This morning I asked Twitter what the three worst words in fiction are. I got answers like suddenly, something happened, tall, dark, and handsome, ... and my favorite of those submitted, only a dream.Read the whole thing. Black's supposition here got me nodding in agreement, although not primarily for the reasons he states. Sure, I believe that smiting a protagonist with the writerly wand of foreordained success imposes an external motivation, fails the verisimilitude test, and almost always gives away one's ending. But there's another reason: "The chosen one" has been done to death. It's beyond a trope, beyond a cliché. Want to offer up a "chosen" character to your readers? Then you'd better be darn sure it contains some kind of unique twist.
Those are good answers. I mean really, I would hope an author can be more specific about what happened than "something," and when it does happen, I certainly hope it doesn't turn out to be a dream. But for my money, the three worst words in fiction are:
The chosen one.
(Picture: CC 2009 by D.Reichardt; Hat Tip: @JRVogt)