Christian Speculative Fiction discussion

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Trauma by book

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message 1: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 500 comments Mod
Have you ever felt traumatized by a poor book? I just finished reading a book that just doesn't end. I can't stop thinking about it. I may end up sitting down to write a proper ended to just get the book out of my mind. What kind of book writing sins drive you crazy? (please be vague to not hurt any specific authors who are still living)


message 2: by Justin (new)

Justin Coogle | 91 comments This is a fun question.

I absolutely despise "chosen one" or "special-just-because" protagonists. At least the cliched versions. The idea that this one person becomes super powerful, just...because? And they're always super young, like teens - low 20s. And that they're always confident, and witty.

An example of poorly done: Anything starting with "Just a normal boy/girl...until (discovered magical origin, unlocked powers, met some wizard or demon or whatever, etc) ...and now they must (save something, stop some empire, etc)

An example of well executed: Ang from Avatar: The Last Airbender

It's lazy, it's overdone, and if I see a protagonist like that I immediately stop reading. All immersion is gone.


message 3: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Salisbury | 220 comments Mod
My most recent book trauma was a couple of protagonists who weren't complete until they found, understood, and started dating each other. Then they were torn apart and the book ended.

I'm not one for cheesy romance anyway - it can be done much more effectively (and realistically) than it was in this instance, and I only pushed through the pain because I'd promised to read the book. But for it to then end on a cliffhanger? Like I want to read more of their angst?

No more - please! In my head, I wrote "and after many years of wandering, lost and alone, they bumped into each other at Walmart (or the futuristic space version) and lived happily ever after. The end.)


message 4: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 514 comments Mod
I think the kind of book that traumatizes me most is one that hasn't been properly proofread. Constant spelling, grammar and punctuation errors keep tripping me up and disrupting my enjoyment of the content.

I know this is a difficult issue for some writers, and far be it from me to point the finger. I'd just like to say, though, that that boring, repetitive task of checking the nitty-gritty details is well worth the effort!


message 5: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Salisbury | 220 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "I think the kind of book that traumatizes me most is one that hasn't been properly proofread. Constant spelling, grammar and punctuation errors keep tripping me up and disrupting my enjoyment of th..."

I nearly wrote this exact thing before I remembered the book I mentioned.


message 6: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 514 comments Mod
Lauren wrote: "I nearly wrote this exact thing before I remembered the book I mentioned."

Great minds think alike! (I won't mention the other half of that saying…)

Actually, I was also going to mention a book I've promised to read and am ploughing through at the moment: it's incredibly painful, slow going. Not only is it riddled with the kind of trivial errors we've been talking about, but in addition, English is not the author's native language. You can imagine the struggle to make sense of it in places! ("Grocery atrocities"???)

It's actually sad, because I can see that it would have been quite a good book if written in the author's mother tongue. I don't think it's a translation—I get the impression it was written in English because the author thought he was sufficiently proficient in the language.

Painful for me and sad for him!


message 7: by Justin (new)

Justin Coogle | 91 comments So I feel poor editing/writing is sort of a universal red flag. What are other things that really make your gears grind or drop a book Steve?


message 8: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
I don't know that I read enough fiction to comment beyond the "poor editing" comments that have already been made.

If I can add one thought, though, it would be picking up a book later in a series and finding it to be significantly worse morally than the previous books. I'm talking secular fiction. I read a couple of early books about one character and I really liked the character - minimal details in sensual scenes and minimal foul language.

Then, I pick up a book later in the series in an airport - no option to read the next in the series. It was horrible! I felt like the author had resorted to a ghost writer who had different priorities. I can't imagine the author feeling the need to go where he went just to attract more readers - his series was very successful without the trashy details.

So, when a series go wildly off the rails in an uncharacteristic way, I have no problem dropping the book, the series, and the author.


message 9: by Steve (last edited Mar 30, 2018 04:00PM) (new)

Steve Pillinger | 514 comments Mod
Justin wrote: "So I feel poor editing/writing is sort of a universal red flag. What are other things that really make your gears grind or drop a book Steve?"

Well, my tastes are pretty catholic (in the general sense), so there are few types of fiction that I really dislike. I can suspend disbelief in the kind of situation you describe, with the stereotypical 'ordinary-guy' heroes—in fact I'm a sucker for those kinds of stories, I love 'em.

