Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 239679 times)

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cabbageweevil

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1560 on: December 16, 2013, 05:36:29 AM »
On the other hand I don't ever want to read another book with Noble Elves.

Sounds as though in this, you're on the same page as C.S. Lewis -- friend, colleague, and fellow-author of Tolkien. Lewis and Tolkien disliked each other's fictional writings, while "in the abstract" mutually recognising their quality. They found this fact useful, re swapping their works-in-progress for critiquing by the other.  Each knew that the other would say exactly what he thought, pulling no punches.

I love the story of Tolkien getting back from Lewis, the manuscript of an early chapter of "The Lord of the Rings".  Lewis's sole comment was written on it in red pen, in large capitals. CSL, a devout Christian who normally eschewed bad language, had been goaded to comment, thus: "OH, NO !  NOT  ANOTHER  *******  ELF ! "
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 08:23:04 AM by cabbageweevil »

VorFemme

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1561 on: December 16, 2013, 10:33:05 AM »
F
I hate this. I understand that many authors spend a lot of time researching various subjects in order to make their work better, but it doesn't actually make the work better if you shove in details no one cares about, just because you know them. A woman on a forum I frequent refers to this as "I had to suffer for my art, and now it's your turn."

See, Auel, Jean.
See I greatly enjoyed the descriptions of how things were done and the landscape,  flora, and fauna.

On the other hand I don't ever want to read another book with Noble Elves.



In some climates, the Jean Auel books could serve as a survival manual, they are pretty much specific enough on what to do and describe what is safe to eat or how to determine if something is safe to eat by taking a tiny taste & waiting to see what happens. 

The Noble Elves - well - I don't speak Elvish and I didn't hear the tall slender blonde elf with a violin in an ivory satin gown walking barefoot through the Renn Festival say anything in any language.  Her violin was eloquent!
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NestHolder

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1562 on: December 16, 2013, 10:39:26 AM »
I'm reading this historical royal novel. I appreciate authors who do a lot of research for those. But I get irritated when the author seems to feel the need to "show off" their research. This one actually had a glossary of terms at the back--different parts of clothing and armor, household equipment, food, etc.. There's a fine line between "details that add atmosphere" and "details that confuse and distract the reader for no good reason, except the author read them somewhere and wanted to use them."

I hate this. I understand that many authors spend a lot of time researching various subjects in order to make their work better, but it doesn't actually make the work better if you shove in details no one cares about, just because you know them. A woman on a forum I frequent refers to this as "I had to suffer for my art, and now it's your turn."

This is why a read-through from an uninterested point of view is necessary. I've had stories that I wrote and did literally hours of research, including the most obscure of details for a brush-off comment. But that's all I left it at, a brush-off comment. If the average reader isn't interested, why would they keep reading my works?

Exactly right!  I call it 'homeopathic research'.  There have been times when I've gone into all sorts of obscure details for a story and only a molecule or so has made its way overtly into the story.  But I know it's *right*.  Like looking up a really posh chocolaterie in Los Angeles so that I knew what one of the characters gave his Mom on Valentine's Day. 

I like to believe the homeopathic research element improves the story, or at any rate, means nobody is going to be jarred out of it by something implausible.

Twik

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1563 on: December 16, 2013, 10:49:30 AM »
I like noble elves, when they are in books by authors whose initials include "J.R.R." Otherwise, they are boringly derivative.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1564 on: December 16, 2013, 10:57:50 AM »
Re: research details--Sometimes I think it just comes down to being a good writer, too. I've read Clan of the Cave Bear and it was a different enough setting that I did kind of like all the botanical detail and so forth. I also think of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, where she goes into great detail about how to make head cheese and dig a well--that's part of why I like them so much (and also part of the point, I think, as she wanted to record details that were part of her memory but were rapidly becoming obsolete in the world). I think some people have the talent to use that information well, and some people just don't. And when it works, it's barely noticeable, or you think of it as a positive, which kind of disguises how difficult it must be.

