Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 223316 times)

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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1245 on: September 03, 2013, 02:26:52 PM »
What about a historically important actress that almost everybody will know? I read a book about someone who wanted to be a model, and she was compared to a young Audrey Hepburn. I accepted that, because her movies were classics, and I can't think of anypne who hasn't seen my fair lady, or breakfest at Tiffanys or Roman Holiday.

Now you have - I haven't seen any of them. But I have seen a picture of a young Audrey Hepburn. I think those descriptions are problematic because you are going to run into people who have no idea what that person looks like, or who know they have seen that person but can't recall offhand what they looked like at that point. It is better to just do a short description instead of trying to do a short cut and comparing them to someone else.

Another problem with this is that if the reader really doesn't like the celebrity mentioned, it will shade the way the reader looks at the character, which may be entirely different from what the author intends.


And there's also the risk of setting your hero by saying he was so handsome, every woman found him irresistible and wanting the reader to understand why she finds it so hard to resist him...and then describe him as looking like an actor or even a character that some readers might not find attractive at all. 

I mean I find Johnny Depp to be gorgeous, and swoon over Captain Jack Sparrow, but I realize not all women do.   On the other hand, I remember when "Friends" was big, all my girlfriends just looooooooved Ross (David Schwimmer) but I found his character incredibly annoying and liked Chandler instead.  (Course watching it now, I find them all obnoxious)

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Twik

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1246 on: September 03, 2013, 03:04:14 PM »
Comparing someone's looks to a known celebrity is either (1) lazy writing (easier to say "looks like Audrey Hepburn," than to say, "she was a waif-like brunette, with a wide-eyed, enquiring air as she regarded the world," or (2) an indication that the writer is mentally engaged in casting her novel, for when her big break comes.
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Elfmama

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1247 on: September 03, 2013, 04:14:14 PM »
Comparing someone's looks to a known celebrity is either (1) lazy writing (easier to say "looks like Audrey Hepburn," than to say, "she was a waif-like brunette, with a wide-eyed, enquiring air as she regarded the world," or (2) an indication that the writer is mentally engaged in casting her novel, for when her big break comes.
I've always wondered if Margaret Mitchell had Clark Gable in mind when she described Rhett Butler.  But she certainly didn't say so! 

Also, if you are doing anything other than contemporary fiction, describing a character as looking like Famous Actor just doesn't work.  I write SF/Fantasy.  My viewpoint character has absolutely no knowledge of Famous Actor, so I can't write that she thinks someone looks like him.

It also takes a bit of thought to remember that in genre fiction like medievaloid fantasy, you can't use phrases we use every day.  "Run out of steam" -- no steam engines.  "Just a second" -- no clocks; the smallest unit of time is an hour or significant fraction thereof. And so on.
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poundcake

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1248 on: September 03, 2013, 04:50:08 PM »
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I know FF isn't like original works, and intellectual property can't be claimed (except in *some* very morally grey cases...), but the nerve of the request staggered me.

I don't think it's too uncommon for a fan or another author of fanfic to offer to "finish" or pick up a story you've dropped. I've seen it a few times. It's like one step past adopting a "plot bunny"! And it can be a fun way to collaborate, too. Don't be too offended by the request (and obviously, say no if you want), but it's not as "nervy" as you might think.

My current peeve is an author reusing the exact same trope, especially in the same series. I picked up several historical bodice-rippers for summer reading (about as far away from my usual stuff as you can get), and in every single one, the heroine ends up being kidnapped and sold into a Middle Eastern harem. It's a multi-generational story, so the initial heroine, two of her daughters, her brother's wife, and a granddaughter all end up as some raj/sultan/bey's treasured paramour and learn the exotic arts of love before returning home. Something tells me that if your family is that prone to being kidnapped into sexual servitude, you might consider staying away from ships.

Beatrice Small, by any chance?

