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para
12-07-2009, 03:22 AM
What will stop you reading a book? What is your top pet peeve?

At the moment I'm reading a book where the secondary characters have really strange names. I think I'm going to give up on this book. I suppose the writing was on the wall when I started laughing while reading the sex scene.

Wayne K
12-07-2009, 03:27 AM
That'd do it for me.

Adam
12-07-2009, 03:29 AM
I'll only stop reading if something is very badly written, but I'm frequently distracted and pulled out of a story. The usual suspects are:

* Unpronounceable names.
* Words I don't understand.
* Badly composed sentences.
* Spelling mistakes.
* Pointless description/explanations.
* Repetition.
* Authorial intrusion (unless it's done as part of the story like King's Dark Tower series)
* Coincidence (a little is okay, too much is maddening)

The list goes on... ;)

Bartholomew
12-07-2009, 03:32 AM
.
* Words I don't understand.


Does this mean you're not interested in expanding your vocabulary, or do you mean you don't like seeing made-up words, such as Aes Sedai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aes_Sedai)?

Stargazer
12-07-2009, 03:34 AM
The only thing that catches me out is when I'm reading a British book using American spellings.

If I'm reading an American book, then I'm reading with an American accent and I don't notice it, but trying to read British with all those Z's and missing U's... Very difficult.

Adam
12-07-2009, 03:35 AM
Does this mean you're not interested in expanding your vocabulary, or do you mean you don't like seeing made-up words, such as Aes Sedai?

Of course I'm interested in expanding my vocabulary (isn't every writer?), but I have to put the book down to pick up the dictionary, which pulls me out of the story. ;)

Made up words are fine, as long as it's clear what they mean.

icerose
12-07-2009, 03:47 AM
When a character gets a five page background tell all right in the middle of the story, that pisses me off. When a character who is like the deli guy gets a five page background and you're never going to ever see again beyond the one line "Here's your sandwich" is a throwable offense. If they are doing said info background dumps then yeah, book is going in the garbage.

Poorly written books as in awkward sentences and such just never make it home. Books with horribly unsatisfying endings go on my crap list. Anything that really annoys me or pulls me out of the story and does it more than once, that book is gone.

Izz
12-07-2009, 04:02 AM
What will stop you reading a book? What is your top pet peeve? Bad (or dry) writing and taking too long to get to the story/set the scene are my two top pet peeves.

Unfortunately i finish less than 5% of the books i start, which is frustrating and something i'm trying to resolve.

MGraybosch
12-07-2009, 04:02 AM
Gratuitous apostrophes will result in a book-flinging. You listening, James Clemens?

Matera the Mad
12-07-2009, 04:53 AM
I will drop a book for just one of those.

Ellefire
12-07-2009, 04:56 AM
unrealistic names, gratuitous use of exclamation marks, rambling descriptions

profen4
12-07-2009, 05:21 AM
vampires that sparkle

PoppysInARow
12-07-2009, 07:16 AM
vampires that sparkle

THIS.

Or characters I find to be unbelievable.

Bartholomew
12-07-2009, 07:32 AM
Of course I'm interested in expanding my vocabulary (isn't every writer?), but I have to put the book down to pick up the dictionary, which pulls me out of the story. ;)


When do you expand your vocabulary then, if not while reading?

My editors kill unfamiliar three-syllable words in my writing a lot, and it drives me batty. Heaven forbid people use reading as an opportunity to learn.

spike
12-07-2009, 07:56 AM
I'll drop a book if I don't like (or can't possibly relate) to any of the characters. I stopped reading Palahniuk's Lullaby because I loathed all of the characters. I wished Leatherface would take his chainsaw to them. Ironically, I found the book beautifully written, but I just hated those people.

Jess Haines
12-07-2009, 08:25 AM
What most everybody above said, and books that are too depressing.

I threw The Lovely Bones at the wall.

It left a dent.

wannawrite
12-07-2009, 08:42 AM
I'm pretty picky. It doesn't take much for me to give up on a book. Right now I'm pretty tired of leather-clad kick-ass heroines, were-anything, and vampires. Sparkly, or not.

cptwentworth
12-07-2009, 08:57 AM
I get annoyed when the character just thinks and thinks. And thinks some more. There is no dialogue for page after page, and not much movement forward. Enough already.

Difficult names annoy me. It stops me at their name every time trying to pronounce it right, till I either give up, or start calling them by their initial in my head so I can pass by it quickly.

Gratitous anything that comes out of left field at me. Sex, violence, or inanity. It's like smash cut, throw in something usless, smash cut back to story.

Stlight
12-07-2009, 09:48 AM
Paragraphs that start as dialogue, then after the speaker finishes thinking or sitting or whatever, there is another bit of dialogue, more thinking, and yet another bit of dialogue.

I get involved in wondering why the author is trying to hide the dialogue and forget to continue reading.

