This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is a topic you’ve missed over the years and want to revisit… and strangely, when I did a couple of searches on my blog, I didn’t find any posts about my bookish pet peeves. So here goes!
- Miscommunication. I think y’all know I hate this one, but it’s especially bad when it’s a couple or something, and you know they should trust each other — they’ve even given each other countless reasons to trust in the past. It’s the most annoying plot device, even if it really does happen in real life, because I just don’t want to spend time with characters who make the same stupid mistakes over and over.
- “I like you just as you are… so I’ll make sure you never change.” That’s not actually love, guys. People change and grow and make free choices, and make mistakes, and you have to let them. It’s creepy as fuck when one character decides that they get to say what another character will do for the sake of their purity or whatever.
- Insta-love. Unless there’s a reason, like you’re the reincarnation of Guinevere and he’s the reincarnation of Arthur and when you meet you feel the weight of your history, or… whatever, just something that explains it, something that gives it weight. Else it’s just a cheap way to add drama.
- People are the real evil. I think this is true in many respects, but I hate it when a horror novel or something over-focuses on people being awful. I’m here for witches and ghosts and monsters, and not the human sort.
- Privilege flipping. It’s been done well by someone, I’m sure, but most of the time it’s really tone deaf, and in some cases just wouldn’t work — e.g. a whole world where gay relationships are the only sort allowed. If that’s the case, then you have to address the issue of procreation, and then also deal with the way that changes society. If there are artificial wombs, fine, but it changes things as well.
- Changing just one thing. In reality, it’d be like the first in a chain of dominoes. That’s why we have the whole ‘butterfly beating its wings’ saying; a small change here or there will change something else, which will change another thing, which will have a cascading effect. I don’t think there’s any choices we can make that don’t affect something. If I wear my purple socks today, I can’t wear them tomorrow, and I can’t have a conversation about my hedgehog socks today.
- Stories where women apparently don’t communicate. Like somehow there’s all these housewives who just stay in their houses the whole time and never even cross paths to borrow a cup of sugar, or… It just makes no sense. Even if all your main characters are men (why?) then the female characters in the background will still interact with each other, and if not, there’d better be a good reason.
- Narrators. Okay, narrators in themselves aren’t a pet peeve, but if you have someone narrating a story, I kind of want to know why they’re telling it. I love it when a story gives you context for the narrator narrating: this was an interview with x, this is y’s diary, etc. Otherwise, who the heck are they talking to? Themselves? And if they are, then why do they need to explain what their favourite colour is and how tall they are?
- Just one exception. A character can read everybody’s mind… except one. No reason, it just complicates their relationship. If there’s a rule in your fictional universe, every exception needs to have a purpose. How does it drive the story?
- Inquits. You really don’t have to look for a gazillion alternatives to “said”. They stick out like a sore thumb when you have characters yelling, bawling, crying, shouting, whispering, choking, gasping… “Said” is perfectly useful for attributing dialogue. If you’re using another word, it needs to be doing twice the work.
So there’s my somewhat random set of pet peeves! Share any? Disagree? Feel free to chip in!