Discussion Forums - The Writers' Forum The Writers' Forum

Topic: Pet Peeves

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Pet Peeves
Date Posted: 1/31/2009 3:40 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
Back To Top

Now that I am writing my own book, and have studied how to write, I have a much stricter standard for books that I read. What about you? What things can you just not stand when you're reading?

 

Some of mine:

1. Head-hopping! Omnicient 3rd person in modern novels is my enemy. Please change the scene before you switch to someone else's thoughts! I say modern novels because people like Dickens and Louisa May Alcott managed it. I don't know how, but they did.

2. Shallow characters. Please write about someone interesting and unique! Someone I want to relate to and care about.

3. Wacky names! Don't get me wrong--I love made-up, fantasy-ish names. But they have to be good. Names are way more important than a lot of people think. I don't like names I have to sound out, names that don't roll easily off the tongue, or names that sound like the author took Tolkien's and switched out a couple of the letters. Creative, yet simple.

 

I look forward to reading everyone's pet peeves!

 

HML

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2005
Posts: 305
Back To Top

My biggest pet peeve is when the writer has written a novel that I live very much and then the ending is rushed.

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 5:04 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,158
Back To Top

Wacky names--same reason.  I hate it that every time I run across the name I have to pause and sound it out. And also, names that are alike.  The book I'm reading now has a Dr. Wallace and a Warren.  She accidentally called the doctor Dr. Warren. 

Passive sentences.  I constantly write them so it ticks me off when I read them.

My biggest pet peeve is an author that reminds you over and over and over about almost nothing.  Christine Feehan's last Drake novel...the sister in it asked herself, "Can I trust him?  No I can't. Will he hurt me?  Yes he will."  This went on page after page until I tossed it aside. 

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
Back To Top

Snowkitty,

 Ugh! I HATE it when authors accidentally use the wrong names for their characters!  It's like, "Didn't you even take the time to develop and get to know this person?" I read a book (a really old book) in which there was this 13 year old boy who acted like he was six, and his name was Georgie. As I was reading the book, I came across one sentence spoken by this boy. It was pretty clear that he was the one talking. But the tag went, "said Willie." WILLIE? There wasn't even another character in the whole book with that name! Think she was, like, talking to a Willie as she was writing, or something?

 My characters would never let me hear the end of it if I did that.

 

 

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 12:10 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,158
Back To Top

Here's another one.  The character on the front of the book doesn't match the character in the book.  They were complaining about that in another forum.  That just doesn't make sense.

Paul H. (PaulH) - ,
Date Posted: 2/1/2009 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 146
Back To Top

Typos.  Especially in books from major publishing houses.  I know they have editors, but aren't authors supposed to proofread their galleys?  I read one of Tom Clancy's later Jack Ryan books, and it was like he didn't even care any more.  There was a blatently misspelled word every 10-20 pages or so... and considering the length of Clancy's books, that's a lot!

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 7:36 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
Back To Top

Snowkitty: Again, I agree! That is why I like covers that don't really show full faces, or aren't photos.

PaulH: Agh! That's awful!

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 8:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,158
Back To Top

Let's face it--they're not being as picky as they used to be, and in a way that's good for newbe writers. 

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 12:15 PM ET
Member Since: 11/21/2008
Posts: 232
Back To Top

When an author tries to excuse increasingly-ridiculous plot line, set of plot devices, or character development by having a character say, "What's happening is just so incredible. If it werent happening to me, I wouldn't believe it!" Danger, Will Robinson, back away from the site of an impending prose implosion!

 

Along the same lines, I hate it when ia character suddenly changes personalities especially in a series where the personality is well established. Either introduce a new character to accomplish those goals, take the time and effort to create a set up in which that change would seem realistic to a reasonable reader,  or reexamine why you felt the need to accomplish those goals.

 

I hate it when an author uses a nonsensical descriptive device. I've seen this useless device lately, although the example that sticks out is  a certain mystery author who continually has his main character describe his body and especially his legs as "Slavic," as in  "I ran as fast as my Slavic legs could carry me." What the heck...

 

Like Trixie, I hate the rushed endings. I also hate hate hate when the book veers away from a happy ending that would have been reasonable and realistic and introduces melodrama and angst because (IMO) of the feeling that a happy ending is somehow not literary. I recently read a book which was wonderful up until the last 50 pages when the author suddenly decided to make the characters problems insurmountable and gave them a horrible ending. The book went from my permanent keeper pile to my 'get out of the house asap' pile.

