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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > General Talk > What is your reading pet peeve?
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What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68858] Sun, 11 January 2015 20:26 Go to next message
Ricky is currently offline  Ricky   United States

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Location: USA
Registered: October 2010
Messages: 36



There are certain things that will make me bail from a story before I get through the first PAGE sometimes. Other things that will make me bail in the middle.

1. A laundry list description of looks and OMG size! I'm done, turn the page.
2. Bondage, just not into not being nice.
3. Mixed Gen. The thought of an old guy with a youngster, I didn't like it when I was a kid either.

SO what trips your 'bail from a read' trigger?



Wisdom does not come with age. It occurs because of it.
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68859 is a reply to message #68858] Sun, 11 January 2015 22:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Messages: 12969



"Ricky wrote on Sun, 11 January 2015 20:26"
There are certain things that will make me bail from a story before I get through the first PAGE sometimes. Other things that will make me bail in the middle.

1. A laundry list description of looks and OMG size! I'm done, turn the page.
2. Bondage, just not into not being nice.
3. Mixed Gen. The thought of an old guy with a youngster, I didn't like it when I was a kid either.

SO what trips your 'bail from a read' trigger?

--

Have a look at my guide for aspiring authors! I'm with you and more!



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68862 is a reply to message #68858] Mon, 12 January 2015 11:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW   United Kingdom

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"Ricky wrote on Sun, 11 January 2015 20:26"

O what trips your 'bail from a read' trigger?


--

"Educational" travelogues!  They seem to be a special feature of American authors - pages and pages and pages and pages of stuff apparently culled from second-rate guidebooks, allegedly describing what their characters are experiencing on a trip somewhere.

Such authors often seem obliged to have their characters visit London, which appears to be populated solely by upper-middle-class white guys with the occasional 'loveable cockney' thrown in - which certainly bears no resemblance to the London I lived in for 30 years. Not only does it completely undermine the author's description of the everyday places they put their characters in,, but it shows a desperate lack of faith in their writing: if the story is compelling and the characters are "real", inserting several thousand words on the Tower of London, or the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or whatever, simply gets in the way! Please "show, don't tell".

The one great advantage of reading on line is that it's easy to very rapidly scroll past these vast and indigestible tracts ... though there's always a risk of missing an important plot point concealed among the turgid verbiage.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68863 is a reply to message #68862] Mon, 12 January 2015 15:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"NW wrote on Mon, 12 January 2015 11:05"

"Ricky wrote on Sun, 11 January 2015 20:26"

O what trips your 'bail from a read' trigger?



--

"Educational" travelogues!  They seem to be a special feature of American authors - pages and pages and pages and pages of stuff apparently culled from second-rate guidebooks, allegedly describing what their characters are experiencing on a trip somewhere.

Such authors often seem obliged to have their characters visit London, which appears to be populated solely by upper-middle-class white guys with the occasional 'loveable cockney' thrown in - which certainly bears no resemblance to the London I lived in for 30 years. Not only does it completely undermine the author's description of the everyday places they put their characters in,, but it shows a desperate lack of faith in their writing: if the story is compelling and the characters are "real", inserting several thousand words on the Tower of London, or the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or whatever, simply gets in the way! Please "show, don't tell".

The one great advantage of reading on line is that it's easy to very rapidly scroll past these vast and indigestible tracts ... though there's always a risk of missing an important plot point concealed among the turgid verbiage.

--
Sometimes, though, the travelogue is intertwined with the plot just sufficient to keep my interest, biut never, not ever, if it is just a travelogue for the sake of it.

As for the London (etc) style scenes, oh Lord! Most characters have no need of an expedition anywhere unless the expedition is the plot.



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68866 is a reply to message #68858] Mon, 12 January 2015 21:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ChrisR is currently offline  ChrisR   Switzerland

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Location: Western US
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Messages: 180



1. Tipos snd speling erers. (A few? Well, we're all human. But consistently? NEXT!)
2. Profanity. In small doses, it's natural. But some stories drown in it.
3. Size queen-ism.
4. Too many characters -- and they're all gay. I lose track after a half dozen. There's a reason it ain't Goldilocks and the thirty-seven bears.
5. Lack of character/story development. "We met and went to bed. The end." Nuts.
6. Repetition of the mundane. We don't need a news flash for each and every meal.
7. The 5,000-word single-paragraph tale. NEXT!
8. Baby talk. After a kid is about 5, he really can understand and use big words.

