Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday - Bookish Pet Peeves

I love books - you probably already knew that. Here are some of my pet peeves that can take me out of what should be a wonderful experience between me and the written word:

1. Books that smell like cigarette smoke. This is primarily a library book problem. I can't stand the smell and it affects my perception of the book, through no fault of the author or publisher. Go outside to smoke and don't take your library book with you.

2. Pages that get stuck together. Yeah, you can pull them apart but part of the text is going to be left on the other side. Seems to happen with lighter weight paper - especially Bibles.

3. Incorrectly cut pages. Yes, I'll admit to being obsessive about this. I know very little about the publishing industry, so I'm not exactly sure how it happens, but I hate it when one page is noticeably larger in one corner or something. I've been known to bust out my scissors and fix a book when that happens, but I shouldn't have to.

4. Switching Perspective. I like books with lots of characters. As long as there's a page break or chapter switch, I'm fine with getting another character's POV. But if an author is using close third person and suddenly tells us what the man on the street corner thinks about our main character (This actually happened in the first Maisie Dobbs book), that is just sloppy. If you're going to be omniscient, then be omniscient. (However, unless you are a very long-lived contemporary of Charles Dickens, you probably won't be using omniscient POV. It went out of style with horse drawn carriages.)

5. Too much information. Yes, I know you spent hours of research on this book. That gives your book depth and enriches your writing. Just don't spill it out on the page. Maybe you should write a non-fiction book about the topic if you know so much. I really don't like it when a character in the story suddenly becomes the mouthpiece for telling all the author knows about 15th century England.

6. Explicit scenes. I have an imagination and it works just fine, thank you very much.

7. Gratuitous swearing. I understand that some words that I personally wouldn't use work in the context of the story. But constant use of "four letter words" or using those words as your only adjectives just proves that you have a limited vocabulary. Buy a thesaurus.

8. Characters that are too good to be true or too bad to be true. You may have noticed: real people are flawed. A character that never gets tired, loses her temper, feels lonely, etc. is not a realistic character and my patience with the character, your writing, and therefore, your book will wear thin very quickly.

9. Plots that are solved by convenience. Yes, we know Dickens did it all the time. You (and I) are no Charles Dickens. I think this is sometimes caused by laziness or just rushing to finish a book. Take your time and figure out how this story ought to end. Or, just don't wrap everything up. Loose ends can be sloppy or they can be intriguing. How it comes across depends on the skill of the author.

10. Typos, spelling errors, and glaring grammatical mistakes. You have to know what the rules are before you can make a stylistic choice to break them. Sentence fragments, unusual punctuation, ending a sentence with a preposition: all perfectly acceptable in this blogging age. However, I can tell the difference between an author who chooses to break the rules and an author who has never heard of the rules. Typos and spelling errors are primarily an editing problem. (Like that book I read recently that spelled Adolf Hitler's name wrong every single time the author mentioned him. Doh!) Read your work aloud. Have other people read it.

There, I feel better now. What about you? Got any book related pet peeves?

This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish and also at Oh Amanda.


Lesley said...

I agree on #7 and #10 the most. If swearing adds nothing to the story then it doesn't need to be used! Some of my pet peeves were reading books out of order and those annoying glued on price stickers ;) My list is here.

danya said...

Oh, incorrectly cut pages are so annoying! And then usually if they're larger then they've been folded in a way to fit but you have to unfold them to read every word...it's just ridiculous.

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