Author Topic: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters  (Read 6884 times)

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atirial

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #120 on: October 08, 2014, 05:08:35 AM »
I have added a new dislike in second place - contrived helplessness, or the character who never does anything. Lots of things happen to this character, who emotes nicely for the reader, wrings their hands and never does anything themselves.

I've just read a book where this describes the two main leads. Lose job? Sit on couch for months until a new job literally knocks on the door. Relative steals stuff? Cry- but don't change locks or get insurance. Four bed house and short on money? Mope - but don't downsize or get a lodger or look for a job. Eventually I went from sympathising to wanting to stage an intervention, or possibly slap them.

lilfox

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #121 on: October 08, 2014, 04:48:28 PM »
Related to the Permanently Helpless character is the Universe's Whipping Boy character, the one that every bad thing ever happens to.  His or her life is generally unfortunate, then suffers tragedy after tragedy.  Sometimes it's of their own making and sometimes it's circumstance, but when it's unending, it's exhausting to relate to after awhile.

Kiara

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #122 on: October 09, 2014, 09:26:26 AM »
Related to the Permanently Helpless character is the Universe's Whipping Boy character, the one that every bad thing ever happens to.  His or her life is generally unfortunate, then suffers tragedy after tragedy.  Sometimes it's of their own making and sometimes it's circumstance, but when it's unending, it's exhausting to relate to after awhile.

Ah yes.  Also known as "the reason I quit reading the Dresden Files."  15 more books of angst and "let's beat up on Harry"?  No thanks.

Twik

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #123 on: October 09, 2014, 10:15:54 AM »
One thing that bugs me is female characters who are rude as a way of showing that they are "strong and independent".

I've come across a couple of male characters who do this as well - be shockingly rude to anyone approaching an authority as a way of signifying their alpha male qualities. When in real life, such behaviour would have them quickly beaten up (literally or figuratively) by the real alpha males. However, I don't tend to read books that glorify the alpha male, so I haven't hit that trope so often as the irritating female character who snarks at everyone as a way of showing her independence.
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MerryCat

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #124 on: October 09, 2014, 10:40:39 AM »
Related to the Permanently Helpless character is the Universe's Whipping Boy character, the one that every bad thing ever happens to.  His or her life is generally unfortunate, then suffers tragedy after tragedy.  Sometimes it's of their own making and sometimes it's circumstance, but when it's unending, it's exhausting to relate to after awhile.

I don't mind this too much, if it's meant to be humorous, like Rincewind from Pratchett's Discworld series. But even then it needs a deft touch to stop it going from funny to just annoying.

Twik

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #125 on: October 09, 2014, 11:33:17 AM »
Related to the Permanently Helpless character is the Universe's Whipping Boy character, the one that every bad thing ever happens to.  His or her life is generally unfortunate, then suffers tragedy after tragedy.  Sometimes it's of their own making and sometimes it's circumstance, but when it's unending, it's exhausting to relate to after awhile.

I don't mind this too much, if it's meant to be humorous, like Rincewind from Pratchett's Discworld series. But even then it needs a deft touch to stop it going from funny to just annoying.

To be fair, the current belief in creating interesting plots is "torture your character". One book I was reading described it as "get your character up a tree - and then throw rocks at him." To which someone commented, "Rocks, heck, I'm going after him with a machine gun."

But too much angst, as opposed to problems for the character to solve, makes him/her look weak, and some things are just over the top until it starts being funny (which is not good unless the writer intends that.)
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

daen

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #126 on: October 09, 2014, 11:39:33 AM »
Related to the Permanently Helpless character is the Universe's Whipping Boy character, the one that every bad thing ever happens to.  His or her life is generally unfortunate, then suffers tragedy after tragedy.  Sometimes it's of their own making and sometimes it's circumstance, but when it's unending, it's exhausting to relate to after awhile.

I don't mind this too much, if it's meant to be humorous, like Rincewind from Pratchett's Discworld series. But even then it needs a deft touch to stop it going from funny to just annoying.

To be fair, the current belief in creating interesting plots is "torture your character". One book I was reading described it as "get your character up a tree - and then throw rocks at him." To which someone commented, "Rocks, heck, I'm going after him with a machine gun."

But too much angst, as opposed to problems for the character to solve, makes him/her look weak, and some things are just over the top until it starts being funny (which is not good unless the writer intends that.)

Conflict makes for interesting - at least more so than everything going according to plan.  And conflict usually involves some suffering for the character engaged in it. "Torture your character" takes it to the extreme, and yes, maybe, if you're aiming for a highly suspenseful plot, that can work. But I agree - too much angst does your character no good. Even Hamlet got past the angsty-ness and finally did something.

Shalamar

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #127 on: October 09, 2014, 01:02:17 PM »
Not a writer, but one of my pet peeves is authors who try to write dialogue for a culture that is not their own, and then make a mess of it.  Example:  Barbara Taylor Bradford is British, and she tried to incorporate an Italian character into one of her books.  This guy not only worked for the mob (because of course he did), his dialogue consisted of little more than "Capisce?" and calling people "Paisan."  I'm pretty sure he ate nothing but pasta, too.

Gyburc

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #128 on: October 10, 2014, 05:59:50 AM »
Shalamar, I know I posted about this before, but a while ago I tried a thriller/adventure novel, based around a big conspiracy to continue Nazi experiments into unlimited energy, or time travel, or something of the like. Unsurprisingly, quite a few of the characters in the book were German, so there was a lot of very basic German dialogue thrown in. The number of errors was phenomenal - and really, really basic errors, too. It was so distracting that I gave up on the book.

I do understand that authors sometimes want to write dialogue in a foreign language, but for goodness' sake, get a native speaker, or even a student of the language, to check it before it goes into print!

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Allyson

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #129 on: October 10, 2014, 12:42:08 PM »
About the tons of angst thing...another problem that I find with that is that people nowadays are way less tolerant of 'whiny' characters, I think maybe because it was overdone for quite awhile. (I was surprised to read just how angsty some main characters in classic literature were!) So it's almost like the authors want to either substitute their character feeling things with more tragedy, *or* they want the tragedy to be bad enough that when their character does feel upset, readers don't think they're whining.

lady_disdain

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #130 on: October 10, 2014, 02:53:07 PM »
About the tons of angst thing...another problem that I find with that is that people nowadays are way less tolerant of 'whiny' characters, I think maybe because it was overdone for quite awhile. (I was surprised to read just how angsty some main characters in classic literature were!) So it's almost like the authors want to either substitute their character feeling things with more tragedy, *or* they want the tragedy to be bad enough that when their character does feel upset, readers don't think they're whining.

It also has to do with how emotion was expressed. Men were supposed to be sensitive and emotional, which comes across as over done to us.

Twik

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Re: Writers, what trait do you hate/dislike most for characters
« Reply #131 on: October 10, 2014, 07:56:02 PM »
About the tons of angst thing...another problem that I find with that is that people nowadays are way less tolerant of 'whiny' characters, I think maybe because it was overdone for quite awhile. (I was surprised to read just how angsty some main characters in classic literature were!) So it's almost like the authors want to either substitute their character feeling things with more tragedy, *or* they want the tragedy to be bad enough that when their character does feel upset, readers don't think they're whining.

It also has to do with how emotion was expressed. Men were supposed to be sensitive and emotional, which comes across as over done to us.

Which may say more about us these days than about classic literature.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."