Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Cringe worthy

Which cliches, plot devices, or characters drive you crazy in the books you read? Let’s hear some pet peeves.

by Dietrich

There’s something for everybody on the printed page. When I pick up a book, I want to become engaged in the story right away. If the story doesn’t draw me in within a few pages, I set it aside and choose a different book. The thing is, although I read a lot, there are more good books out there than I’m ever going to be able to get to in this lifetime. So, I’d rather spend my time reading something that resonates and might inspire my own writing than something that doesn’t work for me.

Aside from an engaging story, an author’s style and voice has to draw me in. Well-written dialogue and unique, interesting characters, and unexpected, yet believable twists I didn’t see coming go a long way. I’m always looking for authors I haven’t read before, hoping for something fresh and well told. And once I find one, I look for other books by the same author. And if a book is exceptional, I’ll be sure to reread it sometime.
When I’m reading, there are things that jump out at me, things that I’d call pet peeves:

Writing that is safe, has no heart and no distinct style.

Preachy writing.

Talking heads – dialogue that’s flat and doesn’t go anywhere.

Narrative dialogue.

Politically correct dialogue that doesn’t seem real.

Tedious detail – when an author paints a scene and forgets there’s a story that’s supposed to be moving forward.

Overuse of adverbs and adjectives.
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” – Stephen King

Overused cliches and idioms.

Go nowhere subplots, or the ones that are left hanging by the story’s end.

A dragging backstory that doesn’t move the overall story.
“Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Overuse of these things should be banned.

One dimensional characters that are more caricature than they are believable, like the indestructible hero, or a protagonist who is all good, or an antagonist who is all bad.

Predictable set-ups and outcomes.

Improbable twists and endings.

An author with a thesaurus.

Dialogue tags besides said or asked. Nobody should chortle or murmur. Ever. Or just as bad, the use of adverbs to modify dialogue tags.

10 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

All good points, Dietrich. Though I find myself doing some of them some of the time...

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Paul.

Susan C Shea said...

I too see a bit of my own writing style in your list of what not to do. As a reader, I gravitate toward stories that can build slowly, as long as I have confidence that they're going somewhere interesting. The clue early on is the engaging quality of the prose. I'm not one who needs a body or violence on the first page. I have had to check myself for cliches that find their way into the first draft as placeholders and require a tough editor's eye to extinguish as the manuscript is polished. I recently read much of a crime fiction novel that laid the cliches on so heavily that it eventually (for me) drowned the story. It got a starred review on Publisher's weekly, so I guess not everyone is as bothered about cliches as you and I are. Good post, as usual!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Well said, Susan. Thank you.

Brenda Chapman said...

A good list of things to avoid for all writers!

Unknown said...
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Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Brenda.

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