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jallenecs
07-07-2014, 04:23 PM
A similar conversation is happening over on the Novels page, but I'm interested in hearing the SF/F community opinions. What do you see happening in stories that make you want to feed the book (and maybe the author too, but don't do it, that's not nice) into the nearest wood chipper? examples specific to science fiction and fantasy are preferred.

For me an SF/F specific one is an old chestnut: The Chosen One. It's been done well, it's been done badly. But mostly it's just been done to death. Try again, Writer Person, and this time, put a little more effort into it.

Helix
07-07-2014, 04:29 PM
I vowed never to read one author again after the word "grassoid" popped up in a book.

Not a plot element, obvs, but annoying enough that I still remember it decades later.

jallenecs
07-07-2014, 04:34 PM
I vowed never to read one author again after the word "grassoid" popped up in a book.

Not a plot element, obvs, but annoying enough that I still remember it decades later.

What the heck is a grassoid?

Helix
07-07-2014, 04:37 PM
What the heck is a grassoid?

It was a plant that was exactly like grass in all respects, except it was on another planet.

jallenecs
07-07-2014, 04:41 PM
It was a plant that was exactly like grass in all respects, except it was on another planet.

Oh, for heaven's sake! That's another one that makes me crazy. A rabbit on another planet looks like a rabbit, it behaves like a rabbit, fulfills the same ecosystem niche, it smells and tastes and sounds just like a rabbit. But the author calls it a Hoobiegoff, or whatever, because it's ALIEN! Give me a break!

Helix
07-07-2014, 05:17 PM
:D To be fair to this author, I'd been struggling with the book for a while, because it really wasn't one that suited me. 'Grassoid' was the...er...last straw.

DarthLolita
07-07-2014, 05:29 PM
I've got two: I love robots, but can't stand the "and then they rebelled against their creators" storylines. It just drives me crazy because it completely kills any creativity. What's the point of bringing up the complex issues surrounding artificial intelligence (and what it reflects on humanity) if you're just going to make them the boring Monsters of the Week? Not to mention, I am never given a single, believable reason as to why they're rebelling. What reason could they possibly have to kill all humans?

In terms of fantasy, I kind of dislike it when dragons pretty much behave and communicate like humans. Hearing them talk just...bothers me.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-07-2014, 05:35 PM
I can't think of any that would have me automatically wall-banging a book, outside of terrible writing.

Maybe really bad world-building, or grievous errors of how the world works?

Wilde_at_heart
07-07-2014, 05:35 PM
The Chosen One is definitely up there. If it's mentioned in the back cover blurb the book, I immediately return it to the shelf unopened.

I'm not fond of special bloodlines either; I'd prefer some trait crop up more at random.

Anything too contrived.

'Unique' terms for various everyday items that just seem gimmicky.

Histrionic characters, especially when they are Love Interests. You're off to try to stop a killer who has been murdering your closest friends one-by-one? But we never spend much time together any moooore!!!

RikWriter
07-07-2014, 05:37 PM
Anachronisms kill SF stories for me. For instance, just to give a well known pop culture example: Picard being bald or Geordi LaForge being blind in ST:TNG. We'll have the technology to cure baldness or blindness in the womb or hell, before CONCEPTION long before we have a warp drive or phasers or transporters.
Now, it's very possible to have things that seem anachronistic in a story if you explain why they're there.
For instance, if you don't want nanotechnology in your far-future story, you can explain that there was a really nasty war using nanotech and the prevailing religion that grew up in the wake of that war considers its use a sin.
But you can't just ignore the fact that nanotechnology is a possibility in a story that takes place centuries from now.

Something else that bothers me is when people write novels that are purportedly SF but are actually just a military novel or a thriller or a romance "in space!" with the concomitant lack of attention to detail. Setting something in space and using technobabble doesn't make it science fiction.

King Neptune
07-07-2014, 05:47 PM
Anachronisms kill SF stories for me. For instance, just to give a well known pop culture example: Picard being bald or Geordi LaForge being blind in ST:TNG. We'll have the technology to cure baldness or blindness in the womb or hell, before CONCEPTION long before we have a warp drive or phasers or transporters.
Now, it's very possible to have things that seem anachronistic in a story if you explain why they're there.
For instance, if you don't want nanotechnology in your far-future story, you can explain that there was a really nasty war using nanotech and the prevailing religion that grew up in the wake of that war considers its use a sin.
But you can't just ignore the fact that nanotechnology is a possibility in a story that takes place centuries from now.

Something else that bothers me is when people write novels that are purportedly SF but are actually just a military novel or a thriller or a romance "in space!" with the concomitant lack of attention to detail. Setting something in space and using technobabble doesn't make it science fiction.

The technology to cure baldness may be developed, but no one with an ounce of sense would use it. Certain types of blindness may continue to exist, and temporary (for several months) blindness may also continue for the indefinite future.

But I'll go along with you on military stories that are simply set in space.

Marlys
07-07-2014, 05:48 PM
Great point on Geordi being blind, but baldness? That's not a disease.

Kweei
07-07-2014, 05:56 PM
Not so much a plot point, but I hate when I am reading an excellent story, great plot and memorable characters, something terrible is happening in town, and everyone takes a break to have sexy times.

Um, there is a killer around and your family is in trouble, but who cares because Mister Werewolf is HOT.

I see this happen in a lot of urban fantasy. I love urban fantasy and expect romance in them, but please, make it make sense.

RikWriter
07-07-2014, 06:11 PM
The technology to cure baldness may be developed, but no one with an ounce of sense would use it.

If that's going to be the reason for male pattern baldness still being around, then it needs to be illustrated. The readers (or in this case the watchers) need to have it explained at some point.
And there's a difference between choosing to have your head depilated and allowing your hair to fall out on its own.

jallenecs
07-07-2014, 06:16 PM
Not so much a plot point, but I hate when I am reading an excellent story, great plot and memorable characters, something terrible is happening in town, and everyone takes a break to have sexy times.

Um, there is a killer around and your family is in trouble, but who cares because Mister Werewolf is HOT.

I see this happen in a lot of urban fantasy. I love urban fantasy and expect romance in them, but please, make it make sense.

Agreed, times a thousand. And it's ugly stepsister: Every male in town -- and I mean EVERY male, from twelve years old to a hundred years -- finds the heroine the embodiment of Hawtness, and undresses her with his eyes every time she takes a breath. Providing the snacks at the local Boy Scout meetings must be a nightmare for these super-babes.

RikWriter
07-07-2014, 06:23 PM
Expanding a bit about "military novels set in space," the thing that kills me about those books is that they constantly forget, "hey, we have spaceships."
Wanna guess what the tactical and strategic effects would be of having a starship in orbit during a battle? How about dropping big rocks on the enemy? How about just shooting regular missiles down at them from orbit?
If you want to have a battle where you don't have support from an orbital ship, you'd better remember to explain why rather than just leaving it out because you wanted to write a story about the Battle of Roarke's Drift except on another planet.

StarWombat
07-07-2014, 07:43 PM
I'm not a fan of anachronisms in fantasy, but it's hard to give an example. Different types of armor coexisting, for instance, or knights in shining armor in the dark ages, that bothers me. There are a few other things too, but mostly they're from the same roots. People just not bothering to do five seconds due diligence.

Kweei
07-07-2014, 07:55 PM
Agreed, times a thousand. And it's ugly stepsister: Every male in town -- and I mean EVERY male, from twelve years old to a hundred years -- finds the heroine the embodiment of Hawtness, and undresses her with his eyes every time she takes a breath. Providing the snacks at the local Boy Scout meetings must be a nightmare for these super-babes.

Yeah, I hate that as well. I'm all for a ladies' man or a woman that attracts men like moths to a flame, but someone SOMEONE isn't going to like you. And that makes it all the more interesting.

ladyillana
07-07-2014, 08:01 PM
I hate it when the same thing keeps happening over and over again. While these are not sci-fi/fantasy examples, they are good examples: "In Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, he is constantly having the market raided. Any time things got a little quiet the market burnt down again, and in "World Without End" (by the same author) the plague showed up about every half hour. The stories were great, but every time the village burnt down or the plague occurred I wanted to throw the book across the room and it makes me wary of trying any more of this author's work.

Wilde_at_heart
07-07-2014, 08:09 PM
Another peeve for me, though not quite a total book-closer without other serious flaws, is where the monster or supernatural bad guy stalks the MCs relentlessly in some parts of the story and then disappears conveniently for other stretches.


Great point on Geordi being blind, but baldness? That's not a disease.

On the right man, there's nothing wrong with being bald. :D

StarWombat
07-07-2014, 08:13 PM
Another peeve for me, though not quite a total book-closer without other serious flaws, is where the monster or supernatural bad guy stalks the MCs relentlessly in some parts of the story and then disappears conveniently for other stretches.

Hey, monsters have lives too. Maybe he's gone to get a mani-pedi.

Once!
07-07-2014, 08:17 PM
Technology that exists only to get our hero out of a sticky situation - like Batman killing a shark with shark repellent that he happens to have on his utility belt.

With due apologies to all Jedi knights, swords being a viable counter to laser or even projectile weapons. And yeah I know about the force and the midichloriens and all that, but c'mon fellas, just look what happened when the samurai took on muskets. Even Tom Cruise couldn't save them.

Apostrophes.

Dystopias or even Utopias where it later turns out that people are eating people without realising it.

Teddy bears in space.

Maxx
07-07-2014, 08:31 PM
Expanding a bit about "military novels set in space," the thing that kills me about those books is that they constantly forget, "hey, we have spaceships."
Wanna guess what the tactical and strategic effects would be of having a starship in orbit during a battle? How about dropping big rocks on the enemy? How about just shooting regular missiles down at them from orbit?
If you want to have a battle where you don't have support from an orbital ship, you'd better remember to explain why rather than just leaving it out because you wanted to write a story about the Battle of Roarke's Drift except on another planet.

Badly done wars are pretty much the lingua franca of SCi-Fi. I don't really mind them -- though I was spoiled by the fighting in Banks' Excession -- just very good, that one.
Another odd thing -- the current drone attacks in reality (right, I mean the real drones that pick people off more or less at the individual level even if the collateral damage can be high) -- are much stranger than anything I've ever seen in the Bad Wars of Sci fi. The whole drone thing seems very odd -- here are some more or less religious terrorists doing everything for the greater glory of God and then some machine comes over and blows them up after more or less omniscently and omnipotently watching them and judging them from the sky. It's just very strange and yet Sci Fi has never really managed anything quite like that conceptual collision (ominscient, omnipotent drones hunting down religious terrorists).

Johncs
07-07-2014, 08:37 PM
A similar conversation is happening over on the Novels page, but I'm interested in hearing the SF/F community opinions. What do you see happening in stories that make you want to feed the book (and maybe the author too, but don't do it, that's not nice) into the nearest wood chipper? examples specific to science fiction and fantasy are preferred.


For me it's the preaching.

Right/left/center -- they all do it. I don't need another libertarian lecture from a Heinlein clone. I don't need to work on my liberal studies degree with a Le Guin clone. I'm here for the church of the human condition and I am not your choir.

But 9 times out of 10 you'll have a Chekhov's gun moment of that sort in many (if not all) SF novels. By page one hundred you'll have been exposed to the requisite three moments reminding you of the "correct" view of...whatever.

My mind is expected to be open enough to envision talking dragons and trans-dimensional cans of spam -- but I need reminded of the "correct thoughts" by the author?

Bah. The literature of ideas is far too important to squander on the matter of politics.

Seriously. "Hey, there's this great character moment. Oh wait. It's a right-wing Mil SF. Guess I'll never tell my more pacifist friends about that." Or "Here's a perfect example of life-as-outsider. Pity it had to get anvil-licious about the politics of sexuality. Guess I won't be sharing that one with XYZ."

Irony: the very people whose minds could stand being exposed to a new idea put the book down early because they hear the Latin chanting the background.

But that's not even accurate. The camps of SF are far more divided than the Protestants and Catholics ever were.

This bothers me. I mean, you dig giant robots. I dig giant robots. We dig giant robots. Chicks dig giant robots....