Got it in one.  ;D

Quote
Going out on a limb and guessing this is Sky O'Malley and her happy entourage.  The author also wrote a bunch of stand alone titles where the heroines can't seem to avoid the Middle Eastern Mail Order Bride by Kidnap route.  Instead of being completely caught up in the heroine's "exciting" adventures I usually fall down and laugh hysterically.  Because, seriously?  The deadly grim way in which the various heroes go about seducing their prey is fodder for parody.

Yup. And that's exactly why I read more than one. They are hysterically funny that way! It's not unlike the comment made a few pages back about romance couples having zero in common, yet their love will be one to last through the ages. This is like, Sultan Exotico has a harem of 200 women, yet somehow, this ONE woman will be the one with whom he's never experienced pleasure like this before. Oh sure. Right.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2013, 05:06:19 PM by poundcake »

Petticoats

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1249 on: September 03, 2013, 05:06:29 PM »
I've always wondered if Margaret Mitchell had Clark Gable in mind when she described Rhett Butler.  But she certainly didn't say so! 

Just for the record, Basil Rathbone was the actor she wanted for Rhett. :)

Another problem with associating characters with actors is that, unless they're really timeless icons people still recognize (like either of the Hepburns, Marilyn Monroe, or James Dean, say), references like that can date a story really quickly. I remember reading a reprinted story of Jack Finney's in which the references to 40s movie stars had been replaced by an editor with 80s ones... which made the story  dated when I read it in the 90s. (Don't quote me on the exact decades, but you get the idea.)

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1250 on: September 03, 2013, 05:15:46 PM »
It's one thing I'll give J.K. Rowling.  While she may have had Alan Rickman in mind when writing Snape, she never did utter his name in his descriptions.
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

Allyson

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1251 on: September 03, 2013, 06:17:40 PM »
I don't really like celebrity descriptions, even of 'classic' movie stars like Audrey Hepburn, because it usually seems a shortcut to characterization as well. The character will often be really similar to the celebrity's 'persona', and sometimes it seems like they use classic examples because it's more acceptable to be a huge Hepburn fan than a huge, oh I don't know, Megan Fox fan.

Also re romance novels writing super similar plots, yeah. I love Mary Balogh but she's never met a fake engagement plot she hasn't liked!

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1252 on: September 03, 2013, 08:59:47 PM »
The other issue is that some people just don't have the cultural reference to know who certain people are.  When I was in training for my work, we ranged in age from 25 to 45ish.  We were supposed to be doing a boat tour that we had to sign up for.  One of my colleagues cracked that as long as it wasn't a 3 hour tour, he was in.  All of us, except one girl, cracked up.  She just didn't get it.  She didn't grow up in country because her father was in the diplomatic core and just didn't get the reference.  (Gilligan's Island, in case someone else didn't get it due to lack of reference.)
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mrs_deb

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1253 on: September 03, 2013, 10:31:24 PM »
As apparently I am a glutton for punishment, I have checked out more of this author's books:

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=124494.msg2942467#msg2942467

Let me add Irritating Things #5 and #6 to my list:

#5.  Overuse of the word "knell".  His voice knelled with sincerity.  His boots (what IS it about footwear with this woman?) knelled on the sidewalk.  I think she pulled out her Roget's Thesaurus and looked for some word to replace "rang".  What's wrong with rang?  Rang is a normal word.  Knell seems twee.

#6.  Shouldered.  "He shouldered his way into the room."  ...REALLY?????  He SHOULDERED his way into the room?  :P.


Reika

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1254 on: September 03, 2013, 11:33:56 PM »

#6.  Shouldered.  "He shouldered his way into the room."  ...REALLY?????  He SHOULDERED his way into the room?  :P.

Ouch, I can see shouldering his way through a crowd. But into a room?

I will admit though, this thread sparked a new writing project for me, where the heroine is pleasingly plump woman who can kick butt. ;)

Ereine

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1255 on: September 03, 2013, 11:48:04 PM »
It also takes a bit of thought to remember that in genre fiction like medievaloid fantasy, you can't use phrases we use every day.  "Run out of steam" -- no steam engines.  "Just a second" -- no clocks; the smallest unit of time is an hour or significant fraction thereof. And so on.

