This Reader’s Pet Peeves

Welcome to November, folks. How does every year seem to go faster and faster?

Hope those who celebrate enjoyed a fun Halloween. ‘Trunk or Treat’ delayed our candy-seekers, but we wound up with a good turnout nonetheless. I was also thrilled when a former co-worker rang the bell; she wound up informing me she and a neighbor—a widower whose wife unexpectedly passed of an undetected aneurysm late last year—were ‘together.’ I’ve been praying for that man since September, 2013. So grateful and happy for him and his very young boys, and for her. Far as I know, he’s a great guy, a firefighter who writes–or has written–on the sly. That’s got to be good, right? 😉

To everyone taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge, I applaud you and wish you all the best. As much as I can churn out a report or a blog post under pressure, I can’t seem to generate the heart that kind of undertaking warrants. You’re an amazing group who inspire me.

NaNoWriMo--persistandwin

Image credit: From CommuniCATE Resources For Writers 

Lately, I feel my attention span is more and more compromised. Even reading, a life-long passion that helped spur me into the writer-world, has been suffering. Maybe it’s age, too much to do, life, internet-spawned attention deficit—all of the above. My tolerance isn’t what it was, either. Having learned first-hand some of the tricks of this trade messed with my reader side. I can rarely push myself to swallow content that doesn’t grab me right away or gets my pet peeves coming out in full force.

I’m not pointing at only indie works either. A few years ago, a well-established author released a long-awaited new work. I’d read at least two of her previous compositions and thoroughly loved them. The Big-Five publisher that backed her put out a LOT of fan-fare (and $$$) to promote her book.

Hate to admit it, but I never downloaded more than the sample. The style of writing was dated. Exposition went on and on. (Very 80s, I guess?) Don’t think I made it past page 20. So there’s pet peeve #1.

#2: A poorly-developed, contrite or dragged-out story. I’m not implying every story should have block-buster style action pouring off every page. Readers who’ve been around a while know every story has been done. PLEASE, authors! Give me a story I want to believe, and move it along at a forward pace that feels like it’s on some kind of continuum.

#3: Repetition: I’m forcing myself to read a romance that somehow found its way onto my Nook app. It’s okay, but if one more person ‘snorts’ I might decide how the author got to the HEA isn’t worth knowing.

#4: Crappy editing: Good service is pricey. I’ve looked into it (and hoping this post, or a future release, doesn’t haunt me one day). Heck, I’ve heard authors mention their editor this, or their editor that.

I hate when a book starts out decently edited, then slides down a steady decline. (Kind of dealing in that with those ‘snorting’ characters, among other complaints.)  I once read a supposedly edited book where love scenes were repeated for 5-page stretches every time they occurred. IDK, but that’s overkill and cause to skip the scenes or even give up on the story. And don’t get me started on head-hopping. (BTW, I have no problem with POV shifts within a scene and use them myself. But those authors whose books sell simply b/c their names grace the covers, while POVs shift from head to head within the same paragraph??? Nah, I’ll read someone else’s stories, thank you very much.)

There are beta readers, critique groups, online and in-person workshops. Translation: We shouldn’t be lacking for a way—via use of cash, barter or someone’s kind-hearted donation of services—that any book should be lacking in quality.

Any thoughts on this? How patient are (or were) you as reader? Do you have pet peeves about the stories that come your way? I’d love to read about them. Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

Residents of the USA, if you can, get out there and vote. (MHO: it’s become far too important to do so.)

Have a great day,

Joanna

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15 thoughts on “This Reader’s Pet Peeves

  1. Your pet peeves mirror mine.
    I recently read a second book by the same author. The first one was well edited and a great story.
    I feel the second one was zipped through the presses. Acknowledgements shows three editors and seven other people who gave feedback. The story is good and I even dropped a couple tears at the end. However, the book is chock full of this:

    Looking to the starry night, “You see there, it’s Orion.”
    Watching the sky streak pin and fade to gray, “Yes.”
    Wrapping an arm around her, “Do you know why crickets chirp?”

    I thought I was losing my mind. Am I?

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    1. Guess I’d want to look at the bigger picture, but if your book is anything like the one I read with the ongoing love scenes, I feel your pain.

      Maybe there IS something to be said about going through a story fifty times for revisions. I’m sure I’m into the 100th time on my debut. (Working on getting myself back into some kind of real writing routine. Figured this was a good a place to start as anywhere else.)

      Thanks, Tess!

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        1. Just finished it. Too many adverbs (-ly), ‘though’ and ‘however’ between snorting characters. This while all of them raised their eyebrows. Oy.

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  2. Life is not long enough to waste it reading crap. But how do we know it’s crap? My wife has a “bogus bell” that starts clanging almost immediately. I’m more patient, but if I don’t sense a “secret centre” to the story, I’ll eventually let the book slide off the bed. I love this concept of a secret centre. Something the book is actually about, while not exactly talked about. I guess you could say it amounts to beating around a very profound bush.

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    1. Once upon a time I was MUCH more patient. That applied to books, TV, movies, etc. Have an inkling I’ve happened onto your wife’s ‘bogus bell.’ (Something tells me they all sound off pretty fast. 😉 )

      Secret center: as in theme, perhaps?

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      1. More mysterious and vague than theme. Maybe even inexplicable. Let’s save this for another time. And think on’t until then.

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  3. I’m less patient as a reader, too. There are so many other books out there vying for our attention. Like you, I need a brisk pace. Too much description and introspection risk losing my interest. The same goes for movies and TV shows, really. I like something to be happening. Those movies where it’s mostly just a conversation between people–not my cup of tea.

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    1. As long as the conversation leads the story somewhere, I’m good. Maybe that’s why I never really got into Seinfeld, the show about ‘nothing,’ in which the characters never really seemed to grow and change much. I didn’t have a clue about anything writing-related back then either. Hmm.

      Thanks, Carrie!

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  4. First of all, this hit home: “Lately, I feel my attention span is more and more compromised. Even reading, a life-long passion that helped spur me into the writer-world, has been suffering. Maybe it’s age, too much to do, life, internet-spawned attention deficit—all of the above.”

    This goes for reading and writing. As for your pet peeves, head hopping is my #1. I’ve read a couple of JD Robb books. While I push through to the end, mostly because I want to see if I chose the correct bad guy (I didn’t), the head hopping just KILLS ME! Why must this happen? This is an accomplished, well published and well selling author. Come on! Drives me nuts, especially because it’s mostly unnecessary. Do I really need to know the Chief’s thoughts about Eve Dallas (POV character) when it’s just ONE LINE?

    Oy.

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    1. Glad it’s not just me. Ditto on the ‘reading and writing’–sometimes I’m excited to respond to a tweet or write a FB status.

      Kathleen E Woodiss romances were my absolute favorite and are among the reasons I wanted to write. Her stories remain part of my heart, but no way I could ever read them again. (I used to be a voracious re-reader too, a trait I inherited from my dad.)

      So many rules about trad-pub submitting with head-hopping being one of the biggest no-no’s. I’m thinking some names sell the big houses enough to keep them running. Think looking the other way becomes part of the business arrangement?

      Thanks so much for stopping in and for your comment!

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