Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 255543 times)

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Little Girl Blue

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1755 on: March 03, 2014, 09:20:10 PM »

If I want to read Hamlet, I'll read Hamlet.  Trying to tart up your story by adopting the plot of a well-known work of literature is like trying to create art with paint-by-numbers kits.  The picture's not yours, and all you're doing is showing your own lack of originality by filling in a famous outline with your own colors. 


I don't think we want to tar all retellings with the same brush here. After all, Jane Smiley won the Pulitzer Prize for A Thousand Acres, and that was just a retellings of King Lear, albeit with a twist.

Agreed, and even on the kids' level, The Lion King is an okay retelling of Hamlet.

You're right, of course.  Late at night my brush can get pretty broad.  There are many good reimaginings of classic works of world literary culture, not just in text, but in film and just about every other creative medium you can imagine.

My beef was that the two stories just seemed like they'd been mushed together, as if, having thought up this family and their dog-related enterprises, the author ran out of plot for them to inhabit and stuck them into Hamlet out of convenience.  You like dogs?  You like Hamlet?  Put 'em together and see what happens!  It read like the author had gone through the same sort of cracked thought process that led a friend in high school to produce a deeply troubling Star Wars / Dragon Ball Z cross over.

The narrative added nothing new to the discussion about Hamlet, no insight, no different point of view (see Wide Sargasso Sea, a Jane Eyre prequel from the perspective of Mr. Rochester's mad wife, and a thoughtful post-colonial response to Jane Eyre and the works of Austen and the rest of the Bronte Sisters).  All this book had was a kennel full of preternaturally clever dogs and the plot of Hamlet. 

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cabbagegirl28

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1756 on: March 03, 2014, 09:38:57 PM »

If I want to read Hamlet, I'll read Hamlet.  Trying to tart up your story by adopting the plot of a well-known work of literature is like trying to create art with paint-by-numbers kits.  The picture's not yours, and all you're doing is showing your own lack of originality by filling in a famous outline with your own colors. 


I don't think we want to tar all retellings with the same brush here. After all, Jane Smiley won the Pulitzer Prize for A Thousand Acres, and that was just a retellings of King Lear, albeit with a twist.

Agreed, and even on the kids' level, The Lion King is an okay retelling of Hamlet.

You're right, of course.  Late at night my brush can get pretty broad.  There are many good reimaginings of classic works of world literary culture, not just in text, but in film and just about every other creative medium you can imagine.

My beef was that the two stories just seemed like they'd been mushed together, as if, having thought up this family and their dog-related enterprises, the author ran out of plot for them to inhabit and stuck them into Hamlet out of convenience.  You like dogs?  You like Hamlet?  Put 'em together and see what happens!  It read like the author had gone through the same sort of cracked thought process that led a friend in high school to produce a deeply troubling Star Wars / Dragon Ball Z cross over.

The narrative added nothing new to the discussion about Hamlet, no insight, no different point of view (see Wide Sargasso Sea, a Jane Eyre prequel from the perspective of Mr. Rochester's mad wife, and a thoughtful post-colonial response to Jane Eyre and the works of Austen and the rest of the Bronte Sisters).  All this book had was a kennel full of preternaturally clever dogs and the plot of Hamlet. 

-Blue

That would upset me too. I love Shakespeare adaptations, but that's just ridiculous.


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Shea

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1757 on: March 03, 2014, 09:44:22 PM »
I just finished reading The Valley of Amazement, Amy Tan's new book, and it was a shining example of a reading pet peeve: when the plot (if I may use the word so loosely) hinges on multiple characters making truly stupid, utterly unrealistic decisions, and everyone behaving as though they were totally the rational thing to do. I'm willing to engage in some suspension of disbelief when I'm reading, but that book was nothing but the characters, who were flat and difficult to relate to, making unbelievably stupid decisions in various improbable circumstances.


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Kimblee

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1758 on: March 03, 2014, 09:46:53 PM »
I just found a huge plot hole in a book.  I think it's self-published but is on Amazon for Kindle. I loved the writing and the characters and the story.  It built up to a climactic scene where the hero is in peril and how does he save everyone?  By just doing it.  Seriously, he was described as being held very firmly in a way he could not escape, then he just reaches out and does something with his hand.  That was being held very firmly. I read that passage several times trying to figure out what I'd missed.  Then I went to the online reviews, nobody else mentioned it.  So I looked again.  Nope.

