Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 176523 times)

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TexasRanger

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Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« on: January 27, 2013, 09:05:52 AM »
What are some things you can't stand about plots, characters, or just the author's writing style?

1. Mary Sue / Larry Stu Characters: These are the "perfect" characters. No physical/character flaws, never have a hair out of place and always right about everything they say. Expect them to look like super models.
2. Too much detail: The "I must write a three page description of a lamp" type.

So what are yours?
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Garden Goblin

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2013, 09:26:12 AM »
When the 14 book series could have been a trilogy if the characters weren't so stupid and didn't keep making the same stupid mistakes because they were too stupid to talk to each other because each had the stupid notion that they were the only stupid person qualified to deal with the stupid plot.

atirial

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2013, 09:35:45 AM »
Deus Ex Machina. If you're going to write characters into a corner, then get them out of it with things that are already established. Don't invent the magical superpower of dealing-specifically-with-problem-x that has never been mentioned before and will never be used again.

It drives me up the wall in certain series, where characters' abilities vary from book to book. When it happens in the same book, it is even worse.
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cicero

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2013, 09:41:39 AM »
1. when author's styles change from 'interesting and different' to 'ewww get me out of here'. like stephen king for one.

so, i end up picking up one of that author's latest books, thinking it will be just as good if not better than the previous one, and it gets... gory.

2. and i know this is my issue but typos and incorrect word choices drive me crazy. it's a book, it's published by this big publishing house, i'm sure they have plenty of editors and proof readers on staff. Use them! I know it's not possible to always find every mistake, but sometimes books are just sloppy and it's annoying.

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faithlessone

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2013, 09:43:45 AM »
I think my biggest pet peeve (of fiction in general, tbh) is "Didn't Do The Research". Books that have Ancient Romans eating potatoes, or a person driving from Sydney to Perth in a matter of hours.

For books in particular, it has to be inconsistency in their writing style. I've read too many books that veered from "formal" style to a more colloquial feel and back again. A subset of that is books clearly written in a posh/formal/literary style, but including lots of slang that isn't appropriate to that style.

Ooh, and while I'm on the subject, character dialogue written with the phonetic accent. It can work, but often it's just bad.

mmswm

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2013, 09:51:06 AM »
I think my biggest pet peeve (of fiction in general, tbh) is "Didn't Do The Research". Books that have Ancient Romans eating potatoes, or a person driving from Sydney to Perth in a matter of hours.

For books in particular, it has to be inconsistency in their writing style. I've read too many books that veered from "formal" style to a more colloquial feel and back again. A subset of that is books clearly written in a posh/formal/literary style, but including lots of slang that isn't appropriate to that style.

Ooh, and while I'm on the subject, character dialogue written with the phonetic accent. It can work, but often it's just bad.

I think the bolded part is directly linked to the first part.  If you aren't actually part of the group you're writing about, then an extraordinary amount of research is required to pull off the dialect.

BabylonSister

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2013, 10:09:01 AM »
And it's also very hard to read.  I once mistakenly bought a copy of a Barbara Delinsky book, not realizing it was a romance novel (I hate romance novels with everything that lives in me.)  She had some background characters speak entire sentences in a Maine accent.  It was terribly frustrating to try to decipher what they meant.


I don't like it when an author tries to create suspense with a lot of teasing.  I'm looking at you, Harlan Coben.  Segments like this (I made this one up, but it could be in any of his books):


"I couldn't tell him because..."
Her voice trailed off.
"What?" I asked, "because what?"
She stood up and walked away.
"Where are you going?"
"Follow me."

"What's going on?"
She kept walking in silence.


And the chapter ends there.  And he does a lot of that.  And yet when I have one of his books, I can't put it down. ::)


I dislike the Mary Sue/Larry Stu too. I much prefer flawed characters with realistic looks.

Thipu1

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2013, 10:14:26 AM »
1) There's what I call the 'potato trap' that shows up in Medieval fantasies.  Characters are always eating things like corn and potatoes that didn't exist in Europe at that time.  I lost all interest in one author when he had a market in the tenth century selling chili peppers.

2) Failure to do basic research.  Wilbour Smith lost my respect when he trotted out an ancient Egyptian obelisk with four inscribed sides, 'One for each season of the year'.  About five minutes of research would have shown that the Pharaonic Egyptians had three seasons, not four.

3) Writers who use unnecessarily elaborate language. I recall one author who never said anything was 'dark'.  It was always 'negrescent'.  Also, things were never pale.  They were always 'etiolated'.  The same author also had a character hitting a wolf on the 'nozzle' instead of the muzzle.  I thought it was a typo until it happened again and again.

Venus193

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2013, 10:21:09 AM »
1) There's what I call the 'potato trap' that shows up in Medieval fantasies.  Characters are always eating things like corn and potatoes that didn't exist in Europe at that time.  I lost all interest in one author when he had a market in the tenth century selling chili peppers.

2) Failure to do basic research.  Wilbour Smith lost my respect when he trotted out an ancient Egyptian obelisk with four inscribed sides, 'One for each season of the year'.  About five minutes of research would have shown that the Pharaonic Egyptians had three seasons, not four.