Ditto on the depressing books, there is enough in RL to take care of that need.

blacbird
12-07-2009, 10:15 AM
Factual errors in matters easily researched. Kills my trust in the diligence of the writer.

caw

colealpaugh
12-07-2009, 11:11 AM
Everything Philip Roth ever wrote, as well as anything that reads as if he wrote it.

“Obviously the facts are never just coming at you but are incorporated by an imagination that is formed by your previous experience. Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.” ---PR

Serious Desi
12-07-2009, 11:22 AM
Anything horribly written or too predictable( or where the character just thinks, and thinks, and thinks and thinks and then thinks so more.)


But, every time I put down a horrible book I feel a little bit more hopeful that one day I will get published.

jodiodi
12-07-2009, 11:26 AM
Anything that reads as untrue to the character will irritate me. Once a writer establishes a character's ... um ... character, then let them have reactions and do things that sync with their established character.

If the characters do completely stupid things that no rational person would do, I get really irritated. I mean, really: There's an insane axe murderer escapee from the asylum half a mile away and the tstl heroine is home alone and hears glass breaking in her basement during a thunderstorm after the power goes out. She doesn't have a flashlight or a cell phone and all of her house phones are cordless and don't work when the power's out. But she decides to go down into the basement in skimpy pajamas and bare feet, unarmed, to see what that noise was.

All I can think is, "I hope she gets killed. She's an idiot."

I'm also distracted by:

Poor attempts at accents and 'folksy' speech patterns attributed to people from the South.

Those damned phonetically spelled words that are supposed to make us 'read' in that accent drive me crazy. I've never heard anyone ever in my entire life say, "Ah shore do thank yur a purtty li'l honey-child."

Flaws in adhering to the logic and established mythology of the writer's 'world'.

I read a book once that referred to events that were NEVER IN THE BOOK. And these weren't events that supposedly happened prior to the story's start. Something like, "She passed the door to the porch, shuddering at the memory of the butler's lifeless body hanging from the chandelier." The butler had never been mentioned since he opened the door at the beginning of the book, and certainly nothing was told about him being hung from the chandelier.

Also, illogical time warps. In that same book, it was established at the beginning, everyone in her family died on their 26th birthday and her 26th birthday was only a couple of weeks away. The book drags on and months pass, but her 26th birthday is still a couple of weeks away by the end of the book.

Ultra-fiesty heroines and inordinately wise kids as well as bratty kids will also ruin the story for me.

Errors in medical procedures, settings and such. I was a nurse for over 20 years. I know when they've screwed up.

BenPanced
12-07-2009, 11:53 AM
Things we're supposed to accept because the author said so, no matter how illogical.

Main characters who do nothing. They don't move, they don't grow. All they do is exist.

Set-ups that don't pay off.

Things the author talks about like it's common knowledge that we're supposed to understand but have no clue.

Adam
12-07-2009, 05:20 PM
When do you expand your vocabulary then, if not while reading?

Like I said, I put the book I'm reading down, and pick up the dictionary. :)

Mr Flibble
12-07-2009, 05:47 PM
Characters that are obviously bitches / bastards from hell, who throw temper tantrums and torture people with no remorse / for little or no reason yet this is because they are 'badass' and I'm supposed to feel sympathy for them, because obviously they're nice really...only they aren't. Ever. Don't get me wrong, this can and is done sympathetically ( if I see how much they hate doing what they're doing or whatever) but if they just do it, and don't even care what a bitch / bastard they are, I wonder why I'm wasting my time reading about a character with no redeeming qualities

Characters doing inexplicable things ( motivation wise) without the author giving you a clue why. They just do, okay? Again this can be done well ( if the author can be arsed to show you why they're doing it for instance). But if not, wallbanger

People doing incredibly stupid things just so they can appear 'compassionate' or 'nice', or gain sympathy. They don't, they just seem stupid.

Inconsistent characters. The aforementioned 'badass' who comes over like a soppy girl and starts picking bloody flowers or something for no apparant reason. Just so the author can say 'Look, they are nice really'. No, they aren't.


* Words I don't understand.

Aphotic fagus forest;) I have a pretty good vocab, and I do like to learn new words. But if I have to look up more than one word every chapter or so I get quite bored and wonder if the author would mind eating his thesaurus or at the least try and make the meanings clear in context.

Adam
12-07-2009, 05:52 PM
Aphotic fagus forest;) I have a pretty good vocab, and I do like to learn new words. But if I have to look up more than one word every chapter or so I get quite bored and wonder if the author would mind eating his thesaurus or at the least try and make the meanings clear in context.

I understood "forest," and thanks to Google, I understand the other bits too, now! :D

True, if it's excessive it pisses me off, but I don't mind looking up the odd word.

ChaosTitan
12-07-2009, 07:09 PM
Does this mean you're not interested in expanding your vocabulary, or do you mean you don't like seeing made-up words, such as Aes Sedai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aes_Sedai)?


