And now, in the interests of truthfulness:

How many of these things am I guilty of? Well...some. Not all, but some. Some others I've read in other fiction and liked, or at the very least not had a problem with, and then I heard that they were wrong. But I didn't think they were wrong. Thus their inclusion here.

Who inspired this? Admittedly, a few people. Did Lccorp2's, for instance, caustic reviews have an influence on the making of this? You bet. Did I deny it when he confronted me? You bet. Have we somehow managed to form a truce, and even a friendship, despite this? Beats me how, but so it seems. We still disagree on what constitutes bad writing, though. I'm more of a prose junkie, while this is the sort of thing that bothers him.

What influenced me to share this was a similar parody posted on the now defunct Uru'baen Forums, which were then the official forums of Anti-Shurtugal, a site pretty much dedicated to savaging poorly written fantasy novels (but see, even critics get sick of the criticizing). For further reading on the sort of difficulties writers encounter when trying to please everyone, see if you can find a copy of the short story 'Once there was...' by Margaret Atwood.

And now, my actual advice on each of these disputed things:

1. Never name one thing in English and another in another language.

I do think that you shouldn't name one girl Angela and the next guy Havold or something. If the story takes place on Earth, Havold will look out of place (unless he slipped through the Wardrobe). If the story takes place in Ladvadia, Angela will look out of place (especially if the religion of Ladvadia doesn't involve angels).

But y'know? If you do this, it isn't going to break the story.

2. Never create a character with long hair.

Frankly, I love long hair. But writers should consider potential practicalities in its upkeep-namely, long hair will rarely stay beautiful in a fantasy setting unless drastic steps are taken to keep it that way. However, many cultures in history have valued long hair, and have found ways to handle it without it getting in the way (from Plains Indians to Victorian ladies).

3. Never allow your main character to succeed at anything.

My feelings about this one should perhaps be obvious. If they are not, consider this: I am generally a sane and typical reader. Now, do you think I like protagonists who fail at everything, or not?

4. Never write about an attractive main character.

Feel free to write about an attractive main character. However, do not write about how your character is the MOST attractive lady/gentleman/gentle hermaphrodite the POV characters have ever seen. Not that I have a problem with that on principle, but every time I see this I'm tempted to write a fanfic bringing every 'most beautiful' character together and see how they measure up. A Battle Royale of pretty.

In short, there is a sort of Beauty Inflation happening among fictional characters, and you may be better off not contributing to the problem.

5. Never have ugly evil characters

Feel free to write about ugly evil characters. Feel equally or more free to write about ugly good characters.

Using certain "ugly" markers as signifiers of great evil may be lazy writing, and can also be potentially insulting to real-life readers who share some of those features. But, especially if you're writing from the POV of the protagonist, they're probably not going to be elegizing their opponent's beauty either.

6. No matter the temptation, stick to the conventional rules of English in all things. Also, never use the passive tense.

Avoid breaking the rules of English at least for the most part, and at least as an amateur writer. There are reasons they were put down in the first place. But the occasional fragment placed for effect will not kill you story. Your story will not be killed by the occasional well-reasoned use of the passive tense, either.

7. Never, ever, ever, have an anachronism. In a fantasy world.

If you are writing real-world historical fiction (time-travel or such), be very careful of anachronisms. And watch for the pitfalls of the Columbian Exchange. Europe didn't have potatoes before 1492, and not for a while afterward.

But those last four words say something very loudly. Listen to them.

8. Never have two characters fall in love, especially not your main characters.

Love is one of many plots. It is a popular plot, but that does not make it a bad plot. Just think things through, and don't throw a romance in as some sort of duty. It helps to give each half of the love story their own characterization and independent plotline, too.

9. Do not have a non-human share any human characteristic.

Perhaps this would be better phrased as: Do not have a non-human share EVERY human characteristic. If you do that, you've just created...a human.

10. On second thought, don't have any intelligent non-humans. Except possibly dragons. Because unlike elves and dwarves, those haven't been done to death.

