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Bad Writing Index
aka: Bad Writing
"And you will stand there, wondering how we did it..."
Linkara: Ooh! I know how! (points up toward the ceiling)
Text: Inhumanly Awful Writing
Linkara, Atop the Fourth Wall, "Amazons Attack Issues 5 and 6"

This is an index of tropes that are often indicative of plain bad writing.

When done unintentionally, these tropes are usually bad signs. When done intentionally, they're often signs of parody, comedy, or just the writer being ironic or stylized. Hopefully.

Please note that Tropes Are Tools, and many highly acclaimed works have used these tropes successfully.

See also:

Contrast:

Not to be mistaken for Writers Suck, which has more to do with Butt Monkeys than bad writing.

    open/close all folders 

    Crazy Characterization 
  • Aesop Amnesia: The more times a character is taught a lesson without learning it, the lower the viewer's opinion of him/her and you.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Make your characters react realistically to setbacks or tragic events. Too little angst makes them unrealistic and callous. See Wangst for the result of too much angst.
  • Character Derailment: Characters can grow, but don't suddenly mutate them into something else.
  • Character Shilling: Having characters suddenly talk up another character for no real reason doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
  • Chickification: Stripping the action from an Action Girl does not work, and pisses off all the feminists in the audience.
  • Conflict Ball: Don't have a character cause conflict just because the plot says so.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Making almost every character a despicable scumbag and giving absolutely no hope for the rest will only tire out the audience until they lose interest in the story.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Breaking up a promising relationship just to get the official couple together is not going to sit well with the viewers who care more about the characters than the concept.
  • Designated Hero: Having your hero Kick the Dog and still expecting your audience to accept him as an Ideal Hero because you say he is doesn't usually work, and makes your protagonist unlikable. If you want a darker hero, an Anti-Hero or Villain Protagonist will usually work better than trying to ignore the hero's flaws.
  • Designated Love Interest: If you say that two characters are in love, don't make them hate or be apathetic to each other.
  • Designated Protagonist Syndrome: If you can't write a decent character without them being overshadowed by more interesting characters then maybe you should try to focus on a better character.
  • Designated Villain: Treating the villain as a monster even if nothing in the story indicates anything more than pettiness.
  • Die for Our Ship: Attacking a rival of your pairing of choice doesn't necessarily make that character a bad person.
  • Distress Ball: Don't have a character get kidnapped for no good reason.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Have a good reason for making a canon Villain suddenly be nice other than "He or she is hot!"
  • Dull Surprise: Have your characters emote during events that would make a real person do so.
  • Eight Deadly Words: To put it simply, make the audience cares what happens to the characters in the series.
  • Failure Hero: While having the hero lose from time to time adds some realism to the hero, if he or she loses every single fight or mission, he or she will destroy any and all tension.
  • Faux Action Girl: If you say that a girl is strong, then actually make her strong. If said Action Girl is weaker than they should be, the audience will begin to hate her.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: A villain who is super-mega-powerful, but has no personality, clear goals or motive.
  • Hero Ball: Heroes are expected to make bad decisions every now and then, but when they directly aid the villains, it becomes this trope.
  • Idiot Ball: When the character is suddenly acting like an idiot.
  • Informed Wrongness: If a character is actually in the wrong, prove it.
  • Invincible Hero: A hero who can't lose.
  • Invincible Villain: A villain who can't lose.
  • Jerk Sue: Having a character be a complete Jerkass who gets away with it just because the author designates them as such and says you should support them does not make for a strong character, and is more likely going to turn out be a case of Creator's Pet, and often The Scrappy. Also, it tends to look like a half-assed effort when the author just throws in some secondary throw-away detail in an attempt to make you feel sorry for the character and expect you to not get upset when they behave like a jerk for no other reason than they feel like it at the time.
  • Mary Sue: A flawless, invincible character who never loses at anything makes for a boring story. Mary Sue Tropes and Common Mary Sue Traits contain lots of information on different types of Sue.
  • Most Writers Are Male / Most Writers Are Adults: Women are likely to be written from ignorance, stereotypes and/or in unsympathetic ways (either in the form of misogyny or over-sexualization, and children will have unsettingly adult personalities projected onto them.
  • Motive Decay: If the villain has a motive, they should be expected to at least attempt to carry through with it (if not to its conclusion).
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Don't give a character a new ability out of thin air depending on the situation.
  • Out of Character: Moments when the character does something that he wouldn't normally do without any justification.
  • Positive Discrimination: Don't make the female or minority characters better than the others simply because they are minorities, and don't make the male characters incompetent simply because they are males.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: A character's moral standing should be based on their actions as a whole, not solely on their actions toward the main character. A sure sign of a Mary Sue or a Designated Hero.
  • Special Snowflake Syndrome: Make sure your character actually fits into the universe you've put him/her into. If your character doesn't fit (for example, elf mages fighting crime in the Big Applesauce), make sure there's a solid reason why they're there.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Characters shouldn't give up their lives for nothing (if the character is not a Martyr Without a Cause).
  • Villain Ball: See Hero Ball, only swap "heroes" and "villains".
  • Villain Sue: A flawless, invincible villain who never loses at anything makes for a boring story just as much as an ordinary Mary Sue.
  • Wangst: Make your characters react realistically to setbacks or tragic events. Too much angst makes them unrealistic and annoying.
  • Wimpification: Stripping the action, common sense, and characterization from a male character to add Wangst and gender stereotypes applied to females is a good way to piss off many of the audience, including but not limited to feminists and actual gay or bisexual men.