Of course I'm interested in expanding my vocabulary (isn't every writer?), but I have to put the book down to pick up the dictionary, which pulls me out of the story. ;)


This is a pet peeve for me, as well. I don't mind the occasional odd word, because I can usually figure out the meaning from the context of the sentence. However, too many in one chapter makes me think the author was writing with a thesaurus handy, and it ticks me off.

AZ_Dawn
12-07-2009, 11:52 PM
This reminds me of the time I read Margery Allingham's Tiger in the Smoke. It was at a very tense moment. The vicar knew the bad guy was in the church. I knew the bad guy was in the church. What was going to happen to the vicar? Would he be shot? Held hostage? Worse? The vicar flung the door open and yelled, "Johnny Cash, come out!"

:ROFL:

I finished the book, but I had to put it down for about an hour to stop giggling, and the mood was ruined. It's not the author's fault, but I could never read that book again.

Shadow_Ferret
12-08-2009, 12:09 AM
Things that distract me from the story:

My dogs.
My kids.
My wife.
My own imagination. (sometimes the story sparks my own thoughts on my WIPs and I'm off and writing)

Rhoda Nightingale
12-09-2009, 11:35 PM
My own imagination. (sometimes the story sparks my own thoughts on my WIPs and I'm off and writing)
^This!! Actually, that's the first thing that came to mind, looking at this thread title. It terms of getting annoyed with what's being written--I don't find that "distracting," it just makes me lose interest and not want to read anymore. Actually, the more "wrong" the writing is, the more attention I pay to it, because I'm such a nitpicker.

Priene
12-09-2009, 11:59 PM
A thermonuclear blast within 30km of my settee.

geardrops
12-10-2009, 12:10 AM
When the story becomes Very Obviously A Lesson.

aadams73
12-10-2009, 12:14 AM
What will stop you reading a book?

Boredom.

Jamesaritchie
12-10-2009, 03:48 AM
When do you expand your vocabulary then, if not while reading?

My editors kill unfamiliar three-syllable words in my writing a lot, and it drives me batty. Heaven forbid people use reading as an opportunity to learn.

Can't speak for anyone else, but I do not want to expand my vocabulary when I'm reading fiction. Having to run to the dictionary pulls me out of the story, and that's death for any book. I don't mind doing so once or twice during an entire book, but anymor eoften than this and I'll find someone else to read.

I read a bunch of nonfition, ranging from books to articles to essays, and on all sorts of subjects. This is when I want to expand my vocabulary. But never, ever when I'm supposed to be inside a story, wrapped up in what's happening, living vicariously through the protagonist.

kaitlin008
12-10-2009, 04:25 AM
This is a pet peeve for me, as well. I don't mind the occasional odd word, because I can usually figure out the meaning from the context of the sentence. However, too many in one chapter makes me think the author was writing with a thesaurus handy, and it ticks me off.

I'm in this same camp. I don't know all the words in the English language, so I don't mind if I have to look something up every now and then, but if it's happening frequently, I start to feel like the author is just trying to prove to me how smart they are, and I hate that.

I also am not a huge fan of made up languages. They can work, but not when all the made up words are insanely long and similar to one another, because then I have to keep referring to whatever glossary the author has included. Usually I start to get annoyed with that, and give up, and then I miss things because I just don't care anymore.

And long paragraphs of introspection will pull me out of stories too (even good ones) if I'm not seeing a need for there to be so much. I'm alright without knowing the thought process of a main character every single time they make a decision involving morals. I'll skim, because honestly, I don't even like listening to my own personal introspection sometimes.

There are of course other things like poor writing, boring characters, etc, but I assume those things pull everyone out of stories.

theantisplice
12-12-2009, 04:48 AM
Comma splices. Note my user name; they piss me off. If there's one on the first page, I'm almost definitely not reading the book. It's such a simple rule, and so many writers don't seem to get it.

Names I can't pronounce, full of Xs, PHs and other crammed together consonants.

The writer using the story to cram their politics down my throat.

MGraybosch
12-12-2009, 05:03 AM
Dark Lords.
Villains in an urban fantasy who, despite having access to the Evil Overlord List, are not genre-savvy.
Bad guys in a fantasy who go One Winged Angel during the climactic battle.

smcc360
12-12-2009, 05:05 AM
I had to put down a very well-reviewed Western that I really wanted to enjoy because every introduction of a new main character precipitated a 5-10 page flashback. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

After about the eighth one, I got tired of the story slamming to a stop over and over and just re-read Lonesome Dove.

C.M.C.
12-12-2009, 07:18 PM
I'm troubled a bit by the comments regarding words we may or may not know. It comes too close, for my comfort, to telling authors to dumb themselves down if they happen to have an expansive vocabulary. Given the state of popular writing, as judged by the comments on this board, that's the absolute last thing we need to be encouraging.

theantisplice
12-12-2009, 08:55 PM
I also am not a huge fan of made up languages. They can work, but not when all the made up words are insanely long and similar to one another, because then I have to keep referring to whatever glossary the author has included. Usually I start to get annoyed with that, and give up, and then I miss things because I just don't care anymore.