I don't mind weird things happening to save the hero, but if you just flat out ignore the situation YOU SET UP as a writer, then I can't trust you again. Sigh.

I've done that in stories, had someone do something absolutely physically impossible. Actually, to be exact i do that a LOT. Usually when I'm fleshing out stuff I wrote weeks ago and haven't reread the part that makes the new part impossible.

Thankfully I have a good friend who helps catch those("When did [character] grow a third hand? Because his left hand is holding the kid and his right hand has a baseball bat... the kid needs to get the light switch...") and I reread my stuff several times to try and minimize my idiot errors. There are always at least a few in first drafts.

Makes me a bit wary of self-publishing really. I'm afraid of putting something for sale then realizing it has a huge glaring error. Self Published Authors should all be issued a sarcastic but enthusiastic BFF to read their stuff. For an extra $19.95, Sarcastic Friend comes installed with a Pointy Stick and demands for finished works in return for less use of Stick.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1759 on: March 03, 2014, 09:48:05 PM »
As far as movie adaptions, one thing I really missed with the later Potter movies is the relationship between Tonks and Lupin.  They showed the two of them getting together, but that was about it.  I really like those two and wish we could have seen the part of HBP when Bill was injured by the werewolf (mind's spacing on the name) but Fleur still wanted him and I think McGonagall points out to Lupin that Dumbledore would have been happy to know there was more love in the world, and Arthur Weasley points out that even young healthy men don't remain that way forever.

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Petticoats

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1760 on: March 03, 2014, 10:54:31 PM »

Thankfully I have a good friend who helps catch those("When did [character] grow a third hand? Because his left hand is holding the kid and his right hand has a baseball bat... the kid needs to get the light switch...") and I reread my stuff several times to try and minimize my idiot errors. There are always at least a few in first drafts.

Makes me a bit wary of self-publishing really. I'm afraid of putting something for sale then realizing it has a huge glaring error. Self Published Authors should all be issued a sarcastic but enthusiastic BFF to read their stuff. For an extra $19.95, Sarcastic Friend comes installed with a Pointy Stick and demands for finished works in return for less use of Stick.

That's what beta readers (like your friend) and freelance editors are for. :)

I have to admit I had a bad moment when the discussion turned to an unsuccessful reinterpretation of Hamlet, because one of my novels is a twist on that play. But there's only one dog in it, so I think I'm off the hook. ;)

Dawse

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1761 on: March 04, 2014, 06:18:59 AM »
As far as movie adaptions, one thing I really missed with the later Potter movies is the relationship between Tonks and Lupin.  They showed the two of them getting together, but that was about it.  I really like those two and wish we could have seen the part of HBP when Bill was injured by the werewolf (mind's spacing on the name) but Fleur still wanted him and I think McGonagall points out to Lupin that Dumbledore would have been happy to know there was more love in the world, and Arthur Weasley points out that even young healthy men don't remain that way forever.

YES! Finally someone else articulates my thoughts about that plot thread for me! It also bothered me, when I rewatched the final two films recently, that the only mentions of them having a baby are right at the beginning of Pt. 1, where Tonks starts to say 'Remus and I -' but gets cut off by Mad-Eye, and then right at the end in the forest, where Harry apologises to Lupin for him having to leave his son. If you hadn't read the books and didn't know that they had a child, those two seemingly random lines might seriously leave you wondering what you'd missed.

I appreciate when adapting a book for a film there are some things you have to cut for the sake of brevity - after all, two lines of text could well end up being a ten minute sequence - but come on. Like in the third film, when NOBODY ever really fully explains how Lupin knew about the Marauder's Map or what it was. Plot holes and inconsistencies bother me A LOT in books and films.

And back to books:

I really dislike books that are written from the point of view of a character you just want to shake. I can't remember who it's by now, but I read 'What about me?'  a little while ago and just... argh. It was written in alternating chapters from the POV of a mother and her teenage daughter (Frankie?) and I just wanted to shout at the girl 'STOP BEING A BRAT!' I know that teenagers often are very self-absorbed, but the way she'd been portrayed as completely thoughtless in regard  to anyone but herself made me hate her a little bit by the end of the book. I didn't enjoy it at all, which is a shame, because I thought the premise was good and really had a fair bit of potential, but when one of your main characters is that unlikable it ruins the whole book for me.

