Monday, September 21, 2009

Reader Pet Peeves

**P.S. (not post script, but pre script) Will Impkatt - the winner of my August giveaway - please contact me at jaimetheler AT yahoo dot com with your mailing address so I can mail your book to you?**

I thought about giving some writing advice for my post today, which might be interesting to those of you who are authors or aspiring authors, but... nah! If you're in the mood for some writing advice there are some great posts by many talented authors here on this very blog.

One of the reasons--okay, probably the biggest reason--that I started writing is because I love to read so much. As I've grown older and wiser I've come to grips with the fact that I'm addicted to reading. I not only read multiple books a week, but I also read cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, any signs around me, newspapers (except the sports section - I am purely a SportsCenter highlights type of sports fan), magazines while waiting in line at the store, picture books, bookmarks, etc. I'm a pretty equal-opportunity addict, so I've read at least some books in almost any genre. And I've discovered some pet peeves that crop up again and again.

I thought it might be fun to rant (just a little). So.... Jaime's pet peeves as an avid reader:

1. When the author can't think of another way to show the hero as sensitive and loving except to make him cry all the time. Or mist up, or get choked up, etc. I like a man to appreciate a sunset, but if he starts blubbering, I'm leaving. If I want someone to cry at the drop of a hat, I have a 6 year old daughter for that. These books not only get put down, but thrown across the room. If only the hero was there in person, then I could forgive tears at being hit by a book in the face.

2. Building up to an awesome climax, only to have everyone talk it out and walk away. (*cough*Breaking Dawn*cough*) Whhaat?! Where's the smackdown?

I like action movies. I like the ending of Sahara where Matthew McConaughey shoots a cannon into the windshield of the bad guy's helicoptor. (And it only has a little bit to do with the fact that it's Matthew McConaughey doing it :) We get a thrill of vicarious justification in the Knockout ending. It doesn't mean I'd like to see someone get hit by a cannonball in real life, but don't hype it up, then let it fizzle out on me like a can of opened pop left on the counter all day. That's just sugary sweet with no punch. Ick!

3. Large sections of nothing but contemplation, followed by some more thinking, some philosophizing, and maybe a cup of tea. I'd also rank up there wandering around for months in a tent, hanging out forever in a cave, and just mooning into someone's eyes for three chapters. And yes, those are specific references to specific books.

If it's a thinking book, then fine. But I've read some great books that make you think while the characters are doing something--other than chatting at a coffee shop.

4. Fantasy kick-butt female characters that wear next to no clothing. I don't care how good she is with a sword, or axe, or staff, or 15 daggers, if she's wearing a fur bikini, she's not going to fare well in a fight. Sorry. And it's a dead giveaway a man wrote it. I doubt he's ever tried doing anything remotely physical in a bikini. She'd be too distracted by trying not to pop out.

5. A book that has to use more than 3 pages to list the characters. Unless it's War and Peace, (which I must admit I haven't read, but it sounded good) I don't want to have to refer to a spreadsheet to keep everyone straight. This includes speculative fiction where the names are all so out there and similar that I can't keep them straight. Maybe it's just lazy of me, or maybe it's the fact that everything else in my life is complicated and I don't want my few minutes of spare time to be just as stressful as juggling my family's schedule.

6. Bad guys who are bad... just because. Just because we all know bad guys are e-vil, the fru-its of the de-vil. (So I Married an Ax Murderer reference.) Although I could see a really fun humorous book about a bad guy who is just bad because he is supposed to be. Maybe he's a really bad, bad guy. Or maybe he wants to buck the system. Maybe a villain coming of age story...

Hold on just a second. I'm going to go write that down.

7. Books that take forever to get into the story. I might give them to chapter three, but if I'm
still thinking "So what?" I'm moving on. The time of Moby Dick is gone, people. To quote my brother, "If it's not instant, it's not worth it." Of course, he was talking as a bachelor about food preparation, but I think it sums up the Instant Generation.

8. Gratuitous, excessive swearing. This is especially annoying when the character with the potty mouth doesn't enter the story until the last third of the book, like in this fantastic horror/suspense I read years ago on a really long plane ride. I'd stayed up and read the entire book while everyone else on the plane slept. I was invested in the story and a new character entered right before the climax that swore every time he talked. Every! Single! Time!

*deep breath* Sorry, it still ticks me off.

9. A love interest who isn't very lovable. A great example of this is a much-hyped set of 3 movies that were prequels to a ground-breaking set of 3 movies that came out when I was a kid. And somehow the director expected us to believe that a mature, accomplished, beautiful woman with a long-established political career and a lot of spunk would really fall in love with a younger, whiny, brooding, rule-breaking guy with an entitlement complex. And completely buck the system and get pregnant over him. What-ev.