Ah. This, too. I'm fine with blurbs of made-up languages here and there, but if I have to semi-learn the language to understand plot points...no.

fugsly
12-12-2009, 09:36 PM
Unpronounceable names are annoying but I tend to just change them to something I can say. If it's only one character it's fine but every single character would make me give up.

When the action jumps madly from one thing to another for no good reason and the author can't make their mind up about what their characters are like. A meek character is shouting and screaming for five pages for instance.

When the plot twists hinge on one line from about fifty pages back that I'm going to have to search for to understand what the hell is going on.

Insane world views that have no basis in reality.

entropic island
12-13-2009, 01:07 AM
Boring scenes. The character hides behind a tree and does nothing. Foreeeever. There is no suspense. The dialogue is boring. It's not even funny.

When everything happens the stupidest way possible. Ie, a twist ends in a best-case scenario.

When describing objects without being funny.

When having an action packed scene in which the protagonist manages to escape, while doing many things, from billions of people unscathed and in time to make out with the 'stand'. That brings me to...

The 'stand' is how I refer to the hot, stupid woman (or hot, smart woman) who just stands around for looks and makes out with the protagonist several times. She's also a put-down-book feature.

Word Jedi
12-13-2009, 06:57 PM
When the plot twists hinge on one line from about fifty pages back that I'm going to have to search for to understand what the hell is going on.

Bingo. That's the one that gets me every time.

S.J.
12-14-2009, 01:49 AM
If a writer overuses a particular sentence structure or phrase it pulls me right out of the story. However I tend to slog through books I've bought, no matter how annoying they are.

Judg
12-14-2009, 04:37 AM
Factual errors are irritating. I refused to buy a historical novel I'd been planning on getting because twice on the very first page alabaster was referred to as pottery. I mean, if she can't even get that right...

Clunky prose. If it's at the beginning, there is no hope. I can tolerate small amounts later on if the story is pulling me along.

Bad French or German. I speak both those languages, so when I see them mangled, it irritates me. They couldn't find a professor to run one or two sentences by? This won't make me throw the book against the wall, but it does pull me out, and make me more inclined to be critical.

Excessive description. I particularly hate it when they "set the scene", pretty much requiring me to make a map in my head, and then find out that none of those details ever matter. It's got to be an awfully good story to keep me reading at that point.

Highly improbably events. If I'm saying "Oh puleeze" it is never a good thing.

Followed closely by highly clichéd events. I read only one book by a very popular author because she had the hero see the heroine's shadow on the blind as she fell into another man's arms. Blech. She was actually collapsing at the news of her mother's death, but of course he didn't get that, setting up the misunderstanding that prevented them from revealing their love to each other... Gag.

RevisionIsTheKey
12-14-2009, 06:24 AM
But, every time I put down a horrible book I feel a little bit more hopeful that one day I will get published.

I'm right there with you on this one!

I also give up on a book if the author starts getting obvious and annoying with political views - whether I agree with the views or not. I don't read to be preached to.

sohalt
12-16-2009, 12:49 AM
I have to put the book down to pick up the dictionary, which pulls me out of the story.

Same with me.

That's why I never look up anything in a dictionary when reading for pleasure (not even when reading in a foreign language). Doesn't mean that I stay away from stuff with lots of words I don't know. (My first language is German. When I started reading in English and French, at first every second sentence had words in it I didn't understand).

I usually just wait for the meaning to get clear from context. If it's essential to understanding the plot, this is bound to happen - if it doesn't happen, I assume that I have missed only atmospheric detail and no important plot point and just carry on. Works well for me.

I might have an above average tolerance for things I don't understand immediately, because I have an absurd confidence in my ability to figure the essential things out eventually. Sometimes I'm wrong, but then it has often also been an interesting experience.


The 'stand' is how I refer to the hot, stupid woman (or hot, smart woman) who just stands around for looks and makes out with the protagonist several times. She's also a put-down-book feature.

Yep. Hate that.

I own quite a lot of books I haven't read from cover to cover. It's often not the writer's fault, but just life getting in the way. I might put a book away, because I just have other things on my mind at that moment - and then, when I find time to return to it, find out that I absolutely love it. Some of my favorite books are books I have only managed to finish at a second or third attempt.

(For what it's worth, I also don't believe in love at first sight when it comes to interpersonal relationships).

Mr Flibble
12-16-2009, 01:19 AM
I'm troubled a bit by the comments regarding words we may or may not know. It comes too close, for my comfort, to telling authors to dumb themselves down if they happen to have an expansive vocabulary. Given the state of popular writing, as judged by the comments on this board, that's the absolute last thing we need to be encouraging.


I don't want it dumbed down...but jargon is jargon. If it's a word that isn't exactly in your normal language unless you're say a botanist, making it clear in context would be waaaaay better than just plunking it in. Or it looks like you're just trying to be smart to show how smart you are. Or you could write in binary if you like...

spike
12-16-2009, 05:48 AM
I'm troubled a bit by the comments regarding words we may or may not know. It comes too close, for my comfort, to telling authors to dumb themselves down if they happen to have an expansive vocabulary. Given the state of popular writing, as judged by the comments on this board, that's the absolute last thing we need to be encouraging.