Fact is, however, that most stories don't show these faults, so there's still plenty of enjoyable reading to do.
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68867 is a reply to message #68866] Tue, 13 January 2015 06:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Smokr is currently offline  Smokr   United States

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Location: the burning former USofA
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What really irks me is really poor punctuation. I'm not good at it, that's why I have several folks go over stories before I post them. It's not hard to find someone with some skills in punctuation, so there's no reason to have sentences with punctuation that not only doesn't add to the meaning but actually destroys it with poorly placed commas and run-on sentences.
There is one I just read, where there were sentence fragments, set off, with commas, as if that makes it more readable, or makes that, important phrase, supposedly stand out more, with a pair of commas. Again, and again, the author used commas, to separate phrases, for no good reason, which really made it hard to read, and he tied complete sentences together, into run-on paragraphs, so I gave up.
The only thing worse: is when someone uses a semi-colon or colon in completely the wrong way; or when they aren't needed at all.
And then there's the repetition of 'he said' to the point of making me want to scream.
"What?" Tom said.
"Nothing." Brad said.
"Why say anything then?" Tom said.
"He didn't say anything." Mary said.
"Yes he did." Tom said.
And on and on. UGH. And learn to use a comma at the end of such sentences, along with some other attributive phrases.
And a huge one! When someone asks something, they didn't 'say', they asked.
And finally, using a word the author obviously doesn't know. Like "I sauntered the onions in butter," or "I admonished his behavior by thanking him for his hard work."




raysstories.com
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68876 is a reply to message #68858] Wed, 14 January 2015 10:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ricky is currently offline  Ricky   United States

Toe is in the water
Location: USA
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Messages: 36



All great ones. I agree especially with Chris R on number 8, baby talk. I want to puke when a 14 year old is constantly called "daddy". Verbiage that does not fit the age just guts me. I can tolerate language far older if it fits the character's profile but the other way around is just unpleasant.

I confess that punctuation is not a huge deal to me unless it is so misused that it screws up my screen reader software. I'm dyslexic enough that it usually goes unnoticed. My writing I'm sure irritates some for that reason. Sorry about that.

This has been some great input, thanks. I hope to hear more as time goes by and other's find the thread. And Tim I'll be checking that link out shortly. I think I read it once before but I'm making the trip again. As I recall it had some great words of wisdom. Thanks
Cheers



Wisdom does not come with age. It occurs because of it.
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68883 is a reply to message #68858] Wed, 14 January 2015 22:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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What I really detest is the idiot author writing out his fantasy as a fantasy with people saying stupid things like "Take my load!" when they just don't speak that way. I despise authors who make their alleged characters act 'wrong'.

Add to that "Editor's notes" - get real, we do not care what the editor thinks, especially if he is congratulating the author like a sycophant. I have taken a policy decision here. That shit gets removed and has been for ages. Some slipped though once. That was my fault.

Then there is the "Should I continue? Email me if I should!" - Fuck right off! No, I'm not emailing you except to say "Hang up your keyboard!" Go fish for compliments elsewhere. I don't care!

"This is my first story, please make allowances." - NO.  Make allowances for me by getting it right.

I'm sure you get the drift

[Updated on: Sun, 01 February 2015 23:17]




Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68884 is a reply to message #68876] Wed, 14 January 2015 23:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"Ricky wrote on Wed, 14 January 2015 10:03"
All great ones. I agree especially with Chris R on number 8, baby talk. I want to puke when a 14 year old is constantly called "daddy". Verbiage that does not fit the age just guts me. I can tolerate language far older if it fits the character's profile but the other way around is just unpleasant.

I confess that punctuation is not a huge deal to me unless it is so misused that it screws up my screen reader software. I'm dyslexic enough that it usually goes unnoticed. My writing I'm sure irritates some for that reason. Sorry about that.

This has been some great input, thanks. I hope to hear more as time goes by and other's find the thread. And Tim I'll be checking that link out shortly. I think I read it once before but I'm making the trip again. As I recall it had some great words of wisdom. Thanks
Cheers

--

I have just updated the guide. There were a few more things that piss me off that I had left out Smile



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68904 is a reply to message #68858] Sat, 17 January 2015 20:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Messages: 12969



There are, really, so many things that annoy me. I don't mind a brand new author having a stumble or two. What is truly annoying is when they don't ever improve. I've published some grade A stumbles on this site. I've some poor stories of my own that I've put here 'because I can'. Seriously, I put stories here that paint a picture in my head.

Very poor writing interferes with picture painting. Simple stumbles do not.

I've just been down the current High School and Young Friends categories on Nifty. There are a couple I half like, but not quite enough. I mean apart from anything I've offered to publish already! One major issue is poor openings, not just of chapter 1, but of chapter N as well. Chapters have to start well, too.