I just feel too many cool ideas get missed because the author's required (or feels required) to recite the entire litany against fear in every one of their books.

In short I'm tired of looking at every book I might pick up, squinting, and having to decide if it's SF + politics_whatever (most, if not) or just "SF" (a rarer and rarer beast, anymore).

Point this out to either camp and they'll tell you it doesn't matter, because they are right.

Johncs, still looking for the giant robots.

Imriaylde
07-07-2014, 08:37 PM
Post-apocalyptic stories that are clearly set in the US (or what used to be the US...or any currently-existing country, really) where the people in them have apparently forgotten defining historical events. I mean, if it's plausible that it's an alternate universe, that's fine, but don't specifically state that the story is set in a major US city and then conveniently forget atrocities that happened during WWII.

RikWriter
07-07-2014, 09:29 PM
Badly done wars are pretty much the lingua franca of SCi-Fi. I don't really mind them -- though I was spoiled by the fighting in Banks' Excession -- just very good, that one.
Another odd thing -- the current drone attacks in reality (right, I mean the real drones that pick people off more or less at the individual level even if the collateral damage can be high) -- are much stranger than anything I've ever seen in the Bad Wars of Sci fi. The whole drone thing seems very odd -- here are some more or less religious terrorists doing everything for the greater glory of God and then some machine comes over and blows them up after more or less omniscently and omnipotently watching them and judging them from the sky. It's just very strange and yet Sci Fi has never really managed anything quite like that conceptual collision (ominscient, omnipotent drones hunting down religious terrorists).

Not religious terrorists, but armed drones have been around for a while. Look up a short SF story called "Watchbird." I personally don't like armed drones and I made a concerted attempt in my books to come up with reasons why future militaries don't use them. In my Duty, Honor, Planet trilogy, I say in the third book that the reason is the horrible slaughter of refugees carried out by unmanned drones in the aftermath of a nuclear war between Russia and China. It horrified people enough that arming drones is enough to get you strung up. Plenty of unarmed drones around, of course.
In other stories, I make it clear that the communications link between the drones and the operators is too vulnerable to jamming and spoofing, and AI's aren't trusted with weapons.

KateJJ
07-07-2014, 10:16 PM
Magic birth control in an otherwise-identical-to-1400-Europe fantasy setting. Like, they still have plagues and women die in childbirth and 95% of people are peasants, but the hero/ine has access to cheap, easy, no-side-effects birth control. Any idea what that would do to the demographics?

Teenagers on colony planets allowed to act like teenagers instead of the cheap labor source they truly are, sitting around whining with their friends that there's nothing to doooo, they hate this place so much.

rwm4768
07-07-2014, 11:43 PM
It's funny. Most of these things don't really bother me. I could see how they might bother me if the story wasn't good. But if the story is good, I"ll forgive a lot.

King Neptune
07-08-2014, 12:18 AM
If that's going to be the reason for male pattern baldness still being around, then it needs to be illustrated. The readers (or in this case the watchers) need to have it explained at some point.
And there's a difference between choosing to have your head depilated and allowing your hair to fall out on its own.

That's why I have trouble find ing an audience. I can't imagine any human not favoring natural male baldness over the alternatives. It may become more common for men to imitate natural baldness, if they don't have that good fortune (good genes).

Jacob_Wallace
07-08-2014, 12:21 AM
Any narration that gives away any hint of subtlety. For example, a point is made that a character has an enchanted item that protects him from fire. Then a dragon breathes fire on him and he is unharmed. The narration stops the flow of the story to remind us about his enchanted items.

Vampires that don't act anything like vampires.

Magic that pretends to be science.

Female characters that whine about being female. Like in "Dime Store Magic" which had a "pity us" factor, of how evil men kept the female witches down throughout history. Yes, that's how you get respect. You cry about it.

Roxxsmom
07-08-2014, 12:26 AM
What the heck is a grassoid?

I'm assuming a plantlike organism that isn't really grass (as in, it's not a monocot from the family/clade Poaceae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poaceae), but it superficially resembles a grass or fills a similar niche in its native ecosystem).

See, this wouldn't bother me, as one of my peeves in SF is how everyone assumes all the same phyla, classes, orders, and families that have evolved on Earth would exist on alien planets.

As for tossing books, there are a lot of things I don't like much. Excessive filtering (amazing how so many published authors filter, filter, filter, even though we're all told not to), holes in the world building, cliches and so on. I also hate it when there's something that's just plain wrong, as in not an opinion or misconception held by a character in the story, but a premise of the story that a little research would actually reveal as completely counter to known fact at the time the story was written. It also drives me nuts to be reading a secondary fantasy or historic novel and for a word or term that is really out of place to have sneaked through the editorial process. I was reading a fantasy novel a while ago where someone had "adrenaline" pounding through their veins. Really? Did they research the origins of that word? Even if the people in their world have an advanced knowledge about endocrinology for some reason, no, just no.

But I can forgive a lot if the characters and story grab me. Whether mistakes like these make me toss a book depends on the presentation, I guess.

When I put a book down and don't come back, the reasons tend to be:

1. I just can't get into the characters or relate to their problems. All kinds of reasons for this, ranging from the personalty (or lack thereof), heavy, slow writing or pacing, issues I can't relate to, the character being too effortlessly powerful or awesome, or the way the character is written. For me, stories are primarily about characters. So I guess a story that feels like it's more about events than people? A tough sell for me.

2. Sausage fests, especially where it's not clear why they're sausage fests. Or, if you're going to have a story set in a man's world where there are no interesting women at all (or women are just victims and commodities), the story had better have some damned interesting men, and the author had better make it clear to me that he didn't make the story this way because it simply didn't occur to him that women are people too or that women might also read SF and F.

3. Speculative worlds that are quirky or strange just because the author is trying to be quirky and strange and didn't even think the implications of that quirkiness through. There's some great SF and F set on very alien worlds, but if that alienness isn't going to be part of what drives the story, characters, or at least doesn't set realistic constraints on the characters, then why? It's just something that knocks me out of disbelief or makes the character and situation less relatable.

4. Stories where I feel like I'm being lectured or subtly pressured into a particular world view. And yeah, I probably notice this more when the world view is one I find repellent, or if the author in question is outspoken in his or her sociopolitical beliefs. It's hard to get into a book when I'm expecting to see homophobia or sexism around every corner.

RikWriter
07-08-2014, 12:44 AM
For me it's the preaching.




I agree somewhat, but you have to realize that almost every book in every genre is espousing the author's political or philosophical or religious positions to some extent. Some are just less ham-handed about it than others. The best of them can slip it in so subtly you don't realize it for a long time that they did it at all. Others are just such good writers or write books that are so much fun to read that you don't care they're sometimes preaching. John Ringo comes in on the right wing side of that and Peter Hamilton on the left.

Also, sometimes just because a character believes something doesn't mean it's actually true.
For instance, in the first book of my Duty, Honor, Planet trilogy, the protagonist (and one would think, the author) is a staunch defender of his government and their iron-fisted policies towards political malcontents and trouble-makers. He's also very resolute in his determination that their military in its present form is totally necessary to meet a very real threat from without.
By the end of the third book, nearly all that is turned on its head, but I've got reviews from people who think I am a right-wing warmonger because they think the views in the first book are mine rather than those of the characters. They didn't bother to read on and find out that the world turned out to be much more complicated than the 25 year old junior officer in the first book thought it was.

RikWriter
07-08-2014, 12:46 AM
That's why I have trouble find ing an audience. I can't imagine any human not favoring natural male baldness over the alternatives. It may become more common for men to imitate natural baldness, if they don't have that good fortune (good genes).

What do you think these horrible alternatives ARE? Because I think that it would become very simple to just alter a couple genes in the womb and prevent the baldness from ever occurring.

Atalanta
07-08-2014, 01:28 AM
The mirror trick. If I read the first few pages while standing in a book store, or in an online preview, and a character walks in front of a mirror to give the author an excuse to describe them, I put the book down with haste.

If I've already bought it, the worst offense is stereotyped characters -- people of color, QUILTBAG, women, ethnic minorities, whatever. Even if it's just a minor character, I'm done.

RikWriter
07-08-2014, 02:13 AM
What is QUILTBAG?

Jacob_Wallace
07-08-2014, 02:20 AM
I forgot what all the letters stand for, but it's catch all for those of alternative sexualities. Edit: not sure, but I think it's Queer *something* Intersex Lesbian Transexual Bisexual Asexual Gay. I can't remember what the U stood for.

Also, why wouldn't people take the cure for male baldness? Considering all the methods people use today, they'd jump at a chance to cure it. Baldness sucks unless you're one of the few people who looks good bald like Patrick Stewart.

King Neptune
07-08-2014, 02:29 AM
What do you think these horrible alternatives ARE? Because I think that it would become very simple to just alter a couple genes in the womb and prevent the baldness from ever occurring.



It would be horrible to have a head of hair like what I had when I was eight.

Why would a man not want to become hair-free? It just doesn't make sense.

I would have to research to be sure, but I think the genes that switch for becoming hair-free are involved in other sex related characteristics, so changing them might not be a good idea.

RikWriter
07-08-2014, 02:41 AM
Uhh....yeah, okay....

Dennis E. Taylor
07-08-2014, 04:02 AM
4. Stories where I feel like I'm being lectured or subtly pressured into a particular world view.

Don't read Atlas Shrugged.

.
.
.
Oh, wait. You said subtly.
:D

Roxxsmom
07-08-2014, 04:10 AM
It would be horrible to have a head of hair like what I had when I was eight.

Why would a man not want to become hair-free? It just doesn't make sense.


Because women often prefer men with hair on their heads? Seriously, a lot of people are motivated by the desire to be attractive in a conventional way and to use things like our hair to express our individuality and so on. Otherwise, we'd all (men and women both) keep our scalp hair clipped as short as possible to keep it out of the way.

For my own part, my husband's slowly growing bald, and I love him and will love him and find him adorable, no matter how little or much hair he has. I was bald as an egg for two years (due to an autoimmune condition that is now, thankfully, in remission, and not female pattern baldness), and he still loved me and found me attractive when I was hairless (and boy oh boy, is there a double standard about male and female baldness, let me tell you).

And both our bodies are changing in other ways too as we grow older, and we continue to love one another and find one another attractive (though this is not at all a given for many couples)

But it wouldn't break my heart if there were a magic pill that kept the various aesthetic effects of aging at bay, including pattern baldness in both genders. I'll candidly admit, that I tend to think think of men and women with full heads of hair as more conventionally attractive when I read about them in books, but I certainly am open to bald beauty as a societal norm in speculative fiction. Who knows what people will like in the future?


Don't read Atlas Shrugged.

Oh, wait. You said subtly.
:D

Oh, god, I tried to read that years ago, and I couldn't even get far enough into the thing to get to the propaganda. But yeah, non-subtle lecturing is even less appealing.


Magic birth control in an otherwise-identical-to-1400-Europe fantasy setting. Like, they still have plagues and women die in childbirth and 95% of people are peasants, but the hero/ine has access to cheap, easy, no-side-effects birth control. Any idea what that would do to the demographics?
.

Now I tend to get annoyed by novels where they have magic and other cool stuff that wasn't present in real history, but still no reasonably reliable method of contraception. It always seems like a cop-out excuse for creating a world/story where female characters have to stay out of things completely or else be totally chaste (or else I spend the entire story worrying about her getting pregnant).

I agree, though, that widespread availability of such things would make society very different in some ways (though I can think of plausible reasons why such things might be available but still not widely used by most women), but this is one of the reasons I read fantasy.

Atalanta
07-08-2014, 04:21 AM
What is QUILTBAG?

Google is your friend.

I don't like the word "alternative" when it's used to describe people. I'm not all that fond of QUILTBAG either, but I do like quilts. :D I just think of it as an umbrella term for all the folks who break the binary gender mold, whether by appearance or behavior.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-08-2014, 05:18 AM
It would be horrible to have a head of hair like what I had when I was eight.

Why would a man not want to become hair-free? It just doesn't make sense.

I would have to research to be sure, but I think the genes that switch for becoming hair-free are involved in other sex related characteristics, so changing them might not be a good idea.