I'm with you!

I love it when an author can come up with a word I don't know. To me, it's like watching the ballet.

What will pull me out is an over use of Latin words/phrases. It is just showing off.

jodiodi
12-16-2009, 06:21 AM
Add me to the list of those concerned with 'big word' dislike. Made-up words--yes, they can be irritating as crap. But real words that I may be unfamiliar with--I love those.

Noah Body
12-16-2009, 06:24 PM
What will stop you reading a book? What is your top pet peeve?

At the moment I'm reading a book where the secondary characters have really strange names. I think I'm going to give up on this book. I suppose the writing was on the wall when I started laughing while reading the sex scene.

I bailed on Catherine Coulter's The Eleventh Hour after 261 pages because I just couldn't take the inane dialog, ridiculous pacing, and rather insipid burgeoning romance between the MC and the FBI agent. I usually stick with books to the end, but this one I threw in the garbage. And a hardcover, too.

When I'm reading a novel where a murderer is on the rampage and is hunting down one of the main characters, I expect it to be a suspenseful cat-and-mouse game where the clock is ticking, not a bunch of chapters with two people in hotel rooms trying to get each other to talk about themselves. I'm all for characterization and story development and all that, but when the telling gets in the way of the story, that's it for me.

It was my first and last Coulter book, but I'm sure her sales won't be adversely impacted. ;)

Nivarion
12-16-2009, 09:46 PM
When I'm on chapter eight of a mystery book, and the detective hasn't figured out the first freaking clue as to who killed John Doe.

Or when the MC is still at home in a high fantasy.

Basically when they just won't get a move on it. As my mom always says. "Take a crap or get off the can"

As for little things that annoy me. When they don't put the ending " thingy at the end of dialogue. It makes me have to go back to see where it actually ended. But I've never put a book down for that.

And then things that really upset me is when the writer does a "ha ha you bought it" like William Goldman in The princess bride. :(

DeadlyAccurate
12-16-2009, 10:08 PM
Unless the story itself is holding my interest, an excess of technical details of the technology used by the characters will do it. It bogs the story down. Taking too long to get to the plot will also do it, though how much tolerance I'll give is variable. Interesting characters and dialog can keep me going longer.

CaroGirl
12-16-2009, 11:05 PM
I'm not sure how you expect writers to know which words you won't understand. I have a very large vocabulary and I'm going to use it without really considering how you feel about it. Not because I want to show off my Big Vocabulary but because those words are mine and I know how to use them and I think they're the best words to use.

Someone who reads my stuff has a small vocabulary. She's pointed out words she doesn't understand and says I shouldn't use those words. Recently it was "russet" and "sophomoric." To me, those words are common enough I'd expect anyone to know what they mean. I won't dumb-down my prose for a reader.

What pulls me out of a story is bad writing. Whatever that ends up translating to. Whether it's bad grammar, poor characterization, unrealistic dialogue, cliched sex scene, and so on. That's really about the only thing that can pull me out and keep me out.

TrickyFiction
12-16-2009, 11:39 PM
-Characters who sit and think about how depressed they are--at work, while driving, over lunch--and do very little else. I read to get away from all that. When I see it in a book, I move on to the next.

-Too much world-building/description. I don't want a fantasy-world geography lesson until it becomes strictly necessary.

-Flat, cliché characters. If I'm not in love with at least one, I usually stop reading.

I have an incredibly short attention span, so most of my "distractions" are a lack of the elements necessary to hold my interest.

And just to weigh in on the "big words" discussion. I love seeing a new word in a book. I have fun using context to figure out what it means, and then I check the dictionary later. Half the time I forget to check the dictionary, but if I see that same word again, you bet I'll remember it. Eventually, it will become part of my collection... after I kill it and mount its head.

Dicentra P
12-17-2009, 12:07 AM
Typos and grammar errors -- I obsess over them even pages later if I try to continue reading.

A book I read recently from an author I usually enjoy gave the complete menu of every meal the MC ate and what any companions ate. None of the food was relevant to plot. I finished it but I got to the point that the MC and his girlfriend would be heading for a restaurant and I would skim the next few pages for actual plot and move on.

C.M.C.
12-17-2009, 01:20 AM
I'm not sure how you expect writers to know which words you won't understand. I have a very large vocabulary and I'm going to use it without really considering how you feel about it. Not because I want to show off my Big Vocabulary but because those words are mine and I know how to use them and I think they're the best words to use.

Someone who reads my stuff has a small vocabulary. She's pointed out words she doesn't understand and says I shouldn't use those words. Recently it was "russet" and "sophomoric." To me, those words are common enough I'd expect anyone to know what they mean. I won't dumb-down my prose for a reader.


For today, you can call yourself a literary hero.

