Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 238925 times)

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wolfie

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #435 on: February 18, 2013, 01:42:48 PM »
This is kind of odd, maybe... But sometimes, I guess in an attempt to be careful and inject realism, the author will over-describe what's happening. Like, a character is making themselves a snack, and another character walks in and starts a conversation. And interspersed with the conversation is the one character getting out a knife, getting down the jar of peanut butter, opening the bread bag, etc.. Okay, fine, there's a word for that in TV at least, so your characters aren't just standing there static, talking at each other.

But then before the action can move to the next room, the one character has to wrap the bread back up, put the peanut butter away, wipe the crumbs off the counter, put the dirty knife in the sink, etc.. To the point where it gets in the way of the action and doesn't flow well. I get it, the author is picturing the scene in their heads, and there's the jar of peanut butter, sitting there open on the counter. But as a reader, I don't care about the peanut butter! I am willing to suspend disbelief and take it on faith that the peanut butter will come out okay. Unless this is some kind of plot point--the character is OCD about cleaning up, for example--I think it can be glossed over for the sake of moving things along. I have noticed recently that this bothers me, and I've tried to avoid it in my own writing now.

And the easy way to fix that would be to say "And then he cleaned up the kitchen before they walked into the living room to discover the horrible scene of carnage".

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #436 on: February 19, 2013, 11:53:24 AM »
This is kind of odd, maybe... But sometimes, I guess in an attempt to be careful and inject realism, the author will over-describe what's happening. Like, a character is making themselves a snack, and another character walks in and starts a conversation. And interspersed with the conversation is the one character getting out a knife, getting down the jar of peanut butter, opening the bread bag, etc.. Okay, fine, there's a word for that in TV at least, so your characters aren't just standing there static, talking at each other.

But then before the action can move to the next room, the one character has to wrap the bread back up, put the peanut butter away, wipe the crumbs off the counter, put the dirty knife in the sink, etc.. To the point where it gets in the way of the action and doesn't flow well. I get it, the author is picturing the scene in their heads, and there's the jar of peanut butter, sitting there open on the counter. But as a reader, I don't care about the peanut butter! I am willing to suspend disbelief and take it on faith that the peanut butter will come out okay. Unless this is some kind of plot point--the character is OCD about cleaning up, for example--I think it can be glossed over for the sake of moving things along. I have noticed recently that this bothers me, and I've tried to avoid it in my own writing now.

I regard that as poor writing myself.  Like you said, if it actually reveals something germane: person is OCD, or they are only half listening because they are more focused on eating (and miss something important that the reader can pick up on).  But otherwise, it is just adding words and padding the length.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #437 on: February 19, 2013, 12:23:48 PM »
This is kind of odd, maybe... But sometimes, I guess in an attempt to be careful and inject realism, the author will over-describe what's happening. Like, a character is making themselves a snack, and another character walks in and starts a conversation. And interspersed with the conversation is the one character getting out a knife, getting down the jar of peanut butter, opening the bread bag, etc.. Okay, fine, there's a word for that in TV at least, so your characters aren't just standing there static, talking at each other.

But then before the action can move to the next room, the one character has to wrap the bread back up, put the peanut butter away, wipe the crumbs off the counter, put the dirty knife in the sink, etc.. To the point where it gets in the way of the action and doesn't flow well. I get it, the author is picturing the scene in their heads, and there's the jar of peanut butter, sitting there open on the counter. But as a reader, I don't care about the peanut butter! I am willing to suspend disbelief and take it on faith that the peanut butter will come out okay. Unless this is some kind of plot point--the character is OCD about cleaning up, for example--I think it can be glossed over for the sake of moving things along. I have noticed recently that this bothers me, and I've tried to avoid it in my own writing now.

I regard that as poor writing myself.  Like you said, if it actually reveals something germane: person is OCD, or they are only half listening because they are more focused on eating (and miss something important that the reader can pick up on).  But otherwise, it is just adding words and padding the length.