 

ETA... Ha, thought of another one: When the back cover blurb does not match the book. I just read a book touted as a mystery. In fact, it was a horror book and the so-called mystery was solved half way through the book --(the resolution was actually apparent from the prologue, that is, right from the beginning . So this was not a mystery at all. It was a straight-up horror tale, which I do not read because I do not like them.  I kept reading because I thought there was some major or minor aspect of the mystery or a twist yet to come in re the  mystery, but no... just a basic horror book. Waste of money, waste of time.  And I'm sure horror fans would not have picked it up as appealing to them, so what is the point of lying on the back blurb?

 

 



Last Edited on: 2/2/09 12:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/2/2009 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,158
Back To Top

Which brings me to endings that go on forever.  I once read a book that had an ending that went on for pages, which was okay fine.  Then she added an epilouge.  This coming from one of my favorite authors.

Ohhhh...and I can not tolerate unhappy endings.  I don't read a book to be brought down.  And even worse? a blase` ending where it is neither happy or sad. 

 

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 9:05 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
Back To Top

My brother and I were listening to an audio drama series this week, in which two families get locked into an ancient mansion, and the children start disappearing. Funny thing was, the parents kept stopping to examine the old decorations, and things, and talk about the peculiarities of this and that. Every now and then, one of them would say, "Right now, I'm too worried about the kids to keep very focused on what we're talking about." And they'd go back to trying to figure the mystery out.

It was sort of annoying.

 

 

 

 

Date Posted: 2/3/2009 6:02 AM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2005
Posts: 305
Back To Top

I hate the overuse of particular words within a novel.  Especially if it is a "fifty cent word."  When you use a large or very uncommon word, use it only once per novel.  Then your word has effect.  Example: the sentence that Camille quoted, the Slavic legs.  I had to look the word Slavic up.  I don't mind having to look a word up occassionally when reading.  Slavic is an ethnic group from Europe.  Ok, the author wanted to show knowledge of an ethnic group.  I think that perhaps it could have been written in a different way, but they chose to use the term Slavic legs.  Ok, I can accept that.  However should they even once more refer to Slavic legs or even vary it and say that he wrapped his Slavic arms around her, then it is overuse of the word. Camille said that the author continually described the persons body this way.  YUCK!  The author should have came up with other ways of describing the character.

I don't want simple words to be written too closely together either.  Example: "In real life, many people use games like these for recreation.  Many people who play....."  That is the use of the words 'many people' too often within the same flow of thought.  It bothers me.  I can say that about this example.  It is from an essay that I have written for school.  I have to change this before handing it in.  I will not be able to live with myself otherwise.  Ahhhh, I have it.  It will now read, "In real life, playing games like this can be a great form of recreation.  Many people who play...."     There!  Now I can hand this paper in and feel good about it.  I have dispensed with overuse of the term 'many people' and have improved upon the way my thought was conveyed.

Date Posted: 2/3/2009 10:08 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,158
Back To Top

Hmmm...Trixie brings up another point.  Splashing in big words that you actually DO have to look up.  Singularly, looking up a word is no big deal, granted.  But used correctly in the context of the sentence, shouldn't the definition be obvious?  I won't read a book when I find words I have never before seen.  I want the author to amuse me, startle me, entertain me.  I'll go back to school to study.

Date Posted: 2/3/2009 3:06 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 387
Back To Top

I dislike authors whose historical fiction is a recitation of facts they researched.  If it can't naturally be part of the story I don't want to learn about the medieval process for leather tanning, or what you learned about the bathing habits of the people of the time period.

I am also not a fan of repetitive uses of latin of french phrases.  Especially when the characters are neither latin nor french and there is no justification for them knowing some obscure phrase that I have to go look up.

Date Posted: 2/3/2009 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
Back To Top
I'm the biggest pedant ever so bring on the big words and the untranslated Latin! ;) However, poor grammar will stop me from reading. If I feel the need to rip out my red pen, it's over for me.
Date Posted: 2/3/2009 4:04 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
Back To Top
PS Kathryn - I'm totally with you on the research visible on the page issue. I think it bugs me so much because I did it once. And I was told I was doing it. And I got indignant and defended my work. Now, years later, I see I was completely and utterly wrong. So when I see others doing it I just cringe.
Date Posted: 2/3/2009 4:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 387
Back To Top

I suppose I should also say I hate it when the authors have clearly not researched their books either (or when people make the books into movies and do no research).  When vicotorian teenage girls insist on wearing pants and everyone is fine with it.   I guess I am picky when it comes to historical fiction. 

Its hard to balance between not knowing the time period and knowing so much you want to share your expertise.   I know I have been tempted to pass on everything I have researched, but good history writers are far more subtle. But I am not claiming I have mastered that art.

Date Posted: 2/4/2009 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 11/21/2008
Posts: 232
Back To Top

should also say I hate it when the authors have clearly not researched their books either (or when people make the books into movies and do no research).  When vicotorian teenage girls insist on wearing pants and everyone is fine with it.   I guess I am picky when it comes to historical fiction. 

