Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 224138 times)

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Betelnut

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1950 on: April 12, 2014, 09:46:07 PM »
<snipped>

Then there are the children and/or animals that an author writes in a way that is obviously supposed to be lovable or endearing but I find off-putting.  I recently read a couple of books in a new light little cozy mystery series that features the protagonist's cats.  (I say mystery but actually the guilty party in both books turns out to be exactly who was suspected from the beginning with no twists or turns, which is a bit of a twist in itself!  But I digress.)  I grew up around cats, dogs, and other animals and have had a few cats of my own in the past.  I know cats, and I like cats.  The cats in these books are utter horrors.  The author obviously thinks she is writing them as adorable, but if someone who never had a cat but was considering getting one read one of these books first, they would back off in terror and never think of it again.

Bad: the mystery is written from the cat's point of view.
Worse: the cat solves the mystery.
Worst: the cat gets co-author credit.

I have yet to find a good mystery written in any of these ways.

Here is a mystery where the detectives are sheep.  Yep.  It was actually pretty good.

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Bags-Full-Sheep-Detective/dp/0767927052

A witty philosophical murder mystery with a charming twist: the crack detectives are sheep determined to discover who killed their beloved shepherd.
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Bethczar

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1951 on: April 12, 2014, 10:24:41 PM »
<snipped>

Then there are the children and/or animals that an author writes in a way that is obviously supposed to be lovable or endearing but I find off-putting.  I recently read a couple of books in a new light little cozy mystery series that features the protagonist's cats.  (I say mystery but actually the guilty party in both books turns out to be exactly who was suspected from the beginning with no twists or turns, which is a bit of a twist in itself!  But I digress.)  I grew up around cats, dogs, and other animals and have had a few cats of my own in the past.  I know cats, and I like cats.  The cats in these books are utter horrors.  The author obviously thinks she is writing them as adorable, but if someone who never had a cat but was considering getting one read one of these books first, they would back off in terror and never think of it again.

Bad: the mystery is written from the cat's point of view.
Worse: the cat solves the mystery.
Worst: the cat gets co-author credit.

I have yet to find a good mystery written in any of these ways.

Here is a mystery where the detectives are sheep.  Yep.  It was actually pretty good.

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Bags-Full-Sheep-Detective/dp/0767927052

A witty philosophical murder mystery with a charming twist: the crack detectives are sheep determined to discover who killed their beloved shepherd.
Ok, I'll have to try that one!
I mean, how baaaad could it be?  ;D

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1952 on: April 13, 2014, 12:26:09 AM »
Oh, ewe!
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Tea Drinker

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1953 on: April 13, 2014, 01:04:10 AM »
<snipped>

Then there are the children and/or animals that an author writes in a way that is obviously supposed to be lovable or endearing but I find off-putting.  I recently read a couple of books in a new light little cozy mystery series that features the protagonist's cats.  (I say mystery but actually the guilty party in both books turns out to be exactly who was suspected from the beginning with no twists or turns, which is a bit of a twist in itself!  But I digress.)  I grew up around cats, dogs, and other animals and have had a few cats of my own in the past.  I know cats, and I like cats.  The cats in these books are utter horrors.  The author obviously thinks she is writing them as adorable, but if someone who never had a cat but was considering getting one read one of these books first, they would back off in terror and never think of it again.

Bad: the mystery is written from the cat's point of view.
Worse: the cat solves the mystery.
Worst: the cat gets co-author credit.

I have yet to find a good mystery written in any of these ways.

Here is a mystery where the detectives are sheep.  Yep.  It was actually pretty good.

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Bags-Full-Sheep-Detective/dp/0767927052

A witty philosophical murder mystery with a charming twist: the crack detectives are sheep determined to discover who killed their beloved shepherd.

Seconding the recommendation, and I am not even a big fan of sheep. (I have nothing against them, either, I just don't particularly feel a connection; I'm fine with them grazing on the hillside, or giving milk for someone to make cheese from.)
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iridaceae

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1954 on: April 13, 2014, 06:34:00 AM »
Not sure if I've mentioned it or not, but one thing that annoys me is characters with names that are too similar.  Eileen, Ellen, and Elena do not belong in the same story.  Yes, even if they're triplets!  :P

Well you might not have mentioned it but I did. :)


MariaE

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1955 on: April 13, 2014, 07:14:02 AM »
Foreshadowing! I absolutely hate it, and it is enough to make me put aside a book in disgust if done often enough.