I also leave serials to run a while before judging them. Some start very well and then peter out into nothingness and blandness. When I was writing C&N I got to a point where I knew I was writing crap. It wasn't a writing block, it was just unmitigated crap and not worth reading. I stopped. Probably a few chapters too late, but I stopped anyway. I'd like some authors to learn when they are writing crap, too.

[Updated on: Sun, 01 February 2015 23:19]




Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68989 is a reply to message #68904] Sun, 01 February 2015 21:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
bisexualguy is currently offline  bisexualguy   United States

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Messages: 30



I agree with at least 95%, probably more, of what has been mentioned so far.

Something that bugs me is when paragraphing get out of whack, such that character Y answering something something character X or Z said is put in the same paragraph instead of the next. 

Example:
"What are you doing here?" Ryan asked.  "Just hanging around."
"Why?" Ryan continued. 
"Maybe I just like being here," responded Tristan. "You're not welcome, not after that scene you messed up in the play, deliberately jumping from scene one to scene three, and tipping off things WAY too early...."

Also I really get ticked off by (as a previous responder commented) of, John said, Mike said, Herb said, Joe said, Mavis said, Shelly said, etc, instead of maybe John commented, Mike responded, Herb angrily snarled,  Joe questioned, Mavis squeaked out, Shelly jumped in, and so on.  (I notice in your 'A Guide to Successful Writing' you seem to prefer the word 'said' all the time, or am I reading that with an overly literal view?)

Last, do prefer to be referred to as 'Tim' or as 'Timmy?'

Thanks for letting me blow off steam and also ask questions.
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68991 is a reply to message #68989] Sun, 01 February 2015 23:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Quote:
bisexualguy wrote on Sun, 01 February 2015 21:09I agree with at least 95%, probably more, of what has been mentioned so far.

Something that bugs me is when paragraphing get out of whack, such that character Y answering something something character X or Z said is put in the same paragraph instead of the next. 

Example:
"What are you doing here?" Ryan asked.  "Just hanging around."
"Why?" Ryan continued. 
"Maybe I just like being here," responded Tristan. "You're not welcome, not after that scene you messed up in the play, deliberately jumping from scene one to scene three, and tipping off things WAY too early...."

Also I really get ticked off by (as a previous responder commented) of, John said, Mike said, Herb said, Joe said, Mavis said, Shelly said, etc, instead of maybe John commented, Mike responded, Herb angrily snarled,  Joe questioned, Mavis squeaked out, Shelly jumped in, and so on.  (I notice in your 'A Guide to Successful Writing' you seem to prefer the word 'said' all the time, or am I reading that with an overly literal view?)

Last, do prefer to be referred to as 'Tim' or as 'Timmy?'

Thanks for letting me blow off steam and also ask questions.

--
timmy Smile

The reason almost every publisher, mainstream publisher, prefers 'said' is because writers often struggle for alternatives and end up raiding the thesaurus for them. And it all goes wrong for the reader at that point, because they can see that this is an inexperienced author trying too hard.

Good dialogue needs the 'said' word very rarely. It's done by correct 'paragraphination' which probably isn't a word, and omits the names of the speakers inside and outside the quotes. For me, the major variant is 'asked' in place of 'said'.

"You coming?" Jim asked Fred.

"Yes. In a minute."

"You always say that."

"That's because it takes me a week to put these ice skates on!"

"That's right. Try to slide out of it!"

"Don't laugh at me. I can't do the laces since I had my hands amputated."

"And I thought you were 'armless!"

See, we know who is speaking. We can hear the change of speaker. Jim started it and asked Fred something. And we don;t mention them by name again.

Paragraphing can sometimes be affected by converting material to HTML as well as author cockup. I don't check every line, but I put right what I spot. Authors can also transpose characters by accident.




Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #68992 is a reply to message #68991] Mon, 02 February 2015 00:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ChrisR is currently offline  ChrisR   Switzerland

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Messages: 180



Glad you all brought this topic to the top again. Reading a few stories in the last few days reminded me of another peeve:

Perpetual Present Tense

There are occasions when it works. Conversations invariably use the 'I am' form. Sometimes a short story, or a short period of time such as a dream state, can make great use of it. But in multiple chapter tales, even shorts covering a span of time, it makes more sense to me to use past, present, and future tenses. I make allowance only for so long; then I am off to another story.

I am through now.
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69058 is a reply to message #68858] Sat, 14 February 2015 00:30 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"I parked my [make and model of car]..."