I definitely used to be guilty of doing it when I wrote... You think you're doing a good job with attention to detail, expecting that readers will otherwise say, "Hey, how did that mug of tea stay hot during that whole conversation?" or "Eating crackers in bed without a plate? That's going to leave a mess." But I find that when I read otherwise good stories, a lot of these added details just distract me from what's really important--the story should be interesting enough that I'm not focusing on the cup of tea, you know? But maybe people are thinking they have to do this or they're leaving plot holes or being lazy writers or something. But I think it's one of those times when it's okay to be a bit "lazy." You just have to know where to draw the line, and I admit that can be tough.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #438 on: February 19, 2013, 01:22:11 PM »
I may have missed this, and it often occurs in books that are in the first person POV, but the heavy handedness with foreshadowing drives me insane. Or even worse, "If only I'd realized what" x thing meant, killing a future plot point.

That's one of the reasons the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie bugs me so much, is the excess foreshadowing.  There's Jack in a coffin in the beginning, black spot, nearly getting killed by the cannibals, falling into a grave, all the talk about the kraken and what it's like to be taken down by it, so by the end you're really not all that surprised by what happens to Jack or how.  ::)

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #439 on: February 19, 2013, 04:29:45 PM »
Wait!  what happens to Jack?

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #440 on: February 23, 2013, 07:42:51 PM »
Exactly. Show, don't tell.

One of the worst "tellers" I've encountered was Ann M. Martin and her host of ghostwriters for the Baby-Sitter's Club Series (outing my age here, but yes, I LOVED them growing up and still reread them occasionally... they were great books to learn English from :) ). Yes, I KNOW it's a long series, but I do not need two full chapters at the start of each book describing who the girls are and how the BSC was created.

If a series is too long (and more a series of small adventures instead of one long saga) like BSC or Sweet Valley Twins (outing my age here), then each book really has to be a stand alone. The same characters but a new story. Imagine if you stumbled on #126 of a 200 book series, and didn't have the time, money and/or inclination to read #1-125. In that case, a quick recap or some smart "bread crumbs" dropped throughout the narrative should bring you up to speed if there is anything from the previous books you should know.
Sue Grafton's Alphabet series always starts with PI Kinsey Milhone giving you an intro to herself and her life. Longtime fans know to skip through those first pages and get to her new adventure.
History/recappng is a creative choice, but good writers know they need to be entertaining as well as informative. IMHO, more books suffer from what is left out than what is put in. Better to have it and not need it, than need it an not have it. ;)

ETA: My actual comment because of my blanketybank glitchy internet. :P
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 03:08:21 PM by Softly Spoken »
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Redsoil

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #441 on: February 24, 2013, 06:48:34 AM »
I think the rec. for Lindsay Buroker was on this forum - have to say I've bought all the books of "The Emporer's Edge" on Kindle, and am really enjoying them!  So thank you - I've discovered a few new authors after reading about them on EHell. 
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #442 on: February 24, 2013, 09:35:49 PM »
Wait!  what happens to Jack?

The Kraken comes for the Black Pearl because Jack owes Davy Jones his soul and tried to avoid it but then he gives up, returns to the Black Pearl to help them fight it off, which they do, long enough for what's left of the crew to get into the one remaining longboat, but Elizabeth Swann kisses Jack, backing him up against the mast and then shackling him to it, giving him no choice but to fulfill the captainly duty of going down with the ship so the rest of them can get away, knowing the kraken's only after him.

(if you ask me and a friend, Jack was going to do that anyway so her trick was unnecessary.)

