An avid reader calls it as she sees it on books, publishing and the written word in general.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Six ways to annoy your reader

Rachelle Gardner recently posted 10 Ways to Annoy A Literary Agent and it started me thinking about some things in novels I find really irritating. So below we have....*drum roll*...Six ways to annoy a reader.

  1. Characters who are “quirky,” “sassy” or “ditzy”. It’s not just the constant overuse, it’s the fact that authors use them to avoid the work of actually creating a realistic character. One adjective does not a character make.
  2. Female characters obsessed with shoes. Okay, most women like a pretty new pair now and then but we don’t all go and spend a month’s salary on them. And if we do, it’s because we want a pair of shoes, not because we have no head for money/are depressed/are compensating for not having a man. Closely related irritant – female characters obsessed with shopping. Enough already.
  3. Naming characters with similar names – there’s no way I’m going to be able to keep Matt and Mark straight, same with Christine and Crystal. Maybe it’s a clever ploy to get readers to slow down, as according to Jonathon Franzen's book of essays it annoys the hell out of writers when readers whiz through their books. 
  4. Changing genres halfway though a series of books. You thought those were dragons? No, silly, they’re actually clever machines – did I forget to mention that in the first three books? Must have overlooked it, small details and so on…
  5. Getting to the “whodunit” scene and finding out the murderer was someone barely mentioned in the book. That’s playing with loaded dice and taking unfair advantage of the reader, in my opinion. How do you expect us to put together the clues if you don’t give us any?
  6. The series that will not die. You know which one I mean (okay, there are a few offenders out there, in several genres). If Stephanie vacillates between Ranger or Morelli one more time I’m going to blow up her car myself. On the other hand, if you kill characters, marry them off, let them get old, and generally keep things fresh, I don’t mind long series. But not when they are a literary version of groundhog day.
What annoys you the most? Post in the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment