Monday, May 05, 2008

Pet peeves

Sorry everyone, this post is going to be rather short - on my way out the door all day for work stuff. Something I was thinking about last night is pet peeves in writing and I want to do an experiment. What are your pet peeves that you see in books?

This is on my mind because I was talking with Eli last night about one of my pet peeves. When a character uses dialogue to explain something, when it's clear that in a 'real' conversation they wouldn't explain that. But since it's a book, and we're not psychic, the info needs to be in there some how. I tend to prefer it when it's in an internal, or if one person has a thought about how annoying it is that this person is blabbing on when he/she already knows that. Just something to acknowledge that it's a device I guess.

But I know that wouldn't bother most people. And something that might drive you crazy, I wouldn't think twice about. Like head-hopping. I hear so often that people can't stand head-hopping. Sherrilyn Kenyon uses it in her books and it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I like the back-and-forth - I feel like I get more from the scenes. I don't know that I could pull it off as a writer though...

So what are your pet peeves? My hypothesis is that there may be a few common pet peeves among us, but that we'll each have our own little quirk. And lesson for the day: You can't please everyone. It's impossible to make a story that won't have pet peeves in it to some people. So don't try! Too stressful.


Paty Jager said...

Interesting blog, Lisa.

I like the lesson of the day! It's true. If you true to please everyone, in the end you end up being the one not pleased and still not making everyone happy.

Pet Peeves in a book. Stick figure characters. I want them fleshed out. A story line that is too predictable. Pages of description.

I guess those are the ones that have me tossing a book or at least putting it down and not continuing to read.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Note to self: Go back and fix that section...

Yes - sigh - Lisa and I were talking about this last night. I'm working on my revisions and one of the things my editor suggested was a little more on the history or creation of the ancient relics in my book. So I came up with an idea, wrote it out, zipped it to Lisa and said, "Make sense?" It did, except she came back with, "but why is she telling him all this?"


(For the record Lisa, though I didn't mention it last night, about two paragraphs up in that scene in his internal he says something like, "She loved the history surrounding each piece. He'd learned early on to let her have her moment before diving into business." Not sure if that covers the whole "acknowledging it's a device" or not. I'll have to go back and look.)

Like you said, Lisa, pet peeves are personal. Mine's the opposite. I hate it when characters are internalizing things too much - like in this instance, he wouldn't think it to himself, he'd already know it. That to me feels like a device to get the info to the reader. I prefer to put things in dialogue, but you're right, we're all different in what we notice and what we don't.

Other pet peeves of mine...whiney characters. Ugh. Can't stand those. Characters who flip flop in their emotions or can't make decisions. Heroines who cry. I know, I know. This one's pretty harsh, but I'm not a big crier. A few tears I can handle, but out-right bawling I can't stand and characters who are weepy make me nuts. Another huge pet peeve? Guys who don't sound like guys but who sound the way women want guys to sound. Those bug me.

Fun blog. And thanks for the help last night. I'm going to keep looking at that section as I do my revisions to see what I can do with it.

Alice Sharpe said...

Eli, you did not ask for help but I can't stop myself from wondering if he could be quizzing her to see just how much she knows (or vice-versa) so it's a give and take. Probably doesn't work in your circumstances, but there you go.

Pet peeves? Well let me tell you this. I will never toss a book against a wall. I don't care how stupid it is. Someone gave birth to it, nurtured it, loved it, let it go. Just because it's not my cup of tea, I will not treat it with metaphorical or literal cruelty!

(I have learned this attitude as I got the sense there were people out there who might throw my baby against the wall. Eek.)

Pet peeves. I don't mind tears if they're earned, I don't mind internal thoughts if what's being thought is something I want and need to know, if I never hear the words "information dump" again in this lifetime I'll be happy, but these are not peeves. Bad writing. Sentences I have to rewrite as I read. That's a big one. Characters I don't like and can't emphasize with. Boring plots.

Neat blog.

wavybrains said...

I hate, hate, hate head hopping, but it used to not bother me. I'm also not a fan of lengthy explanation in dialog. I'd rather just see internal explanation. For a good example of this, see how Suzanne Brockmann explains SEAL lingo/technical stuff. She often uses a less informed character, but sometimes she'll use one of the SEALs and he'll just think through what he's doing. I like this better than a lot of dialogue, but this is just me. M.J. Rose also used this same technique in the Reincarnationist.

My latest pet peeve is when there's not enough tension between characters. Perhaps this is because I'm struggling with this issue in my own WIPs but I find it frustrating when the HEA is in sight by Chapter 5. I also hate unsympathetic Heroes. Again, didn't use to bug me, but I threw a Christina Dodd (otherwise excellent writer) book across the room b/c the hero was just such an a$$.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I have no comment on the pet peeves topic, well, maybe one... Pretty much anything written by a certain "famous" author that everyone but a few of us seem to love. I just hate everything about her writing.

But I just had to ask Wavy which Christina Dodd book she threw.

So Wavy, which one was it? I own almost all of her books but there are a few I just skipped over because they were so boring and weird. I'm curious to know if you threw the any of the ones I just couldn't get into.

Do tell. ;)

Karen Duvall said...

Ooh, I see some similar peeves here! I share the distaste for "as you know, Bob" conversations between characters who talk about stuff they already know. But done as Eli suggested, revealing that the heroine likes to think out loud and the hero accepts that about her (maybe its one of those endearing qualities he likes), works for me. I especially like Alice's suggestion, though. The quiz or even the brainstorm. They'd feasibly talk it through while looking for a solution or clues to something, right? If you ever watch the show Bones, the characters talk through stuff all the time and it's fascinating. CSI does that, too. It's how they figure stuff out.

I'm with Alice on the bad writing. And flat writing. I'm trying to get through a Nocturne book right now that has a little of both. Misplaced modifiers dangling everywhere! And it contains my added dislike for predictability. Big pet peeve of mine, and in this case I think it's due to a lack of originality.

Melodramatic characters turn me off big time. The hero says something mildly insulting (he didn't mean to) and she storms off in a huff, slamming doors, throwing pots and pans. Puhleese. Grow up, people.

Lack of tension is really annoying, Wavy, I totally agree. Or the tension that is there is just, meh. Kind of goes with the melodrama factor; forced and unrealistic.

Boy, are we a bunch of book snobs or what, LOL! 8^)