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What are your pet peeves as a reader?

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

  1. Gospodin

    Gospodin Minstrel

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    The uncontextualized "character generation paragraph".

    Action, action, dialogue, action... and now for an intermission paragraph wherein I describe Character X, tip-to-toe, in full and complete detail, giving a shoulder as cold as dry ice to the constraints of the narrative mode that was chosen.

    Books where I cannot parse the actual title.

    Lacy Angels
    "The Metatron"
    Book One in the Choir of Angels Sagas
    A Celestial Book

    :confused:
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  2. AMObst

    AMObst Dreamer

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    Apologies in advance if this upsets anyone, but I generally get put off stories where the men are the kings/warriors/saviours and the women are either beautiful but mainly decorative characters or evil witches. I like female characters with agency, but also in a made-up world where magic exists, I don't see any specific reason why social gender roles can't be completely different from our real historical ones.
     
  3. I suspect the reason often has to do with the fact one would have to do the work to recreate those roles from the ground up? I'd love to see it done more but it seems the common path is to cast the female characters against the gender roles we already have but it gets old rather fast. Though, now that I think of it, Alice Hoffman's The Foretelling does a fine job of proving it isn't necessary to recreate the entire world, setting her main character against the constraints and ideals of the Amazon-like/horse culture she has grown up in.
     
  4. AMObst

    AMObst Dreamer

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    Yes, perhaps you're right. And it's a matter of personal preference too, of course. For me, the existence of magic in a world could act as a leveller with the genders, in that physical strength might not play as great a role in history (and the getting of power) than it has in our world, which means that women in general might experience more equality.

    There are a few writers who I think do this quite well, and maybe without having to do everything from scratch, are Kate Elliott, Melissa Caruso, and NK Jemison. I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones who I've read and been impressed by.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Any description of a character's physical appearance that doesn't come close to introduction of the character irks me. I ignore it. Exception: newly acquired physical characteristics.
     
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Slightly off-topic, but I wrote a guest post for a friend's blog about just this: Guest Post: Respect Your Reader's Imagination
     
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  7. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    More on topic...

    The words which and as, when used for micro-infodumps or to try and show things happening simultaneously.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Svrtnsse likes this.
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    At the risk of being overly pedantic, whenever an author screws up the use of that versus which it yanks me right out of what I'm reading. I've tried to train myself not to react to it, but I can't help it. Not sure why, but that one gets me when other grammatical errors are easy to breeze past.
     
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  10. Gospodin

    Gospodin Minstrel

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    Not to mention that the uncontextualized paragraph of which I speak breaks two major, interrelated rules:

    1) Unless the story is old-school 3rd omniscient, any description of a character is going to be filtered through a POV character's engagement. Either a 1st person narrator, or a 3rd limited (with the rare 3rd objective popping up now and again). No living human scans another human, tip-to-toe to register a 3D model in their heads. Ask a police sketch artist. People initially see key points, key things that draw attention. This may be something unique or unusual about the observed party, or it may be something the observing party regularly notes in others.

    2) Inserting that kind of paragraph into anything other than a 3rd omniscient story is felony narrative intrusion.

    I only need some "anchor descriptions" off the bat. More can trickle in later for me as the characters get to know one another better.
     
    AMObst likes this.
  11. MrNybble

    MrNybble Sage

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    I get a deep emotional sigh when people write about characters with long lifespans that have no history. Prince blah, blah, blah, is just had there 15,000th birth day, yet they act like a fifteen-year-old. A race of people that live for a thousand years not having things like accidents, diseases, or sickness that can drastically shorten that time. Better yet there are dragons that can be a million years old but are asleep most of the time making it more like a hundred years when awake.
     
    Azeroth likes this.
  12. AMObst

    AMObst Dreamer

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    Or the extension to that, is where that POV character looks in a mirror and describes themselves in detail.
     
  13. Gospodin

    Gospodin Minstrel

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    Sweet Cthulhu, pull me under the waves...

    [​IMG]
     
  14. True. And, unless that world is set up as patriarchal and repressive of that magic, it SHOULD be a leveler. I don't know how it couldn't. The Kendara Blake series Three Dark Crowns did a fine job, I thought, of flipping the tables, which I enjoyed just as much as one where the magic is on equal footing. :)

    As for the authors you mention. N.K. Jemisin does everything well. Though it is outside the context of what we were discussing, her Killing Moon is one of my favorite books/worlds.

    I had to look up the others. I DID pick up Court of Fives in the library once but the first line of the jacket description,"Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners", made me put it down. Something about, dreaming of the freedom of commoners, made me roll my eyes but I'll admit, that's on me for making such swift judgement and I'd be willing to give it a chance. Do you recommend anything by Elliot or Caruso in particular? :)
     
  15. AMObst

    AMObst Dreamer

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    Court of Fives is so much more than that description implies, and deals with themes including colonialism and ethic tensions, but to tell you more would involve spoilers. It's also YA, which may not be to everyone's taste.

    I would recommend Elliott's Crossroads series (starting with Spirit Gate) and Spiritwalker series (starting with Cold Magic - note this series is steampunk) as good starting points.

    Caruso only has one trilogy published so far, andI thought it was excellent (she's publishing the start of a new trilogy this year). First book of the existing series is called The Tethered Mage, which is good, but in my view the second and third books is really where she comes into her own.
     
  16. Thank you for the suggestions! I'm actually quite fond of a lot of YA fantasy, (anything with a good story and strong characters behind it) so I'll give those a try. :)
     
    AMObst likes this.
  17. Lynea

    Lynea Troubadour

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    I don't hate on LGBT+ stuff. Lately, I've been noticing a lot of stories that just suddenly and randomly turn their characters gay. If you know your characters and you know they're supposed to be gay, that's one thing. Forcing your character to be gay just to get that corner of the market is another... I can usually tell when someone is just trying to get more sales with that and it's a big turn off for me.
     
  18. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    My # 1 Pet Peev is: Weak dialogue.
    It drives me crazy... It's not that hard to write a convincing conversation. Don't shortcut this! Most do. No idea why. UGH!
    There are others, but this is the one that burns my buttons.
     
  19. DustinBilyk

    DustinBilyk Dreamer

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    My biggest pet peeve, and I see this all the time in my editing, is the propensity to TELL instead of SHOW.

    Info dumps are the death of good writing. Instead of giving me three paragraphs of prose/dialogue explaining how noble and chivalrous Sir Frederick is, try showing me in one paragraph how he went out of his way to pull a street kid out of the way of a runaway horse cart.

    Characteristics, even physical ones, are best shown through action. Unfortunately, I see this in book after book after book today, especially in some of the newer YA. Keep the story moving and don't bog it down by telling your readers how they should feel about your characters. SHOW them ^^
     
  20. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

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    Every 2nd chapter taking place in the past
    I guess some people must like it. But for me, it just disrupts the reading experience. Also, something that has happened decades ago in the story just feels irrelevant to me.

    Character arcs
    Okay, those can be plenty great, no denying that! But often, they just seem annoying and takes a lot of attention away from the story. Like when the protagonist is incompetent and whiny so he can do the usual personal development arc.

    The protagonist who makes really stupid decisions
    When I have gotten into a character's head, and see the world through his eyes, it just feels wrong to have him do something more stupid that I could have managed myself. Somehow, it rubs straight against my immersement.

    The author constantly withholding information
    This doesn't make me curious. I just feel completely indifferent and reads on.
     
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