I really don't care and it doesn't add realism. I hate your taste in cars and thus reject your story at this point.



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69217 is a reply to message #68858] Sat, 07 March 2015 17:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ancient_richard is currently offline  ancient_richard   United Kingdom

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I get quickly bored by tourist information - detailed descriptions of tourist attraction. It should suffice to mention a visit and leave us to browse the net for details if we want them.

I also dislike frequent detailed descriptions of sexual activity. It should be enough to describe the first time a couple do something or other. Repetitions could simply be mentioned. I also like characters to develop a relationship before starting sex. 



richard
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69223 is a reply to message #68858] Sun, 08 March 2015 12:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Matthew is currently offline  Matthew   United Kingdom

Toe is in the water

Registered: February 2015
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I have a few pet peeves when reading a story.

1) Virgin boys who uses terms like "Breed me" or "Fuck me harder" when it's their first time.

2) The characters meeting and falling in love and fucking when they have only known each other a few hours and despite being virgins somehow know exxactly what they are doing and go at it like pro's (i get that instinct can take over but i doubt many peoples first times went perfectly lol)

3) Giant cocks, seriously even if i am enjoying a story, as soon as the 10+ inch dicks get mentioned and the virgin somehow takes it first time with only a few moments of pain and is crying out to get fucked harder, the story is a goner for me.

4) Not really a pet peeve, but i do hate reading a story and then out of nowhere it gets a sad or just horrible ending that doesn't make much sense and i get the feeling it was literally done for some big shock factor.

Well those are a few, not all are deal breakers for me though, but i figured i would post them anyway
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69224 is a reply to message #68883] Sun, 08 March 2015 12:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Matthew is currently offline  Matthew   United Kingdom

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Registered: February 2015
Messages: 66



Quote:
timmy wrote on Wed, 14 January 2015 22:52What I really detest is the idiot author writing out his fantasy as a fantasy with people saying stupid things like "Take my load!" when they just don't speak that way. I despise authors who make their alleged characters act 'wrong'.

Add to that "Editor's notes" - get real, we do not care what the editor thinks, especially if he is congratulating the author like a sycophant. I have taken a policy decision here. That shit gets removed and has been for ages. Some slipped though once. That was my fault.

Then there is the "Should I continue? Email me if I should!" - Fuck right off! No, I'm not emailing you except to say "Hang up your keyboard!" Go fish for compliments elsewhere. I don't care!

"This is my first story, please make allowances." - NO.  Make allowances for me by getting it right.

I'm sure you get the drift

Lol i have to admit i am guilty of a few of these, i won't apologise for being a little insecure though, it was a big thing when i put my story on Nifty for the first time and after reading a few stories and seeing the email me if it's good thing and people stating it's their first story, i just kind of thought it was the thing to do, but i like to be realistic and i can see how some people would turn their heads at seeing it.

I am pretty easy though, if someone points something out that isn't right or needs changing and i can see their point, then i am not too proud to make changes, i even changed a characters surname because someone pointed out something that should have been really obvious to me as i was writing the story.

--
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69227 is a reply to message #69224] Sun, 08 March 2015 17:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Ah, Matthew, the internet is a great leveller. The moment you put your head above the parapet you are equal with all the others. If Dickens were posting today (assuming he were a good writer), you and he would be judged as equals. So I have never made allowances for you in your work as I make no allowances for her in hers, them in theirs, nor would I for Dickens in his. 

It is the work that must catch us, not the writer. 

That is worth repeating. It is the work that must catch us, not the writer. 

J K Rowling is, because she has sold well, regarded by some as a great author. She is not. She is a decent commercial author with a decent eye for a plot. I like authors to be above Rowling standard. Dickens, because he has written "The Classics" is regarded as a great author. I suspect, today, that his work would not be published without heavy editing. The Great Curiosity Shop of The Bleak David Nickleby were excellent pot boilers for a weekly rag.

It is the "Be gentle with me, it's my first time!" or worse "Should I write more? I will if you tell me this is good!"merchants that I don't like. They trigger my barf reflex Smile

Not making those allowances is important. When you, as a new writer, look back in a year at your work you will be pleased that allowances are not made.



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69259 is a reply to message #69227] Wed, 11 March 2015 03:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

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Location: Earth
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Messages: 867



A few of mine:

1: As some have mentioned, spelling and grammar can be a biggie.  I realize that English isn't the easiest language in the world to learn, even for those of us for whom it's our main (or even only) language (and sure, sometimes even I goof up or have to check certain things at times), but when certain glaring mistakes are made, well, it just kind messes things up for me.  Maybe not enough to totally ruin a story, but it doesn't help (I had learned what the difference was between words like "your/you're" and "they're/their/there" by the time I was 10 years old).