There are many people of both sexes who look good bald. But not all of them.

Personally, I would never want to be bald. I like my hair long.

Zoombie
07-08-2014, 09:49 AM
With due apologies to all Jedi knights, swords being a viable counter to laser or even projectile weapons. And yeah I know about the force and the midichloriens and all that, but c'mon fellas, just look what happened when the samurai took on muskets. Even Tom Cruise couldn't save them.


In my novel, the MC has superhuman reflexes, centuries of practice at swording, and a magical sword...and she still can only parry lasers like one time out of ten.

The thing that kills a story fast for me are...

1) Trying to offer a "counter" argument that is just set ups for why the counter argument is wrong. I remember re-reading a series and getting increasingly aggravated at how goddamn one sided it was, and one group of characters were basically strawmen set up to be knocked down by the rhetoric of the other side. It pissed me off.

2) Mopey superhumans. Oh boo hoo, I live forever, have flight, shapeshifting, am sexy, and all I need to do to not die is drink blood by seducing and drinking it from beautiful people, woe is me. Either deal with it or try and turn it into a positive, people! This is why I want to write a novel called I AM THE DARK AND TERRIBLE STALKER OF THE NIGHT, which will be about a newly turned vampire who immediately makes a superhero costume and starts beating up criminals.

3) Body horror as pregnancy metaphor. It was clever when Alien did it. Forty years ago. Now it's just gross.

Hmm...

Anything else that kills a story?

Nah, can't think of anything.

noranne
07-08-2014, 10:07 AM
As far as baldness and the like, I think it's quite possible that in the future we will have the ability to basically manipulate our bodies more easily, but I don't think that means everyone is going to look exactly the same. People prize their individuality. I figure most people will fall within a range of "normalcy" but even that isn't strictly defined. Plus there are always outliers. Not to mention that it's not likely the beauty standards of the future will be anything like they are now.

thepicpic
07-08-2014, 11:36 AM
Why would a man not want to become hair-free? It just doesn't make sense.

Perhaps because I had to have a bout of baldness due to chemotherapy and hated it? Perhaps because, in my mind, I look quite roguish with a full head of hair?

I'm seconding the whole 'swords are better than ranged weapons in the future' as a book-killer. Go on. Stage a head-on assault on a marine squad with your katana. I dare you.

Other than that... hmm. The ever-popular apostrophes that seem to breed and take root in people's names between the stars. I can't think of any more right now, but I might do when I wake up properly.

BethS
07-08-2014, 12:31 PM
Vampires that don't act anything like vampires.



Ummm...is there a vampire manual lying around somewhere? :D I mean, who gets to say how vampires (an invented creature) should act?

Or did you mean they don't act consistent with the way the rules are set up in a particular story?

SpiteLokidottir
07-08-2014, 01:19 PM
Bad writing. And overly emotional characters. If the world was going to end in 12 hours, I wouldn't spend those 12 hours arguing with others over trivial issues. I don't know many people who would.

Once!
07-08-2014, 02:19 PM
The baldness debate interests me because ... well, partly because I am certainly more Jean Luc Picard than Chewbacca ...

... and partly because I had never before thought of it as a credibility issue for science fiction.

A future Earth might well have discovered a cure for baldness. But equally they might have decided that being bald wasn't as much of a stigma as it is now.

In fact, we need to qualify that ... being bald isn't as much of an issue today as it was say twenty years ago. Didn't Sean Connery go through every Bond film except Dr No wearing a hairpiece? And yet today we have actors such as Bruce Willis, Jason Statham and Patrick Stewart being proud to be skin slappers.

So I don't see a problem with the captain of the Enterprise being follically challenged. For all we know, he might have made a conscious decision to allow nature to stay its course. If I was offered a cure for my baldness right now I am really not sure if I would take it. My shiny forehead is as much a part of me as anything else.

Perhaps that leads us into another story killer though - the assumption that people in the future will automatically think the way that we do. If attitudes to male baldness can change in the last few decades then surely they would also change in the next few centuries.

Geordi's visor? Again, I wouldn't categories it as an insta-fail. For all we know there might be a disease affecting the eyes which could only be treated by a piece of technology like his visor. Maybe a new disease that we haven't come across yet?

TheRob1
07-08-2014, 02:48 PM
Star Trek actually adresses (more or less) both why Picard is bald and why Geordi is blind.

Short answer for Picard is that Rodenberry was asked about having a bald Captain and whether or not baldness would be cured in the future. He answered that in the future people won't care as much about baldness.

When it comes to genetic manipulation, it's illegal in the federation except for the most essential life saving therapies. This is because of the Eugenics wars which gave us people like Khan and Bashir.

When it comes to bionic and cloned replacements those technologies are repeatedly to be shown as 'hit or miss' in the federation. Rejection still happens. Nog had trouble accepting his bionic leg during the Dominion war.

Still, I can see your point on issues like that if they're not addressed.

I think the biggest story stopper for me the last couple of years has been niche audiences that clearly don't include me. I've read books by a couple different, both very prolific authors, who have distilled their audiences to a single demographic. One writes a type of low magic fantasy and has some incredible world building. Good enough that despite how much I hated his self righteous characters and how much he loved them, I actually struggled through more than one of his books. The other author writes Urban Fantasy and I couldn't get through even one of his books. The hero was too perfect and everyone either loved him or was wrong and if they were wrong they were also stupid. The author did manage to choreograph some beautiful fights, but by the third time he was fighting vampires in an office building I was done.

King Neptune
07-08-2014, 04:35 PM
Because women often prefer men with hair on their heads? Seriously, a lot of people are motivated by the desire to be attractive in a conventional way and to use things like our hair to express our individuality and so on. Otherwise, we'd all (men and women both) keep our scalp hair clipped as short as possible to keep it out of the way.

For my own part, my husband's slowly growing bald, and I love him and will love him and find him adorable, no matter how little or much hair he has. I was bald as an egg for two years (due to an autoimmune condition that is now, thankfully, in remission, and not female pattern baldness), and he still loved me and found me attractive when I was hairless (and boy oh boy, is there a double standard about male and female baldness, let me tell you).

And both our bodies are changing in other ways too as we grow older, and we continue to love one another and find one another attractive (though this is not at all a given for many couples)

But it wouldn't break my heart if there were a magic pill that kept the various aesthetic effects of aging at bay, including pattern baldness in both genders. I'll candidly admit, that I tend to think think of men and women with full heads of hair as more conventionally attractive when I read about them in books, but I certainly am open to bald beauty as a societal norm in speculative fiction. Who knows what people will like in the future?


Many women prefer men who are hair-free.

Becoming hair-free is not an "effect of aging"; it is a sign of maturation. Male children have full heads of hair, but adult males are hair-free.

Certainly some prefer to hold onto the signs of youth as long as possible, but there are many early middle-aged men (20 to 40) who shave their heads to try to gain the appearance of being older. Tastes vary.

King Neptune
07-08-2014, 04:37 PM
There are many people of both sexes who look good bald. But not all of them.

Personally, I would never want to be bald. I like my hair long.

That's why someone invented wigs.

Once!
07-08-2014, 05:14 PM
When I was a callow yoof I grew a beard because I thought it made me look older. More distinguished. A serious hexecutive.

Then my first (and to date only) divorce precipitated male pattern baldness. Or perhaps the baldness caused the divorce. Or both. I don't know tech stuff.

The combination of balding head and beard made it look as if my head was on upside down. But then Jean Luc made it cool to be bald in a way that Telly Savalas and Yul Brynner never could.

So please please don't tell me that in the future baldness would be cured.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-08-2014, 08:33 PM
Many women prefer men who are hair-free.

Becoming hair-free is not an "effect of aging"; it is a sign of maturation. Male children have full heads of hair, but adult males are hair-free.

Could you maybe cite some sources on this?

Zoombie
07-08-2014, 09:22 PM
Most sci-fi novels I read with bald people in them mention that either the baldness is either due to a fashion statement or being unable to get their hands on hair regrowth formula.

RikWriter
07-08-2014, 09:46 PM
Could you maybe cite some sources on this?

Of course he can't because he made it up.

ClareGreen
07-08-2014, 09:52 PM
He didn't make up that there are women who prefer men who're thin on top. I don't know about 'many', but we do exist.

Once!
07-08-2014, 10:08 PM
I'm not sure if it counts as proof, but it certainly gave me a smile...

http://allwomenstalk.com/7-reasons-bald-men-are-sexy

RikWriter
07-08-2014, 10:09 PM
He didn't make up that there are women who prefer men who're thin on top. I don't know about 'many', but we do exist.

Uh, yah. I pretty much assumed everyone who read my post would know which of the two statements I meant he made up.

King Neptune
07-08-2014, 10:51 PM
Could you maybe cite some sources on this?

I could, but it might be a better idea for you to do your own research.

King Neptune
07-08-2014, 10:53 PM
Uh, yah. I pretty much assumed everyone who read my post would know which of the two statements I meant he made up.

I don't have to make up the good stuff, as you can see.

RikWriter
07-08-2014, 11:03 PM
I don't have to make up the good stuff.

And yet you did anyway. The links you provided don't say what you said in your post by a longshot.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-08-2014, 11:16 PM
Your article said "In men with a genetic predisposition to baldness" as a qualifier.

I don't see any substantive evidence that baldness is a common consequence to male maturity.


I have no issue with the idea of bald men being sexy. Many men can carry off baldness with aplomb. But that is not true for all or even a majority of men.


Also, articles about some particular person's standards of attractiveness do not count as sources on or evidence supporting your claim. I have many male friends who find short hair on women very attractive, and yet this does not mean that women having short hair is some sign of maturity.


We're getting a bit off-topic here, so I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree.

milkweed
07-08-2014, 11:39 PM
the chosen one is tops on my list and then teenaged leaders/heros that go on to govern/save the world.

rwm4768
07-08-2014, 11:44 PM
Am I the only person who actually likes a well-done "chosen one" story?

Once!
07-08-2014, 11:51 PM
I suppose it's a bit like a steak. There is only a very fine line between well done and over done.

Personally, I prefer my meat rare and bloody.

Roxxsmom
07-09-2014, 12:09 AM
I suppose it's a bit like a steak. There is only a very fine line between well done and over done.

Personally, I prefer my meat rare and bloody.

Me too. For me, there's a fine line between medium rare and overdone.

But it's certainly true that we all have our tastes in fiction. Though I suspect a lot of the time, we overstate our dislikes as we think of the most egregious examples of badly written cliches and poorly developed characters.

Almost everything on my "dislike" list can work if the writer makes the story and characters interesting enough. And pretty much anything I think is cool can be ruined by blah characters and storytelling.

But then another person will say they loved a book I found boring, or that they hated a book I loved.

Sollluna
07-09-2014, 01:04 AM
Any sort of world-destroying, plague, alien, post-apocalyptic story where the main character lives in the US (maybe it happens with authors/characters in other countries as well, but I've never read one), and we hear all about every single US city that was destroyed but there isn't any mention of the rest of the world. Small disasters are fine to keep local, but if it's something like a giant asteroid crashing into Earth, an alien-released plague, ocean levels rising dramatically, etc. that is world encompassing, it would be nice if the rest of the world got at least mentioned. It doesn't need to be a lot of mention, but if they're listing damage in 20+ specific US cities, and there isn't even a throw away comment about other major cities and/or countries....

OJCade
07-09-2014, 02:10 AM
The Idiot Effect. Where the problem at hand could be solved with a short conversation but the characters are twisted every which way to ensure that this very simple alternative doesn't happen. Often linked in SFF, I find, to the old mentor who prefers, for reasons only known to their ever more senile mind, to watch the MC stumble through life instead of flat out saying, "Hey kid. This is the problem, this is how we can fix it. Watch out for x and y. Oh, and by the way, this is crucial: listen up..."

CrastersBabies
07-09-2014, 02:25 AM
Not so much a plot point, but I hate when I am reading an excellent story, great plot and memorable characters, something terrible is happening in town, and everyone takes a break to have sexy times.

Um, there is a killer around and your family is in trouble, but who cares because Mister Werewolf is HOT.

I see this happen in a lot of urban fantasy. I love urban fantasy and expect romance in them, but please, make it make sense.

