Many of us have pet peeves when it comes to our reading habits. There are certain things that when executed just about darn get our goat. For me, I have three pet peeves that really get my ire up; I wonder if you’ll agree.
- Contradictions – If a character has never roller-skated don’t make the character an expert at it the first time he or she encounters a roller rink or ice skates. If a character loves classical music, don’t write that she or he never heard Mozart’s music played. If he or she is terrible with kids, don’t introduce a bundle of joy (related or unrelated to the character) and have the character create an instant rapport with the baby. It doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request. Character growth is one thing, but instant change while possible, isn’t going to fly without some exceptional writing. Blatant disregard for the personality and background of a character is a violation of the world you, the author, are building. It pulls readers out of your story quicker than they can finish reading the contradiction.
- Never-Ending Pity Parties – When a character ruminates on his or her troubles to the point that it becomes repetitive information (with no growth) and excruciating to read, I back away. Worst still — is the pity party with conflicting wishy-washy-ness… “I’m always bullied/overlooked career-wise/ignored by the opposite sex; I have a thick skin from years of mistreatment, but today this minor remark really, really, hurt my feelings! And I who have never cried after that terrible time when I was six, will cry buckets today.” I love angst in my novels, don’t get me wrong, but whiny woe-is-me attitudes need to be checked. When characters want to be agreed with and coddled for their “unique troubles” I am quick to scoff. I will empathize with the character to a point and then not care anymore. Don’t overdo it!
- Telling Not Showing – Details please! I want to submerse myself in the story. I want to do the things the characters do and feel like I am an extended part of them or the story. When an author “tells” what is and isn’t instead of “showing” through prose, the story begins to reek of falseness and deceptively. For example, force-feeding a character’s change of heart comes across condescending and calculated. It rubs the wrong way. Less “tell” and more “show” please. I don’t need a laundry-list of items that are checked off to prove something. What I want is expansive storytelling that sweeps me up and along with the characters. Let me snuggle into my comfy couch and into your book.
When it comes to these three peeves, I try to overlook the first few instances because every story deserves a chance to shine, but once it starts piling up… it’s less about the story and more about my complaints regarding the writing. My boyfriend can attest to that! What are your pet peeves when it comes to romances or books in general?