And so they get away from the ship, Jack gets loose from the shackles just in time to look up at the kraken and say "Hello beastie", drawing his sword and decides he's going to go down with the ship on his terms.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #443 on: February 24, 2013, 10:14:27 PM »
Found a new one today: Books that are actually collections of "not" so short stories that aren't clearly marked as such. The books title is just the title of ONE of the stories in the book. Words like "Anthology", "Short Stories" or "Collection" are no were on the cover, just in itty bitty print in the dust jacket. Also, no description of the other stories. The version of Clive Barker's Cabal I checked out from the library, I am looking at you.  >:(
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Kimblee

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #444 on: February 24, 2013, 11:01:17 PM »
Okay, fanfiction -

I understand that it's fanfiction and that you are playing in an established world that has its own rules and canon, but please, please, please, label an AU as an AU.  I cannot begin to elaborate on how stabby it makes me to read a story and get into it and 2/3 of the way through the character just busts out with something off the wall - like wings.

Sherlock Holmes does not have a uterus and therefor cannot be pregnant with Watson's lovechild.

John Watson is not an incubus.

They do not live in a spaceship called the Baker Street.

All of this is fine and could be quite entertaining if I know that it is an AU from the begining!

You... You.... Just broke my brain.

oww.
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Kimblee

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #445 on: February 24, 2013, 11:12:44 PM »
Contemporary Romances:  Every female, no matter what her career (VP, baker, truck driver) appears to be wearing a silk shirt, skirt and high heels. I once asked my friends (who are VP's, tv camera crew people, SAHM, accountants )and none of them own a silk shirt.    ENOUGH WITH THE SILK SHIRTS!  Also, every bra is a "scrap of lace" and unhooks in the front.  I swear, too many books lose my interest because they are like mad libs with the same scenes over and over.

*scratches head*  I used to have silk shirts.  I don't think I have any now because the only ones that could handle machine washing weren't very silky, and the handwash and drycleaning ones just weren't getting cleaned.  Annoying things.

I have a silk shirt. Its very pretty. And more or less transparent, hard to have cleaned (I sympathize magicdomino) and goes with absolutely nothing in my more or less redneck hermit wardrobe.

I'd throw it away but its SOOOOO expensive (as the relitive who gave to me keeps reminding me.) It may become a purse someday.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #446 on: February 25, 2013, 05:30:20 PM »
Okay, fanfiction -

I understand that it's fanfiction and that you are playing in an established world that has its own rules and canon, but please, please, please, label an AU as an AU.  I cannot begin to elaborate on how stabby it makes me to read a story and get into it and 2/3 of the way through the character just busts out with something off the wall - like wings.

Sherlock Holmes does not have a uterus and therefor cannot be pregnant with Watson's lovechild.

John Watson is not an incubus.

They do not live in a spaceship called the Baker Street.

All of this is fine and could be quite entertaining if I know that it is an AU from the begining!

You... You.... Just broke my brain.

oww.

1) I really want to read that fanfic.

2) As an author I do sometimes wonder how much to "spoil" a story with warnings. I mean, you can stamp the label "AU" on it, but really, all fanfic is AU, so that could mean anything from... the characters have a realistic adventure that they never have in canon, to Sherlock being a pirate captain while John is a merman crew member. And if a big part of your story is that, SHAZAM, halfway through magic comes into it, suddenly explaining all the weird things that were happening before, it can be tough to decide if you want to put that in the tags/summary/etc. or risk people being irritated when they finally see where you're going.

Thinking about the way I read stuff (fanfic and books), I would probably rather know a few more details even at the risk of spoiling things, I guess. On the other hand my mom, who normally doesn't go in for fantasy/supernatural stuff, has been sucked into a couple of books without realizing they were going to turn genre on her, and she kept reading anyway and really enjoyed them. (Of course examples escape my memory at the moment.) She wouldn't have picked them up at all if she'd known where they were going, because she would say she's "not into that."
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Kariachi

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #447 on: February 26, 2013, 10:59:41 AM »
Okay, fanfiction -

I understand that it's fanfiction and that you are playing in an established world that has its own rules and canon, but please, please, please, label an AU as an AU.  I cannot begin to elaborate on how stabby it makes me to read a story and get into it and 2/3 of the way through the character just busts out with something off the wall - like wings.