Is it the same thing as the two main characters in the movie, "2012," (male and female) having a conversation about why they "up and divorced" as the plane is trying to escape a giant tornado? Because, you know, that's the time to have that conversation?

4burner
07-09-2014, 03:18 AM
2012 is just one big horrible mess of story cliche piled on top of one another, but it is good when you need to see some major destruction go down. I specifically purchased* the bluray edition JUST to see hi-def Earth-kabloosions for when I want inspiration on how to FSUR.

As far as story killers, I second Solluna's opinion; as an Australian it's amazing how US-centric... well, basically everything is. It's becoming more jarring as time goes on, thanks to the shrinking global community courtesy of the internet and such. To think in such nationalistic terms in this day and age shows a real bias from authors/story-tellers I feel, a limited worldview.

Also, I really can't abide a conflict when the solution is so predictable I don't even need to read on to solve it. It makes the whole thing boring and makes it seem like it's just getting in the way of the story. I think that's why Game of Thrones excites me; it's the first story in a long while where I don't always know if X character is going to make it out alive, or if X solution is going to work etc...

SPOILERS BELOW just in case

The Mountain and Oberryn (sp?) fight - for the briefest moments I thought justice existed in Westeros, and then BAM. That happened. Crushed my dreams.

END SPOILERS

Anyway.

I shaved my head once in 8th grade. I looked like a criminal.

milkweed
07-09-2014, 03:21 AM
Any sort of world-destroying, plague, alien, post-apocalyptic story where the main character lives in the US (maybe it happens with authors/characters in other countries as well, but I've never read one), and we hear all about every single US city that was destroyed but there isn't any mention of the rest of the world. Small disasters are fine to keep local, but if it's something like a giant asteroid crashing into Earth, an alien-released plague, ocean levels rising dramatically, etc. that is world encompassing, it would be nice if the rest of the world got at least mentioned. It doesn't need to be a lot of mention, but if they're listing damage in 20+ specific US cities, and there isn't even a throw away comment about other major cities and/or countries....


Am glad to hear this in my SF/F/Horror tome 70% of the world has been swallowed up in a major earth event except for a couple of thousand individuals and they are quite international, and quite diverse religously speaking as well. I wasn't sure if it'd work or not but to be honest like you I find it odd that ONLY inhabitants from the US would survive and even surviving transplanted US colonies are going to have someone there who is NOT from the US.

rwm4768
07-09-2014, 03:32 AM
Is it the same thing as the two main characters in the movie, "2012," (male and female) having a conversation about why they "up and divorced" as the plane is trying to escape a giant tornado? Because, you know, that's the time to have that conversation?


2012 is just one big horrible mess of story cliche piled on top of one another, but it is good when you need to see some major destruction go down. I specifically purchased* the bluray edition JUST to see hi-def Earth-kabloosions for when I want inspiration on how to FSUR.

I think that's actually the point of the movie. It's a tongue-in-cheek take on the disaster movie, taking the disasters up to complete levels of ridiculousness while still masquerading on the surface as a serious movie.

It's fun if you don't take it seriously.

(If you think 2012 is bad, just watch Sharknado.)

4burner
07-09-2014, 03:42 AM
rmw- Agreed. The 'story' was as paint-by-numbers as it gets, which it plays incredibly straight faced but never overly serious. It isn't trying to be the Shawshank of disaster porn. It's a fun watch, agreed.

xC0000005
07-09-2014, 04:08 AM
Super-Sexy-Syndrome is bad enough, but when it combines with Sexual-Ice-Age, I can't stand it.

You have the MC(s) who are so damned hot they cause orgies to happen around them as they stroll through the town. Everything from the vampire in the church belfry to the rotting corpse at the morgue develops a thing for them, and the MC has to find something attractive about each of them. BUT, then Sexual-Ice-Age kicks in. Wounded and scarred by in his/her/its past, the MC simply can't bring themselves to engage in a meaningful relationship. Until they find [I]the one.

Can't stand it.

I actually gave one of my promiscuous MCs a scene where they have to get tested for STDs because, well, they get around.

Martin Persson
07-09-2014, 04:32 AM
When they try to give a logical explanation to something supernatural. It always falls flat for me.

milkweed
07-09-2014, 04:53 AM
When they try to give a logical explanation to something supernatural. It always falls flat for me.

Same here, it's a dead give away that the writer doesn't believe what they are writing!

Roxxsmom
07-09-2014, 05:50 AM
You have the MC(s) who are so damned hot they cause orgies to happen around them as they stroll through the town. Everything from the vampire in the church belfry to the rotting corpse at the morgue develops a thing for them, and the MC has to find something attractive about each of them. BUT, then Sexual-Ice-Age kicks in. Wounded and scarred by in his/her/its past, the MC simply can't bring themselves to engage in a meaningful relationship. Until they find [I]the one.

Can't stand it.



This made me laugh, because I know what you mean completely. But of course, the cliche exists because a a lot of people have fantasies about being that one who can cause wounded super-sexy heroes or heroines to let go of their angst (with a wave of the magical healing penis or vagina). Ultimately, our enjoyment of a lot of stories are about inserting oneself into a wish-fulfillment fantasy. If the story matches with one of ours, we let the unrealistic stuff go, but if it doesn't, our brows furrow in befuddlement.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-09-2014, 06:41 AM
Any sort of world-destroying, plague, alien, post-apocalyptic story where the main character lives in the US (maybe it happens with authors/characters in other countries as well, but I've never read one), and we hear all about every single US city that was destroyed but there isn't any mention of the rest of the world. Small disasters are fine to keep local, but if it's something like a giant asteroid crashing into Earth, an alien-released plague, ocean levels rising dramatically, etc. that is world encompassing, it would be nice if the rest of the world got at least mentioned. It doesn't need to be a lot of mention, but if they're listing damage in 20+ specific US cities, and there isn't even a throw away comment about other major cities and/or countries....

How's this?

He looked down for a second, then continued. “Plus of course, Homo Moronicus has to take a bad situation and make it worse. Countries have stopped exporting food and oil, and other countries have decided to go in and take it. Israel’s enemies have taken the opportunity to attack when Israel’s allies are on their knees, and you know how well Israel takes that kind of thing. Basically, nukes have been used.” There were gasps of astonishment at this.

Bill gave a sickly smile. “Russia appears to be invading several nearby countries to ensure ongoing supplies, China has closed its borders completely and severed all communications with anybody whatsoever, and Africa is essentially self-destructing. Oh, and have I mentioned? Washington appears to have fallen. Near as I can tell, the government is operating out of an undisclosed location. Except that at least three other governments have popped up and declared independence. I’m pretty sure the USA doesn’t exist any more, people.”

Bill looked at his friends. Haunted expressions looked back at him.

“One of the things you didn’t catch, Richard, was that I was tuned to the BBC. That’s because there are no longer any American stations on the air. No Fox, no CNN, no MSNBC. I’ve managed to get something from Canada, but they aren’t having a thrilling time either. Some of the European broadcasts have dropped out, but I can still get more than 50% of them. There’s very little coming directly from anything south of the equator.”

Bill looked at his friends and shrugged. “I think we might be on our own, guys.”

Primus
07-09-2014, 08:12 AM
Any story whose theme is: the last of his or her kind––or a meek/impoverished boy––who becomes the savior of their world.

Also, aliens as insect-like creatures.

And, as stated, The Chosen One. Been done to death.

rwm4768
07-09-2014, 08:18 AM
Grimdark. I'd rather read a story about an impoverished farmboy elf who's a chosen one and will save the entire world from a cackling dark lord than read some of these stories where it's just dark, dark, dark. Where there are no redeemable characters.

Some authors manage to do okay with grimdark. Martin and Abercrombie come to mind. But there are some stories where I just want to yell at the author. I don't want to read a story where every character is completely unlikeable. Maybe I'm not sophisticated enough, but I just can't relate to bad people who show absolutely no remorse over being bad and give absolutely no hints that they'll ever change. If you wrote that kind of character as a villain, you'd be told they're too evil.

rwm4768
07-09-2014, 08:20 AM
Also, the glacial pacing of a lot of epic fantasy and science fiction. Stop showing the characters doing boring things and get to the damn plot.

thepicpic
07-09-2014, 09:28 AM
How's this?

He looked down for a second, then continued. “Plus of course, Homo Moronicus has to take a bad situation and make it worse. Countries have stopped exporting food and oil, and other countries have decided to go in and take it. Israel’s enemies have taken the opportunity to attack when Israel’s allies are on their knees, and you know how well Israel takes that kind of thing. Basically, nukes have been used.” There were gasps of astonishment at this.

Bill gave a sickly smile. “Russia appears to be invading several nearby countries to ensure ongoing supplies, China has closed its borders completely and severed all communications with anybody whatsoever, and Africa is essentially self-destructing. Oh, and have I mentioned? Washington appears to have fallen. Near as I can tell, the government is operating out of an undisclosed location. Except that at least three other governments have popped up and declared independence. I’m pretty sure the USA doesn’t exist any more, people.”

Bill looked at his friends. Haunted expressions looked back at him.

“One of the things you didn’t catch, Richard, was that I was tuned to the BBC. That’s because there are no longer any American stations on the air. No Fox, no CNN, no MSNBC. I’ve managed to get something from Canada, but they aren’t having a thrilling time either. Some of the European broadcasts have dropped out, but I can still get more than 50% of them. There’s very little coming directly from anything south of the equator.”

Bill looked at his friends and shrugged. “I think we might be on our own, guys.”

I love the fact that the world is has gone nuclear and is going to the dogs further still... but the Beeb still soldiers on.

Blinkk
07-09-2014, 09:30 AM
Sounds like I'm in the minority too; I'll read about a chosen one.

I've never been into "the universe/multiverse/world will be destroyed if XYZ happens." I feel like that's such a cop out. Is the universe really so small that it can be destroyed by one human incident? I'd like to think the universe is bigger than we could ever imagine, and it's a bit self-centered to say that human/creature/magic can take down this awesome thing that's taken eons and eons and eons to create.

Now, if you're going to destroy something on a smaller scale, I can handle that. Go destroy the mainland. Destroy the government. Bwhahaha, destroy San Fransisco. That's more like it.

I said this in the other thread, but I'll say it here too.

I like clever characters. Characters who solve their own problems are really cool. If they do it in style or solve it in a really ingenious way they get brownie points. But I read a book recently where the characters were straight up dumb. The gods gave them two MCs a mission to find some item but didn't tell them where the item was. The two MCs walked into the wilderness and looked around dumbly. One of them finally said something along the lines of, "My gut says it's that way."

Most of their decision making was like this, but it was okay because they were on a mission from god therefore their choices were led by a magical guiding hand. I wish the stock market worked like this.

SampleGuy
07-09-2014, 09:55 AM
If a book starts focusing on romance too long when it isn't a romantic novel, I will toss it away. No matter how good the story is, I will just forget about it in the next day.

S. Eli
07-09-2014, 03:44 PM
Fantasy stories where "s/he was the kind of paler than pale that is the palest even when in direct sunlight she looks like pale snow that's pale holy smokes s/he's so pale...it was hauntingly beautiful."

Ugh, just kill me.


If a book starts focusing on romance too long when it isn't a romantic novel, I will toss it away. No matter how good the story is, I will just forget about it in the next day.
That, too. To a degree, I guess I should say. But I hate when I hear about a fantasy that sounds good, and then read the back cover and it doesn't seem like it's about anything more than sex/romance. Do not recommend a book like that to me or I will be sad.

Reziac
07-09-2014, 05:45 PM
The Idiot Effect. Where the problem at hand could be solved with a short conversation but the characters are twisted every which way to ensure that this very simple alternative doesn't happen. Often linked in SFF, I find, to the old mentor who prefers, for reasons only known to their ever more senile mind, to watch the MC stumble through life instead of flat out saying, "Hey kid. This is the problem, this is how we can fix it. Watch out for x and y. Oh, and by the way, this is crucial: listen up..."

AKA "It's good for you to suffer from your ignorance" without offering any alternatives. Not limited to SF/F.

