Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pet Peeves

Was thinking about things that annoy me when I'm reading. Here are a few:

Books where the female protagonist is five feet four and she can outrun and out-wrestle a six foot male. (Even with martial arts training this is not possible).

Books where the protagonist does the fictional equivalent of the horror movie babysitter, who goes outside to check on a strange noise.

Books where the main characters are so 'white bread' I can't identify with them. Give me twisted, give me tortured. That's why I love Joe Abercrombie's characters.

That's it for now, but I'm sure I'll think of some more.


Anonymous said...

Characters who stop to admire themselves in mirrors solely so the reader can see what they look like (sickeningly good looking) or are described in terms of their vital statistics. Eg "Mary looked into the mirror. Her golden hair hung silky straight down past her shoulders and her luminous green eyes widened at the sight. Later, as the five foot four martial arts student swayed down the street..."

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


That's why George RR Martin's most interesting character is the dwarf, Tyrion!

Ben Payne said...

A sub-branch of #2, for me, is characters who say *everything* they think!! This always annoys me, especially in tv shows like ghost whisperer or Medium, where they *know* people won't believe them, they've been through it a thousand times, but still they constantly follow their first instinct to blurt everything out!

There are a lot of variations, but essentially it's a two-dimensionalising of characters that renders them incapable of subtlety of expression.

graywave said...

I hate it when the author is so wrapped up in describing the scene and/or the characters that he or she forgets to tell the story. (It happened so much in Perdido Street Station that I actually screamed at some point around page 150. Alright, China, we get it. The city's a cess pit. Now move on!)

Then there are writers who keep hinting darkly that their character - who, for the last fifty pages has been completely bland and ordinary - has a terrible secret.

And I hate 'literary' writers who seem to think that the more bizarre and inappropriate their metaphors are, the more we will admire their skill.

And don't get me started on fantasy novels!

Havock21 said...

OK, 4 or 5 traps here to avoid, if I ever get a published MS, lest I be hung drawn and quartered at some point, in the town square, no mirrors present, with a dwarf pullin da ROPE.


Rowena Cory Daniells said...

For me, it is writers who say 'Aren't I clever' with fancy metaphors, rather than telling the story.

Story is King (or Queen)!

Flinthart said...

"Oh no," she thought to herself. "This outfit makes me look fat!"

Well -- who the F__K else was she thinking to? I mean, if she's not a f__king broadcasting telepath, then PLEASE don't tell me that she thinks ANY shit to herself. I think scary shit ALL THE TIME, and nobody ever seems to notice. Your thoughts are COMPLETELY SILENT, you jam-smeared pile of festering aardvark pus! Just like everybody else's.

Yes. That's a big personal peeve, right there. Please don't make me hunt you down and beat you senseless over this: just don't put it into your manuscript in the first place.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Ooooh, scary, Pirate Dirk!

Flinthart said...

Ahem. Yes. Sorry about that... The nature of personal peeves, I think, is that they peeve you. A lot. And I read a lot of slush... so I run across a lot of characters who like to think to themselves.

Grr. Must... move... on. Must...not...keep... thinking...about this!