Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday - Bookish Pet Peeves

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Click on the link to find out how to participate and to see more Top 10 lists.

I usually can't think of things off the top of my head that well, especially 10...but I did with this one.  Does it say something about me that I can think of 10 pet peeves off the top of my head?  I think a lot of these may have more to do with writing, but that is still "bookish" right?

1. Poor writing - bad grammar, misspelled words or typos.  I know that I am not a superior writer.  Sometimes I don't know if the period goes inside or outside the quotation mark and I'm terrible with possessive S's (I don't even know if that was correct).  But the difference is I'm not a professional writer.  When I'm reading a book, it drives me nuts when a sentence does not read well or is confusing because of poor grammer and/or spelling.  Everyone makes mistakes and maybe the proofreaders, editors and agents didn't catch them, but it really just makes me feel that I have an inferior, unprofessional product in my hand and that the writer just belted something out or that I somehow got a rough draft.

2. "Said" Dialogue.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  When everyone's sentences end with "He said/She said/Joan said."  There is no description to the dialogue, I don't know what the characters are doing and it simply gets tedious to read.

3. Different points of view in the same chapter or even paragraph.  Too much jumping around is confusing,  doesn't let me get close to the character and I feel it is unskilled writing.

4. Repetitiveness.  When a word is used more than once in a sentence, paragraph or page.  For example, "Her hand trembled as she caught the falling snow in her outstretched hand."  This bothers me so much I even include it in reviews.  It's something that jumps out at me and sometimes is hard for me to get past.

5. Physical descriptions.  When a writer can't describe a character organically it feels forced.  Giving a list of physical traits is like giving a description to the cops and another device I dislike is when the friend of the main character is giving him/her a pep talk telling him/her all their wonderful qualities. I also find it a little funny when the description is formulaic.  The author feels it has to be in the first few pages and the reader has to know exactly what the protagonist looks like instead of peppering it in throughout the story. Guess what?  Many times, I don't need to know what a character looks like.  It's either not that important or I visualize them by their personalities.

6. Unbelievable characters.  When the protagonist is beautiful, sexy, a black belt, a vampire hunter (or maybe a vampire), psychic, smart and every man is in love with her.  I'm not saying I hate every character who posesses all of these traits, but a writer has to be very skilled in making me believe the character is all of those things and even more skilled to make me relate to him/her.

7. Contrived plot devices. Let's see, there's the hero and heroine who are are somehow forced to go to a black tie affair and wow! Doesn't heroine look amazingly hot and gorgeous?  Then hero gets jealous when other men are attracted to heroine.  Oh yeah, don't forget, heroine is so self-conscious!  She just couldn't look as beautiful as everyone tells her! Then hero and heroine dance in all their hotness and hormones go wild.  There's also the makeover scenes.  I don't think I need to go into that.  Yes, sometimes they are done really well and are needed for the story, but sometimes I feel that it's just another method for heroine's love interest to be suddenly swayed by her beauty and yes...why yes...now he sees how beautiful she is, inside and out.  I don't know, maybe I'm just jealous because I need a makeover.

8. When book covers are made to look like TV shows, namely, my favorite TV show.  I know this is a way to increase sales, but I don't like it when a book cover resembles anything that has to do with Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  I don't like them to look like the Buffy artwork on the dvds, or Buffy promo pictures or Buffy soundtracks. There is only one Buffy.

9. When people ask me what the book I'm reading is about but it is clear that they think it is silly or they just don't get why I'm reading it.  Books are subjective, don't judge me.  Even I can see the merits of books that I don't particularly like or thought were not written well.

10.  People who are a little mean to me in the library when they are the ones who asked me for help.  I don't even work there!  Okay, that's just on the list because it occurred less than an hour ago.  To be fair, it's the first time that's happened to me.

(Just so you know and to reference #4, in the second sentence of #10, I had the word "happened" at first, but changed it to "occurred." Also, does <-- that period go before the quotation?  I also want to apologize for any bad grammar, misspelling, typos and especially repetitive words.)


Unknown said...

Awesome list!

I so agree with you:

"Different points of view in the same chapter or even paragraph. Too much jumping around is confusing, doesn't let me get close to the character and I feel it is unskilled writing."

That bothers me soooo much!

Eileen said...

Regarding #2 - I've actually heard that it's best to use "said" and "asked" as often as possible. Too many creative dialogue tags can get purple prose-y and distract from the actual dialogue.

Unknown said...

About the "physical description" comment, I HATE when the main character is portrayed as some otherworldly god/goddess of a person. No one can have that hair, those clothes, that smile, those eyes, that car, etc. I understand that the person being described is supposed to be physically appealing to reader and other characters, but sometimes, these descriptions need a reality check.

My pet peeves are here.

Nora @ The Bucket List

Ashley said...

Awesome! I totally agree with the cover thing! Hate, hate, hate it! And, my brain tends to auto-correct for me. So, if I'm actively noticing a lot of grammatical errors, it means I am NOT enjoying the book. :/

I am loving reading what bothers everyone else!! :)

La Toya said...

HAHA! I hate all those things too. I especially agree with the "He said/she said/Joan said" thing! Bleh!

Angelique said...

I received a self-pubbed book not too long ago that went from past to present tense IN THE SAME SENTENCE so many times I had to put it down by page three, never to pick it up again.

As far as "he said, she said," I prefer the dialogue tags kept to a minimum period. When it's done right, they don't need to be used very often at all. I've had to stop reading because of too many "he saids" as well. TOTALLY detracts from the story and makes me crazy.

Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

I never noticed the "said" dialogue until one day I was listening to a book on audio CDs and every sentence ended with "he said; she said". It really bugged me. I switched to the radio!

Midnyte Reader said...

@Larissa-sometimes I can't take a book seriously when it does that. At the very least it goes way down in my eyes.

@E.L. Fay-I don't like too many dialogue prose-y tags either, but the he said/she said bugs me more, especially when used in overabundance.

@Nora-Reality check is a good way to put it.

@Ashley-You hit the nail on the head. If I'm noticing the grammar I'm not enjoying the book. Or if the grammar is too poor, I can't enjoy the book.

@LazyGirl-definitely a peeve w/me!

@Ang-I'll have to tell you about a few books I've received.

@Anne-One thing they say in writing groups is to read your work out loud. I guess it can help!

Jenny said...

This is a fabulous list, I agree completely! The judging thing just happened to me the other day, someone asked what book I recently finished and I told them about Wither. They looked at me like I had sprouted a second head and asked why I would read a book like that. I had trouble keeping myself from saying something snide:) And I'm ridiculously poor at grammar, I fully embrace I know nothing about it:)

Will Errickson said...

Good points all. To expand on several:

I hate dialogue that includes the name of the person being referred to. People in real life don't say each other's names as much as fiction would have you believe. "Listen, David, let's go to the bar tonight," or, "Did you know, Emily, that I have crabs?" I mean, no one talks like that! Well, some folks do I'm sure, but to me it sounds pretty unnatural. There's no reason to use that person's name when you both know who's being spoken to.

As for physical descriptions, lazy writers go the celebrity route: "He looked like George Clooney, but handsomer, leaner, more sexually potent," or, "It was as if Angelina Jolie appeared before him, but with even more supple breasts and lips," or whatever. UGH.

And I refuse to read any book that has its adapted movie poster on the cover. This happened to me once when I ordered The Talented Mr. Ripley used online, then got the edition with a very large Matt Damon head on it. I was embarrassed to be seen reading the book! Sure, the movie was good, but I prefer older original cover art, and I certainly don't want people thinking I'm reading the book only because they made a movie out of it! ;-)

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