Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 179812 times)

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Barney girl

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #960 on: May 19, 2013, 01:17:19 PM »
I have a question about what seems to be the latest writing pariah. A couple of times recently I've come across writers commanding other writers to never, ever, on pain of death, for the sake of all the little puppies, etc., never use the "said George" word order in a dialogue tag, as opposed to "George said."

"Why not?" asked Isobel.
"I dunno," said George.

I honestly never thought much about it until I encountered these rants; so many books I've read in my life used that construction that I never thought it would be such an irritant to some readers. In my writing I tend to alternate the two (said George, George said), but if that word order is causing readers to break into hives, I'll start making an effort to avoid it. Is it a big deal to any of y'all?

On a slightly different point. When I was in junior school we had the lessons on not always using "said", so that we would learn to be more expressive in our writing. Our teacher was rather taken aback when I brought in the book I was reading, as the author used nothing but "said". It was "The Midnight Folk" by John Masefield, who had been Poet Laureate. I suppose that just goes to prove that when you get to a certain level you can break all the rules you want.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #961 on: June 09, 2013, 01:56:33 PM »
Going back a few pages (and a few years), I was mightily peeved when The Girl With The Pearl Earring was re-issued to tie in with the movie release.  The reissue had a picture of Scarlet Johansen and Colin Firth snuggling closely together.  First of all, nothing like that takes place in either the movie or the book, so it is completely misleading.

And just what was wrong with the original cover, which had the actual painting on it?  You know, the subject of the book?
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LEMon

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #962 on: June 09, 2013, 05:20:28 PM »
I have a question about what seems to be the latest writing pariah. A couple of times recently I've come across writers commanding other writers to never, ever, on pain of death, for the sake of all the little puppies, etc., never use the "said George" word order in a dialogue tag, as opposed to "George said."

"Why not?" asked Isobel.
"I dunno," said George.

I honestly never thought much about it until I encountered these rants; so many books I've read in my life used that construction that I never thought it would be such an irritant to some readers. In my writing I tend to alternate the two (said George, George said), but if that word order is causing readers to break into hives, I'll start making an effort to avoid it. Is it a big deal to any of y'all?

On a slightly different point. When I was in junior school we had the lessons on not always using "said", so that we would learn to be more expressive in our writing. Our teacher was rather taken aback when I brought in the book I was reading, as the author used nothing but "said". It was "The Midnight Folk" by John Masefield, who had been Poet Laureate. I suppose that just goes to prove that when you get to a certain level you can break all the rules you want.
Interesting point of view from the teacher.  I'm reading "How to Write" books.  Most recommend using 'said' most, if not all the time.  TV Tropes has a page on the (overuse) of non-said phrases.  Seems it is one of those things that can be argued for either one as the rule.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SaidBookism

ladyknight1

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #963 on: June 26, 2013, 04:22:48 PM »
Books where the author provides intricate driving directions. I just read two different authors that did that!

TootsNYC

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #964 on: June 26, 2013, 04:54:57 PM »
I dislike stories that depend on a lot of miscommunication among the characters--I read fiction for escapism, not to experience the things that irritate me in real life! :) I always liked how, in Harry Potter, the first thing Harry, Ron, or Hermione did upon learning a new bit of information was to tell the other two, so they could all try to figure it out as a group. (At least that's how I remember it.)

Well, I often found myself shouting at Harry, "Go tell Dumbledore what you just learned!" However, I don't think that's unrealistic; children (particularly children with bad experiences with adults, like Harry) often don't consider adults as confidantes. It's as though childhood and adulthood are two differents worlds. Harry is more forthcoming with adults as he gets older.

Plus, it would be a much more boring book if Harry did.

And in real life, kids often *do* think they have to cope with stuff themselves. Look at all the kids who are being bullied who never tell their parents.

TootsNYC

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #965 on: June 26, 2013, 04:57:13 PM »
I have a question about what seems to be the latest writing pariah. A couple of times recently I've come across writers commanding other writers to never, ever, on pain of death, for the sake of all the little puppies, etc., never use the "said George" word order in a dialogue tag, as opposed to "George said."

"Why not?" asked Isobel.
"I dunno," said George.

I honestly never thought much about it until I encountered these rants; so many books I've read in my life used that construction that I never thought it would be such an irritant to some readers. In my writing I tend to alternate the two (said George, George said), but if that word order is causing readers to break into hives, I'll start making an effort to avoid it. Is it a big deal to any of y'all?

On a slightly different point. When I was in junior school we had the lessons on not always using "said", so that we would learn to be more expressive in our writing. Our teacher was rather taken aback when I brought in the book I was reading, as the author used nothing but "said". It was "The Midnight Folk" by John Masefield, who had been Poet Laureate. I suppose that just goes to prove that when you get to a certain level you can break all the rules you want.


