Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pet Peeves

by Joyce Tremel

Things are very quiet at work these days which is good for the residents of Shaler, but bad for coming up with blog topics. I had thoughts of writing about this article, but I think the title pretty much tells me everything I want to know about it.

The other day on The Graveyard Shift , agent Scott Hoffman blogged about what really bugs us when we read a book. I've seen the same topic on a few other blogs and lists lately, so I must not be the only one who has pet peeves. Have you ever been engrossed in a novel where the plot seems to be rolling along just fine, the characters are three dimensional, the dialogue is snappy, then--wham! It all falls apart because of one little thing. That one thing that drives you nuts. Whether it's a Glock with a safety or DNA results back in an hour, you put the book down.

One of my pet peeves is info dumps. Every once in awhile I'll come across an author who has done her research, but instead of using bits and pieces here and there, or only using enough to get the point across, she insists on giving the reader a lecture. It takes me right out of the story.

Another one is when a writer keeps repeating himself. I read a book once where every time the author drew his gun, he made sure he used the complete brand name and model number. Once would have been enough.

So, what are your pet peeves when you read a book? What takes you right out of the story? Is there anything that would cause you to never pick up one of that author's books again?

(Oh, and for a little bit of fun, here's a quiz you can take. It has nothing to do with this topic, but it's a hoot anyway.)


Gina said...

I very rarely actually stop reading a book, no matter how bad (hope springs eternal), but there is one thing that makes me stop and sometimes cuss -- situations that seem implausible. When I say "implausible" I don't mean things like three wizarding kids escaping from a secure vault in a goblin bank and riding away on a dragon -- that's okay. [You all know how much I love Harry Potter, right?] I mean things like: "John lay face up on the rug, his blank eyes staring at the ceiling, looking peaceful except for the hilt of a huge knife protruding from the center of his back." It makes you stop and wonder what position this corpse can possibly be in for the knife hilt to be visible. Or anything set after 9/11 that depicts people getting onto airplanes with weapons and/or without proper id. Or -- and this involves a book by one of our local sisters (sorry) -- a cell phone that rings and rings and rings without ever going to voice mail while the protagonist searches for her friend in an empty house.

Joyce said...

I tend to forgive a lot if the story is great.

I thought of another thing that bugs me (surprised, right?). I hate it when someone writes something like, "Aaargh," she cried. Just say she yelled or she cried out. Skip the sound effects!

Tory said...

The one I remember is starting to read Michener's CENTENNIAL. I got through the geographical chapter (mountains rising and such) but then he had a section on wild horses. And he got them all wrong, e.g. the stallion leading the herd. Stallions don't lead, they come up behind, like giant sheep dogs. I put the book down. I just couldn't bear to go through thousands of pages of this!

mike said...

Many years ago I got on this thriller kick...Alistair MacLean and others. But after reading several books, I realized the protagonist NEVER slept. Or ate. Or did anything slightly human to continue his (always a he) human existence. As someone who gets extremely grumpy and dysfunctional when sleep deprived, I found it all beyond belief. So I took up reading Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and Agatha Christie! Much happier with them.

PS--Loved the quiz! Thanks for the link.

Joyce said...

So, what character from Reno 911 are you, Mike?

Wilfred the Author said...

I have to agree, info dumps annoy me. I have read books where, for no reason other than to flaunt their knowledge of the city, authors go on and on about the sights and sounds and tastes and restaurants and bla bla bla of a particular city. If I wanted that, I'd buy a travel guide.

Thank God I live in St. Louis and not many authors set the scene in St. Louis. Although I've read a few and they do the same thing.

Having written what I call a biological thriller, I had to do an enormous amount of research to get thing right, or close enough to it for the reader to suspend disbelief. I also had several scenes set in China, where I travel a lot. Boy did I struggle with cutting details that didn't need to be in there.

Annette said...

One that really bugged me was when the author had a sniper on a distant hillside using a shotgun. "Aaargh," I cried. Oops. Sorry, Joyce.

Joyce said...

I agree about the travelogue, Will. The last book I wrote is set in Gettysburg. I could have added TONS of detail because I'm a history geek (well, a geek period).

And Annette, the shotgun sniper would have bugged me, too.

Martha Reed said...

I was reading a story, and had a total visual of the female protagonist in my mind, when she went into a dress shop and asked for a new dress, size 0.

Honestly, a 0. I tossed that book across the room and never went back to it.

Cathy said...

How about initials for everything? This drives my crazy. Sometimes I have to stop and figure out what it means. Why not just say it? Sorry, but I have to return to my WIP.

Joyce said...

I hear you, Martha. How many people do you know who actually wear a size 0? How about zero!

Anonymous said...

Hi Joyce!
First of all - great quiz - and WTF is with the Jersey cops? Kids AND cows? (Sorry about the acronym, but I don't know if you're allowed to use the F word over here).

My pet peeve is the typo. I assumed (hah - we all know what that means) that professional types at the publishing houses actually read the books before they went to print. Turns out, not so much.

So who is proofing books? The author can't do it - first rule of proofing is that you can't do your own work - are agents doing it? I doubt it. Editors?

Kathy Sweeney

Joyce said...

Nice to see you here, Kathy! You can use any word you want here.

And I agree about the typos. I've found more mistakes in published books than I care to count. Not just little things either. Glaring errors that SOMEONE should have picked up on.