Another bad example--I read a book for kids once that was about a girl in Colonial Williamsburg. They had all these historical records about the people who lived there, so the main character was a real girl who really had these siblings and her father really worked as a blacksmith and whatever. But the thing is, the real-life story was confusing--her father owned the blacksmith shop and also worked in the general store, but it was really her uncle who owned the general store, but sometimes he rented space in the blacksmith shop, and... ?? Which made absolutely no difference at all to the plot of the story, because it was not a Colonial-era financial thriller. But apparently they felt they needed to include those details because they knew about them. Just like there's all these siblings and they each get one line, so you can say you used them all, rather than developing any of them as deeper characters. ::)
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cwm

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1565 on: December 16, 2013, 01:47:08 PM »
The instance of this which has particularly become a byword among Turtledove fans, involves a character in one of the author's long series.  Said character is a sailor who has very fair skin, and thus undergoes a miserable time whenever his duties take him to places with hot sun.  It certainly feels as though this issue automatically gets referred to, in every single blessed one of the numerous chapters in which the character features...
I quit reading Tom Clancy because I got tired of his heros observing, in every blessed book, that the bad guys had destroyed their night vision by lighting a cigarette.
Well, actually, I quit reading him when I heard that his new book had a plot device of the bad guys buying up huge amounts of land in Western Kansas, so they could have absolute secrecy to plot and plan. One thing I know about my fellow Kansans, if strangers came into town and started buying up land, SOMEONE would go out there to find out what the heck they were doing out there. Undoubtedly, someone with a gun rack in their pick-up. Plus, this presupposes that large tracts of land are for sale at any given time, so that you wouldn't end up with a gerrymander.  >:D

As a fellow Kansan, this is true. But it's also true almost anywhere rural. When my parents bought some land in rural Arkansas, everyone in the nearby town (population mid 40s) got to know them when they were down there. Word spread when they showed up, and EVERYONE was at breakfast or dinner at the sole restaurant in town to get to know the new people. It happened whenever anyone bought land down there.

I got so mad one time. Yes, it was a fanfic, but the author basically said that the characters had to stop and pull off to the side of the road to use the restroom shortly after switching from I-70 to I-35. Said there was nothing east of Denver until Des Moines.

Except, you know, Topeka, Lawrence, the entire giant Kansas City Metro Area. The only place to go from I-70 to I-35 is right in the middle of downtown. Two minutes spent looking at any sort of atlas or map would have given them this information. I mean, even if they didn't know how big Kansas City was, we had at the time six interstate highways going through in various directions. That, to me, means that it's at least a decent sized city and you can stop for a bathroom break.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1566 on: December 16, 2013, 03:44:32 PM »
The hero who is always able to perform his scrabble duties, no matter what.  I remember one book, where the hero had been beaten to a bloody pulp, and without even an aspirin, he does his duty.

There was a worse one.  The hero, pining for his lady love, gets dead drunk, and spends several sessions in the bathroom, throwing up.  Then the next morning, still a little hungover, he is awakened by said lady love sliding into bed with him.  Earth shattering scrabble follows.  I was screaming, "Ew!  He didn't even brush his teeth!  He has to reek to high heaven."

Neither of these were romantic novels, by the way, but hard bitten detective novels.  I would hope that most romantic novelists would realize that readers prefer their heroes to be clean and not bleeding.
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One Fish, Two Fish

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1567 on: December 16, 2013, 04:38:36 PM »
I'm reading this historical royal novel. I appreciate authors who do a lot of research for those. But I get irritated when the author seems to feel the need to "show off" their research. This one actually had a glossary of terms at the back--different parts of clothing and armor, household equipment, food, etc.. There's a fine line between "details that add atmosphere" and "details that confuse and distract the reader for no good reason, except the author read them somewhere and wanted to use them."

I hate this. I understand that many authors spend a lot of time researching various subjects in order to make their work better, but it doesn't actually make the work better if you shove in details no one cares about, just because you know them. A woman on a forum I frequent refers to this as "I had to suffer for my art, and now it's your turn."

See, Auel, Jean.
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Mental Magpie

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1568 on: December 18, 2013, 05:53:03 PM »
Okay, I've been catching up on this thread having left it for a while, and...

I read one book many years ago where there was a heroine who was in love with one guy who was also in love with her.  She was friends with another guy but there was no romantic pull between them.  They had a lot in common and a similar background, so they shared a great friendship.  It was one of the best non-triangles I've ever read.  I wish I remembered what it was.

...you do realise you've pretty much just described Harry, Ron and Hermione, don't you?  ;D

Something I've just read and is annoying me a HUGE amount - has anyone read the Sword in the Storm by David Gemmel? I am about five chapters from the end but I've had to put it down in annoyance - Conn (the protagonist) has just made a REALLY stupid move that's probably the set up for several book's worth of turmoil. I'm trying to decide if my desire to find out what happens is stronger than my urge to take Conn by the scruff of the neck and shout 'what on earth are you thinking??'. It's just such an obvious plot device as a set up for it to come back and bite him in the rear as well, it's so aggravating!