And its flipside, the genius effect, where in every situation, someone will have a brilliant solution, even if absolutely no one in sight has any basic knowledge, let alone expertise on the problem at hand.

Sam Argent
07-09-2014, 09:24 PM
Stories that stretch plot or backpedal character development so they can reach some magical number in a book deal. I dropped a fantasy series last year because of this. I think it started out as being a proposed 4 book series and the first 2 books were tightly written. After the book deal doubled that amount, the pacing went to hell, the MC went from a rebellious open-minded woman to an annoying prude for the sake of drama, and there was a big tonal change from light-hearted action to hello rape and soap opera style backstabbing. The reviews for the latest book have a lot of fans asking if the author hates writing that world now because to them it feels like she's tired of it.

I'm all for authors making more money, but if you don't have the plot to double your original story, that leads frustrated readers like me to reconsider buying ongoing fantasy series.

The Package
07-09-2014, 11:31 PM
I was in a Chapters once, and I read the prologue of a book while my gf perused. It was so good that I had to buy it. I got about three chapters in and the line "wind tickled his feet and he giggled like a schoolgirl" jarred me so hard.

I literally haven't picked it up since. I guess this is a testament to the "doesn't matter what it's about so long as the writing is good." In this case, the writing wasn't so good (at least that one line). It was a really good book prior to it.

I'm gonna mention that the schoolgirl-giggler killed wild beasts, and carried machinery under arrow fire, and was overall a pretty big badass.

AceTachyon
07-10-2014, 02:57 AM
Teddy bears in space.
You don't like the Hokas?

Albedo
07-10-2014, 04:42 AM
Fantasy stories where "s/he was the kind of paler than pale that is the palest even when in direct sunlight she looks like pale snow that's pale holy smokes s/he's so pale...it was hauntingly beautiful."

Ugh, just kill me.

This. Makes me think the poor thing has a deathly B12 deficiency.

4burner
07-10-2014, 05:16 AM
Yeha I don't see bone white as the most alluring colour. Step outside for a few minutes, love, it'll do you the world of good. Look at what happened to poor ol' Smeagol...

Fullon_v4.0
07-10-2014, 05:22 AM
All stories...written, in movies, games, whatever...

If the story turn out to all just be a dream, I toss it on my grill.

Oh, and let's not forget the endless back and forth's filled with complex fantasy jargon where the author decides to stop using "he-said-she-said" and you eventually lose track of what's going on.

Roxxsmom
07-10-2014, 05:24 AM
That, too. To a degree, I guess I should say. But I hate when I hear about a fantasy that sounds good, and then read the back cover and it doesn't seem like it's about anything more than sex/romance. Do not recommend a book like that to me or I will be sad.

Unfortunately, covers and blurbs for books written by women are more likely to emphasize (or even allude to) any romantic subplots to the point of making it look almost like the novel is a genre romance, while they tend to downplay any romantic subplots in books written by men. I'm afraid this probably contributes to the myth that women who write fantasy are *really* just writing romances masquerading as such.

Not that there's anything wrong with romance, or other genres with strong romantic subplots either. It's just a matter of emphasis and accuracy in advertising.

Thunderclap Harrier
07-10-2014, 11:20 PM
Grimdark. I'd rather read a story about an impoverished farmboy elf who's a chosen one and will save the entire world from a cackling dark lord than read some of these stories where it's just dark, dark, dark. Where there are no redeemable characters.

Some authors manage to do okay with grimdark. Martin and Abercrombie come to mind. But there are some stories where I just want to yell at the author. I don't want to read a story where every character is completely unlikeable. Maybe I'm not sophisticated enough, but I just can't relate to bad people who show absolutely no remorse over being bad and give absolutely no hints that they'll ever change. If you wrote that kind of character as a villain, you'd be told they're too evil.

Nitpick: I don't actually consider GRRM's ASOIAF grimdark. It is a well-told story utilizing the Chosen One motif.

If the protagonist is too "safe", I'll generally lose interest in the story. Safe meaning that they think like me and make choices that I would make. Rowling's Harry Potter and King's Roland Deschain are some of the most relatable characters I've encountered as a reader. I grew up alongside Harry. As an adult, I can relate to Roland's drive and determination to achieve his goal. Both characters have pretty much satisfied me in terms of having someone that I can relate to.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-11-2014, 01:02 AM
Nitpick: I don't actually consider GRRM's ASOIAF grimdark. It is a well-told story utilizing the Chosen One motif.

If the protagonist is too "safe", I'll generally lose interest in the story. Safe meaning that they think like me and make choices that I would make. Rowling's Harry Potter and King's Roland Deschain are some of the most relatable characters I've encountered as a reader. I grew up alongside Harry. As an adult, I can relate to Roland's drive and determination to achieve his goal. Both characters have pretty much satisfied me in terms of having someone that I can relate to.


I'd say it follows the grimdark trend pretty well, actually.

Lillith1991
07-11-2014, 07:02 AM
Having a female character raped just for the sake of having her raped, or just spur the hero into revenge/action. There's a proper way to use rape in fiction, and for the sake of having it happen or spurring the hero into action is not it.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-11-2014, 07:40 AM
Having a female character raped just for the sake of having her raped, or just spur the hero into revenge/action. There's a proper way to use rape in fiction, and for the sake of having it happen or spurring the hero into action is not it.


I'd like to generalize this to trauma on a character only there to suffer the trauma as motivation for another character--especially the main character.

Although the rape version is the worst offender by far in my experience.

Lillith1991
07-11-2014, 07:56 AM
I'd like to generalize this to trauma on a character only there to suffer the trauma as motivation for another character--especially the main character.

Although the rape version is the worst offender by far in my experience.

Agreed, and can we add the to show how real/gritty/dark the fictional world is to that list as well? Considering the mode of use is normally men are tortured and womem raped more often in fiction, then say....something actually realistic where everyone is a potential target for all forms of torture/harm. Realistic my behind! I call bullcrap!

rwm4768
07-11-2014, 08:59 AM
Having a female character raped just for the sake of having her raped, or just spur the hero into revenge/action. There's a proper way to use rape in fiction, and for the sake of having it happen or spurring the hero into action is not it.


I'd like to generalize this to trauma on a character only there to suffer the trauma as motivation for another character--especially the main character.

Although the rape version is the worst offender by far in my experience.

I don't get this at all. What's wrong with having a character take action because of a trauma happening to someone they care about? Often, the person in an abusive situation doesn't have the power to do something about it themselves, or they at least perceive that they don't have that power.

It might not fit with your views, but there are people (both men and women) who sit around and wait for someone to fix the situation for them. And there are people (men and women) who care enough about these other people to help them.

Now if you have every woman in your story getting raped, that's one thing. But I think it's ridiculous if you're going to stop reading the story because one instance of this happens.

Lillith1991
07-11-2014, 09:08 AM
Now if you have every woman in your story getting raped, that's one thing. But I think it's ridiculous if you're going to stop reading the story because one instance of this happens.

Using it only as a plot device cheapens the trauma for me, especially as it's touted as being for realisms sake. Look how gritty and dark my world is! Often writers don't look beyond that when including rape or torture into their works and I feel they should.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-11-2014, 09:14 AM
I don't get this at all. What's wrong with having a character take action because of a trauma happening to someone they care about? Often, the person in an abusive situation doesn't have the power to do something about it themselves, or they at least perceive that they don't have that power.

It might not fit with your views, but there are people (both men and women) who sit around and wait for someone to fix the situation for them. And there are people (men and women) who care enough about these other people to help them.

Now if you have every woman in your story getting raped, that's one thing. But I think it's ridiculous if you're going to stop reading the story because one instance of this happens.


It's an incredibly common trope, and often it's done in a poorly-executed and sexist manner. It's also often used to motivate a protagonist who otherwise would sit around all day doing nothing.

There are times when it can work, just like a chosen one story, but unlike a chosen one story, when it's done poorly, it's more than just a shitty job of writing, it's dehumanizing, objectifying, and incredibly sexist.

Roxxsmom
07-11-2014, 09:57 AM
It's an incredibly common trope, and often it's done in a poorly-executed and sexist manner. It's also often used to motivate a protagonist who otherwise would sit around all day doing nothing.

There are times when it can work, just like a chosen one story, but unlike a chosen one story, when it's done poorly, it's more than just a shitty job of writing, it's dehumanizing, objectifying, and incredibly sexist.

I think this sums it up well. It's not that it's bad in of itself, but sometimes it seems like the only purpose a female character has is to be killed, kidnapped, or raped in order to galvanize the (male) protagonist into action. Or maybe she was the one really cool female character in the whole story, and the author goes and kills her. It can be done in reverse too, of course, or be done with a brother or father or friend to the mc, and flat, one-dimensional characters of any gender are annoying, but when interesting, well-rounded women are already rarer in some kinds of fantasy and SF, well...

Keyan
07-11-2014, 03:19 PM
Yeah, I hate that as well. I'm all for a ladies' man or a woman that attracts men like moths to a flame, but someone SOMEONE isn't going to like you. And that makes it all the more interesting.

Oh no! Because you know they're going to end up together in the end....

Keyan
07-11-2014, 03:47 PM
So there's this book. I *want* to like it, for a number of reasons. The title is cool. The cover is cool. The author is cool. The reviews are good.

The book opens with a nasty torture scene. So I've put it down. Maybe I'll pick it up again because I'm motivated.

I don't have the blanket objection to torture that I do to rape. But a scene where a lot of people I don't know are suffering terribly and messily? Certainly a barrier to entry.

Reziac
07-11-2014, 04:26 PM
Oh no! Because you know they're going to end up together in the end....

Mine don't. :evil

rwm4768
07-11-2014, 07:44 PM
Using it only as a plot device cheapens the trauma for me, especially as it's touted as being for realisms sake. Look how gritty and dark my world is! Often writers don't look beyond that when including rape or torture into their works and I feel they should.

So the issue isn't so much that it serves a plot purpose. It's that authors don't handle the trauma aspect of it well. That makes more sense. Something like rape, or any other severe trauma, should have a lasting impact on the character it happens to.

Also, when it comes to handling rape, does your attitude toward it differ based on whether or not the author actually shows the rape? I'm wondering because one of my projects has a character who gets raped. I don't show it, though, because I'd feel kind of sick writing a scene like that.

I'm worried now because I do have a rape serving as motivation for one of my male characters. Not for revenge, though. He just wants to get his friend away from the situation (which seems like a realistic motivation to me).

Wilde_at_heart
07-11-2014, 08:00 PM
I'm not one for graphic depictions of violence regardless. If I'm already into the story enough to want to read on I'll skim (much like covering my eyes in a horror film during the gory scenes) and if there's too much I'll just put it down. And not just rape, but also torture, parents who abuse their children, animal cruelty or suffering.

I got through American Psycho, though I knew ahead of time it was graphic, and I just skimmed those parts. Also the premise of the story was fairly fresh at that point and now it's been done; no need to read a similar one.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-11-2014, 10:34 PM
So the issue isn't so much that it serves a plot purpose. It's that authors don't handle the trauma aspect of it well. That makes more sense. Something like rape, or any other severe trauma, should have a lasting impact on the character it happens to.

Also, when it comes to handling rape, does your attitude toward it differ based on whether or not the author actually shows the rape? I'm wondering because one of my projects has a character who gets raped. I don't show it, though, because I'd feel kind of sick writing a scene like that.

I'm worried now because I do have a rape serving as motivation for one of my male characters. Not for revenge, though. He just wants to get his friend away from the situation (which seems like a realistic motivation to me).



Have you ever heard of "women in refrigerators"? It's similar to the rape issue, except it originally dealt with deaths. There's a lot more commentary on it in the sff community, so you might find something that helps you understand better.

It's not just that the trauma aspect isn't handled well. It's the several implications made by having a male character being the one to respond to the rape of a female character.

Point 1: Why can't the female character be the one responding? She's the one that got raped, so why can't she get the motivational boost out of it? (Although this is more complicated, as there's a nasty trope that uses rape to make a "strong" female character..)