In contrast, I recently started reading Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series, and they are very well done. The main character, Flavia, is (I think) eleven, and for never having been an eleven year old girl, Bradley writes as one very well! She's a child, so sometimes I wish I could say to her 'don't be such a brat' or 'don't be so rude to your father' - but she's written well enough, and has enough depth to her, that it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the story, the way one-dimensional-whiny-Frankie did in 'What about me'.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1762 on: March 04, 2014, 06:35:38 AM »
Well Deathly Hallows was quite a long book, and as they already made it into two movies I think they did include a lot of important stuff, and yeah, I know they can't include everything but it did make me sad that they cut those things out, like they'd kind of relegated Tonks and Lupin as only moderately important characters just there to help Harry. 

There was an interview panel with many of the actors and they were asked "What was your favorite line?" There were some, like Natalia Tena and the guy who played Bill Weasley, who just didn't have many lines to choose from because their character's storyline was so cut down.  And in an interview I saw with Nat Tena and David Thewlis, someone asked them what they wished would have been kept in the movies and he said "Our relationship."
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Lynn2000

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1763 on: March 04, 2014, 09:21:23 AM »
On the subject of retellings, I also think it matters whether you're expecting it or not. Going into a book knowing it's "Hamlet in Space" or "Hamlet with Dogs" is better, I think, because you're alert for how the changes influence the original ideas. As opposed to, you're reading an ordinary book, and you suddenly get the feeling that the plot seems familiar, and then you realize they've "ripped off" Hamlet by redoing Hamlet without acknowledging it anywhere.

It reminds me of an episode of Murder She Wrote, in which one guy is in jail for allegedly murdering another guy who stole his unpublished novel. In talking to the accused, Jessica realizes the novel in contention actually ripped off its plot from a Dostoyevsky novel, and the guy's like, "Yeah, but who reads those old books anymore?"
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Twik

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1764 on: March 04, 2014, 09:32:57 AM »
There are some parts of stories that are so unique that you can't include them in a "reimagining" without being accused of a rip-off.

For example, you could do a story about someone who becomes a fugitive after his wife is killed, trying to find the man who did it. But if the killer has only one arm, you're going to get called on that. Or if you're going to write a story about an elderly couple who adopt an orphan girl, perhaps she shouldn't have red hair and freckles.
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Allyson

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1765 on: March 04, 2014, 05:29:14 PM »
I love retellings, re-imaginings, fairy tales from new perspectives and so on. I do much prefer to *know* going in, though, because to me that's half the fun. I hate that "I'm missing something" feeling of a retelling I don't quite get. I especially like retellings of things like fairy tales or mythology where there's often very little inside-the-character thoughts. So there's a lot of room for really thoughtful takes on old stories. I do think Cinderella has been done to death, though...

Another peeve I have...I'm reading a cozy mystery series and I just hate the guy who is so obviously set up as love interest. He calls the heroine a nickname she has specifically asked him not to, shows up at her house unannounced after she turned him down for a date, and all this is supposedly ok because she's attracted to him. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't super predictable that she'll end up with him, if not long term at least as a viable love interest. I would seriously love for overly-pushy guy to end up being the villain in one of these stories.

HoneyBee42

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1766 on: March 04, 2014, 09:35:56 PM »
There are some parts of stories that are so unique that you can't include them in a "reimagining" without being accused of a rip-off.

For example, you could do a story about someone who becomes a fugitive after his wife is killed, trying to find the man who did it. But if the killer has only one arm, you're going to get called on that. Or if you're going to write a story about an elderly couple who adopt an orphan girl, perhaps she shouldn't have red hair and freckles.
But by the same token--making the girl have brown hair and envious of the looks of her best friend who is a redhead isn't doing too much more than slapping on a coat of paint, so to speak. 

