THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB discussion

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Archives - Book Discussions > WHAT IS YOUR PET PEEVE WITH NOVELS

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message 1: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Without a doubt my pet peave is the all the familiar use of the lead characters being attractive. It seems many of the female lead characters are always stunning beyond belief and the male characters are also presented as visual works of art. To me, this has Hollywood written over it and takes away some of the ability to really connect with the character. I really enjoy books where the characters are presented as real both in feelings and looks.


message 2: by Gemma (new)

Gemma Mine would be when writers write themselves into their own books. Annoys the hell out of me and always seems somewhat unnecessary...


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Why are all the characters getting younger while I am getting older??? :)


message 4: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. Mine is when the person who picks the cover never read the book. So many times it doesn't match up with what's inside the book.


message 5: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) | 163 comments Gary F wrote: "Without a doubt my pet peave is the all the familiar use of the lead characters being attractive. It seems many of the female lead characters are always stunning beyond belief and the male characte..."

This is particularly true of the romance genre, which is extraordinarily formulaic. The phenomenally beautiful heroine must also be a virgin, according to the formula, and she and the amazingly virile hero must get together in the end and live happily ever after -- despite what is almost always a relationship fraught with antipathy up until the last chapter.

I stopped reading romance novels because they were all the same story. When I wrote my historical fiction, I was told by several people that it wasn't a romance because my heroine was not a virgin and was in her late 20s.

Whatever. The book was bought by a publisher in the UK and subsequently by one in the US. I think I can handle the idea that it "isn't a romance," although several readers have indeed described it as such.


message 6: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) | 163 comments Gemma wrote: "Mine would be when writers write themselves into their own books. Annoys the hell out of me and always seems somewhat unnecessary..."

There is a very solid theory that you should write about what you know, to keep your fiction realistic. Self-inserts and "a character who knows some of the things that I do" are not the same, IMO.


message 7: by Jo (new)

Jo I'm not a fan of books that are obviously inspired by another book and they have basically took that storyline and changed it enough that they can publish without being sued. I read alot of YA and i hate when they start with the characters being at school gossiping about something. That kind of thing stops me from taking it seriously. Sometimes they make up for it, sometimes they don't!


message 8: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 54 comments Characters that stand around around for pages on end, while some other character spouts a 'philosophy of life' that they accept without questions. Similarly, rants or diatribes on the author's ideological nutpoint that brings the book to a screeching halt.


message 9: by Carolyn F. (new)

Carolyn F. Are you talking about Women in Love Marc? Every other page was a long speech about what's wrong with the world. I liked this book at 18. Hated it at 48. I would just walk away from someone who loved to hear himself talk like that.


message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim | 5 comments I don't like novels where characters do things that a person with that type of character wouldn't do.


message 11: by Brian (last edited Sep 02, 2010 10:22AM) (new)

Brian (brianwainwright) | 3 comments Yes, the good people = good looking and bad people = ugly trope has surely had its time by now, and we should want something a tad more sophisticated.

My current main bugbear is melodrama. Sadly a lot of authors seem unaware that they are writing it and too many editors let it pass. I find myself all too often laughing at works that are supposed to be serious because of pantomime language.


message 12: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Jackson (melaniejaxn) | 26 comments Jim, I'm with you. I had to abandon a series where the heroine was supposed to be this k*ckass fighter out to save the entire planet-- and she never actually fought anyone. Always a convenient cliff would fall on the bad guy and kill him. You can't have it both ways. If you are a sweet and non-violent person then you won't the champion of mankind at the last battle between good and evil... There is also real power in a character owning up to who they are and embracing the fact that they must do the hard thing.


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) Black-or-white characters, either wholly "good" or wholly "bad," are my pet peeve, at least in historical fiction featuring real historical figures. I don't mind it so much when a writer whose characters are entirely fictional creates distinct "bad guys," but most historical figures fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between wholly good and wholly bad.


message 14: by Brian (new)

Brian (brianwainwright) | 3 comments Amen to that, Susan! I wonder whether the average reader is sophisticated enough to appreciate shading -I think that could be part of the problem.


message 15: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 54 comments Carolyn F. wrote: "Are you talking about Women in Love Marc? Every other page was a long speech about what's wrong with the world. I liked this book at 18. Hated it at 48. I would just walk away from ..."