I'm a copyeditor, and Iv'e had people tell me that "said George" is wrong, but they're just stupid. It's completely a matter of taste.

And at the nonfiction magazines I've worked at, almost all of them have a rule that you can ONLY use "said." Everything else gets too noticeable. It's our belief (us professional copyeditors, most of us) that "said" is a word readers don't retail; it's just the linking word. Readers will, hoever, notice stuff like "asserted," and if it's the tiniest bit awkward, it diverts their attention from the other part of the story.

ica171

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #966 on: June 26, 2013, 05:03:23 PM »
I have a question about what seems to be the latest writing pariah. A couple of times recently I've come across writers commanding other writers to never, ever, on pain of death, for the sake of all the little puppies, etc., never use the "said George" word order in a dialogue tag, as opposed to "George said."

"Why not?" asked Isobel.
"I dunno," said George.

I honestly never thought much about it until I encountered these rants; so many books I've read in my life used that construction that I never thought it would be such an irritant to some readers. In my writing I tend to alternate the two (said George, George said), but if that word order is causing readers to break into hives, I'll start making an effort to avoid it. Is it a big deal to any of y'all?

On a slightly different point. When I was in junior school we had the lessons on not always using "said", so that we would learn to be more expressive in our writing. Our teacher was rather taken aback when I brought in the book I was reading, as the author used nothing but "said". It was "The Midnight Folk" by John Masefield, who had been Poet Laureate. I suppose that just goes to prove that when you get to a certain level you can break all the rules you want.


I'm a copyeditor, and Iv'e had people tell me that "said George" is wrong, but they're just stupid. It's completely a matter of taste.

And at the nonfiction magazines I've worked at, almost all of them have a rule that you can ONLY use "said." Everything else gets too noticeable. It's our belief (us professional copyeditors, most of us) that "said" is a word readers don't retail; it's just the linking word. Readers will, hoever, notice stuff like "asserted," and if it's the tiniest bit awkward, it diverts their attention from the other part of the story.

For nonfiction, I would think "said" or "commented" would be the only words that wouldn't be distracting.

I just remembered one thing DH has been complaining about. He's read World War Z several times, and every time I have to hear how annoying it is that the people in the interviews are speaking like authors. As in, they're overdescribing everything. I don't remember all the examples, but I remember one where the guy said something like "I threw him into the cheap drywall." He's right; 99% of people are not going to say "cheap drywall," they're going to say "wall."

PeterM

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #967 on: June 27, 2013, 01:00:02 AM »
I just remembered one thing DH has been complaining about. He's read World War Z several times, and every time I have to hear how annoying it is that the people in the interviews are speaking like authors. As in, they're overdescribing everything. I don't remember all the examples, but I remember one where the guy said something like "I threw him into the cheap drywall." He's right; 99% of people are not going to say "cheap drywall," they're going to say "wall."

I haven't noticed that, but I do think Brooks made some of his extremely large cast of characters more similar than they really should have been. I can't think of any examples, though, and lord knows there are only so many ways to write essentially the same narrative over and over.

One thing that did honestly bug me about it was the description of the Battle of Yonkers. He wanted to make the point that modern weapons and tactics aren't particularly useful against something like a horde of millions of zombies, but he really went overboard. The high command would have to be complete and utter morons to act like they did in the book, and on top of that the zombies wouldn't be nearly as impervious to conventional weaponry as he made them. He's tried to say that his zombies are at least somewhat realistic, but the truth is they're just as magical and physics-breaking as the least realistic examples you could name. Maybe it's possible to come up with a realistic way to reanimate corpses, but once you manage that feat they're going to be blown apart by bullets and explosions, and they're going to rot pretty quickly, especially immersed in salt water.

iridaceae

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #968 on: June 27, 2013, 04:37:26 AM »
I can't remember if thus has been covered but: don't give most of your characters similar named. I read a book where some of the main characters were named Jessica,  John,  Jason and Jennifer. Yes I got confused sometimes.

Reika

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #969 on: June 27, 2013, 09:30:48 AM »
I can't remember if anyone else addressed this or not, but here goes.

Don't make your protagonist so sanctimonious that your readers start wanting the assassin to kill her. Or at least stop reading the book because they can't stand the character anymore. Which is what happened to me with the Book of Deacon trilogy.

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #970 on: June 27, 2013, 10:18:58 AM »
This is probably the writer in me, but I'm reading a cozy mystery right now where the author goes into way too much detail about things the main character does. Detail is good, but only when it's relevant or interesting. When she did a computer search for something, it talked about how she made sure to put the search term in quotes because she just wanted to get that search string. And oh, it worked! She got relevant results! But she had to look over the page of results first before clicking on the first one. I read it and thought "Ok, that could have been cut down to two sentences." I like the plot otherwise, and this is the first in the series so maybe it's a bad habit that will go away later.