2: The idea that anyone, particularly kids, are going to be referring to the penis as something food-related, like a "meat lollipop."

3: The never-ending boinkfest:  This is where, when the story has a makeout session, the two guys can go last for hours.   No matter how many times they ejaculate, they're still as hard and rearing to go as when they started.  From what (admittedly little) I've read on the subject, the average adult guy is lucky to be able to ejaculate two, maybe three times at a go, and even that's pushing it a lot of the time (and that's not even counting the amount of stories I've read where some 12-year-old is having vigorous sex and is blowing loads right and left without even batting an eyelash).  Once is often the norm.  It sucks, but that's the way it is.
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69272 is a reply to message #68858] Thu, 12 March 2015 22:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I have just read an absolutely excellent story. Well crafted, good characters, unusual issues. It was finished.

So why, oh why did the author write a sequel? Same cast of characters, but so sloppily written, first person and changes of voice every 23 seconds.

Unless you are an absolute expert, keep the same voice. If you really want to skip around, use third person.





Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69897 is a reply to message #68858] Sun, 12 July 2015 06:34 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Nicthalon is currently offline  Nicthalon   United States

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One of my biggest is ignoring proper grammar and use of punctuation, "Because it's my style."
No... if instead of an occasional ellipses.... which is honestly not often seen in good writing....... you use it every single time you want a dramatic pause... and you add more periods to it the longer you want the pause............................................... then you're not nearly as good a writer as you and your rabid fanbase seem to think you are.
(I'm sure at least some of you know exactly who I'm talking about.)
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69898 is a reply to message #69897] Sun, 12 July 2015 07:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Quote:
Nicthalon wrote on Sun, 12 July 2015 07:34One of my biggest is ignoring proper grammar and use of punctuation, "Because it's my style."
No... if instead of an occasional ellipses.... which is honestly not often seen in good writing....... you use it every single time you want a dramatic pause... and you add more periods to it the longer you want the pause............................................... then you're not nearly as good a writer as you and your rabid fanbase seem to think you are.
(I'm sure at least some of you know exactly who I'm talking about.)

--
This leads in to an excellent discussion about dramatic pauses. Every new author starts by using ellipsis. It "feels right". It is not always right. I agree that too many make the text... judder, and overuse is to be avoided unless one requires a judder.



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69899 is a reply to message #68858] Sun, 12 July 2015 10:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW   

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A pet peeve of mine, and something that seems to be increasingly common, is over-complicating the "story" by use of an excessive number of simultaneous threads, or multiple flashbacks.

It's legitimate - if technically demanding - to run two stories in parallel, with the protagonists meeting up, or intersecting in some way towards the end. Readers can keep track of two major threads. But just because Tom Clancy wrote all his thrillers like that, it doesn't mean that it's appropriate for every story, and it's always the more difficult and demanding option to get right. And if the story is published as a serial, please don't arrange it so that one week we get a chapter with one storyline, the next week the other: I simply don't read such efforts, as there's no way I can remember the threads properly.

Allied to that is the overuse of flashbacks. A couple of short flashbacks are OK, of course. But multiple flashbacks are distracting, and when several whole chapters form a series of flashbacks before reverting to the main storyline ... well, you've lost me, permanently.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69901 is a reply to message #69899] Sun, 12 July 2015 10:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"NW wrote on Sun, 12 July 2015 11:09"
A pet peeve of mine, and something that seems to be increasingly common, is over-complicating the "story" by use of an excessive number of simultaneous threads, or multiple flashbacks.

It's legitimate - if technically demanding - to run two stories in parallel, with the protagonists meeting up, or intersecting in some way towards the end. Readers can keep track of two major threads. But just because Tom Clancy wrote all his thrillers like that, it doesn't mean that it's appropriate for every story, and it's always the more difficult and demanding option to get right. And if the story is published as a serial, please don't arrange it so that one week we get a chapter with one storyline, the next week the other: I simply don't read such efforts, as there's no way I can remember the threads properly.

Allied to that is the overuse of flashbacks. A couple of short flashbacks are OK, of course. But multiple flashbacks are distracting, and when several whole chapters form a series of flashbacks before reverting to the main storyline ... well, you've lost me, permanently.

--
Flashbacks tend to be used by the author who has not yet learned how to create a back story in the present narrative. That is not an easy skill to master; far easier to use a flashback.

