Pet Peeves in Novels
elizabeth tobey

  1. Smiled grimly.
  2. Chuckled.

I flip through the pages of a book I’m considering searching for these words. If they appear I don’t buy the book. The first is impossible, the second is meaningless. Both are capital crimes.

3. Reminding the reader of what happened in previous books in a series.

For an example of how NOT to do that read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books.

4. Cutting and pasting whole sections of character or setting description from a previous book in a series.

5. Long descriptions of meaningless settings.

Really, this is actually good for skipping large chunks of a book and getting through it quickly.

6. Ten year later….

This is when I throw the book at the wall, resenting that the author isn’t between me and the wall.

7. Incorrectly attributing quotes at the start of a book or chapter.

If it’s a really good quote, they probably didn’t say it. And even if someone really did say it, it’s probably something they’ve heard or stolen from someone else. And if it’s something that sounds significant but fits in a “quote,” it’s absolute bullshit.

8. Trilogies.

Really, the second book is always just a bridge to the third book. If properly edited they could have all been one slightly longer book anyway.

9. Thinking “research” makes you know something.

The difference between “50 Shades” and people who have sex beyond the missionary position is that people have better dialogue.

10. Breaking the rules when you don’t know them well enough yet.

Cormac McCarthy violates everything taught in writing classes. He gets away with it because he’s a great writer. He’s also been doing it for centuries, whereas if you’re in the iBooks or Amazon bestseller list you probably, to paraphrase Arsenic and Old Lace, “Have good ideas but can’t spell them.”

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