's trash literature from the early 1800s to the 1950s, when it fell into disrepute for being too silly. It has now been resurrected in slash Mpreg fanfiction by authors too young to know this. See also the psychological concepts of 'projection' and 'displacement.'
9) Randomized Sugar-Highs.
Requirements: An author who is capable of going into gales of laughter over the pronunciation of a single word, and who often does so with her friends at the mall. She must be the class clown, and/or suffer from hypomania or histrionic personality disorder. The main reason the author writes/posts this sort of story is to get attention, and the author's good humor always evaporates the second a reviewer points out any mistakes in the text (Typos? My story HAS NO ERRORS, YOU EVIL LITTLE SHIT! And if it DID it wouldn't MATTER because I'm writing this JUST FOR FUN anyway and not being graded on it so GO FUCK YOURSELF!)
Not my fun, unfortunately.
Important corollary: There will always be at least one positive review of the Sugar-High Story, and this will be littered with errors, thus rousing the suspicion that it was written by the author's sockpuppet.
Characters necessary (Pick any combination of the following): Figwit; the author; the author's friends; any school kid the author hates and wants to humiliate; Elrond because he was played by that weird guy in the Matrix; a few hapless members of the Fellowship; a stick-figure real person such as Britney Spears, Bill Gates, plus a random talk show host or comedian. Since this type of badfic writer cannot even portray his or her own self-insert with any realism, the 'real persons' inside the story are anything but, rendering the legal complaint issue sort of moot.
Jokes required (Pick one or both): A) Cheese. B) Pants. Any other attempts at humor in the story must be taken on good faith.
Variant, if written by a male author. One of the characters MUST fart, and it MUST be on the first page of the story. The other characters MUST make comments about this.
10) The Fellowship Goes to Wal-Mart, Disneyland, Indiana, etc:
Author requirements: Author must be poor at handling a large cast of characters. Individual spoken lines must be severely rationed, and certain characters don't get to say anything for entire chapters. Author must also have a tour guide/being in charge/authority syndrome, and loves explaining modern life to these yokels and sounding smart in comparison to them.
Scene requirements: The author's self-insert preening in her bedroom or bathroom, so she can meet up with the confused Fellowship before setting out. This sort of story is also never a romance, because for some writers, being the smartest one in the class is a bigger ego high than sex.
11) LOTR Real Person Fanfiction
The crackhouse next door, the-spastic-cousin-stuffed-in-the-closet of Tolkien fandom. Indulged in by writers who would not be breaking the commandment against idolatry if God were sexier and could act a little. One of the way stations to those social embarrassments, crazy-ass stalkerhood and songficcage.
RPF is produced by a harmless, if humiliating disease known as Donny Osmunditis, which strikes each generation with the subtlety of a pandemic of whooping-cough. Symptoms are: idiotic blather, dampening of the underpants, and C & D orders.
The author of RPF has a very weak sense of reality, and cannot grasp that celebrities are not just large Barbie dolls you can play with, or that their adored idols are going to be washed up in 2 years' time. The only thing that can cure an author of RPF is the raucous laughter of the author's friends, or the timely appearance of another buff idol without the fading popularity of the previous one.
If the author manages to make it to the 2nd page before the celebrity has fallen in love/ had sex with the author's self-insert, this is considered extraordinary restraint.
Subvariant: LOTR Real Person Slash.
The-bloody-severed-head-hidden-inside-the-spastic-cousin's-pocket of Tolkien fandom. The high priest of LOTR RPS is the Hollywood publicity agent, whose mutterings are carefully studied for oracular wisdom, and its social secretary is Fandom Wank. 14-year-old girls battle like frothing wolverines over whether Idol A showed a hint of affection for Idol B, although common sense tells you that most of these actors, like the general population, are straight. But realism, though being the genre of the LOTR RPSer, is not the forte of this sort of writer.
It may seem strange that anyone actually cares whether Dom or Elijah are getting it on, but with the arrival of the internet, the village gossip's audience has broadened, if not her horizons.
Second Subvariant: Viggo/Orli is My Soulmate!
An ugly glimpse into the schizotypal/borderine personality. Society lets these people run loose because there's nothing that normal, well-developed people like better than laughing at the pathetic and deranged. It's a sport that has developed since certain old-fashioned civic entertainments (e.g. bear-baiting, lynching, witch-burning, visiting insane asylums to poke the chained-up crazies with a stick, etc.) have been banned. Everyone thinks it's hilarious until the Soulmate! writer kills her idol with a gun for thinking her soul stinks, and all the normal people become bleary-eyed and swear they never saw it coming.
This sort of author is prone to trolling, sockpuppeting, screeching tantrums, stalking, and harassing entire communities. Often fodder for Fandom Wank, where the pathetic and deranged are laughed at by normal, well-developed people.
12) LOTR Songfic.
In which the author thinks there's nothing wrong with getting married to Legolas to the lyrics of Evanescence, though anyone else with a sense of period thinks it's hilarious. Modern rock bands must be paired to a medieval setting, and it's even better if it's JPop with the lyrics in Japanese.
Author requirement: Dreaminess, some angst, and the inability to understand that all the best rock music was recorded before 1990.
13) The I've Confused My Fandoms Story.
Lego-chan, meet Aragorn-san. Somehow, Watari, Goku, the Weiss crew, and Harry Potter end up in the story, and it's not even supposed to be a crossover. Often written by the sort of author with an FF.net C2 with over a thousand titles in the 'General' category. Fandom overexposure blends everything together in the author's mind into a steaming, vibrant mulch that grows 10-foot tall weeds as easily as flowers, though the author never realizes this.
14) My First Fanfic Yea!
Author requirement: Must be pre-hormonal or break lower end of age requirement in TOS. Also has parents who wouldn't notice an orgy if it was happening in front of their faces.
Scene requirements: See Legolas point his bow! See Legolas shoot! See Legolas rescue the pretty girl from the nasty spider! See Legolas fall in love with the pretty girl! See the author run out of inspiration by the second paragraph!
15) The relentless LOTR drabblefic writer.
See entry number 13 above, add a few years to the author's age, plus a desperate wish that drabbles could be considered serious literature. Though the author has posted more than 50 stories on FF.net, his or her collected oeuvre still doesn't total 5000 words yet. Each drabble will have just 1 or 2 reviews, all from the author's patient and long-suffering friends. This sort of author probably keeps pennies in a jar. S/he often has a penchant for Faramir, don't ask me why.
16) The LOTR Epic Writer.
This sort of author thinks NaNoWriMo is for wimps. Heck, s/he can churn out 100,000 words in a month. The epic MUST contain Aragorn and Legolas, and the other characters only exist as props for these two. Sometimes s/he gives Prop!Eomer and Prop!Faramir their own special little scene. Usually set after the War of the Ring, this author has legions of fans, hundreds of reviews, and an amazing way of writing scenes and dialogue that's never really bad, but never really inspired, either. This author is always well-regarded by the BNFs of the fandom, often actually is one, and secretly thinks s/he is as good as Tolkien.
Except that Tolkien was never this dull.
(But not of Badfic).