Haha, no, I didn't realize that!  ;D  It wasn't HP, though.  I still haven't figured out which book it was.
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lady_disdain

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1569 on: December 18, 2013, 05:59:08 PM »
Ugh! The series I rather enjoying pulled out the "chosen at birth" stunt on book 8.

VorFemme

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1570 on: December 19, 2013, 11:19:15 AM »
The "chosen at birth" meme is so overdone - maybe we need to brainstorm some NEW memes for writers?  >:D (where is a tongue in a cheek smilie when you want one?)

But, seriously (for a minute, at least), think about it - it really seems a bit over written at the moment - it's like its the meme of the 2010s.  Nobody steps up on their own to do anything - they are "chosen at birth" by Fate, the gods, the writer (well - always by the writer, I suppose), and they have to do it.

Potential spoiler - I rather liked that in the last battle in the YA series about the children of the Greco-Roman gods, that Percy stepped aside and we realized that HE was not the one foretold to kill the big bad.  But I'm going to let everyone read the last book to find out who did take weapon in hand and END that Big Bad (and the writer has started a NEW series - but I haven't been able to "get into" it the same way I got into the first series).  Maybe when I can sit down & read the whole series in a week on vacation....with fewer interruptions?

I think that the publishers & editors need to be pressing the writers for something that isn't quite so much like the last sixteen best selling series.  A new line of something needs to be written - and sell - if only to get some of the other writers to wake up and start WRITING better (or letting their editors edit more tightly) to get rid of the drivel that a few series have slowly ground down to the level of.  Or how many sharks you have the lead character jump....

Laurell K. Hamilton, Jean Auel, Tom Clancy, and a few others - I'm looking at YOU!  (But neither buying nor reading the latest dreck in your "series" - because, frankly, my dears, I don't give a reservoir what happens next any more!) 
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 11:21:15 AM by VorFemme »
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Petticoats

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1571 on: December 19, 2013, 11:30:35 AM »
I think that the publishers & editors need to be pressing the writers for something that isn't quite so much like the last sixteen best selling series.

Not going to happen. Publishers are the ones who demand "the same, only different." Same with Hollywood.

Hence a lot of self-published authors doing incredibly well with books that traditional publishers rejected because they didn't fit the cookie-cutter form of the trend the publisher wanted to capitalize on.

OSUJillyBean

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1572 on: December 19, 2013, 03:44:01 PM »
My pet peeve is a formatting one vs a writing issue.  I despise when, in an effort to make the page look neat, they align the text to either side and just vary the spacing between the words.  (Newspapers are horrible about this but with skinny columns of text, I guess it makes sense.

How                  do            you
read  like this?!  It doesn't make
sense      to                       me.

VorFemme

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1573 on: December 19, 2013, 04:24:33 PM »
I think that the publishers & editors need to be pressing the writers for something that isn't quite so much like the last sixteen best selling series.

Not going to happen. Publishers are the ones who demand "the same, only different." Same with Hollywood.

Hence a lot of self-published authors doing incredibly well with books that traditional publishers rejected because they didn't fit the cookie-cutter form of the trend the publisher wanted to capitalize on.

But they aren't getting "the same only different" - they are getting "the same old same old" and the customers do notice and at least some of them quit buying "repeaters" (Hamilton & Auel seem to copy & paste a lot from book to book - whole scenes, not just plot threads).
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

Petticoats

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1574 on: December 19, 2013, 11:25:01 PM »
I think that the publishers & editors need to be pressing the writers for something that isn't quite so much like the last sixteen best selling series.

Not going to happen. Publishers are the ones who demand "the same, only different." Same with Hollywood.

Hence a lot of self-published authors doing incredibly well with books that traditional publishers rejected because they didn't fit the cookie-cutter form of the trend the publisher wanted to capitalize on.

But they aren't getting "the same only different" - they are getting "the same old same old" and the customers do notice and at least some of them quit buying "repeaters" (Hamilton & Auel seem to copy & paste a lot from book to book - whole scenes, not just plot threads).

I'm not familiar with Hamilton & Auel, but I take your point, and you expressed the tendency better than I did. Honestly, though, a lot of people will keep buying the same old same old. Otherwise publishers wouldn't keep putting more of it out.

Of course, when enough people wander away to other trends, then publishers will try to jump on those bandwagons.

All of which reminds me I really should be working on rewrites of my WIP instead of noodling around online. :D