I was thinking of Ayn Rand and some of the James P. Hogan titles, actually.

Characters who are said to be tough and powerful, who never actually show that power or use it. Heinlein had lots of supposedly strong women who always seemed to let the men do all the work.


message 16: by willaful (last edited Sep 02, 2010 10:55AM) (new)

willaful My biggest hate is a lighthearted story in which there's a sudden, horrendous catastrophe out of nowhere at the end.

I also am not at all interested in books in which nothing happens. This is why I read a lot of older novels and genre fiction. Far more reliable for getting an actual story.


message 17: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments wow, really impressed with the various pet peaves!


message 18: by Kathy G. (new)

Kathy G. My pet peeve is when a novel is so slow and dragging in the beginning that you can't seem to get into it. Come on--- pick up!!!! And taking pages and pages to talk about scenery. I like some action.
Then--- there's the novel that has you going and leaves you flat and disappointed at the end. I don't mind a twist, but don't drop me like a hot potato.


message 19: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Lisey's Story, by Stephen King, was that way ... took me over 100 pages to even care about any of the characters.


message 20: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 23 comments One of my peeves is silly poetic attempts at describing sunsets:
The sun splashed the sky with another avant-garde gradation of yellows, oranges, and reds dripping below the horizon.
Suns set, dammit! Get on with the story.

I also hate novels that start with a weather report. Only Snoopy can pull that off.
j

(btw, after a dozen self-edits, I changed it to 'The trout started jumping like they do every evening around sunset.) :)


message 21: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 02, 2010 11:12PM) (new)

I have a couple of peeves.

1. The oh-so-perfect characters that have no flaws. Please!?! Yuck!!!!
2. When you read the back cover to get an idea of the story line only to find you've been mislead. It's amazing how often this happens. Is it deliberate to throw you off the scent?


message 22: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 23 comments Don't read back covers. Do the same thing publishers do when you submit a manuscript. Read the first paragraph and round-file it. But if you're still reading by the end of the chapter, go for it.


message 23: by Maggie (new)

Maggie | 37 comments Martha wrote: "Lisey's Story, by Stephen King, was that way ... took me over 100 pages to even care about any of the characters."

Have to agree with you about Lisey's Story - and I'm a diehard King fan! I hated it - I did finish it, but I had to force myself. Terrible!


message 24: by willaful (new)

willaful J, have you ever seen the movie "The Owl and the Pussycat"? It's too long to quote, but there's a hilarious scene of someone reading his manuscript aloud, and the listener being outraged by the phrase "the sun spat morning into Julian's face."
http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_sc...


message 25: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 23 comments LOL. saw it. Old flick, but that scene still stands out in my mind when I think of that movie. ROTFLMAO :):)


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7274 comments Mod
my pet peave is when an author tries to keep you guessing what the heck is going on!! when a few sentences can clear up a mindful of confusion- when novels get too surrealistic- not for me


message 27: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 54 comments Rick wrote: "my pet peave is when an author tries to keep you guessing what the heck is going on!! when a few sentences can clear up a mindful of confusion- when novels get too surrealistic- not for me"

Or how about when all that's necessary to resolve the issue is that A talks to B and doesn't?

I just reminded myself of a book, A Logical Magician, where the solution to the issue was obvious about halfway through but the main character kept getting interrupted by random monster attacks so he couldn't tell anyone about it until the end.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7274 comments Mod
Marc wrote: "Rick wrote: "my pet peave is when an author tries to keep you guessing what the heck is going on!! when a few sentences can clear up a mindful of confusion- when novels get too surrealistic- not fo..."

exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I also dislike authors who write sequels for $$$ and do not end a book because of that factor alone.


message 30: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 54 comments Marialyce wrote: "I also dislike authors who write sequels for $$$ and do not end a book because of that factor alone."

