Yes, Wolfy is back, and she's going to not help you with plots. Pointedly, plot devices, cliches, and predictable endings. Amongst other things. No, wait, scrap that. I'm just going to act like an arse and say nothing remotely intelligent. Just another guide, basically.

Plot devices

We all use at least one. They can be good or bad. Fresh and original or tacky and cliched. I'll get to cliches later, amongst some of the better known plot devices. But the fact of the matter is, they are often useful to add a twist to the story, but on the same note too mant writers seem to depend on them. They have to belong in the story to go there. Which, since you the writer know the story better than anybody else, whether or not it fits is up to you. However, don't turn plot devices into the whole plot - Oh crap, I just gave actual advice! Ah well, I'm sure you won't take it anyway. But, back to the point, deciding what/when/where plot devices belong is completely up to the writer.

Slash

Yes, this little plot device gets a whole section to itself. Now, I am not a homophobe, but god this irks me. Too many writers think the the slightest hint of two men screwing around makes their story suddenly awesome. So happy to rain on your parade, but it doesn't. In fanfiction it is annoying as it breaks cannon (unless the character really is gay in the books, then it's okay) but this isn't fanfiction, so there is no concern about that. But there's still all of the other problems. Don't get me wrong, there are some brillient slash fics on here... and lots more crappy ones.

We'll start with the 'slash is the plot' dilema. It isn't a very interesting plot. Don't get me wrong, it can be made interesting, but it takes a lot more than just randomly making half the characters gay. Example, you have a fic about a gay teenage boy attending highschool. Nothing new or unique, just boring. Oh wait, he's shagging half the school football team? Wow, what are the odds that they're all gay and everybody's so accepting of it? Zilch. It's unrealistic. That wouldn't happen. Now, what if a member of the 'It' croud found out he's gay and started blackmailing him? That would be interesting. But of course, why write that when you could just write mindless smut, right? Of course, that second example wouldn't count in this instance, sinse slash would no longer be the plot, the black-mail would. Which could easily be done without the slash, it would just require a tiny bit more thinking. So, basically, random gayness does not a plot make.

Next, random gayness that has nothing to do with the plot but takes over the entire story. Equally annoying. Why? Because then it ruins a may-have-been good story. There is no need to keep throwing slash in our faces, get on with the story. The character's sexuality should not overshadow the plot. We don't want to hear about how totally gay they are, we want to read the God damn story. (appologies to anyone offended by the cursing)

M-rated slash. Now, speaking as a straight, overly-hormonal, teenage, female member of the H.M.S. Not Gettin' Any, don't write it. There is nothing better than a damn sexy bloke getting his kit off, believe me, even fictional and in written form. But when they start shagging other blokes? What in the lord's name is hot about that? M-rated slash fics should be saved for gay audiences only, and no, two guys doing it is not better than a guy and a girl, in fact, it's the last thing I, and I assume many others, want to read. We want an EFFING story. Believe it or not, that's why we're on fictionpress and not some random gay-porn site. (Note, I am not a homophobe, I will rant about random smut later)

And now, for when slash is alright. Firstly, if you are writing for a gay audience. That one should be obvious. Secondly, when it is subtle. You know, not thrown in the reader's face every five minutes. This almost entirely consists of stories that would work without the slash written by bloody good authors who just happen to like slash. It is normally as minor as a character dating or fancying someone of the same sex. It is still slash, but nobody really notices it because it isn't all pointless sex scenes. There are also instances when the slash is important to the story but not to the plot, like the example I gave above. (Jock finds out boy is gay and blackmails him) It isn't all about them being gay, the slash takes a backseat, but we still know it's there. It's like a rose in a bouque of carnations. Wow, that was strangely poetic. It must have been the chocolate. As I was saying, it works like that, as long as you arrange the flowers well. Iff you put the rose in the middle it overshadows the carnations but if it's at the back it gets ignored. You need to put slash in its correct place and leave it there. Which is wherever you the writer thinks it works. I can only give you warnings about screw-ups you might make, I can't tell you how to not make them.

Oh, also, that last point can work for M-rated. Sticking to the example I've been using so far, what if the Jock were also gay and decided to take advantaged of the situation? What if a (gay) teacher found out and tried to comfort them the only way they knew how? You have smut, it would work for non-slash, but the slash isn't pointless either. It's genious.

Cliches

Now, every writer on this site seemes to hate them, but I don't get why. Cliches are cliches for a reason; they work. For example, helpless princess waiting in a tower to be rescued, dispite what the feminists would say, is interesting to read if it's well written. It's nice to hear what the handsome prince would go through to rescue her, and makes good wish fulfilment. However, a tough bird who wears mens clothes in a time when it probably would have got them burnt alive is also fine, as people like to see her kick ass, especially the feminists. Both are cliches, more so the latter now since that's all anybody writes anymore, and fairytale princesses have all been condemned. The protagonist winning is also a cliche, but nobody ever wants to see them loose (except if they're a really bad character or you're just weird, like me). Contray to what all the people on the forums say about cliched plots, there isn't a plot left that's new. It isn't about having an original plot, it's about putting your own spin on it. I have a fic that is basically a combination of different fairy tales, and it isn't original, but it has orriginal elements - just wait until you see the fairy godmother. It's still cliched, I assure you, but that doesn't make it any worse. Just put whatever plot or story comes to mind, and never mind if someone says they've seen it before, it's all been done at least ten times so it doesn't make a difference.

Random smut

Now, this is fine in an errotica, which is made up of smut, but everywhere else it's just annoying. A sex scene or two is fine when it makes sense, but come on, I've seen supposed horrors that are nothing but people getting their clothes off. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I read horror to be scared out of my wits, if I wanted something to jerk-off to I would rent a porno. Save the smut for where it belongs. Where it belongs is where it makes sense. Where it makes sense is up to the author. Most authors are idiots, no offence. And for the love of God, vamire-smut belongs in the (very bad area of the) romance catagory, not horror.

Summaries

I don't know why but apparently this has a place here. Summaries are difficult, that's a fact. You need to make the story sound orginal and interesting in 200 letters without giving the whole plot away. I haven't mastered it myself yet. Some people have a knack for it, others don't. All I can say is do your best, don't write in text speak, and never put 'I suck at summaries' at either the beggining or end, that puts people off. Also, catagorise it properly. Put it where it fits best, else people get annoyed. Having vampires doesn't instantly make it horror and being set in the middle ages doesn't make it fantasy. Where to put it comes completely down to your judgement.

Originallity

...Does not exist! Everything has been done before, deal with it!

Right, I think I covered most of it without being to helpful. If there's something you think I missed, feel free to say and I'll happily add it in. Not that I expect you were paying any attention or anything.