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Your Fanfiction Reading Criteria

So, I'm curious. How do you guys judge what fanfiction to read? What makes you look at a fanfic and go... "Oooo! I have GOT to check that out! *Click*" Alternatively, what are your red flags? What makes you avoid a fanfic like the plague? What makes you go "Ooo! This might be interesting. *Click* Oh... my... god. *HITS THE BACK BUTTON SO HARD*?" For the sake of avoiding flame wars and such, please do not post specific examples of fanfiction you consider bad.

I don't really have much of a bias when it comes to characters. I mean, I have favorite characters, yes. But when it comes to reading fanfic, I'll read fanfics about pretty much any character. That being said, I do have criteria I use in which I judge whether I'd want to read a fanfic or not, though. Especially when I'm in larger fandoms that have upwards of about 20-100,000 or more fanfics to sort through. It gets to the point where you're like... "Eh. I'm going to need a strict system in order to sort through all of this..."

So, basically... if the title or the summary has poor grammar or spelling... Even just one little mistake, I will reject it. I mean, hey, it probably could have a great storyline for all I know, but I'm a grammar Nazi, and stuff like that tends to seriously destroy my enjoyment of a fic. If the summary says "I'm bad at summaries" or "R and R plz" or "My first fic" I will reject it because you're taking up valuable summary space that could otherwise be used to hook me in to your fic. I tend to reject things that have OC/(insert character name here) pairings in the summary because more often than not, the OC is a Mary-Sue/Gary Stu. Not all of them are, I'm sure, but I'm sifting through several fic here, so I'm not going to bother with it. Also, I may have mentioned this before, but I'm not a slash fan, so I usually avoid slash fanfics.

I will not read fanfiction in which such and such character turns into a vampire (in fandoms where vampires either are not explicitly stated as existing or where vampires are not a main focus of the fandom), the canon characters all go to high school (at the same time, despite clearly being different ages and especially in fandoms where everyone is already pretty much past high school or high school is non-existent or whatever), the summary portrays a certain character as OOC, the summary actually admits that character bashing is involved, if rape is mentioned anywhere in the summary, if "me and my friends get sucked into this fandom's universe" is anywhere in the summary in any form, if decent in-universe canon pairings are broken up (I have a couple of exceptions to this, depending on the fandom), if a canon character suddenly turns into a) nerd b) jock c) skater boy d) cheerleader e) princess/prince f) something else they're obviously not, road trip fics where road trips really don't make any sense... And if chapters of a fic are less than 1000 words long. *Deep breath* And... uh... hmm... I think that's everything I avoid. I might have missed a few things, though.

So, let's say that I come across a fanfic that hasn't received any checks on this little checklist I just made. It's grammatically perfect, spelling is great, everything looks to be in order. Well... I might still not read it. Why? The summary doesn't draw me in enough. There needs to be a hook. Something that draws my attention (and I don't mean all-caps). Lemme see if I can explain with examples I just made up.

Summary: Bushroot is just trying to make some friends.

Okay... That's nice. It seems like something Bushroot would do, but you know... it doesn't really seem that interesting. That tends to be Bushroot's motive, anyway. What's so special about this fic?

So, maybe it gets changed to this:

Summary: Bushroot is just trying to make some friends, but it goes horribly wrong.

Okay, now we're getting a little more interesting. It does make us wonder "What is going to go horribly wrong?" But again, this is something that tends to happen to Bushroot. What's so special about this fic?

Summary: Bushroot is just trying to make some friends, but it goes horribly wrong when the other three Fearsome Four get involved.

Now, we're talking. How do these guys get involved? What goes horribly wrong? What happens? I have to find out! For me, I really get pumped for a story when a summary gives me a lot of good questions to ask and makes me want to read more.

So, now then... I've got a story that meets all of my initial criteria with an interesting summary. Time to dig in! What will make me stop reading altogether? OOCness, surprise character bashing (which tends to be OOCness, anyway), bad grammar/spelling (I'll overlook a few mistakes, but if it's all over the map, it becomes very hard for me to continue reading), death of a favorite character of mine, Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu that comes out of nowhere, an overabundance of plot holes....

If all of that is avoided, I'll continue reading, and I'll enjoy it and probably recommend it to my friends. Reviewing is a whole other story, though. *LOL* I realize my criteria is pretty strict, but again, I tend to sort through a lot of fanfics. *lol* I'll be interested to hear what compels others to read fanfiction. Maybe you have looser standards or even tougher standards? Lemme know! :)

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