That doesn't mean that removal of all flashbacks is a good thing in the same manner that the removal of all adverbs is a good thing. Each has a place, but each's place is limited for the experienced author. One adverb has a place in a novel length piece. So, unless it is a literary stratagem, has one flashback.

Those who deploy the literary stratagem flashback need to make it brief, pithy, and it must have a part to play in the present plot.



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69905 is a reply to message #69901] Mon, 13 July 2015 05:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Smokr is currently offline  Smokr   United States

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Cardboard dialog.
I came across a good story this week, suggested by a friend, and found one of my pet peeves ruined the whole read for me.
Each and every character spoke exactly the same way: With perfect diction and grammar. It was like reading a primer on the English language. No one used slang, or contractions (few anyway, and always the same ones used by all the characters, adults and youth alike) and they all spoke so formally it was just impossible to believe they were real people.
"I am not going to cheat on the exam. It is wrong to do so."
That is actually a line from the main character. Who talks like that?
"I'm not going to cheat. It's wrong."
"I'm not gonna cheat, dude. That's just wrong."
"Not gonna cheat. Fucking wrong, man."
"Cheat? On a test? No way!"
Want to see the other character's response?
"If you don't cheat you will fail."
Exactly as written. At least there was a contraction. But where's the contraction on 'you will' and the comma between the two phrases?
The dialog reads as cold and emotionless. There was no heart, no reality, no emotional content even during heavily emotional passages. Even during arguments, they spoke so formally it was just destroying an otherwise interesting story line.



raysstories.com
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69908 is a reply to message #68858] Mon, 13 July 2015 06:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ChrisR is currently offline  ChrisR   United Kingdom

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I finally hit my limit this week with one good and prolific writer and told him so. Over a period of time, his tale has ballooned to include more characters than Dr. Zhivago, and is closing in on Crime and Punishment. I finally reached the point at which not only could I no longer keep track of all the characters, but I no longer cared about any of them. That, for me, is the death knell.

To his credit the author responded immediately and directed me to a character list he developed for his personal use. Sadly, however, for me the magic is gone.

Sometimes the best two words in a story can be: The End
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69909 is a reply to message #69901] Mon, 13 July 2015 08:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Kitzyma is currently offline  Kitzyma   United Kingdom

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Quote:
timmy wrote on Sun, 12 July 2015 10:57
Flashbacks tend to be used by the author who has not yet learned how to create a back story in the present narrative. That is not an easy skill to master; far easier to use a flashback.

That doesn't mean that removal of all flashbacks is a good thing in the same manner that the removal of all adverbs is a good thing. Each has a place, but each's place is limited for the experienced author. One adverb has a place in a novel length piece. So, unless it is a literary stratagem, has one flashback.

Those who deploy the literary stratagem flashback need to make it brief, pithy, and it must have a part to play in the present plot.

--

Personally, I find that using flashbacks well (e.g. with making the story feel disjointed) is much harder than putting in a back story. I started a story which has been put on hold because all the flashbacks that were required were very difficult. The main character loses his memory as a result of head injury. When he regains consciousness it appears that the people around him think he's a 'bad-ass'. However, although he can't remember anything, he feels like a 'nice guy' and doesn't understand why the others are afraid of him. He can only find out which version of himself is 'real' as his memory returns in bits and pieces in flashbacks.

I agree with ChrisR regarding stories that become too long and rambling and get into many chapters. However, I wouldn't regard it as a 'peeve' for myself as I almost never start reading a story unless the last chapter is posted, and life is too short to start reading a story with too many (50+?) chapters. Those who write stories with 100+ chapters should realise that they are unlikely to pick up any new readers. It would be like going back and watching every episode of a TV soap opera for the past few years just to catch up with the latest episode. Also, if there are genuinely enough good ideas plot lines to fill 100+ chapters, it would almost certainly be better to make them into separate stories.
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69923 is a reply to message #68884] Mon, 13 July 2015 18:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Nicthalon is currently offline  Nicthalon   United States

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So what happens when we find a story on this site that has something so jarring it completely destroys the reading experience, like a 12yo waxing philosophical to a 14yo in a manner that even most adults wouldn't speak?
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69924 is a reply to message #69923] Mon, 13 July 2015 19:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Quote:
Nicthalon wrote on Mon, 13 July 2015 19:19So what happens when we find a story on this site that has something so jarring it completely destroys the reading experience, like a 12yo waxing philosophical to a 14yo in a manner that even most adults wouldn't speak?

--
You have two choices, really. Always feel free to tell me anyway, but the choices are to email the author or disregard the tale entirely. Authors do not always get it right. As editor nor do I. We just do our best.