Judg
12-17-2009, 01:42 AM
I'm not sure how you expect writers to know which words you won't understand. I have a very large vocabulary and I'm going to use it without really considering how you feel about it. Not because I want to show off my Big Vocabulary but because those words are mine and I know how to use them and I think they're the best words to use.

Someone who reads my stuff has a small vocabulary. She's pointed out words she doesn't understand and says I shouldn't use those words. Recently it was "russet" and "sophomoric." To me, those words are common enough I'd expect anyone to know what they mean. I won't dumb-down my prose for a reader.
Yup, I'm cheering too.

Having said that, I won't deliberately use obscure words unless they are so perfect in context that I can't bear to part with them.

Izz
12-18-2009, 04:55 AM
I just picked up a book from my library stash.

Opened it up. Found three pages of 'Dramatis Personae' which is a really annoying way of saying 'cast.' Alarm bells started ringing. All of these people are relevant and i need to know who they are?

Skipped past that, opened to the prologue and the first page was all unattributed dialogue (with absolutely no setting) and i'm confused before i've even hit the halfway point because i'm sure the same person has spoken twice in a row, otherwise the dialogue wouldn't make sense.

I'm finished with that book. It may be the best book ever written, but i'm not reading anymore.

Ken
12-18-2009, 04:59 AM
... too many characters.

Izz
12-18-2009, 05:07 AM
Right. Grabbed the next book in my pile.

Children of Men by PD James. I know this is a good book. Critically acclaimed, made into a motion picture (which was nothing like the book, i hear). And it's dystopian. I love reading me a bit of literature based in a dystopian society.

First page, okay. First paragraph is pretty long, and the type in this paperback is small and hard on my eyes, but i'm sure i'll cope.

Turn the page. Page long paragraph. In fact, across pages 2 and 3, there are a grand total of 3 paragraphs, the first of which started back on page 1. Combined with the small font, i can't handle it. Plus it all looks like backstory.

Bleh.

(and i was on a roll too. Had just finished reading two novels in a row. Two! I haven't done that in several years)

She Raven
12-18-2009, 05:14 AM
What will stop you reading a book? What is your top pet peeve?

At the moment I'm reading a book where the secondary characters have really strange names. I think I'm going to give up on this book. I suppose the writing was on the wall when I started laughing while reading the sex scene.

I get put off by poor spelling, !!!, and bad grammer. Confused with too many characters with similar names, too much back story in the opening, and generally lack of action, otherwise I quess I'll not too picky. Happy Reading.

Judg
12-18-2009, 05:30 AM
Right. Grabbed the next book in my pile.

Children of Men by PD James. I know this is a good book. Critically acclaimed, made into a motion picture (which was nothing like the book, i hear). And it's dystopian. I love reading me a bit of literature based in a dystopian society.

First page, okay. First paragraph is pretty long, and the type in this paperback is small and hard on my eyes, but i'm sure i'll cope.

Turn the page. Page long paragraph. In fact, across pages 2 and 3, there are a grand total of 3 paragraphs, the first of which started back on page 1. Combined with the small font, i can't handle it. Plus it all looks like backstory.

Bleh.

(and i was on a roll too. Had just finished reading two novels in a row. Two! I haven't done that in several years)
Try again. It's worth it.

And you're right. The movie, which I saw first, was nothing like the book.

Sirion
12-27-2009, 06:05 AM
Small points in the plot that by themselves may not seem large, but whose presence makes me question certain character's intellegiance. I believe a famous critic once called these "Wall Bangers." Two common examples:

*In the movie "Transformers" the Decipticons need Sam's eyeglasses to find the Allspark. They go all around the globe and hack government computers to get it. Yet, they knew that the item was for sale on e-bay.

*Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Why didn't Alaster Moody just charm something really common of Harry's and make it a portkey? Why did it have to be the triwizard cup? Couldn't it have been anything?

C'mon writers, at least give us a quick hand-wave to explain it away... *grumble*

-Travis

MGraybosch
12-27-2009, 06:46 PM
I'm not sure how you expect writers to know which words you won't understand. I have a very large vocabulary and I'm going to use it without really considering how you feel about it.

I agree. If I have a particular word in my vocabulary, and I know it fits, I'm going to use it. If the reader objects, he can go to Hell and take it up with the Devil; he might care.

Exir
12-27-2009, 07:56 PM
*Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Why didn't Alaster Moody just charm something really common of Harry's and make it a portkey? Why did it have to be the triwizard cup? Couldn't it have been anything?

If you're going with a common object, you never know when Harry will take it. Let's say you charm a book of his. What if he grabs his textbook in the middle of a classroom with loads of onlookers? The whole idea of using a Triwizard Cup was to make sure that there is no chance anybody would sight Harry vanishing with a portkey.

Libbie
12-27-2009, 08:42 PM
What will stop you reading a book? What is your top pet peeve?

Crap writing. In all its myriad forms.