Lynn2000

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #971 on: June 27, 2013, 10:33:37 AM »
Here's one I've been noticing lately. Hopefully I can explain it well.


Bob smirked at her. "I can't help it if I have weird cravings! I'm pregnant!"

Bonnie pouted impressively at his mockery. "Fine, I'll go out and look for the ice cream, but I can't promise anything."

Bob grabbed his coat and headed for the door. "Don't come back without it!"


The blue dialogue (first and third lines) has to be Bonnie, because Bob can't be pregnant (okay, non-sci-fi, conventional story ;) ), while the red dialogue (second line) must therefore be Bob. But from the way the narration is positioned in the same paragraph as the dialogue, you might at first think it was the other way around. Bob smirks and then complains about his pregnancy cravings? Bonnie feels mocked by this and pouts, but agrees to go get ice cream for him? It gets confusing very quickly.

With dialogue like this, I can figure out from context who's supposed to be speaking, but I've been reading lots of conversations where it wasn't that obvious, and I find it really annoying. Has anyone else seen this? Mostly I've noticed it in some fanfics lately (which are not always the best examples of formatting, granted), but it's been multiple authors, so I was afraid it was becoming a Thing...
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Layla Miller

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #972 on: June 27, 2013, 10:57:00 AM »
Here's one I've been noticing lately. Hopefully I can explain it well.


Bob smirked at her. "I can't help it if I have weird cravings! I'm pregnant!"

Bonnie pouted impressively at his mockery. "Fine, I'll go out and look for the ice cream, but I can't promise anything."

Bob grabbed his coat and headed for the door. "Don't come back without it!"


The blue dialogue (first and third lines) has to be Bonnie, because Bob can't be pregnant (okay, non-sci-fi, conventional story ;) ), while the red dialogue (second line) must therefore be Bob. But from the way the narration is positioned in the same paragraph as the dialogue, you might at first think it was the other way around. Bob smirks and then complains about his pregnancy cravings? Bonnie feels mocked by this and pouts, but agrees to go get ice cream for him? It gets confusing very quickly.

With dialogue like this, I can figure out from context who's supposed to be speaking, but I've been reading lots of conversations where it wasn't that obvious, and I find it really annoying. Has anyone else seen this? Mostly I've noticed it in some fanfics lately (which are not always the best examples of formatting, granted), but it's been multiple authors, so I was afraid it was becoming a Thing...

Oh, yes, I've seen that too!  Also, when there's a stretch of just dialogue (quotes only, no speech tags, but it's just the two characters so it's easy to keep the speakers straight) but suddenly the author gives the same character two lines in a row, one quote followed by another on the next line, and suddenly the conversation has taken a weird left turn until you backtrack.

To borrow from your example:

"I can't help it if I have weird cravings! I'm pregnant!"

"Fine, I'll go out and look for the ice cream, but I can't promise anything."

"Don't come back without it!"

"I'm going already!  Sheesh!"

"Well, fine then.  Here's your coat."

"Hey, I changed my mind.  I want Twinkies instead."

"Oh, for--just make up your mind and stick with it!"

Only without the color-coding, of course, so it looks for a moment like Bob's decided Bonnie's not getting ice cream, but he's getting Twinkies.  What a jerk.  :P
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magicdomino

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #973 on: June 27, 2013, 11:00:41 AM »
This is probably the writer in me, but I'm reading a cozy mystery right now where the author goes into way too much detail about things the main character does. Detail is good, but only when it's relevant or interesting. When she did a computer search for something, it talked about how she made sure to put the search term in quotes because she just wanted to get that search string. And oh, it worked! She got relevant results! But she had to look over the page of results first before clicking on the first one. I read it and thought "Ok, that could have been cut down to two sentences." I like the plot otherwise, and this is the first in the series so maybe it's a bad habit that will go away later.

I recently read a cozy mystery with a similar problem, except that it was an obsession with the characters' clothes.  Not only was every woman's outfit described in detail, the author described the main character's discarded choices, "Heroine pulled out the blue sweater with pink embroidered flowers, but it didn't look quite right with the khaki pants.  Should she wear the denim skirt instead of the pants, or the black scooped necked shell with them?"  I don't care if it is a gunny sack, can we please get on with the story?  The book didn't even have a clothing theme; it was a mystery book club.

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #974 on: June 27, 2013, 11:07:20 AM »
Don't make your protagonist so sanctimonious that your readers start wanting the assassin to kill her. Or at least stop reading the book because they can't stand the character anymore. Which is what happened to me with the Book of Deacon trilogy.

As I've mentioned recently on another thread; I have this problem with Sue Grafton's detective heroine Kinsey Millhone. I could only bear to read a couple of those "A is for..., etc." mysteries: found myself ardently hoping that Kinsey would be the next victim.