Pillorying the poor chap in public is always tempting, but I prefer to keep praise public and harsh words private. Authors need encouragement. So, if you email him, let him know not "This heap of steaming ordure at the end spoiled the tale for me." Instead ask him to consider whether this was the effect he intended.



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69925 is a reply to message #69924] Mon, 13 July 2015 20:17 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Nick Deverill is currently offline  Nick Deverill   United Kingdom

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I'll confess I don't like stories that dart about with flashbacks all over the place, but my current project is a serial novel that nearly all of it is a flashback. However, the device I'm using is one which several films have used, you see a small amount set in the present day and then we go back about ten years, and tell the historical story that explains how the current situation arose.

Don't hold your breath though, only chapter 1 exists at the moment, I know roughly how chapters 2 and 3 progress and have written the technical bit of chapter 3 too. Not easy as I'm trying to make a story and a reasonably convincing school maths book to boot, but understandable to the non-mathmatician (I could have taught maths up to A level but never did). 
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69926 is a reply to message #69925] Mon, 13 July 2015 22:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Gay Deceiver is currently offline  The Gay Deceiver   

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Gotta love that Avatar of yours Nick.

Warren C. E. Austin
The Gay Deceiver
Toronto, Canada



"... comme recherché qu'un délice callipygian"
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #69951 is a reply to message #69909] Thu, 16 July 2015 02:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

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Quote:
Kitzyma wrote on Mon, 13 July 2015 02:20I agree with ChrisR regarding stories that become too long and rambling and get into many chapters. However, I wouldn't regard it as a 'peeve' for myself as I almost never start reading a story unless the last chapter is posted, and life is too short to start reading a story with too many (50+?) chapters. Those who write stories with 100+ chapters should realise that they are unlikely to pick up any new readers. It would be like going back and watching every episode of a TV soap opera for the past few years just to catch up with the latest episode. Also, if there are genuinely enough good ideas plot lines to fill 100+ chapters, it would almost certainly be better to make them into separate stories.

--

I also tend to avoid the longer stories for that reason as well, though I wouldn't consider it a peeve either, in the traditional sense of the term.  It comes to a certain point where it's just seems like it's too much for one story (plus, I'm left wondering just how an author could come up with that much material for a single story anyway).  Definitely consider more than one story if you have that much usable material to work with.
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #73665 is a reply to message #69899] Sat, 25 November 2017 21:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW   United Kingdom

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Time for a bit of a whinge. I know that not everyone is compulsive, but authors (and editors) who can't be bothered to do the maths really wind me up! I've just been reading a story elsewhere, where "most" of "several hundred" people used a concession stand selling things at 50 cents, but a couple of paragraphs later the total take was under fifty dollars. It does not add up, at all ... and an average ten-year-old can do that kind of maths.

I've noticed similar gross mistakes in arithmetic in a number of stories I've read recently. Please, authors, if you throw figures about, at least make them add up ... because failure to do so really screws up the suspension of disbelief that is a vital part of readers relating to a story.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #73666 is a reply to message #73665] Sat, 25 November 2017 22:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"NW wrote on Sat, 25 November 2017 21:38"
Time for a bit of a whinge. I know that not everyone is compulsive, but authors (and editors) who can't be bothered to do the maths really wind me up! I've just been reading a story elsewhere, where "most" of "several hundred" people used a concession stand selling things at 50 cents, but a couple of paragraphs later the total take was under fifty dollars. It does not add up, at all ... and an average ten-year-old can do that kind of maths.

I've noticed similar gross mistakes in arithmetic in a number of stories I've read recently. Please, authors, if you throw figures about, at least make them add up ... because failure to do so really screws up the suspension of disbelief that is a vital part of readers relating to a story.

--

That has to be because Lucy van Pelt ran the stand.

Or they were mugged!

Or, more seriously, that the author is disin¢ivised. Is that even a word?



Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #73669 is a reply to message #68858] Mon, 27 November 2017 23:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
American_Alex   United States

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Messages: 12



Lack of editing. A few typos (like a certain current story where the author confused "symbols" with "cymbals") can be acceptable, but when things like inconsistency in season or backstory happen, it makes you think that the author is confusing his fictional story with an event in his own life, or else is just not paying attention. Also, stories that don't seem to be going anywhere. I started reading "Oliver of the Adirondacks", but gave up because of the slow pace, lack of direction, and piles of too much minutiae that do nothing for the story. Then there are those awful stories over at Nifty that I call "Five Paragraph Quickies", or those with run-on text devoid of punctuation. Upon opening such a story, just the layout of such poorly conceived writing is enough for me to close the window without even bothering to read anything. 