I wrote a blog post about that very topic.
http://authorguy.wordpress.com/2010/0...


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Marc, I read what you wrote and agree totally. I think some authors today are after the almighty dollar and not really after creating a book that might survive the long term effect of time.


message 32: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Pilgrim (oldgeezer) | 145 comments A lot of sequels are driven by publishers out to make a quick buck. I know several 'mainstream' authors who have been pressured into writing what turned out to be dissapointing sequels simply to fulfill tight contract deadlines.

I'll stay 'Indie' and poor thank you, it is up to me what I write and when I think it is ready to go, rather than be pressured into publishing something I am not happy about.
All the best Paul Rix [oldgeezer]


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Timothy wrote: "A lot of sequels are driven by publishers out to make a quick buck. I know several 'mainstream' authors who have been pressured into writing what turned out to be dissapointing sequels simply to fu..."

You get that impression a lot. That it's the publishers driving the authors rather than the authors being able to follow their own creative expression.

Good on you Timothy.


message 34: by willaful (new)

willaful I actually see a far bit of authors being driven by their fans, with equally bad results.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

willaful wrote: "I actually see a far bit of authors being driven by their fans, with equally bad results."

A very good point also willaful.


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7274 comments Mod
Gail "cyborg" wrote: "willaful wrote: "I actually see a far bit of authors being driven by their fans, with equally bad results."

A very good point also willaful."


which is why one must admire Harper Lee for not trying to "best" her masterpiece!


message 37: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Just wondering, of all the novels you read over the last year, what is the approximate % of times the lead character was above average in looks? I would say 85% of the books I reead this is the case and that may even been conservative.


message 38: by Crown (new)

Crown Publishing (crownpublishing) | 2 comments I dislike when authors end a story a certain way to create the most amount of controversy in order to sell more books. Not because the story demands it or the author believes that's the way it should be.


message 39: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) | 163 comments Crown Publishing wrote: "I dislike when authors end a story a certain way to create the most amount of controversy in order to sell more books. Not because the story demands it or the author believes that's the way it shou..."

I have never seen such a thing occur in all my years of reading. Perhaps you could cite an example or two? My curiosity is piqued.


message 40: by Jill (last edited Sep 07, 2010 01:51PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I have two pet peeves:
The mystery story that ends with the murderer being someone that was never part of the story or was mentioned briefly. And then the whole solution is presented in the last three pages which pretty well negates everything that went before.
Secondly, are autobiographies............98% of these are usually a pastiche of untruths/whitewashing/wishful thinking. Does anyone writing about themselves ever tell the truth? I avoid autobiographies like the plague although I know that there are some exceptions. (Some of you may throw rocks at me for this!!!)


Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7274 comments Mod
Gary F wrote: "Just wondering, of all the novels you read over the last year, what is the approximate % of times the lead character was above average in looks? I would say 85% of the books I reead this is the cas..."

GOOD POINT GARY- It does appear that the "hero" of many thriller novels are a mix between Errol Flynn and George Clooney - Goodlooking, dashing, but sensitive


message 42: by Maggie (new)

Maggie | 37 comments I'm not so keen on autobiographies either - you get some celebs who aren't even 30 yet are on their third volume!!?! - I did however enjoy Dirk Bogarde's volumes of autobiography (he could write, and he'd certainly had a life!) and more recently enjoyed Julian Clary's A Young Man's Passage autobiography (well written and quite funny too!) - but on the whole I do tend to avoid autobiographies.

On the same tack, there are so many of those 'abuse' type biographies around - are they all true!?! they all sound the same


message 43: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) i like the 'i was there' factor to the memoir. obviously, one has to be selective in what is chosen and not continually read the same type all the time. such as the 'abuse' type which you spoke of. not sure if i've read any of those.


message 44: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) | 163 comments Jill wrote: "Does anyone writing about themselves ever tell the truth? "

Plenty of people do. I include myself. I'm finishing up a memoir about my time in the Portland, OR, music business. I knew that if I was going to do this book properly, I had to be willing to shine a light on some things that did not reflect well on my judgment.