Point 2: Why do we need to use rape at all? Why can't there be some other motivation. Often it seems like the author goes: "Hmm, I need some form of motivation. What's simple and easy? Rape!" Honestly, that's pathetic. The Big Bad is the most evil person in the world, and the best motivation the author can come up with for the hero to go after him is raping one of the hero's female friends?

Point 3: It makes the woman into a powerless character who needs the big badass hero to protect her, falling back onto the damsel in distress trope where the female lead has little or no agency of her own, and has no purpose but to serve as a tool for the men in the plot: first, as a target for sexual violence to make the bad guy look evil, and second, as a plot device to drive the hero. And that's ofter her only purpose! Making a human being into a plot device is incredibly de-humanizing, and almost always affects only female characters.




Like everything, your story example depends on execution. Helping the woman to escape the situation is slightly less dehumanizing than using her as a revenge motivation, but it still takes the power away from a female character and gives it to a man, so depending on how it's done, it could be just as bad.

Whenever I see a rape happening in the story, my first major question is "Why? What does having a rape in the story add that nothing else does?" If you have a reall good answer to that question, you're a step on the right track.

rwm4768
07-11-2014, 10:59 PM
I'll address these points for my book, though I do agree with them in general.



Point 1: Why can't the female character be the one responding? She's the one that got raped, so why can't she get the motivational boost out of it? (Although this is more complicated, as there's a nasty trope that uses rape to make a "strong" female character..)

For one thing, she's already a broken person before the rape. She feels a lot of guilt over the fact that she was forced to use her magic to kill people. Currently, she is a slave, and her owner is attracted to her. She doesn't want to use her magic to escape because it would expose her as possessing a type of magic that's illegal. Also, she can't do the precise type of magic she needs to escape. Only my male character has that ability. So it's not so much about her being unable to do anything because she's a woman, but because of other factors that have nothing to do with gender.




In my case, this isn't the big bad. The slave owner is just a minor antagonist. And their goal is to escape him, not to get revenge.

[quote]Point 3: It makes the woman into a powerless character who needs the big badass hero to protect her, falling back onto the damsel in distress trope where the female lead has little or no agency of her own, and has no purpose but to serve as a tool for the men in the plot: first, as a target for sexual violence to make the bad guy look evil, and second, as a plot device to drive the hero. And that's ofter her only purpose! Making a human being into a plot device is incredibly de-humanizing, and almost always affects only female characters.

This character isn't the female lead. She's a supporting character who doesn't have any POV sections. She's also there as a friend for the male-POV character (and possibly more than a friend). She also is quite talented in what magic she can do.

I can see how an author would misuse rape, especially if there's rape happening everywhere and it always follows the same pattern. But one rape doesn't make a pattern. Even if I thought an author handled it poorly, I wouldn't stop reading.

Now if you start going all Gor, that's a different story.

Thunderclap Harrier
07-11-2014, 11:33 PM
Using it only as a plot device cheapens the trauma for me, especially as it's touted as being for realisms sake. Look how gritty and dark my world is! Often writers don't look beyond that when including rape or torture into their works and I feel they should.

That's an interesting rationale for including said act, as a series viewed as the grimdarkest of grimdark, The First Law, doesn't use rape. I can think of two novels that do employ it, Prince of Thorns and The Cold Commands. In both instances, it doesn't at all come across as a tool used to make the settings dark and gritty and realistic.
I have seen rape and other acts of dehumanization used in another novel that I really enjoyed, Beloved. Given that this is the emotional journey of a disenfranchised American fleeing slavery in the south, it fits and doesn't feel exploitative.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-11-2014, 11:50 PM
I'll address these points for my book, though I do agree with them in general.



For one thing, she's already a broken person before the rape. She feels a lot of guilt over the fact that she was forced to use her magic to kill people. Currently, she is a slave, and her owner is attracted to her. She doesn't want to use her magic to escape because it would expose her as possessing a type of magic that's illegal. Also, she can't do the precise type of magic she needs to escape. Only my male character has that ability. So it's not so much about her being unable to do anything because she's a woman, but because of other factors that have nothing to do with gender.

[quote[Point 2: Why do we need to use rape at all? Why can't there be some other motivation. Often it seems like the author goes: "Hmm, I need some form of motivation. What's simple and easy? Rape!" Honestly, that's pathetic. The Big Bad is the most evil person in the world, and the best motivation the author can come up with for the hero to go after him is raping one of the hero's female friends?

In my case, this isn't the big bad. The slave owner is just a minor antagonist. And their goal is to escape him, not to get revenge.



This character isn't the female lead. She's a supporting character who doesn't have any POV sections. She's also there as a friend for the male-POV character (and possibly more than a friend). She also is quite talented in what magic she can do.

I can see how an author would misuse rape, especially if there's rape happening everywhere and it always follows the same pattern. But one rape doesn't make a pattern. Even if I thought an author handled it poorly, I wouldn't stop reading.

Now if you start going all Gor, that's a different story.[/QUOTE]


I don't think it's pertinent to this thread to dissect individual examples of the use of rape in fiction. I haven't read your book, and there's only so much information you can get across without sharing the full text. But in general, using the rape of a female character as a motivation for a male character is risking reader displeasure and perhaps misstepping in terms of the issues I mentioned above. It's impossible to judge your handling of the issue until the book is published and people are responding to it.

Roxxsmom
07-12-2014, 02:12 AM
Mine don't. :evil

That would be a twist--the two people who find each other irritating at the beginning of the novel still finding each other irritating at the end. Or maybe they come together in a tumultuous wave of passion, then break up because they irritate each other too much when they're not in the sack.

Reziac
07-12-2014, 03:42 AM
That would be a twist--the two people who find each other irritating at the beginning of the novel still finding each other irritating at the end. Or maybe they come together in a tumultuous wave of passion, then break up because they irritate each other too much when they're not in the sack.

Have you been snooping in my manuscript? That's pretty much how it goes! :D

RikWriter
07-12-2014, 04:24 AM
That would be a twist--the two people who find each other irritating at the beginning of the novel still finding each other irritating at the end. Or maybe they come together in a tumultuous wave of passion, then break up because they irritate each other too much when they're not in the sack.

Or even just keep each other around as a bootie call but not hang out otherwise. I know people who are like that IRL.

Lillith1991
07-12-2014, 04:45 AM
That's an interesting rationale for including said act, as a series viewed as the grimdarkest of grimdark, The First Law, doesn't use rape. I can think of two novels that do employ it, Prince of Thorns and The Cold Commands. In both instances, it doesn't at all come across as a tool used to make the settings dark and gritty and realistic.
I have seen rape and other acts of dehumanization used in another novel that I really enjoyed, Beloved. Given that this is the emotional journey of a disenfranchised American fleeing slavery in the south, it fits and doesn't feel exploitative.

To the bits I've bolded: Those would be examples of where the trope appears to be used properly. The author gave the subject the respect it deserves and you as a reader were able to tell.

I'm thinking of using it in one of my future projects with the rational that rape is an age old way to break prisoners will, and a hostile alien entity would be considered a prisoner. But contrary to the trope this wont be what spur my MC a female scientist into action, it will be the second to last straw to her with the project. The final straw will be the person in charge of the base not addressing how her subject has been assaulted and dissmissing the undeniable proof of the event having taken place at least once. That will be what makes her act, the person in charge refusing to listen.

I may actually not even use the trope at all, I'm not entirely sure. But I've made sure that if I do use it, that I've made it intergral to the story instead of something easily worked around. As it stands, removing it would drastically change the story enough it wouldn't be recognizable without it. I've tied important future events to the event. My problem is that people rarely do this, make it so much a part of the story that future events hinge on it. It's used as a throw away thing, and I don't find that acceptable.

Roxxsmom
07-12-2014, 05:20 AM
I think the "giving the subject the respect it deserves" is a good way of putting it for me too.

And thinking whether or not it's really what best serves the story. It's amazing how often people fall back on rape as almost a generic horror. Not saying it never works, but sometimes there are better ways to develop a character via adversity.

I was thinking of having rape as part of the traumatic backstory for my FMC, because she needed something of which she was ashamed and which made her doubt her judgement, and which would give her the resonance she needs with the MMC and his situation when meets him (he also has a secret shame, which is not rape, but a terrible mistake he'd made). Then I got to thinking about why this "had" to be rape for a woman character? She was a healer who had struggled with her decision to leave her home village and pursue formal training, so it made much more sense to have her issue be that she'd botched an attempt to heal her father with her innate talent (when he was injured), and he'd died as a result and almost killed her as well.

This worked immeasurably better for the character and the situation, and it didn't fall into that "rape as default traumatic backstory" for a woman thing.

Though I suppose it means I fridged her dad off camera.

Dead fathers. Another cliche (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeceasedParentsAreTheBest). My own dad would be annoyed with me over it if he weren't dead too. What can you do?

Lillith1991
07-12-2014, 05:33 AM
I think the "giving the subject the respect it deserves" is a good way of putting it for me too.

And thinking whether or not it's really what best serves the story. It's amazing how often people fall back on rape as almost a generic horror. Not saying it never works, but sometimes there are better ways to develop a character via adversity.

I was thinking of having rape as part of the traumatic backstory for my FMC, because she needed something of which she was ashamed and which made her doubt her judgement, and which would give her the resonance she needs with the MMC and his situation when meets him (he also has a secret shame, which is not rape, but a terrible mistake he'd made). Then I got to thinking about why this "had" to be rape for a woman character? She was a healer who had struggled with her decision to leave her home village and pursue formal training, so it made much more sense to have her issue be that she'd botched an attempt to heal her father with her innate talent (when he was injured), and he'd died as a result and almost killed her as well.

This worked immeasurably better for the character and the situation, and it didn't fall into that "rape as default traumatic backstory" for a woman thing.

Though I suppose it means I fridged her dad off camera.

This! The bolded part! I made sure it will be intergral to the story and I'm still iffy about whether I will include it or not, and it would mean massive changes to what happens in the story, mess with the pacing etc. Even knowing I made sure it was an unavoidable part of the story doesn't make me feel better about whether I will use it or not. It just means I did what I should and made it more than a throw away thing, gave it proper respect. All for something I may just end up throwing the last 3/4th of my plan out in order to avoid it, that's how much I tied it into what happens in the story.

RikWriter
07-12-2014, 05:33 AM
re: the use of rape as a storytelling tool, I've actually never had a rape in one of my novels, but I did have an attempted rape. I had a character who was a very naïve do-gooder type who was so convinced that the colonists she was trying to help knew she was on their side and wouldn't hurt her, even after one of them tried to use her as a hostage. So when she and the MC are on the run and try to turn to a colonist family for help, I had the leader of the local farming collective turn out to be the one who'd been behind the plan to use her as a hostage and he tries to rape her. The MC interrupts and starts a fight and she winds up killing her attempted rapist with his own hunting knife.
This transforms her character fundamentally---the rape attempt traumatizes her, and it takes a while for her to get over it, but what really transformed her was killing her attempted rapist. She finally understood that some people aren't evil just because they're desperate (which was how she had characterized the attempt to take her hostage) but just because they're evil.
I suppose I could have done it some other way, but they weren't going to kill her because they still wanted to use her as political leverage, and she couldn't have killed the guy without the MC starting the fight. And he wouldn't have risked fighting unarmed against armed men unless it was to save her.

Reziac
07-12-2014, 05:48 AM
Or even just keep each other around as a bootie call but not hang out otherwise. I know people who are like that IRL.

Ha! my characters do that too! these two barely know each other, yet every time they meet, two seconds later they're in the sack! And that's about the sum of the relationship. Well, I guess it must suit 'em...

RikWriter
07-12-2014, 06:12 AM
Ha! my characters do that too! these two barely know each other, yet every time they meet, two seconds later they're in the sack! And that's about the sum of the relationship. Well, I guess it must suit 'em...