Samantha's_Song
12-27-2009, 09:11 PM
Characters who have no character, or are just too good to be true that I hope something horrible happens to them. That also goes for characters who thinks the world owes them something, even though they've never done or thought anything to warrant this. Spoilt brats in YA novels most especially.
Writers who treat their readers as idiots when they give us explanations of something that is quite obvious to anyone with half a braincell. Duh.
Words that I've never read or heard of before in nearly every single sentence. Just tell me the story, not show me how clever you think you are.
Unbelievable happenings that come completely out of nowhere.
Endings that are just too ridiculous or seem to have been pasted on because the writer was bored when writing the story. How do they think the readers feel after wasting hours on their drivel?
Feeling robbed by a story. I think there is something coming, can almost picture it, but the story just fizzles into bugger all.
Crap sex scenes that make me want to gag with laughter because it's obvious the writer doesn't know what they're talking about in the first place.

That's just a few of the ones that come to mind. :D

Judg
12-29-2009, 05:44 AM
What I really hate is when authors use words they don't really know the meaning of, and the editors evidently don't know either. A book I read recently used putrescent to describe the smell of burning plastic. No. Just no. Putrescent describes the smell of rotting organic matter. Not the same thing at all. There were several examples in that book.

Samantha, you'll have to forgive me, but this is one of my pet peeves. I read a lot as a child and developed a huge vocabulary as a result. Then I studied languages and literature and developed a huger one. I don't use big words to impress people. I'm quite often not even conscious of using them. I use them because they are a normal part of my thought process, and though I make a conscious effort to dumb things down so people won't judge me, some of them still get through. And it really bugs me when people think I'm making an effort to impress or intimidate. I'm not. It's just the way I think. You might just as well accuse an athlete for showing off when he walks on treacherous ground without tripping.

As a teenager, I remember judging the hoity-toity skiers on the slopes who struck such arrogant poses. Until I figured out that the supposed arrogant stance was actually necessary to ski well. They weren't trying to be arrogant, they were just doing it right. It was one of my important life lessons.

On the other hand, I do agree that small words are often better. But sometimes that big word says it so much better than any small word possibly could (usually because it would take fifteen of them).

The only time I've used big words deliberately to put people in their place was when I worked as a waitress and I had a table full of young men whose favourite sport was intimidate the waitress. A few enunciations composed largely of polysyllabic words invariably sufficed to dissuade them from their entertainment. :D Worked like a charm. And I could do it with a smile on my face.

And when I get really upset, the translators I have in place to convert my thoughts into more socially acceptable forms tend to break down and the big words come popping out again. My kids would break down in giggles when I was yelling at them and say "Mommy, you're so funny when you're angry." And then I'd start laughing too, so perhaps it was a good thing.

Gregg
12-29-2009, 08:03 AM
Too many flashbacks bother me as do long narratives that read more like an encyclopedia. I'd rather be shown than told.

I skipped large parts of Dan Brown's latest book (Lost Symbol) because he droned on about who knows what - i just wanted to get into the story, not the background, his religious philosophy, or this personal theories. But I did finish the book.

Fang100
12-30-2009, 02:11 AM
... too many characters.

Secconded. Well, actually, it depends. I had to read some 'classic' book for Uni (can't remember its name now) that had 6 or so characters in it, and each chapter was told in the first person from a different character, changing all the way through. No clue was given at the start of the chapter as to whos view point you were reading the story from, and I hated it with a passion! Gah.

The Time Traveller's Wife also confused the hell out of me for much the same reson - I lost track who I was reading the story from. My mum loved it though and thinks I should give it another go. Maybe ...

That and over-long explanations of parts of the story. J.R.R. Tolkien is a famous example for that - well loved an author as he may be. I got bored reading Lord Of The Rings as he spent 5 pages describing a ruddy tree! Gah. Really. What was the need for all that?

sohalt
12-30-2009, 10:25 PM
Writer trying to manipulate me in a really transparent way (eg. by giving the villain a kick-the-dog-moment).

Man merkt die Absicht und man ist verstimmt.

Tara Stone
12-30-2009, 11:14 PM
Plotholes.

Lots of flowery description. I know plenty of people like this style, but I find it really hard to wade through.

Unlikeable characters.

Not enough explanation of what's going on.

Judg
01-03-2010, 03:34 AM
Man merkt die Absicht und man ist verstimmt.
Und danach will man nicht mehr lesen...

Yes, transparent manipulation tends to bug me too.

XxDethmetalxX
01-03-2010, 08:25 AM
-atrocious prose
-soppy dialogue
-overly moral/can-do-no-wrong characters (Drizzt Do'Urden-The Dark Elf series used to be my favorite in middle school, but looking back on it...ugh!)

Whenever I come across an unknown word I put it in my phone's notepad and move on.


Someone who reads my stuff has a small vocabulary. She's pointed out words she doesn't understand and says I shouldn't use those words. Recently it was "russet" and "sophomoric." To me, those words are common enough I'd expect anyone to know what they mean. I won't dumb-down my prose for a reader.
You have no idea...
The following is a message I received on myspace:


Umm hello?
Accustomed, i barely know what that means.
Accusation, exceptionally, prestigious??? Wtf???? I dont even know those words!! Serousely im only 17 if you cant speak in the english i know than stop talking! Geez. your annoying, and im bout to block u.

