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What are your pet peeves as a reader?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Black Dragon, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    What are your pet peeves when reading a novel? What are some of the bad storytelling (or writing) practices that irk you the most?
  2. Hmmm...this is a tough one for sure, as it's hard for me to pin down specific things that bug me. I'll have to think about it.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

    I'm not sure if I have peeves, but if I did, I wouldn't keep them as pets. To put it differently, I have a rather large pile of DNFs. I've never taken the time to figure out if there are aspects common to them that caused me to put them aside.

    A story is a communication, speaker and listener (author and reader, whatever). The story stays the same, but the reader changes over the years. What failed to connect when I was twenty might connect when I'm sixty (oh to be young again). Even the circumstances matter: did I read that book as a teen over a lazy summer, or did I grab it like a quick lunch between work and family? Some books just need the right setting.

    But here's one as grist. I read Dune when I was a teen. Loved it. Early in our marriage (BK, Before Kids), I would read books to my wife. We read War and Peace that way, The Once and Future King, Martian Chronicles, and others. And Dune. It went just fine, except for this one thing.


    I never noticed it when I read it the first time, but reading it aloud brought it out. People barked orders. They barked at each other. "Blah, blah, blah," he barked. That sort of thing. It got to the point where I was editing Herbert on the fly, substituting "said" because all the damned barking was driving me barking mad.

    I still don't think I'd put the book down because of that, but gosh golly it was annoying. Woof.
  4. Gray-Hand

    Gray-Hand Journeyman

    I hate it when characters act inconsistently with their established personalities because the plot requires it. It feels contrived.

    The Harry Potter books were guilty of this, likely because Rowling was writing to pretty tight deadlines and didn’t have time to work out how to make everything consistent. Smart characters suddenly acted dumb, friends started acted like arseholes to each other, people failed to disclose important information for no reason etc
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  5. Ban

    Ban Staff Article Team

    A protagonist who's incapable of logical decision-making, for no well written reason. Probably less of a pet peeve than a common fiction nuisance.
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  6. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    Perfect, virtuous, beautiful, can-do-no-wrong heroines. I just stopped reading a book because of this and I'm disappointed that it could have been so much better if the heroine hadn't been a Mary Sue. Gets on my nerves.
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  7. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Totally irrational, but my current pet peeve is the word "which" when used in descriptions to tack on additional information to something.
  8. Voydemain

    Voydemain Acolyte

    Said. It is redundant. Any word that describes that someone is speaking really, whether it be said, asked, yelled, barked whispered, etc. There is no reason for it for them what so ever. That is what quotation marks are for. Just remove them out altogether. Kill them with a burning passion. How will get the reader to understand who is speaking? You may wonder. Well, my good writers, that is what creativity is all about. Here is an example.

    "He loves me." Juliet plucked a petal from the rose. "He loves me not."

    Giving the character action, other than the accursed 'said' gives the scene more immersion. By putting who is talking immediately after the quotation it makes it clear who is speaking without using the word said. Yeah, I really don't like that word. Its a four letter word of writing as far as I am concerned.

    Oh and don't think that was all either. I also have issues with onesided narratives, two-dimensional characters, and (wish I could come up a three pun here somewhere) poorly contrived societies. This may all be because I studied psychology so I could write better stories. So lazy written story elements stick out to me.
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  9. pmmg

    pmmg Dark Lord

    I don't know that I can agree with this. I don't think it is always clear who is actually speaking and said would seem to serve that purpose. Further, and just as an offhand thought, but sometimes words are needed or not needed to keep a certain type of flow. Further, I do think it is important at time to add the extra bit of description, such as barked or yelled, or just plain said.
    Svrtnsse and Ban like this.
  10. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    It's the kind of thing that varies from person to person. :)

    I currently have an aversion to which, but that does't mean it's wrong to use it. It's just a matter of style. Some writers use more beats. Some use tags. What matter is if it works or not. Nothing's going to work for everyone.

    I use said when I need to pick up the pace of a conversation and if it needs to be even quicker I drop tags and beats completely, but not for long.

    Another pet peeve of mine is characters who take the time to explain things to the main character, even though those things really should be obvious to anyone living in the world. Favourite (not) example from something I read recently was someone who got attacked by some monster in the forest. The monster paused and explained to the character who they were and what they did, and then proceeded with the fight.
  11. Alora pendrak

    Alora pendrak Journeyman

  12. ScorpionWoman

    ScorpionWoman Apprentice

    Too much use if the same word. I'm not talking just words like said, very, whisphered and such. It gets redundant when the same descriptors keep popping up in one piece of work. It starts to ruin the images and pull me out of the story.

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