You know, not to go off on too much of a tangent, but that's another story-killer for me, the unresolved romantic tension thing. IRL, when two people are sexually attracted to each other and not otherwise attached, they usually wind up having sex unless they're very religious and wish to wait till marriage. A lot of the time, the relationship doesn't last because sexual attraction, while a lot of fun, doesn't guarantee compatibility.
What I'd love to see more on TV and in book series is the two "sexual tension" characters just decide to have a fling and then HAVE IT NOT WORK OUT. Because that's what happens to real people. Then they keep working together and try not to let it interfere with their friendship/working relationship, which guarantees some dramatic tension storytelling moments.
But almost no one does this, particularly on TV.

rwm4768
07-12-2014, 08:06 AM
I think the rape trope, like any other trope, depends entirely on how you handle it. No trope is bad simply because it's a trope, or because some writers have handled it badly. Writers should be judged on the quality of their stories, and how they handle such things, not on the mere presence of a trope.

That being said, I would prefer not to read a rape scene, and I doubt I'll ever write one. It just doesn't seem necessary to show the act itself.

Reziac
07-12-2014, 09:12 AM
What I'd love to see more on TV and in book series is the two "sexual tension" characters just decide to have a fling and then HAVE IT NOT WORK OUT. Because that's what happens to real people. Then they keep working together and try not to let it interfere with their friendship/working relationship, which guarantees some dramatic tension storytelling moments.
But almost no one does this, particularly on TV.

Yeah, there seems to be this general thing (not just "sexual tension") where if we start something, it MUST work out, because by being started it has eliminated all potentially competing storylines. So flings always work out, wildassed schemes always work out, getting into a fight always works out...

Ha, not in my universe. Probably because I very seldom go into a scene with any preconceived notion of how or even IF it has to work out.... and because my Node of Perversity is always looking for a place to chuck a spanner.

Roxxsmom
07-12-2014, 11:27 AM
What I'd love to see more on TV and in book series is the two "sexual tension" characters just decide to have a fling and then HAVE IT NOT WORK OUT. Because that's what happens to real people. Then they keep working together and try not to let it interfere with their friendship/working relationship, which guarantees some dramatic tension storytelling moments.
But almost no one does this, particularly on TV.

Well, I've seen some of that on TV. Big Bang Theory had the whole thing with Leonard and Penny, though they were still digging on each other and eventually got it together again. I don't watch that much TV, though.

As for novels: I've actually seen far more relationships not working out, even ending in true antipathy, lately in epic fantasy by newer authors at least. I actually wish the pendulum would swing a bit back the other way. It's fine as an occasional variant, but I kind of think the romantic cynicism is actually a bit thick these days in epic fantasy at least.

Sometimes relationships do work out in real life, and if fiction has traditionally erred in that direction, isn't it because it's what most people want for themselves, and a lot of reading is about wish fulfillment? It makes me happy and fuzzy inside when people I've come to care about (even fallen a bit in love with) get what they want at the end of the story. What they want doesn't have to be love, but it can be.

In real life, in my experience at least, it's so rare for two people to mutually realize they're not suited for one another romantically, even though they really like and respect one another as friends. Usually one person gets hurt enough that maintaining a close friendship is hard, at least for a while (and recovery often entails meeting someone else and having that work out much better).

I'm pretty good friends with two of my exes, one where I ended it, and one where the other person ended it. But it took some time apart, and the hurt person in each case meeting someone new, before it was completely comfortable.

CrastersBabies
07-12-2014, 11:45 PM
Rape is not hands-off, but when you use it as a "stock method" to break a woman, it's just stupid these days. Audiences (readers) can smell the overused tropes a mile away and while one you might find one in a thousand that can pull it off, most flounder in a very ham-fisted manner.

And we're to the point in our society where these gender issues aren't gimmicks anymore. They're serious matters that should hold the utmost of weight.

Roxxsmom
07-13-2014, 12:44 AM
And we're to the point in our society where these gender issues aren't gimmicks anymore. They're serious matters that should hold the utmost of weight.

This too, and rape is a special case in some ways (as opposed to other forms of torture, trauma, or other crimes that attack the victim's sense of autonomy and selfhood) because:

1. it's so darned common in real life that many of your female readers (and a surprising number of males too) have experienced it.

2. Society still doesn't really understand or accept what it is. People often blame the victims or think the only "true" (or legitimate) rape is a leering stranger with a weapon jumping an innocent woman--every other variant is simply a misunderstanding or the victim being at least partially at fault,

So treating it in a narrow, cliched, dismissive, or unrealistic manner (or presenting it as if there were just one "proper" way to feel about it) can feel like a slap in the face to victims who read your book.

Eddy Rod-Kubry
07-13-2014, 03:27 AM
Something else that bothers me is when people write novels that are purportedly SF but are actually just a military novel or a thriller or a romance "in space!" with the concomitant lack of attention to detail. Setting something in space and using technobabble doesn't make it science fiction.

This. I appreciate, and even demand, good worldbuilding in SF, and I expect some effort.

TheRob1
07-13-2014, 08:53 AM
So, a story killer for me is the robot/AI/Android that wants to be a real boy. I still remember in the Pilot for TNG (encounter at Farpoint) where Data points out that in many ways he's superior to humans and then spends 7 seasons trying to be one. It seems like this is the only character arc a robot character gets. The notable exception being Bender Bending Rodriguez.

I've addressed rape in on two seperate occasions in my stories. In a sci fi one I have a character elude to the idea that she was raped (when in fact she wasn't). She does so because she's under a false identity and she's trying to play on the Protags sympathies in hoping that they won't ask too many questions because 'she can't face it'.

In a euro-style fantasy a female character is a runaway slave who was raped several times. I haven't gone very far in this story, but one thing that happens is that she and the guy that she's traveling with are staying on a farm for a few days and the farmer's son tries to seduce/force himself on her. She rejects him/runs away from him. He tries to shout at her/shame her for not accepting her advances. He doesn't know what happened to her (but that's not really an excuse).

That's twice out of 6 or so projects and one is still in the early first draft and probably will remain that way for a few years until I have time to work through my higher priority projects. Maybe I handle them well, maybe I don't, that's a conversation I'll have with my betas when the time comes.

Nivarion
07-13-2014, 10:06 AM
Important plot elements discussed after sex. Instantly shoots down the story, especially if it's a long scene. The longer it is, the less likely I am to get through it.

I also can't stand when all of the named characters have been killed before we've reached the end of the story. Sorry, my emotional investment hasn't been returned and now you're asking me to make another in your story. Sorry Mr. Martin, not doing it.

Soapboxing. When an author spends too much time hammering their social agenda instead of letting me see my interpretation of the events. You know the ones, where something happens where you can draw an interpretation either way but they're going to hammer to make sure you get THEIR idea of it.

CrastersBabies
07-13-2014, 09:33 PM
Soapboxing. When an author spends too much time hammering their social agenda instead of letting me see my interpretation of the events. You know the ones, where something happens where you can draw an interpretation either way but they're going to hammer to make sure you get THEIR idea of it.

God Emperor of Dune anyone? I swear, Herbert went loco during the writing of this. Or maybe he was already there. By the end, I had learned that only women should be in the military because they don't rape, but that they kind of suck in the military and fail.

And then a bunch of esoteric metaphysical crap that I can't remember.

rwm4768
07-14-2014, 07:40 AM
For me, it's actually quite simple. The story is boring.

I don't care so much what tropes you use, what kinds of characters you write, or even how good the writing is. As long as the story is entertaining.

Latina Bunny
07-14-2014, 08:13 AM
I haven't read all of the posts yet, but for me, a big story killer is female characters being abused/raped or portrayed as either witchy or sex objects. Or if the only token female is just a love interest. I am very, very sick of those tropes. Can't I have a girl with no rape/abuse/prostitute issues? Many male characters (and several MG female characters) seem fine without those issues.

I mean, you can still have some of those tropes, (except the rape one), but I dislike that they happen too often to female characters. Or that all female characters in a story has those tropes. Or that every culture is patriarchal.

I'm not into gory violence, explicit torture or rape (for either sex), so I tend to avoid such stories that have those.

Oh, and purple prose.

Maxx
07-18-2014, 11:20 PM
For me it's the preaching.

Johncs, still looking for the giant robots.

You know why there aren't any giant robots? It's like Thomas Jefferson said, until every logical circuit stands up, sits down and takes notes being totally responsible for everything, any government that doesn't make every circuit totally responsible for everything is going to spy on you until you are totally responsible for everything. It's that simple.

Thomas Jefferson, January 7, 1798.

WornTraveler
07-20-2014, 12:01 AM
Many women prefer men who are hair-free.

Becoming hair-free is not an "effect of aging"; it is a sign of maturation. Male children have full heads of hair, but adult males are hair-free.

Certainly some prefer to hold onto the signs of youth as long as possible, but there are many early middle-aged men (20 to 40) who shave their heads to try to gain the appearance of being older. Tastes vary.

LOL. I've lurked these forums a while, but this. This made me post.Sounds like somebody's feeling a little jilted by his hair to me. Thou doth protest too much: *most* men experience only mild baldness, if any. :tongue

In the spirit of not derailing the thread for a pointless resurrected post, my single biggest story-killer's a run-on internal dialogue. Entire paragraphs of the protagonist considering their options/circumstances/ etc. Usually w/ (hate to say it) female protags for some reason (independent of the author's gender) and, I feel ridiculously prevalent in Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Not to say the technique doesn't have it's place- a huge advantage of novels over film is the ability to truly get in a character's head- but overkill will make me never finish a book. Much better to see the character's internal decision/indecision/whatever reflected in a few telling actions or some concise dialogue over half of every chapter with this (in the worst cases even rehashing already established facts).

With both Sci-Fi & Fantasy, 'idealized' civilizations which aren't flawed in the slightest irk me to end. Same thing with perfect love interests. Sorry, this isn't fairytale, don't get a free pass on human flaws just because the protag's in love with this character. Everyone has bad days where they're a total jerkface and unpleasant traits.

With Sci-Fi specifically, if I read another "Insert Genre Here, But With Barely Used Spaceships", then I'm a Muppet. In a barely used Spaceship.

With Fantasy, anything that sounds too much like a Tolkien/Rowling ripoff past the first thirty pages has failed to prove itself unique enough to deserve my attention. Basically, if there's an Evil Artifact and a Long Journey/Quest involving an Interracial Company, or there's a Vaguely Powerful Youngster/Possibly The Chosen One, attending an Institution For 'Otherly' People, it had better get pretty friggin' unique pretty friggin' quickly.

Blinkk
07-20-2014, 11:57 PM
Alright, I'm going to leave another post in this thread. I see in this fantasy stories from time to time and it really gets under my skin.

I don't normally read YA urban fantasy, but I was bored so I picked up this novel called Wings. In it, there are trolls disguised as humans, except when they're humans they look very ugly and very odd. The protag doesn't realize they're trolls until she meets a fairy that tells her so. Cue the, "Tell me about trolls" discussion.

The fairy info dumps a whole history about trolls and how they've managed to exist in our world. The trolls are currently trying to find the portal to Avalon, the fairy world. But we learn Avalon wasn't always the fairy world. Trolls used to live there too. And in this info dump, we're told that fairies and trolls did not get along. So one day the fairies decided to rise up and kick out the trolls because they're different and the trolls stole a lot of stuff from the fairies. So the fairies launched war on the trolls and killed almost all of them. Except the few that slipped through the portal to the human world. So now, the few remaining trolls left are trying to get back into Avalon through this secret portal. They're the Big Bad in this story, and they are not nice to humans. Or fairies.

Okay, fine and dandy. I get it's a fantasy story. I get that you needed a Big Bad to cause drama. I understand all that, but when I read this back story I literally put the book down and walked away because it sounds like what the colonials did to the Native Americans. Or what Hitler did to the Jews. It's a genocide! The fairies couldn't get along with the trolls so they decided to kill them by the thousands??! What?! How does that make me like the fairies?! Maybe the trolls are upset and have a right to be upset. If you killed my people by the thousands, then kicked me out of my home you bet I'd have a big bad chip on my shoulder.

I was also really put off by how the author kept using the word ugly in connotation with the trolls. The uglier the troll is, the more higher ranking it is. As if evil things are automatically ugly thing. I also see some authors do this with fat people and it drives me crazy. You can be ugly/fat and good. Those traits are completely separate and have nothing to do with each other. (And of frickin course, the "good" people are drop dead gorgeous. Weren't we just talking about that in this thread?)