There are certain authors in the broader world I enjoy (like Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway and Philip K. Dick) who know how to get to the point and do it in an interesting way. OTOH, I can't stand authors who seem to be just writing for the sake of filling pages (like J.R.R. Tolkien). 



"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #73671 is a reply to message #73669] Tue, 28 November 2017 00:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Horses for courses. Not everyone enjoys the same tales, which is fine. Oliver's pace is slowis, that is true, but it doesn't spoil the tale for me.

I tend not to like the idea of slamming a tale here. Rather I think we need to look at general things. Typos, those are fine if infrequent, though we have more than one writer with visual difficulties, and those do lead to more than a usual number.




Inconsistent use of capital letters is the difference between Bobby helping Uncle Jack off a horse, AND Bobby helping uncle jack off a horse!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #73683 is a reply to message #73671] Fri, 01 December 2017 22:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
American_Alex   United States

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Here are 3 more of my 'pet peeves' which usually result in giving up on a story (although a couple of recent tales did just this, and turned out to be pretty good):

1) Making the main characters filthy, stinking rich: I've met a few really rich people, and for the most part, they are petty, greedy assholes. Besides, how are mere peons like us supposed to relate to those for whom money just grows on trees? Seriously, give your characters the chance to worry about money.....like the rest of us do.

2) Characters who seem to think that they're not gay because it's just one guy: Bullshit. Just take a good look in your closet, and realize that you are only kidding yourself. What is this? 1950? Get real!

3) Stories that end too quickly: This often is because an author doesn't know how to resolve a story, so he just takes the hatchet to it. What a cop-out! There was one story a while back that was well-written, about a boy who survived almost unimaginable abuse and even attempted murder by his own parents, found love and support, then just as I was expecting resolution by his navigating through all that trauma and regaining control of his life.....it just ended, mentioning that he eventually even died! Man, I wanted the time back that I'd invested in that story! I almost wanted to impersonate the author and write some closure to the story! Remember, authors: Always write the ending first. It will keep you story moving towards a conclusion.



"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #73705 is a reply to message #73683] Mon, 04 December 2017 07:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
William King is currently offline  William King   France

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Registered: October 2016
Messages: 49



"American_Alex wrote on Fri, 01 December 2017 23:09"
Always write the ending first. It will keep you story moving towards a conclusion.

--
I never write the ending first, I usually know where the story is going, but not quite where or how it will end. If it's a slice of life story, it has no real ending, just pauses at an appropriate point. I write the characters, though sometimes I think they write themselves, it always seems to be a journey. I have tried the mystery genre where you need the ending first to write the plot. I don't think it's my forte, it didn't come alive and live. I would add I have read good stories that don't have an ending. So, write the ending first - no I don't agree, at least not always!
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #73728 is a reply to message #73705] Wed, 06 December 2017 22:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
American_Alex   United States

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And as for fetish/raunch, at the first mention of some bizarre thing like diapers or golden showers, I'm done. So, if you are a fetish writer, make it obvious in the first few sentences, to spare the majority of us from wasting time on your freak show.



"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: What is your reading pet peeve?  [message #73735 is a reply to message #68858] Fri, 08 December 2017 09:35 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
masuk is currently offline  masuk   Thailand

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Messages: 15




It seems I'm no orphan in my thoughts here, but there are a few things that spoil a story for me.

One is using some words which as a student earned me a sharp rap on the knuckles;  namely "got/gotten".    My teacher would mutter something along the lines of "English has a large choice of words - start using some!"

I try to tolerate thoughtless spelling of words.  e.g.  "he peaked around the corner, he pealed off his shirt, he turned beat red"  but it spoils the flow.

As with many other contributors, the amazing genetic changes across the Atlantic where every male sports a 20cm/8inch erection is wondrous.   Rather flies in the face of Kinsey's research work who established 15cm/6 inches as the US average.

As for those mixing up such common words as "then/than", "they're/their/there" is rather sad.

Mis-use of apostrophes makes me cringe, and maybe a keyboard should be invented which rings a bell to alert the user.    I know some languages, particularly Dutch, throw apostrophes around with gay abandon, where possession or abbreviation has no bearing. "Boy's Toilet" owned by ONE boy.      - An excellent book to read on the subject, including commas, is in regard to a Panda, which eats shoots and leaves.     Adding a comma or two makes it 'eats, shoots and leaves'.   

To raise the level of this discussion a little, the Australian version is 'eats roots and leaves'.    The Aussie slang word 'root' is a variation on intercourse!
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