1. Annihilation
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    Annihilation Active Member

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    What are the worse mistakes in novels to you?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Annihilation, Jan 2, 2016.

    In a novel, what are some of the things that make it bad/unworthy of it's potential?

    To me, it is the overall lack of interest/appeal. So it is a matter of perspective. I could read a whole novel with a few dull characters or plot holes but if the overall story doesn't appeal to me, I don't think I'll finish it.

    Please do share your opinions so I can take note.
     
  2. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    I don't like it when the narrative varies off course onto a side path that takes too long to get back to the 'main road'. Also, cliches, and 'patented techniques celebrated by current popular trends'.
     
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  3. Aster
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    Aster Member

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    Comes down to personal preference. I have my own checklist.

    1. The opening line must be an event. (John kicked the ball)
    2. The opening line cannot be dialogue. (I feel this is cheating)
    3. Must be in third person. (I cannot suspend my disbelief that someone is giving me a running commentary of every single damn thing they say and do. When and how are they doing this while trying to deal with all the drama they are telling me about?)

    I'll keep reading if it meets this criteria.
    The only exception is if it is written in a style I find particularly compelling or engaging.

    As I said this is a personal preference. I'm not sure that anything aside from being a marathon of tired clichés is enough to declare a novel inherently bad or unworthy. Every book is bound to appeal to someone for some reason.

    Even Twilight has fans.
     
  4. Annihilation
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    Annihilation Active Member

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    Hmm, what are some examples of cliches you don't like?
     
  5. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Well, I'm not talking about the choice of words which is probably what my comment sounded like above when I mentioned it. (...manicured lawn, he was a carbon copy of his dad, etc) No, what I mean is more of a content cliche, as in some element/character/situation that is overused and makes my eyes glaze over.

    Here's one that gets me every time, and I cringe every time: the cop who gets chewed out by his supervisor. "Dammit Foley, you tore up a whole city block! I should kick your ass! You've got the mayor and the chief chewing my ass, and I should suspend you right now. In fact, yes, you are suspended! Give me your badge and gun now!"

    All those TV-Movie cops seem way too tightly wound lol.

    Dennis Farina was a real cop in Chicago before he became an actor and he said this is the main thing TV shows get wrong about cops, that uptight thing. He said it's actually very lighthearted and always a lot of joking going on.

    So this is kinda what I mean. Anything that I feel I've seen repeated way too many times. And it's not like a list, it's just something that hits me instinctively when I'm watching or reading something at the time. It's like your intuition kicks in and says "yep, you've seen this a million times before." It feels insulting that the writer couldn't work harder to come up with something original to impress me, rather he chooses to insult my intelligence by assuming I'm too dumb to notice this re-warmed junk he wrote. lol

    Back in the 90s when I started writing I called it "spoon feeding"
     
  6. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    My main story opens with dialogue! A teacher talking to his class. I am a failure! Sad... :cry: :cry:
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Then you may not want to read my fantasy and historical mystery as they both are in first person. The latter starts with a dialogue.
     
  8. Kyle Oram
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    Kyle Oram Member

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    Personally, it all depends on if the author has his/her own unique voice and I can tell them apart from other authors. That's always been a big thing for me. Like take Douglas Addams for example, he has a voice in his novels that you can distinguish from most every author
     
  9. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Oh, OP, and one thing I've heard several people mention is it annoys them is when the author changes POVs within one scene. That can turn people off.
     
  10. ArcticOrchid
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    ArcticOrchid Member

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    When there is non or little character development throughout the story. This is something I find happens a lot when the main character is an old or middled aged man. The typical grumpy set in his way, ghosts of his past...

    I know YA are not typically regarded as the pinnacle of literature but they do have one advantage. Because they are usually set around the lives of young people there is a huge opportunity for character development that writers whose characters are older fail to take advantage of. But on the other hand an equally annoying crime is when the character development is so extreme its not believable. People change but not overnight, one profound moment is unlikely to change an ingrained and repeated behaviour that has become a habit.

    Personally although I wouldnt say that all books who centre around this are bad I am tired of the story of the old/middle aged person looking back in regret. Especially when it comes to crime novels. The older cop with the ghosts of his past ect... Or maybe I just hate that because Im Nordic and thats the only thing Nordic writers seem to be able to write.
     
  11. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    @ArcticOrchid I'm glad you said that, thanks. Good point about the trend of handling older cops a certain way. I will consider this. Are you Norwegian?
     
  12. ArcticOrchid
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    ArcticOrchid Member

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    Nope go further West. Tolkien´s elves are so a like the stories that I grew up with about the Huldufólkið, the hidden people. Norse mythologies and old Norse has inspired so many fantasy writers including the best ones yet none of it is coming directly from us which I find sad.

    It is so odd that the crime genre is blooming in literally the most peaceful part of the world. The number one sellers in Iceland this year were both crime writers Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa. They are fantastic writers but after a while when you have read one Nordic crime novel you have read them all.
     