Anyways, these fairies are elitists and conquerors in a really horribly violent way. I'm just supposed to accept that and keep rooting for them? Blahhh I can't, maybe because I'm Jewish, or maybe because I'm married to a Cherokee man. idk, maybe I just don't think launching a massive war on another race is acceptable on the basis of "we couldn't get along." The faries in this story suck, and unfortunately I've seen this in other fantasy stories where there's some big bad ugly race (orcs, trolls, goblins) that are just bad for the sake of being bad. It's a plot device for a "good" group (elves, wizards, humans, warriors) to come in and be conquerors.

:Soapbox:
m'kay, stepping off the soap box now...

Mr Flibble
07-21-2014, 12:15 AM
Lawks that bugs the hell out of me too (and I've no Jewish in me and I'm not married to anyone but another Anglo Saxon)

If you fuck with someone and ruin not just their lives but their entire culture....well tbh my sympathy is with them, not you. I read a book a while ago -- I don't recall the name -- where the "good" guys had driven the "Bad Guys" from their homeland and all but eradicated them. And then wondered why they were so upset? That was a flinger right there.



Confession: I have used the fat one in a series (but to be fair, 95% of the population were surviving on gruel and/or rats so anyone who looks even well fed will be suspect as in suspected of being part of the ruling class who get all the good stuff and revel in it...) It's not like everyone has access to lots of food. And historically, fat = rich, it was even a status symbol -- hey I'm so rich I can afford all this food AND afford to have people to do all the things for me! (see Henry VIII and similar) so I was kind of riffing on that.... But that is probably something I could have been more subtle about also.

Blinkk
07-21-2014, 12:37 AM
Confession: I have used the fat one in a series (but to be fair, 95% of the population were surviving on gruel and/or rats so anyone who looks even well fed will be suspect as in suspected of being part of the ruling class who get all the good stuff and revel in it...) It's not like everyone has access to lots of food. And historically, fat = rich, it was even a status symbol -- hey I'm so rich I can afford all this food AND afford to have people to do all the things for me! (see Henry VIII and similar) so I was kind of riffing on that.... But that is probably something I could have been more subtle about also.

There are proper ways to do it, and this is one of them. If it's a status cultural symbol, that's okay as long as you make me believe it. The story I read had ugly people as bad guys for no logical reason except...well...wait no...there was no reason. They just were.

If you make a fat/ugly person evilish 'just because', well, that bothers me. Stereotypes like that don't need to exist.

Mr Flibble
07-21-2014, 12:41 AM
.
If you make a fat/ugly person evilish 'just because', well, that bothers me. Stereotypes like that don't need to exist.

If you make anyone evil "just because" it bothers me (although I daresay I've done it without realising ....) Tattoos = evil, biker wearing leathers = stupid and evil, blonde = stupid...


I get that it can be a handy signpost (we all make assumptions) but the trick is to either twist those assumptions (that leather clad biker is in fact the leading neuroscientist...) or somehow show them to be more than the stereotype.

psyche24
07-21-2014, 12:47 AM
Lawks that bugs the hell out of me too (and I've no Jewish in me and I'm not married to anyone but another Anglo Saxon)

If you fuck with someone and ruin not just their lives but their entire culture....well tbh my sympathy is with them, not you. I read a book a while ago -- I don't recall the name -- where the "good" guys had driven the "Bad Guys" from their homeland and all but eradicated them. And then wondered why they were so upset? That was a flinger right there.



Confession: I have used the fat one in a series (but to be fair, 95% of the population were surviving on gruel and/or rats so anyone who looks even well fed will be suspect as in suspected of being part of the ruling class who get all the good stuff and revel in it...) It's not like everyone has access to lots of food. And historically, fat = rich, it was even a status symbol -- hey I'm so rich I can afford all this food AND afford to have people to do all the things for me! (see Henry VIII and similar) so I was kind of riffing on that.... But that is probably something I could have been more subtle about also.


I read that series and it does work- they weren't just fat but smug too.

LynnKHollander
08-05-2014, 06:15 AM
Vampires that don't act anything like vampires.

Magic that pretends to be science.


~~There is no natural history of Vampires. However they behave depends entirely on the author.
~~Magic can be treated in a scientific way: "Using these ingredients in this spell gives this result. Changing frankincense for amber gives this other result."
What bothers me is the "Magic, magic, do what you will," nonsense, which denies human control beyond the invocation.

WhitePawn
08-05-2014, 10:11 PM
Two reasons for me to put a book down:
1. I continue to successfully predict what will happen next.
2. The audiobook narrator READS to me instead of being the narrative voice. Doesn't help the writer much, but there it is.
3. Honorable mention: the new and awesome love interest of the protag is the/a bad guy directly involved in the main plot problem.


On balding:

Bald can be attractive. Hair can be attractive. Balding is about as attractive as a man with poor hygiene and bad credit who lives in his mother's basement with only video game "achievements" on his list of personal accomplishments.


On rape in books:

If you've ever poured through accounts by rapists, then you'll find a running theme. It's insidious, it's sick, but it's reality. Sex is a commodity. Given certain opportunities, certain mindsets (including feeling owed, often), and/or certain social validations (think group/crowd settings at their worst) these guys engage with little to no regard to who or what s/he is.

One rapist account likened his victims to a pack of smokes left out on a table, a valuable, addictive commodity left out for anyone to take. As simple and as callous as that.

There is a sex industry. Again, commodity. Crude, but reality. I liked the smokes analogy from the self-report because it put things in terms of an itchy addiction. Even non-smokers who quit itch for cigarettes now and again. Helps me crawl inside that alien perspective, at least with words.

I think rape happens in books because we build action by pulling from our own societies and then slapping those acts onto the worlds we build. Unfortunately, rape isn't uncommon. (See: South Africa) Even less so when the lizard brain is tapped.

You can flip it around. I have a matriarchal society in one region of my fantasy book. The matriarch of a household doesn't like the way her indentured/owned servant looks at her daughter. She makes him a eunuch to stave off a perceived threat, and no he doesn't have a say in the matter. No one even blinks. Her act is accepted within that society when she'd likely be put to death in another. (His value as a servant, btw, then doubles.) Rape is punishable by public castration on the first offense. Rape is fairly rare in this society. Maybe you can do this without being matriarchal. Certainly ground for world-building opportunity provided you tap on some dis-incentive that clearly isn't present in American society.

I just look for plausibility in human nature and in the world presented. If it doesn't gel or feel "real" on some level, then it bothers me. But to flat out put a book down because I hate what's happening to the character? No.

LynnKHollander
08-06-2014, 12:30 AM
In terms of fantasy, I kind of dislike it when dragons pretty much behave and communicate like humans. Hearing them talk just...bothers me.
~~I don't get that at all. I have always assumed dragons can pass the Turing Test. As for behaving and talking like humans, see above, but also why shouldn't they talk to us or to dolphins or whoever?
Talking beasts are a very old convention. Currently we may have switched to androids/robots, but communication with the Other is an ancient practice.

Roxxsmom
08-06-2014, 02:09 AM
If you make anyone evil "just because" it bothers me (although I daresay I've done it without realising ....) Tattoos = evil, biker wearing leathers = stupid and evil, blonde = stupid...


I get that it can be a handy signpost (we all make assumptions) but the trick is to either twist those assumptions (that leather clad biker is in fact the leading neuroscientist...) or somehow show them to be more than the stereotype.

Case in point, I met an older guy a while back who was covered in tattoos and goes around in Harley Davidson Leathers. He has been married to his wife for almost thirty years, has two kids who are college graduates and professionals, and has a little bitty dog whom he dotes on (and dresses in a tiny Harley Davidson coat). And he really is a nice guy.

Some negative stereotypes probably do more harm than others. In spite of the "dumb blond" stereotype, Blond women actually tend to make more money (http://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2013/03/20/you-are-judged-by-your-appearance/) than their demographically matched dark-haired peers (while heavy women earn less), so the dumb blond thing doesn't seem to prevent gainful employment overall. This may be why some of my blond friends love blond jokes and say things like, "Sorry, I was having a blond moment." I assume it's because there's no legislation that restricts where they can live, whom they can marry, or that allows people to deny them employment or service.

So it's probably not a good idea to create false equivalencies (as in saying something like, "Sure, black people are discriminated against, but I'm blond, and everyone thinks we're airheads, so we're even.")

Still, I've seen the blond stereotype do harm. One of my cousins, who is blond and attractive (and also quite smart) has always had to deal with her (dark-haired) father's quips about how amazed he is at her achievements, considering she's "not the sharpest knife in the drawer." This has affected her self perception over the years.

It is so cool to read a book where people who are usually treated in a shallow, stereotyped way are actually given some love. This can mean a lot to a person, especially a kid, reading the story.

Blinkk
08-06-2014, 06:52 AM
Case in point, I met an older guy a while back who was covered in tattoos and goes around in Harley Davidson Leathers. He has been married to his wife for almost thirty years, has two kids who are college graduates and professionals, and has a little bitty dog whom he dotes on (and dresses in a tiny Harley Davidson coat). And he really is a nice guy.

I met the nicest woman a year ago. She was heavy in a really warm fuzzy way, like a warm auntie who bakes lots of cookies. She wore pink sweaters and loved hugs and had the cutest way of saying how adorable everyone was. She had to make sure everyone else was fed before she sat down and ate. She seemed like the greatest mom ever.

I saw her speak at an AA meeting and she told her back story. When she was 16 she dated a guy from Hells Angels and had a baby. Then lots of drama happened and when they broke up, he hired a hit man to kill her. She ran away, lived under dumpsters and stole from grocery stores, purses, and parked cars while trying to raise a baby. I think she became a hooker at some point. There was a part in the story where she met the guy that was trying to take her out, but I really don't remember what happened. Something with a gun...

Anyways, just sayin, I would've never guessed this precious fifty-something year old, warm, fuzzy, woman had a history like that!

I have no issue with stereotypes (they do exist for a reason). When they're used in excess I tend to roll my eyes. Also, if they're used as a crutch I just shiver. It tends to make characters flat.

Kalsik
03-03-2018, 04:24 AM
A story killer for me is homogenous cultures, be they human or alien. Even in a hive mind I'd expect we'd find some variation, and humans alone on our single planet produce variety.

For example: One alien race are mostly pure warriors, another are mostly greedy merchants, etc, etc.

Karasue
03-03-2018, 07:57 AM
In Fantasy I will stop reading if the author gets away from Plot to show us boring everyday aspects of the world. I read one novel where it would go on for CHAPTERS of the MC growing comfortable in the new world. She painted, she ate dinner with fairies, and occasional she would go out hunting. None of this had any urgency and really didn't show any aspects of the world that I would call thrilling. It was like the author wanted to take a vacation in the world and didn't want to worry about all the "bad things" that kept the story moving forward.

I need world building WITH plot. :)

BethS
03-03-2018, 11:33 AM
I read one novel where it would go on for CHAPTERS of the MC growing comfortable in the new world. She painted, she ate dinner with fairies, and occasional she would go out hunting.

That sounds weirdly like this story. (http://sarahjmaas.com/court-of-thorns-and-roses/) If so, I assure you there is a plot and it doesn't go where you think it will (thank goodness), although admittedly I nearly stopped reading before getting to that point.

jjdebenedictis
03-03-2018, 12:01 PM
ZOMBIE THREAD!! AIGH!! **runs away**

DeClarke
03-03-2018, 10:43 PM
I got about three chapters in and the line "wind tickled his feet and he giggled like a schoolgirl" jarred me so hard.
.

I know I'm late to this party but I literally lol'd at that quote. This is why I am very cautious with metaphors/similes.

Karasue
03-04-2018, 12:49 AM
That sounds weirdly like this story. (http://sarahjmaas.com/court-of-thorns-and-roses/) If so, I assure you there is a plot and it doesn't go where you think it will (thank goodness), although admittedly I nearly stopped reading before getting to that point.

Haha! That is totally it! I finished it and it did pick up at the end but then she does the same thing in the next book and I had to stop.

zanzjan
03-04-2018, 04:10 AM
Closing necro'd thread. Hello new folks! We're happy to have you here in SFF, but if a thread has been dead for years (or really, more than six months) please just start a new one. :)