Authors, it is not clever, it is not a brilliant way of "breaking the fourth wall", it is bleeping annoying!!! It will always automatically make me subtract at least one star on Goodreads - more if you don't redeem yourself in other ways.
 
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Stricken_Halo

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1956 on: April 13, 2014, 08:17:55 AM »
Long sequences of dialogue with no identification of the speaker, so that I have to backtrack and count off to remember who is saying what to whom. Admittedly the author doesn't need to say, "Alice said" and "Bob said" with every line--just a reminder now and then.

How do you feel about using substitutes for "said"--"declared," "snapped," "laughed," and the like? In school I was taught to avoid "said", but I have seen exactly the opposite advice in many places.

One pet peeve particular to one author--Steven Saylor's constant "He cleared his throat" used continually before someone starts speaking.

Jocelyn

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1957 on: April 13, 2014, 10:08:38 AM »
Halo,
And are we supposed to imagine that the two characters are standing perfectly still, making no modulations in their voices, and keeping unchanging facial expressions? Because if the author were describing those things, it wouldn't be a long exchange of 'he saids'. An occasional:
John sat down with a thump. 'You mean?'
'Yes!' Mary shrieked. 'They ran away together!'

starry diadem

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1958 on: April 13, 2014, 11:17:09 AM »

How do you feel about using substitutes for "said"--"declared," "snapped," "laughed," and the like? In school I was taught to avoid "said", but I have seen exactly the opposite advice in many places.



Current wisdom is to use as few substitutes as possible. Two reasons:
 - first,  'said' is an invisible word.  So is 'asked'. The reader's eye skates over both, their mind logs the attribution without having to think about it, so they aren't jerked out of the narrative, they don't have to actively process the word and remember what that it means. Snarled, exclaimed, shouted, screamed... they are not neutral words and they demand the reader's attention, when the writer should be wanting the reader to focus on the actual dialogue. Dialogue should flow. Neutral tags help it do that.  'Said' and 'asked' do the job without getting in the way.

 -  second, they are a way of telling, not showing, what's going on.  Jane can snarl out a response to Mary, and the reader is being told that Jane is angry. We aren't being shown that she's angry by the way she's stiff, moving jerkily, speaking in short sharp sentences, snapping her fingers, tightening her jaw, pushing her jaw out. It's the lazy writer's cop out.

In writing, everything counts. I want my readers to focus on words that are important, on dialogue and action. Dialogue tags aren't what's important about a scene, and if they are, then I reckon I've failed.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2014, 11:39:17 AM by starry diadem »
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Allyson

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1959 on: April 13, 2014, 01:01:50 PM »
I don't mind the occasional "snarled" or "exclaimed" but it should be used sparingly. Also, not repeating the same one over and over again. There's one author who always has her characters "grind out" their words when they're angry, so, "No, of course I never put bees in your brother's truck," she ground out.

It gets distracting.

Cherry91

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1960 on: April 13, 2014, 01:47:00 PM »
Foreshadowing! I absolutely hate it, and it is enough to make me put aside a book in disgust if done often enough.

Authors, it is not clever, it is not a brilliant way of "breaking the fourth wall", it is bleeping annoying!!! It will always automatically make me subtract at least one star on Goodreads - more if you don't redeem yourself in other ways.

Some authors are capable of doing foreshadowing well, but with most authors they may as well write "REMEMBER THIS, IT'LL BE IMPORTANT LATER".

At least Dan Brown stopped writing "little did he know, this would save his life later" after Angels and Demons. I wonder if his editor stepped in and had a word...

MariaE

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1961 on: April 13, 2014, 02:11:14 PM »
Foreshadowing! I absolutely hate it, and it is enough to make me put aside a book in disgust if done often enough.