The one fantasy trope I truly do not want to see more of is dragons. This is personal opinion, but I do find it funny how many people who rip into Tolkienistic fantasy races still enjoy dragons. Granted, each dragon is somewhat different,'s still a big, scaly, flying, fire-breathing critter.

Whatever you do with nonhuman characters, just make sure its interesting.

11. Do not write anything that looks visually impressive.

Sometimes squee!factor is a good thing. It's the reason I wade through Lovecraft's prose. What? You didn't think sunken R'lyeh is visually impressive?

12. Do not have strong female characters.

Like perhaps most of the world, I'm getting irritated with female characters who can do twice as much as a male character can, yet still is only half as much fun to read about.

Learn how to write realistic women, is all I'm really asking here. Hint: they're a lot like realistic men, except more rare in fiction.

13. Do not have any characters without parents.

Before you have an orphan, single-parent, or adopted character, think long and hard why they have to be that way. If your reasoning is good, keep them. If it's because you don't know how to write functional family dynamics...I'm sorry. But it may be worth practicing? If it's because their real parents are royalty, cut it. Unless the people raising them are their biological parents and royalty in disguise. Or their adopted parents are royalty in disguise. That'd actually be pretty cool.

14. Do not describe your characters. At all.

I wrote an essay on description. How do you think I feel about this?

15. Do not have an old man who shares the wisdom of his years.

Make it an old woman instead. Haha!

16. People do not set out on 'journeys' with other people they have just met. Ever.

Normal people do not set out on 'journeys' with people they have just met without a strict background check or very pressing circumstances. Think carefully before having your characters do something you wouldn't do.

Of course, if you do set out on a journey with someone you've just met without a strict background check and pressing circumstances, an adventure of one sort or another is pretty much guaranteed.

17. Do not have prophecies.

Unfortunately, that may be true. Unless it's a false prophecy. Or extremely vague. I would do prophecies with extreme caution, especially if your entire plot is based around one, because that's a sign of weak plotting.

18. Do not have an insane villain. OR a villain who makes mistakes, which is pretty much the same thing.

If they are insane, as in a diagnosable mental condition, research it, and use it with sensitivity. But for God's sake, do not call them 'the mad king'. Also, remember that Mad does not equal Evil. Ludwig of Bavaria was insane, but all he did was build castles. Very beautiful castles that are very good for the tourism industry nowadays.

A story is generally more effective when villains have consistent motivations readers can follow along with, though, rather than being a ball of unrelated malevolent characteristics.

19. Never have a happy ending.

Unfortunately, most authors already follow this one anyway. Think of teenage angsty poetry. Angst is easy. The road to hell is broad, so they say-and not that hard to write, though it may be difficult to write about well. A satisfying, hopeful (though not necessarily perfect) ending-now that is a test of skill.

20. Never write anything even vaguely reminiscent of Eragon, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, anime, RPGS, or gods forbid, something that Limyaael covered in one of her rants and which you apparently don't agree with.

Limyaael would be the first person to tell you that she isn't gospel, but her fans won't always agree.

In the words of C.S. Lewis (who I have perhaps plagerized), "Tell what is true to you-and in being true, you will also be original". Don't freak out if your story has similarities to something else. Just try to make it a GOOD story first and foremost.

21. Never ever ever protest the treatment the reviewer gives you.

The line between reviewing and bullying is not as fine as some people pretend it is. If you protest, do so as calmly and maturely as possible. Sometimes it's best just to thank a harsh reviewer for their time and let it go. They likely will have some insight to give beneath their crustiness, but I can't blame you for not seeing it right away.

22. Do not give information at any point except right as it's needed.

Think of the awkward infodumps this can produce. On the other hand, readers do need to have some idea what's going on to properly feel invested and follow along with your story.

23. Never admit you made a mistake. This goes for you reviewers, too.

Well, see what I've done here, especially at the first part of this chapter. Making mistakes does not make you stupid. Pretending you do not make mistakes does.

And this concludes my disclosure. May the information herein be useful to you all. For more useful information, please consider checking out my other essays on writing. Thank you, and may your pens never run dry!