Sherlock Holmes does not have a uterus and therefor cannot be pregnant with Watson's lovechild.

John Watson is not an incubus.

They do not live in a spaceship called the Baker Street.

All of this is fine and could be quite entertaining if I know that it is an AU from the begining!

You... You.... Just broke my brain.

oww.

1) I really want to read that fanfic.

2) As an author I do sometimes wonder how much to "spoil" a story with warnings. I mean, you can stamp the label "AU" on it, but really, all fanfic is AU, so that could mean anything from... the characters have a realistic adventure that they never have in canon, to Sherlock being a pirate captain while John is a merman crew member. And if a big part of your story is that, SHAZAM, halfway through magic comes into it, suddenly explaining all the weird things that were happening before, it can be tough to decide if you want to put that in the tags/summary/etc. or risk people being irritated when they finally see where you're going.

Thinking about the way I read stuff (fanfic and books), I would probably rather know a few more details even at the risk of spoiling things, I guess. On the other hand my mom, who normally doesn't go in for fantasy/supernatural stuff, has been sucked into a couple of books without realizing they were going to turn genre on her, and she kept reading anyway and really enjoyed them. (Of course examples escape my memory at the moment.) She wouldn't have picked them up at all if she'd known where they were going, because she would say she's "not into that."

That's why I like what I've seen some people do, which is specify a 'type' of AU. So, for example, the fic alkira6 mentioned would be labeled as, say, SciFi-AU or SciFiFan-AU.
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alkira6

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #448 on: February 26, 2013, 12:15:22 PM »
Okay, fanfiction -

I understand that it's fanfiction and that you are playing in an established world that has its own rules and canon, but please, please, please, label an AU as an AU.  I cannot begin to elaborate on how stabby it makes me to read a story and get into it and 2/3 of the way through the character just busts out with something off the wall - like wings.

Sherlock Holmes does not have a uterus and therefor cannot be pregnant with Watson's lovechild.

John Watson is not an incubus.

They do not live in a spaceship called the Baker Street.

All of this is fine and could be quite entertaining if I know that it is an AU from the begining!

You... You.... Just broke my brain.

oww.

1) I really want to read that fanfic.

2) As an author I do sometimes wonder how much to "spoil" a story with warnings. I mean, you can stamp the label "AU" on it, but really, all fanfic is AU, so that could mean anything from... the characters have a realistic adventure that they never have in canon, to Sherlock being a pirate captain while John is a merman crew member. And if a big part of your story is that, SHAZAM, halfway through magic comes into it, suddenly explaining all the weird things that were happening before, it can be tough to decide if you want to put that in the tags/summary/etc. or risk people being irritated when they finally see where you're going.

Thinking about the way I read stuff (fanfic and books), I would probably rather know a few more details even at the risk of spoiling things, I guess. On the other hand my mom, who normally doesn't go in for fantasy/supernatural stuff, has been sucked into a couple of books without realizing they were going to turn genre on her, and she kept reading anyway and really enjoyed them. (Of course examples escape my memory at the moment.) She wouldn't have picked them up at all if she'd known where they were going, because she would say she's "not into that."

That's why I like what I've seen some people do, which is specify a 'type' of AU. So, for example, the fic alkira6 mentioned would be labeled as, say, SciFi-AU or SciFiFan-AU.

For those who were curious, this is not one fanfic, just things that came out of nowhere in several that I've begun reading.  The wing one was weird but good.

Winterlight

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #449 on: February 26, 2013, 01:38:48 PM »
I may have missed this, and it often occurs in books that are in the first person POV, but the heavy handedness with foreshadowing drives me insane. Or even worse, "If only I'd realized what" x thing meant, killing a future plot point.

I read a bio that kept doing this and it drove me bazoo. We all know it ends badly- the Russian Revolution was involved! Stop telling us in every chapter!
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