Authors, it is not clever, it is not a brilliant way of "breaking the fourth wall", it is bleeping annoying!!! It will always automatically make me subtract at least one star on Goodreads - more if you don't redeem yourself in other ways.

Some authors are capable of doing foreshadowing well, but with most authors they may as well write "REMEMBER THIS, IT'LL BE IMPORTANT LATER".

At least Dan Brown stopped writing "little did he know, this would save his life later" after Angels and Demons. I wonder if his editor stepped in and had a word...

That kind of foreshadowing I don't mind so much. It's more the "something awful is going to happen" kind. Like...
"If only I had acted differently, maybe things would have turned out better."
"Little did she know tragedy was about to occur."
Etc...

It's one of the main reasons I never read "Wise Man's Fear". Patrick Ruthfuss went totally overboard with it in "The Name of the Wind". Francine Rivers made me give up on "Redeeming Love" by using it, and I almost put aside "Laced with Magic" by Barbara Bretton because of her extreme use of it.
 
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lady_disdain

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1962 on: April 13, 2014, 03:33:35 PM »

How do you feel about using substitutes for "said"--"declared," "snapped," "laughed," and the like? In school I was taught to avoid "said", but I have seen exactly the opposite advice in many places.



Current wisdom is to use as few substitutes as possible. Two reasons:
 - first,  'said' is an invisible word.  So is 'asked'. The reader's eye skates over both, their mind logs the attribution without having to think about it, so they aren't jerked out of the narrative, they don't have to actively process the word and remember what that it means. Snarled, exclaimed, shouted, screamed... they are not neutral words and they demand the reader's attention, when the writer should be wanting the reader to focus on the actual dialogue. Dialogue should flow. Neutral tags help it do that.  'Said' and 'asked' do the job without getting in the way.

 -  second, they are a way of telling, not showing, what's going on.  Jane can snarl out a response to Mary, and the reader is being told that Jane is angry. We aren't being shown that she's angry by the way she's stiff, moving jerkily, speaking in short sharp sentences, snapping her fingers, tightening her jaw, pushing her jaw out. It's the lazy writer's cop out.

In writing, everything counts. I want my readers to focus on words that are important, on dialogue and action. Dialogue tags aren't what's important about a scene, and if they are, then I reckon I've failed.


An over use of "said", however, can be very grating if the book is recorded as an audiobook as well. This, of course, is not a problem for 95% of books.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1963 on: April 13, 2014, 03:40:19 PM »
Long sequences of dialogue with no identification of the speaker, so that I have to backtrack and count off to remember who is saying what to whom. Admittedly the author doesn't need to say, "Alice said" and "Bob said" with every line--just a reminder now and then.

How do you feel about using substitutes for "said"--"declared," "snapped," "laughed," and the like? In school I was taught to avoid "said", but I have seen exactly the opposite advice in many places.

One pet peeve particular to one author--Steven Saylor's constant "He cleared his throat" used continually before someone starts speaking.

A bit of "'Mike did that?' Mary laughed." is fine, but I don't like the ones that are just "hi, I want a synonym," and  something like "he snapped" or "she hissed"  isn't going to work with every sentence. You don't "snap" a long, complicated sentence (like the one right before this), and if someone "hissed" there need to be some sibilants there, not "'Don't move,' he hissed."
« Last Edit: April 13, 2014, 03:57:57 PM by Tea Drinker »
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Girlie

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1964 on: April 13, 2014, 03:52:30 PM »
I've put books down before for an overuse of the word "said." I think there are different, neutral words that can be included so that you don't see "said" quite so often.

"Where are we going to eat lunch?" asked William.
"I was thinking McDonalds," said Jenny.
"That's a good idea," nodded Mary.
"I'm game," agreed William.
"Me too," said Joy.

By all means, use said. But I don't want to read the above with said at the front of every name:

"Where are we going to eat lunch?" asked William.
"I was thinking McDonalds," said Jenny.
"That's a good idea," said Mary.
"I'm game," said William.
"Me too," said Joy.

It just seems to be a bit too repetitive to me. That's just my personal preference, though.

(On another note, I can't imagine I would spend much time reading a story where the characters spent very long agreeing on where to have lunch.  ;) )