So, I have a couple of pet peeves when it comes to what I read. If I start reading a book at it becomes apparent that any of these peeves are present it makes the book tons easier to put down. Now before you lambaste me for quitting so easily let me tell you that in general I am a very forgiving reader. You have to go out of your way to lose me but some books go above and beyond.
Just the other day I picked up a new read from our hardcover fiction section entitled Beat the Reaper. The book had garnered pretty good word of mouth. It was a Booksense recommended title. I opened it and started reading; within the first 15 pages it had broken at least 3 of my peeves in half.
Let me amend this post to include a warning:
1- Swearing un-profoundly: I do not like it when an author seems to include a ton of swear words. By and large I think of swear words as weak writing. I believe an author turns to swear words when they lack the imagination to come up with anything else to say. This does not mean I’m against an occasional swear word. I believe that when used properly a swear word can have huge impact. Especially, when said swear word is out of place or character. It can emphasize how much a character is struggling with a situation or person. When every other word out of a characters mouth is a swear word, they lose any impact they ever could have had. A second reason a writer turns to swear words is to appear edgy. Much like why teenagers swear these days, so they can appear cool to their friends, an author might turn to swear words to appear cutting edge or noirish. I'm all for returning the impact to a good swear word by adopting the less is more attitude.
2- Footnotes: If I wanted to read footnotes I would choose a scholarly text. I especially hate it when the author uses footnotes to try an add humor to the novel. Why not add the humor to the actual book instead. As I explained earlier, just breaking a single one of my peeves is not crime enough to stop me from reading a book, and there is a prime example here. The book Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett contains footnotes and I plowed through them and still can highly recommend the book. To me footnotes can add little to the story and distracts me from the actual plot of the novel.
3- Stereotypical Cookie Cutter Characters: The number one offender of this too me is the loose woman. I have read books with women as the heroines, the villains, the partner, the victim, and the professor but I really cannot stand it when without any rhyme or reason a female character is included to give a man something to do (and by that I mean sexually) These are throw away characters that add nothing to a plot. They are merely used again to show a character as a womanizer or to appear edgy again (see #1). Characters in general deserve more than stereotypes. The black rapper, the Italian gangster, the prostitute with a heart of gold, the elf archer, or the cannibalistic serial killer, they all deserve better classifications. When an author includes a character in a story is it too much to ask that they be fleshed out and somewhat original?
When I started thinking of writing a book a few years back (yes I’m still writing it). I bought a book entitled Building Believable Characters. It is a great book that helps you build a characters back-story up so that when they appear in your novel you can figure out how they would react to a plot device by just looking at it. It is a fantastic book and a must read for any aspiring author.
Well those are my pet peeves and I know many of you may not share mine, agree with me on some but not others, or just have radically different ones. Feel free to let me know what yours are because complaining is fun.