But there are two kinds of book that I don't particularly enjoy reading: one is Christian non-fiction: sorry, not politically correct, I know, but then we're not a very PC group! I guess in my years as a young Christian I was beaten over the head with all those wonderful books on discipleship, etc., and I just got very tired of what I used to call "jack-up-your-soul" books. Which is not to say that there isn't a lot of good in them… I just don't enjoy ingesting it in that form.

And the other kind of book I'm severely allergic to (as you may have picked up in another thread!) is allegory. 'Trauma' would be an apt description of my response if I have to read allegory! I read Pilgrim's Progress as a young teenager, and even then I felt it "wasn't a proper story". The situations and characters were often contrived, artificial, thrust into the story simply to make a spiritual point.

At least in a Christian world that loves allegory I can claim affinity with J.R.R. Tolkien, who also heartily disliked the genre. Dare I confess it, I only got a third of the way through The Shack before pushing it away like a smelly egg. (Apologies to those who love the book!)

I prefer a story that is real, where situations flow naturally out of preceding events, and where the reader is free to come up with his or her own interpretation of the 'meaning', if any—rather than having the author's interpretation imposed on them by artificial one-to-one correspondences between elements of the story and spiritual truths.

So there you have the reading matter that traumatises me and brings my car to a grinding halt!


message 10: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 514 comments Mod
Stan wrote: "If I can add one thought, though, it would be picking up a book later in a series and finding it to be significantly worse morally than the previous books."

I'm with you there, Stan. I've also had shocks like that, where a previously-respected author has decided mid-series to attract new readers by throwing in more explicit sex and violence, etc. It can be a painful disllusionment.


message 11: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 500 comments Mod
I had to laugh at many of the commits because I generally agree. I often think of myself as a generous reader because I love so many books from so many genres. Even so, I can't stand prolonged love triangles in either books or movies. If a person can't make up their mind who to pursue then they aren't ready for a relationship at all. Prolonged misunderstandings and deceptions in the romantic comedy sense is also tough for me to endure as well. Still, I can handle nearly all the above flaws in a book if it ends really really well. For me, the ending is everything. This is one of the reasons that I am very very picky about starting a long series. I need resolutions to my stories!


message 12: by Stoney (new)

Stoney deGeyter | 134 comments I don’t know that I’ve ever been able to pinpoint what I don’t like in books. I’ve read many that by the time I’m done I don’t really even know what happened. Many of the classics are like that to me (treasure island). I think it’s more the writing style my brain can’t comprehend.

That said, in both books and movies, I hate characters making horribly bad decisions only because that’s what the writer needs them to do to move the story forward. Hate that! I think the mark of a good writer is to have horribly bad consequences from what, by all appearances, are smart character decisions. That’s not to say a character can’t do something dumb—we all do—but it has to be part of th characters nature, and it can’t be the main driving force behind every problem to overcome.


message 13: by Ann (new)

Ann | 50 comments I'm reading a book that I really wanted to enjoy, but the characters were so boring I couldn't care less what happens to them. The author seems to be able write well as far as giving the reader a very vivid world. it reminds me of a movie with great effects, but basically no character development. I want to care about who I'm taking the time to read about.


message 14: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Collier | 5 comments Yeah, there was one big author, a great author whose books I love, but when I got to one where the protagonist had to help her father who had molested her, and even give him mouth-to-mouth, I could never read another of his books. Ever again.


message 15: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 500 comments Mod
Kristen wrote: "Yeah, there was one big author, a great author whose books I love, but when I got to one where the protagonist had to help her father who had molested her, and even give him mouth-to-mouth, I could..."

Yikes! That is a bit disturbing. I suppose they wanted the character to forgive her father, but that sounds like a mess that would launch that character into some major emotional trauma.


message 16: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 500 comments Mod
Argh! I just finished another book that doesn't end! Anyone else have this problem?


message 17: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 500 comments Mod
SHINE wrote: "Death scenes in a children’s chapter book series in “The Left Behind: The Kids”."

Are they really detailed? I haven't read any of The Left Behind books for the adults or kids, but I have one the kids books that was thrown into a book order I got in the mail. Is it awful?


message 18: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 500 comments Mod
SHINE wrote: "I’ll have to go back and read the death scenes. I don’t have all the 40 books in the series."

No need. I was just wanting you to clarify what you meant. That's a lot of books! Lol.


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