I do generally get annoyed with the "I've read this story before somewhere" types of stories.  Worse when I recognize the "source" and find myself wondering if the author bothered to make any *meaningful* changes (Prom and Prejudice--my daughter brought that home from school and it drove me batty from almost the very first sentence.  I think I made it about three sentences before I stopped and just sort of paged through "hmm, wonder how she shoehorned this plot point into the 21st century").  I couldn't decide if it was a parody or an attempt to make "more relevant", but it would be hard to be a more blatant rip off.


MariaE

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1767 on: March 05, 2014, 08:50:55 AM »
There are some parts of stories that are so unique that you can't include them in a "reimagining" without being accused of a rip-off.

For example, you could do a story about someone who becomes a fugitive after his wife is killed, trying to find the man who did it. But if the killer has only one arm, you're going to get called on that. Or if you're going to write a story about an elderly couple who adopt an orphan girl, perhaps she shouldn't have red hair and freckles.
But by the same token--making the girl have brown hair and envious of the looks of her best friend who is a redhead isn't doing too much more than slapping on a coat of paint, so to speak. 

I do generally get annoyed with the "I've read this story before somewhere" types of stories.  Worse when I recognize the "source" and find myself wondering if the author bothered to make any *meaningful* changes (Prom and Prejudice--my daughter brought that home from school and it drove me batty from almost the very first sentence.  I think I made it about three sentences before I stopped and just sort of paged through "hmm, wonder how she shoehorned this plot point into the 21st century").  I couldn't decide if it was a parody or an attempt to make "more relevant", but it would be hard to be a more blatant rip off.

"The Ladies of Missalonghi" by Colleen McCullough is a great example (or bad... depending on how you look at it) of this. It is such a blatant rip-off of "The Blue Castle" by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
 
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Lynn2000

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1768 on: March 05, 2014, 04:07:05 PM »
I've been reading a lot of fantasy fiction for the 9-to-12-year-old set lately. In general I really like it. But I find that there's often a pair of characters, the rule-follower and the rule-breaker, and while the rule-breaker's actions are often necessary to advance the plot (going into the forest or opening the door when they were told not to, which results in the demon escaping, then we spend the rest of the book cleaning that up), sometimes I want to metaphorically smack these kids. Especially the ones who are like, "Stop being so serious and boring about the world-ending demon!" or "You don't trust me, therefore I will act out, thus proving why I shouldn't have been trusted." I can kind of understand it if it's kid vs. adult, but usually it's kid vs. kid, thus proving that a child roughly their own age can behave properly. But hey, you just released the world-ending demon, no biggie right? Don't let the Man get you down. ::)
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MommyPenguin

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1769 on: March 05, 2014, 11:05:12 PM »
There are some parts of stories that are so unique that you can't include them in a "reimagining" without being accused of a rip-off.

For example, you could do a story about someone who becomes a fugitive after his wife is killed, trying to find the man who did it. But if the killer has only one arm, you're going to get called on that. Or if you're going to write a story about an elderly couple who adopt an orphan girl, perhaps she shouldn't have red hair and freckles.
But by the same token--making the girl have brown hair and envious of the looks of her best friend who is a redhead isn't doing too much more than slapping on a coat of paint, so to speak. 

I do generally get annoyed with the "I've read this story before somewhere" types of stories.  Worse when I recognize the "source" and find myself wondering if the author bothered to make any *meaningful* changes (Prom and Prejudice--my daughter brought that home from school and it drove me batty from almost the very first sentence.  I think I made it about three sentences before I stopped and just sort of paged through "hmm, wonder how she shoehorned this plot point into the 21st century").  I couldn't decide if it was a parody or an attempt to make "more relevant", but it would be hard to be a more blatant rip off.

I was so excited by the idea of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" that I actually bought it (versus just getting it from the library).  I'm not into the whole zombie thing, either.  But it sounded like such an interesting twist and got such great reviews.  But then they didn't seem to *use* the whole zombie thing at all.  The book would go on as originally written for a long time, then there would be a zombie scene, then it would go back to as originally written--word for word without any obvious effect of the zombies.  It was just... pointless.  I felt like I could have just gotten a list of page numbers and scenes to add/change, like, "Read to page 22, then instead of middle two paragraphs, insert <zombie scene>.  Then read to page 45, and after first paragraph, insert <zombie scene>."  Could have probably just been a little pamphlet.