I cried

CACTUSWENDY
01-03-2010, 09:45 AM
............anything shiny.;)

Steam&Ink
01-03-2010, 10:27 AM
I'm troubled a bit by the comments regarding words we may or may not know. It comes too close, for my comfort, to telling authors to dumb themselves down if they happen to have an expansive vocabulary. Given the state of popular writing, as judged by the comments on this board, that's the absolute last thing we need to be encouraging.


I hear you. But on the other hand it is irritating to have to grab a dictionary when reading a novel!

IMO the happy medium is this situation: I don't know the word, but I can figure out the meaning from the context. If I want to, I can look it up later - but I don't have to in order to undertsand the sentence/scene.

I write historical mystery, and often use nouns which are no longer in popular use (i.e., normal people wouldn't know what that kerjigger is). I try to make sure that any person reading the word would understand what it is from context.

If other authors do the same for me, I'm extremely grateful. Actually, I'm not grateful, because I don't even notice that I'm Learning While Reading :)

Steam&Ink
01-03-2010, 10:32 AM
Oh, and to answer the question:


unrealistic characters
characters, whose author has tried so hard to make them realistic that they've sapped all the life out of them
massive tracts of technical knowledge inserted into the narrative just because the author wants to show s/he knows it
storylines that read like some weirdo's "wouldn't it be great if X happened to me?" fantasy. (I've posted it on AW before, but if you haven't seen it go watch Patrick Stewart's cameo on Extras - totally brilliant)

backslashbaby
01-03-2010, 11:10 AM
Having too many plotlines that are all waiting for a payoff. I like the book to be interesting as I go, too. If I can't figure out what is going on (or the significance, etc) until the payoff, give me something to interest/orient me as I go.

In a nutshell, books where you can't figure out what's [been] going on until the last half chapter.

MGraybosch
01-03-2010, 04:46 PM
You have no idea...
The following is a message I received on myspace:

I cried

I've gotten messages like that as well. I usually respond with, "If you had told me earlier that you were an illiterate troglodyte, I would not have added you to my friends list in the first place. Fuck off and die."

jodiodi
01-03-2010, 06:14 PM
Thank goodness I don't ever use MySpace. I have no appreciable presence on the web and have no desire to see proof positive of society's inexorable deterioration. If I can get my husband's kids to be literate in something, I'll consider my life successful.

C.M.C.
01-03-2010, 06:52 PM
I hear you. But on the other hand it is irritating to have to grab a dictionary when reading a novel!

IMO the happy medium is this situation: I don't know the word, but I can figure out the meaning from the context. If I want to, I can look it up later - but I don't have to in order to undertsand the sentence/scene.

I write historical mystery, and often use nouns which are no longer in popular use (i.e., normal people wouldn't know what that kerjigger is). I try to make sure that any person reading the word would understand what it is from context.

If other authors do the same for me, I'm extremely grateful. Actually, I'm not grateful, because I don't even notice that I'm Learning While Reading :)


That's a reasonable assessment.

XxDethmetalxX
01-03-2010, 09:09 PM
I've gotten messages like that as well. I usually respond with, "If you had told me earlier that you were an illiterate troglodyte, I would not have added you to my friends list in the first place. Fuck off and die."
I said essentially the same thing :D
She called me an asshole ("your an asshole"-I lol'd) and went on a (gramatically incorrect) rant about how her sister is supporting a child on a McDonalds salary and explaining that I should speak like a "normal" seventeen year old. I suppose you can't argue with stupid :Shrug:

Mr Flibble
01-03-2010, 09:20 PM
IMO the happy medium is this situation: I don't know the word, but I can figure out the meaning from the context. If I want to, I can look it up later - but I don't have to in order to understand the sentence/scene.

Exactly! If I can understand it in context I barely even notice that I don't know the word, I just kind of absorb it by osmosis.


I wouldn't dumb down, but I do try and make things clear in context to the average reader. The kind of thing I was complaining about is when even someone with a wide vocab has to look up a word every few pages because it's a) obscure / rare / specialised and b) not made clear in context.

It's a fine balance I'll grant. I don't expect never to come across a word I don't know. But it's nice if the author makes the effort to not fall off the wire :D

MGraybosch
01-03-2010, 09:22 PM
I suppose you can't argue with stupid :Shrug:
Sure you can. Just use a blunt instrument. Want to borrow my tire iron? It was autographed by Tonya Harding. :evil

MGraybosch
01-03-2010, 09:25 PM
Exactly! If I can understand it in context I barely even notice that I don't know the word, I just kind of absorb it by osmosis.

I agree. And I think this extends to concepts as well. I had to read Dan Simmons' Hyperion twice before I grokked what he meant by "time-debt", but I didn't blame Simmons. The information was there; I just didn't get it the first time.