See also Contrived Stupidity Tropes.

    Mishandled Morals 
All of the below only count if they aren't being Played for Laughs or spoofed:

  • Broken Aesop: The lesson you teach should match what the story shows.
  • Captain Obvious Aesop: Don't try teaching your audience something that they already know.
  • Clueless Aesop: Don't try to put something in a place where it doesn't belong.
  • Lost Aesop: If you're going to present some "truth", make sure you do it.

    Poor Plotting 
Bad Plotting can make for a bad story:

    Senseless Styles 
In amateur writing (or stuff that just simply didn't get the proper proofreading), bad writing is sometimes inherent in the form and presentation of the work itself:

See also Stylistic Suck

    TV Tropes Style 
This Wiki is not exempt from this. Please consult the Permanent Red Link Club for further details.

  • Bold Inflation: Don't bold tropes' names. Tropes need no emphasis, if something's very important, then it should be specified in the description instead.
  • Conversation in the Main Page: Remember, TV Tropes is a wiki, not a forum or chatroom. Conversations just clog up the articles and make them too long/tedious to read.
  • Examples Are Not Arguable: If you're not sure if what you're writing is an example or not, take it to the discussion page instead of coating your example with Weasel Words.
  • Examples Are Not Recent: When writing an example, avoid using the word "recent." What's considered recent now won't be in a couple of years. It just makes more trouble for other tropers to edit out the word "recent" once it isn't recent anymore. Act as if every work that was ever published came out several years ago.
  • Justifying Edit: Tropes Are Not Bad. Avoid responding to examples with a "to be fair" addendum. If a trope is actually justified, the justification should be added into the example itself.
  • Not a Subversion: Misuse of the word "subverted." A common sign of this is use of phrases such as "partially subverted" or "somewhat subverted."
  • Self-Fulfilling Spoiler: Be sure your spoiler tag hides what you are trying to spoil, but don't go overboard.
  • Sink Hole: When making a Pot Hole, make sure that the article being linked bears relevance to the Pot Holed text.
  • Square Peg Round Trope: Make sure that the example that you want to add fully fits the trope. If it's "not really an example", then it's not really an example, and it shouldn't be added.
  • This Troper: Writing about oneself in a Main wiki article. The goal is to make Main articles sound like a single person is editing the article, not multiple people. Besides, personal comments just clog up the articles.
  • Thread Mode: Don't clog up a trope entry just because you don't understand why it's there.
  • Type Labels Are Not Examples: Any relevant context needed to explain the example should be given in the example itself. Don't simply label it "type X" and force the reader to open a separate page just so they can understand what it means.
  • Weblinks Are Not Examples: If one has a trope example, one should write it down, in adequate detail, where it is relevant, not rely on a URL link to some other page to explain what it is.
  • Word Cruft: When writing an example, just stick to writing the example and try to avoid saying useless things that don't need to be said.
  • Zero-Context Example: If you're going to leave an example, please explain what it is. Not everyone will understand what you've written about.

    Bad Game Design 
  • Disappointing Last Level: Be sure players still have interest in finishing your game by the time they reach the final level.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Don't let a glitch cripple the playability of your game.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: Thoroughly test your game before releasing it to ensure that it is reasonably difficult but not impossible to beat.
  • Obvious Beta: Clean your game up and make it look presentable before releasing it.

See also Error Index

    Bad Music/Lyrics 
  • Gratuitous Rape: Deserves a second special mention here. If you are going to address the topic of rape in your lyrics, address it in some meaningful way and be ready for the consequences.
  • Last Note Hilarity: Unless you are a comedy/parody act, you don't want the audience to laugh at your music.
  • Misogyny Song and Misandry Song: The Unfortunate Implications of playing either straight are a very big and controversial issue, and unless you wish to be involved in a controversy, avoiding creating these songs is probably a very good idea.
  • Painful Rhyme: Don't force rhymes. If something doesn't rhyme, you can make a non-rhyming song that can be just as good as a rhyming one, or try to find rhyming words that both describe what you want and rhyme.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: Depending on your genre, this might actually be workable. But in anything requiring clear vocals, this is automatically bad, and even in more permissive genres overly relying on it is often a bad idea.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: Don't write things your singer can't sing, and if you're the singer as well as the writer, be realistic about your range and capabilities.note 

    Unclassified 
  • Canon Defilement: People who are reading your Fan Fic probably enjoy the show for what it is. Not for what you would like it to be. Seeing beloved characters mangled into whatever form you desire is probably going to cut down on your audience, unless you're Neil Gaimannote .
  • Dan Browned: If you haven't done the research, don't claim you have.
  • Demonization: Some of your potential audience may actually see where this position is coming from, if not actually agree. You'll turn them off by your exaggerated portrayal. It also makes it seem like the position you hold isn't nearly as solid as you think, since it can only stand up to strawmen.
  • Glurge: If you're trying to write a heartwarming story, make sure people don't find questionable things underneath your message before you do.
  • IKEA Erotica: Sex should only be as boring as it is to the participants.
  • I Suck at Summaries: If you can't be bothered to summarise your fic properly, then why should people be bothered to read it?
  • Marysuetopia: Mary Sue in society form is still Mary Sue.
  • Moral Dissonance: Don't have the hero behave contrary to his usual morality and be completely oblivious to it. Also see Angst? What Angst?.
  • Narm (when caused by the writing): Make your dramatic/climactic scenes convincing, not cheesy. Don't go over-the-top. Make it realistic. Think about how a person in Real Life would behave in the situation.
  • Nightmare Retardant (when caused by the writing): If something is supposed to be scary, either don't show it or actually make it scary.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble: Viewers can latch onto romantic subtext, even in places where it's not supposed to be.
  • Strangled by the Red String: People going directly from being strangers to being genuinely in love is not very realistic or satisfying to watch. If you're going to make two characters fall in love with each other, try to take it slow.
  • Viewers Are Morons: This is a lie. Most of the time, anyway.
  • Writer Cop Out: Have the strength to follow through, or don't take the shot at all.


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alternative title(s): Bad Writing
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