And, my biggest pet peeve...

10. When I as a writer commit the very pet peeves that drive me nuts. :)

So, what are your pet peeves? Please share so I make sure I don't do it.


Valerie Ipson said...

I love this post, Jaime.

Here's one of mine...when the writer brings the couple together finally near the end of the story, but then one of them dies. I'm telling you, this is not what people read romances for. Need. Happy. Ending. I threw one such book across the room. (Apologies to the library for that. Good thing I didn't see the movie--it's hard to throw a theater.)

Another that really shouldn't be called a pet peeve, but definitely made me crazy is getting to the end of an amazing book and it says not "The End," but, "End of Book One." I wanted to throw that one, too, but it was a hardback, so I restrained myself. I blogged about it several weeks back...

Cheri Chesley said...

Great post, Jaime. Re #4: No kidding! Such a let down when there was so much potential.

I'm pretty easy going as a reader. There are a lot of things that don't bug me unless someone points it out, or I don't hang onto it once I've thrown the book across the room. But there's one that has lingered.

I fell in love with an author years ago because of her fantastic character development. She will make you bleed for her characters because you love them so much--their flaws and their winning traits. But her stories became so painfully formulaic I wanted to cry. I could predict them so easily I stopped reading. I understand that certain genres have a "formula" but when the same things happen every single book it's just time to stop.

Don said...

I have two that have caused books to fly recently:

1. Being told the same thing over and over and over, especially two or three times in the same paragraph.

2. Characters who's actions are in complete contradiction to their motivation. Seen it a lot, and it makes me crazy.

Not crazy enough to cry, though. Honest.

ElanaJ said...

This is awesome! I also tire of the heroine that can wield every weapon imaginable in high heels or while riding a motorcycle. Do you even know how heavy a motorcycle is??

Anyway, one of my pet peeves? Characters who whine and don't do anything. They always want someone else to solve their problems for them.

The hawt male character. Aren't there any normal-looking men in the world? They should UNITE!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

girl! you are my new kindred spirit. I could've written this post VERBATIM!!! Totally totally awesome. Can't say enough about it. Haven't read Breaking Dawn, but I hate that stuff. And the references to Star Wars...please!!! they almost ruined the totally wonderful first (last) three!

Alas, as a writer, climaxes are *hard*. I can build the suspense, and then I get there and --rewrite!-- and again! and again! That's when I really need my critiquers, b/c I just can't write cannons exploding action sequences.

Shauna said...

Completely bugs me when various characters have identical physical reactions/fidgits. I read one where almost every male character- at some point- stood with their "arms akimbo" And when they were overwhelmed by information they were hearing or discovering they all "blew air".

The quirks always stood out and completely distracted me. Sometimes finding a new way to say something is just a way to make it a red flag. Waving that flag for all is just wrong.

I also read everything. Even though I have been well educated by this point that I am to rinse, and then repeat.

Nichole Giles said...

He he. Jamie, we think alike.

So, I'll add to the list:
I hate repetition in paragraphs and in chapters. Really, the reader only needs to be told something once--twice at most if it's significant.

Also, have a strong dislike of adverbs--especially when used excessively. (One book I read last year had the word quickly on almost every page.)Can't. Stand. Them. Destroys the story, book flies.

And characters who do stupid things with no explanation other than to move the story forward.

I'll shut up now. Great blog.

PS. I'm with you. I hate it when I catch myself doing those things. Jeesh.

Noble M Standing said...

LOL! You make me laugh. It makes me happy that we have such similar tastes. I have a real issue with a certain fourth book in a certain series. I was also so ready for heads to roll and body parts flinging everywhere.

As for the cave it was so Deus ex Machina, IRL something like that just doesnt exist and it bugs me that so many people bought it hook, line and sinker. I hate it when people pull the solution out of a hat and when the couple dont get togather I literally threw a book across my room a few months ago because of that. As for the tent in the forest that was getting really old when it ended. I'm glad they stopped that at that point it time because the author was in serious jepoardy of loosing my respect.

Deborah said...

I read one novel recently where the love interest was killed and the ex waltzed in to take his place. So not cool. I gave the second novel a chance because it was touted as the hunt for the dead guy who - somehow - wasn't really dead. There was a hunt all right, but it was for some bad ugly magic dude. The dead guy coming back was an accident, and didn't even happen until the end. I haven't even looked at the rest of the series.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Oh, man! I was totally going to write my next book with my girl in a fur bikini in a coffee shop, thinking about life and chatting it over with all her friends, while swearing constantly. You totally ruined it all for me now.