Other examples that come immediately to mind are Lori Osterman's

Here All Along and Jen Knox's Musical Chairs.

As for the question about "abuse biographies" and whether or not they are true? I talk about the domestic violence I experienced in the memoir I mentioned. Perhaps it is easier to be dismissive of those who have experienced domestic violence if you never have (just consider yourself lucky). Those of us who have survived it, and who talk with other survivors, find that there are commonalities in the patterns of abusers.


message 45: by Julie (new)

Julie S. 1. When characters have mulit-page rants about some random/hard-to-define subject. My example: Atlas Shrugged.

2. When the back of the book or the inside flap description gives away too much information. I want to be somewhat surprised.

3. When the cover is either irrelevant or purposefully awkward. Random fantasy books tend to do this. You know, some epic scene with a busty princess being saved from a dragon by a prince.

4. When modern authors used odd sentence structures and odd vocabulary words. Yes, you have a good vocabulary range, but make the book possible to read without using a dictionary every other page.

5. When authors use too much description. Chris Paolini seems to be guilty of this. In Eldest, there was some epic fight going on, and he pauses to describe the dew and blood mixing on the moist grass. He probably thought that it sounded poetic, but when it is done for more than 600 pages, it gets old.


message 46: by Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB (last edited Sep 08, 2010 05:24PM) (new)

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7274 comments Mod
Sharon wrote: "Jill wrote: "Does anyone writing about themselves ever tell the truth? "

Plenty of people do. I include myself. I'm finishing up a memoir about my time in the Portland, OR, music business. I kn..."


Sharon
another unforgetable memoir is LIES MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME by Kaylie Jones- daighter of James Jones (From Here to Eternity) and a very fine writer in her own right- truly an unforgetable memoir of growing up with a famous father and a family devastated by early death and alcohol Lies My Mother Never Told Me A Memoir by Kaylie Jones


message 47: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Well, fellow readers, I stand corrected about autobiographies and the truth. I guess I just haven't read the best of these. I will check out the Kaylie Jones book about her father who was a fine writer.


message 48: by Maggie (new)

Maggie | 37 comments Sharon wrote: "Jill wrote: "Does anyone writing about themselves ever tell the truth? "

Plenty of people do. I include myself. I'm finishing up a memoir about my time in the Portland, OR, music business. I kn..."


I wasn't being dismissive of 'abuse' memoirs, I worked as a minute taker at child abuse case conferences for 5 years so I know about it - it just seems that there are an awful lot of those sort of books about.


message 49: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) | 163 comments Maggie wrote: "I wasn't being dismissive of 'abuse' memoirs, I worked as a minute taker at child abuse case conferences for 5 years so I know about it - it just seems that there are an awful lot of those sort of books about.
"


Thanks for your clarification; I do appreciate it.

I think that part of the proliferation of people telling their stories is twofold. First, victims were often made to feel as though they were to blame for the abuse they suffered (in my case, when I went to my minister for help, I was told to go home and pray to "be a better woman" so that my fiance would not "have to" hit me). Second, because of that feeling of blame and shame, people did not talk about what happened to them. "It's no one's business outside of this family" was the norm.

Both of these dynamics are changing. People are less fearful about telling the truth about their experiences. Dave Pelzer writes some compelling and terrifying stories about his time growing up in foster care, for example. I bawl through every one of this books.

I think that it's important to break the silence about these kinds of things. People who are suffering need to read these books sometimes because it helps them to know that they are not alone. Yes, sometimes they can be very triggering for those of us who have been through it. I wish I could remember the name of the book about the man who helped get the anti-stalking statute passed. His daughter was murdered by her abuser, who stalked her after she left him. I had recently dealt with a stalker of my own and while it was a hard read, it helped me know the steps I needed to take in order to protect myself.

Your mileage may vary, but I think it's important for survivors to know that there are people out there talking about what happened to them.


message 50: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) well said.


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