  13. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    I liked Smila's Sense of Snow remember that one? Reason I asked, I'm kindof a Nordic-phile and I have a couple of friends in that region. And Stellan Skarsgard is one of my favorite actors. Nice to meet you Miss. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  14. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    I don't think this is a "mistake" in the OP's meaning, but I do think it's something to consider when writing.

    Earlier this year I started reading Tom Clancy's Net Force, which is the first novel in the Net Force series. Based on what I read about the series, I thought it would be interesting. This book was first published in 1998, and the main premise of the book was how an elite cyber crime division of the U.S. federal government confronted the evil people on the Internet. Of course, this was taking place in the future: 2010.

    Now that it's 2016 (or even 2015, when I read it), I just could not finish the book. Even though it was well written, the author basically made "predictions" of what would be happening in 2010. I like Clancy, but in this case, he got it kind of wrong. In the book, people cruised the web with VR vehicles. Everything was very visual, which we now know is certainly not the case.

    Since the novel was no longer believable to me, I just couldn't finish. I suppose the moral of this prose is that if we, as authors, place our story in the future, and we make predictions on how things will be at that time, we should either make the story WAY in the future, or maybe not be so "out there" with our speculations, if we still want to be read at that time.
     
  15. ArcticOrchid
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    ArcticOrchid Member

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    it´s miss actually
     
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  16. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Yes yes! That's a good one. I agree too. Things that are 'dated' really get boring fast.

    (Hey ever seen that Sandra Bullock movie 'the net' ? lol)

    Yes this is a good one to point out. I call this plausibility. And it doesn't just have to be the future; it could be a lack of knowledge of something current, like a crime writer not doing enough research to know what authentic police procedures are.

    I'm coming here from filmmaking. In our world we call it 'cognitive dissonance' meaning your eye sees something that it immediately recognizes as improbable. Like the fake fights on the TV detective shows in the 70s lol... you could tell they were faking.
     
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  17. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    They were faking? Really?? Next thing you know, you'll be telling me that wresting is faked! Bummer.

    It's interesting that you're coming here from filmmaking. Did you work on anything I might have seen? Oh, and yes, I did see that Bullock movie. It's not one of my favs, though.
     
  18. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    No probably not. Most of my stuff was in the indie world. :)
     
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  19. ILaughAtTrailers
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    ILaughAtTrailers Member

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    When all the setup in the first half of the novel doesn't all come together in the end. Like, what a waste, you know?
     
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  20. Aster
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    You're not a failure. I'm just picky. And like I said if it's written in a really compelling style I persevere.

    Avoiding books written in FP is my personal preference. It's like having a preference for a flavour of ice cream. Or pizza topping. We all have preferences. We all have genres and styles we just don't care for and if I'd written something in a genre you had no interest in I wouldn't expect you to pick it up off the shelf. I wouldn't even expect to see you browsing that shelf.

    I'm always, always happy to read something if you'd like me to.
     
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  21. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    What really annoys me are (in no particular order):

    - Cliffhangers at the end of a novel: The book should be able to stand alone and I am not saying that I wouldn't read series. There are some very good ones out there, where I am waiting with baited breath for each new installment, yet each novel in is able to deliver a whole story and not make the reader compelled to buy the next book, and the next, next, ..
    Cliffhangers at the end of chapters are fine btw :D

    - When at the end questions have not been answered. This kind of ties in with the previous point but is meant as admonishment for stand-alones

    - Headhopping in each new little scene, or even worse, when one can't tell in which head one is

    - When the synopsis at the backmatter doesn't match what finally got delivered

    These are general annoyments for me, in a kind transcendental. When any of the above (with the possible exception of the matter of the backmatter ;) is not met I will most likely not buy any more books from this author, or at least I will be very wary.

    I am not talking about my personal preferences of which there are a score. And all of them are open to debate and can be offset by skill, characterisations, and worldbuilding :)
     
  22. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Too many absurd names in fiction, especially when they're littered with apostrophes.

    Names like :
    Anakin Skywalker
    Khajiit
    Azeroth and every other name in World of Warcraft
    Don'Ald Tr'Ump
     
  23. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    A novel should not be boring. Everything else is negotiable.
     
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  24. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The worst mistakes to me?

    • Don't bore me.
    If your novel is just translucently thin connective tissue wrapped around what is actually your world-building notebook... ugh.​
    • Don't preach at me (even if I agree with your stance, I most likely did not buy your book for a sermon, religious, secular or otherwise).
    Opinions = The New Heroin, and I did all my drugs back in university days... I almost didn't finish China Miéville's Bas Lag triology because of this. I always knew he was a political animal, I knew this, but this facet of his life was only ever sprinkled here and there in small symbols and hints in his novels, until I came up against Iron Council, the last of the books in that series. He went full bore polemic and finishing it was like pulling molars with your fingers.​
    • Don't make yourself (the writer) more important than the story.
    As soon as I notice you trying to be clever, you're no longer being clever. The story can be clever as all get-out. That's not the same thing. You being clever is like watching a movie with someone who keeps tapping or poking you and saying Oh, watch this part, this part's good, I love her, she's such a good actress! Did you know that the person who directed this also directed...​
     
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  25. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    But I'm sure the publisher loves stuff like that!
     

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