3) Writers who use unnecessarily elaborate language. I recall one author who never said anything was 'dark'.  It was always 'negrescent'.  Also, things were never pale.  They were always 'etiolated'.  The same author also had a character hitting a wolf on the 'nozzle' instead of the muzzle.  I thought it was a typo until it happened again and again.

I totally gave up on an author after reading one book in which she describes the hero's clothing as "trunk hose" when the story took place 500 years before that garment existed.  That's a slap at all the authors of historical romance who do their homework because it allows people who disparage the genre to rant about how stupid they know think it is.

rose red

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2013, 10:27:26 AM »
When a series change midway.  For example, romance with a bit of fantasy turn into pure urban fantasy 8 books in.

Yarnspinner

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2013, 10:28:43 AM »
1. when author's styles change from 'interesting and different' to 'ewww get me out of here'. like stephen king for one. so, i end up picking up one of that author's latest books, thinking it will be just as good if not better than the previous one, and it gets... gory.

2. and i know this is my issue but typos and incorrect word choices drive me crazy. it's a book, it's published by this big publishing house, i'm sure they have plenty of editors and proof readers on staff. Use them! I know it's not possible to always find every mistake, but sometimes books are just sloppy and it's annoying.

So agree about King.  Carrie was one of the first true horror novels I read and it was so unusual in its style (the magazine and newspaper articles interspersed with the prose) that it kept you reading just to see what magazine he would include next.  Ditto Salems Lot and The Shining.

And then, somewhere down the line, I want to say the book was IT, things went from being horrific love letters to Maine and New England and turned into ruminations on people's bowel movements, gore and gore and gore, and all kinds of references to bodily fluids.  Instead of the compelling, irresistable feeling of "what happens next" I remember being treated to one character's thinking about his constipation for several pages in IT but delivered, not in that character's tone of voice (which would have been more circumspect, I think) but in King's very snotty tone, as if he was mocking the character who would ultimately prove the real hero of the story.

I haven't been able to read his new books since then.

Regards your second point:  I have a friend who is a proof reader for a couple of houses...and it's a very frustrating job for her.  She received an instruction from the editor of one rising romance star  saying "Do NOT correct the grammar or the spelling.  Do NOT point out holes in logic.   We don't have time to fix them."  She says "They pay me to read this trash, but they won't let me fix what's wrong because it'll cost them money.  If I didn't need the job, I wouldn't do it."  (Among some of these gaffes is a woman who is simultaneously putting on her high heels, while zipping up her dress AND walking out the door.  Or there is the plot in which a woman kidnaps a pilot to get her to an island where her ten year old son will be sacrificed to some evil God or other....as his father was before him, in fact, ALL first born sons of first born sons are sacrificed at the age of ten.  Sooooo, question:  how did her husband survive long enough to grow up, get interested in girls and find HER.  Corollary: if you are sacrificing these children at age ten, and each one if the first born son of the first born son of this one family line (clearly stated), uh---how do they keep begetting first born sons of first born sons if the first first born son was killed at age ten?) 

She's had me read some of these treasures and I want to scream.  And THAT is why so many books are filled with errors.  Apparently first readers are used to see if the writing makes them bleed from the eyes and when it doesn't, they send the book to the publisher.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2013, 10:38:15 AM by Yarnspinner »

Yarnspinner

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2013, 10:54:15 AM »
My own pet peeve is when the author realizes she has written something really, really good but has created for her characters a crisis situation from which there is no escape and anything less than a production number is not going to do it for a resolution.  (cough* Night Circus* cough) Suddenly they begin to take prose that was descriptive and atmospheric and tweak it into flowery-ire and flowery-ier writing, performing unnecessary literary gymnastics that scream "look at the writing, look at the writing so you won't see what I am about to do...."  and then they create a resolution that is, at best, almost completely incomprehensible or a huge let down. 

Another book I really enjoyed at the time (but whose title escapes me) held another of my annoyances:  comparing situations the character is experiencing to situations in other novels she has read.  In this particular book, the protagonist was a well read woman in  her fifties with "issues."  every time she came close to having describe how she felt, she would say something like "I felt like Pip did in "Great Expectations" upon meeting Miss Haversham."  Well, that's great that you've read Dickens, but what if I haven't???

Thipu1

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2013, 11:04:00 AM »
There's also the 'look how much I know' syndrome.  There was a mystery writer I started reading because he often used our neighborhood.  It was fun to see the actual locations in my mind as I read. 

However, into his second book, it became evident that the descriptions of locations were beginning to overwhelm the story.  It got distracting to the point that I stopped reading his stuff. 

Bellantara

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2013, 11:04:54 AM »
When an author can't keep track of his or her own continuity (Hello, Mercedes Lackey!) If you establish certain facts in your first books, have the decency to remember or have notes of said facts for subsequent books. . .

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2013, 11:08:39 AM »
First and foremost, spelling, grammar and spacing errors.  If there are just a couple, I barely notice but if there are a lot, it jars me out of the story completely.

Secondly, too much description drives me crazy.  It is a big part of the problem with the latest book in the Clan of the Cave Bear series.  I mean, there are other issues with this book but the over descriptiveness is a big part of it.
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