I just read a historical fantasy novel (set in the age of Vikings) that used seconds and I remember wondering about it, it would have been so easy to replace it with moments or something.

Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy was very badly translated into Finnish, by someone who wasn't a translator, he just liked the books and managed to convince the publisher. There were some translations that didn't fit the fantasy world, like some tree that was probably really basic to a North American author was translated using its proper name so that Fitz was looking at a "West Canadian Mountain Hemlock" (completely made up by me but Canada was included). I don't know why that kind of accuracy was necessary when he was happy to change the bird one character was named after (and so he also changed nature of the character, as apparently the choice of bird was important, or that's what he auhor said at a panel at a fantasy con). There were also things like horses described as stalliongeldings.

dqduck

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1256 on: September 04, 2013, 12:00:20 AM »
As apparently I am a glutton for punishment, I have checked out more of this author's books:

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=124494.msg2942467#msg2942467

Let me add Irritating Things #5 and #6 to my list:

#5.  Overuse of the word "knell".  His voice knelled with sincerity.  His boots (what IS it about footwear with this woman?) knelled on the sidewalk.  I think she pulled out her Roget's Thesaurus and looked for some word to replace "rang".  What's wrong with rang?  Rang is a normal word.  Knell seems twee.

#6.  Shouldered.  "He shouldered his way into the room."  ...REALLY?????  He SHOULDERED his way into the room?  :P.

I've always associated the word knell with 'death knell', so those sentences would carry a sense of doom for me.

iridaceae

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1257 on: September 04, 2013, 03:39:22 AM »
I was reading Eddings again (the Elenium) and I just realized that he never named Queen Elahna's mother. Every character refers to her as "Queen Elahna's mother", even though the woman had been their queen before her death. Talk about weird!

No I think she's mentioned by name in one place. They're talking about Aldreas and Arissa and mention her by name.

cabbageweevil

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1258 on: September 04, 2013, 06:37:20 AM »
It also takes a bit of thought to remember that in genre fiction like medievaloid fantasy, you can't use phrases we use every day.  "Run out of steam" -- no steam engines.  "Just a second" -- no clocks; the smallest unit of time is an hour or significant fraction thereof. And so on.

I just read a historical fantasy novel (set in the age of Vikings) that used seconds and I remember wondering about it, it would have been so easy to replace it with moments or something.

Though I can feel such "anachronisms" in historical fiction (real-world, or fantasy) as momentarily jarring, I find I can usually "give them a pass" --  either taking them as purely metaphorical; or as saving the reader possible laborious explanations and / or puzzlement, concerning what would be factually correct for the era in which the book is set.  (I agree, though, that with a medieval or earlier setting, it's perfectly easy to substitute "moments" for "seconds".)

In the only one of Peter Tremayne's "Sister Fidelma" mysteries, set in the seventh century AD, which I have so far read; on a journey in what will later become France, the central characters are discussing ways-and-means with their local guide -- the author has him saying that such-and-such a town is so many kilometres away.  At first, this grated on me; but on reflection, I think it admissible on the author's part.  Less potentially distracting overall, to use a unit of measurement with which the reader is familiar; than to research how distances were described / estimated in France-to-be some fourteen centuries ago, and possibly have to lumber the reader with a weird archaic word which will need to be explained somehow.

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1259 on: September 04, 2013, 07:23:20 AM »
While people who have studied those periods fully would probably be distracted by the anachronisms, I would forgive the use of seconds and modern units of measurement for that same reason, that it would make it easier for the reader to stay with the book rather than having to look it up.

In reading some ST:Voyager fanfiction recently it reminded me of another pet peeve, when you can't tell who is talking in a conversation.  I can't remember an exchange at the moment but it's usually something like this:

"I better get to the medical bay" The Doctor said to Captain Janeway.

"Seven is wanting to work on her bedside manner."

"I guess I'd better get going then, don't want to be keeping her!" And with that, the Doctor beamed to the medical bay.

 Now all 3 sounds like they could be said by the Doctor, but the way it's written with each quote on its own line and knowing he was talking to the captain, it could be her saying one of them, but who can tell?
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