 

ITA. I also hate it when the historical characters not only speak in modern English but use colloquialisms of our own time period. It totally blows the suspension of disbelief necessary to immerse a reader within the period and the book.  I recently read a Regency romance by a well-known author in which a character  (and a nearly 40 year old male character) exclaimed, "Wow. I totally don't believe that." Are you kidding me?

Another pet peeve is when the historical characters behave ways that are, to be kind, rather unlikely for a person of that time period and culture. There is a very popular Regency romance author who has both her male and female characters behave in ways that are extraordinarily unlikely  to happen (I hesitate to say 'never', but it's close). In one novel, she has  male family members setting up a tryst  for their sister's suitor to deflower her young virginal self in a family conservatory while they kept guard outside.  (And the sister had been  resisting the suitor's sexual advances). This set up was the most egregious amongst many behavioral mistakes this author makes. Frankly, not only was it extremely unlikely well-born and loving male family members would set up their sister for this unmarried sexual escapade in the Regency period, it's unlikely TODAY.  Its's one of those cases where, IMO, the author is setting up a sexual fantasy of her own and tries to justify it and it simply does not work, especially given the time period about which she's chosen to write. This situation is yet another example of where a good editor could and should say to a writer, "I think you're mixing up your goals in this book. Write a story in which this scenario would be realistic to the reasonable reader and choose a different way to create that momen for these characters in that time and place."



Last Edited on: 2/4/09 12:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/4/2009 1:59 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

Karen: I dont read alot of historical fiction unless its about greece.  BUT I have read some over the years and have found it rather annoying to see those things happen.  Also all those books about women dressing as men, seriously how often did that happen? And are men truely that easy to fool? Society was so rigid in various different ages so I cannot think they would allow that to happen as often as these authors make out. Plus the number of clothes used when proof is out their that most people before the 19th century only have a few sets of clothes and just swapped there under things every few days. 

Someone mentioned blurbs, OMG! some of those are so way off base it is like they did not read the book at all. I think some publishers put books in other genres thinking they will do better there and alot of authors do not get a say. I know Katie MacAlister states her books arent romance but more urban fantasy , the publisher felt they would do better in the genre and pushed her to add more romance to the book.

Date Posted: 2/4/2009 2:28 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
Back To Top

As someone who used to write blurbs for a living - a lot of the time the person hasn't read the book (particularly in mass market genre paperbacks).  It's not the author's fault, they don't really have much say.  Blame the marketing team and the workings of modern publishing.

Date Posted: 2/5/2009 8:53 AM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2009
Posts: 408
Back To Top

I really get annoyed in romance novels when the couple has sex once and the heroine becomes pregnant.  Sure it's very possible, but it's just an overdone plot point IMO.  The last two books I read happened to have this plot and things went downhill from there.  On the other hand, I do get annoyed if the couple is sleeping together for a long time and the subject of possible pregnancy is never broached...

Date Posted: 2/5/2009 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

Carolyn- so what do you use to get the idea for the blurb? DO you get given the synopsis or outline?  Which books have you done the blurbs for?

 

As for the romance sex thing..LOLThe fact that some modern romance novels do not even mention birth control just amazes me, they way some of them go at it they should be pregnant..And yes the one night stand pregnancies does seem to be a common plot line. :( I just dont read much romance due to the same old thing being used over and over again.  The only romance I have read in the last 3 years is historical. Though as a teen I read alot of those mass market harlequins  as my nanna had boxes full and nothing much else to read when I visited her..lol

Date Posted: 2/5/2009 1:50 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
Back To Top

I honestly don't remember titles.  It was for a pretty crappy imprint about ten years ago - it was a temp job I got through a friend, the editors wanted to farm out some work (ah, the 90's, how I miss you). I also wrote many, many, many blurbs for an online music and book retailer.  We'd work off of synopses and the material sent by the publishers mostly or in the case of music, what we could find on the web.  One memorable afternoon I had to write blurbs for five diferent Enya albums, none of which I had ever heard.  Obviously, this is not how things are done at the major imprints, there, the editors write them.  Being a jobbing writer - less galmorous than one would think. ;)

Date Posted: 2/5/2009 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

LOL I actually dont mind Enya..I figured some might just do it from the outline or synposis. No wonder some of them want people to blog about the books so they can get it right for once ..lol

Date Posted: 2/5/2009 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
Back To Top

The challenge was really trying to find five different ways to say "lush, Celtic soundscape"! Oy. :)

But in all seriousness, mistakes in blurbage or typos in the text are never the author's fault.  Blame the publishers!

Page: