1. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    What mistakes annoy you the most when reading a book?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by U.G. Ridley, Jun 27, 2016.

    There isn't a lot of stuff that can take me out of a story when I'm reading. You can make a lot of mistakes, and I won't even notice unless I am actively trying to look for them. But I also know that readers who have read for more years than me will notice these mistakes in an instant, so in order for me to avoid making these mistakes in my own writing, I would love to hear you guys' biggest pet pieves when reading.
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    In traditionally published books, anything unbelievable enough to remind me I'm reading fiction, thereby jerking me out of the story. That could be plot holes, factual inconsistencies (like one book where a diabetic patient administered insulin into her veins instead of subcutaneously) or characters suddenly acting out of character.

    In self-published, all of the above plus typos and grammar errors. You might find the odd one in trad books, but self-published ones are riddled with them. My personal bug bear is comma splices.
     
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  3. Vandor76

    Vandor76 Senior Member

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    Plot holes. Plot holes. Plot holes.

    ...and when the MC does something outside of the reader's sight and reveals that later. This is cheating.
     
  4. FireWater

    FireWater Senior Member

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    I'm in my 20s, but I read a lot of YA. It bugs me when the teen dialogue is really cheesy. I don't mean dated, because some books were written in the 80s/90s/00s and thus it's fine to have the dialogue of that time. But I mean when authors have teens say things that are totally stupid, unrealistic, and sound like they came off the Disney Channel. For example, one scene had a bunch of teenagers eating s'smores at a campout, and they started giggling hysterically. Not over an inside joke or anything, but just at the fact that s'mores taste good. It was idiotic.

    Also, romances where one of the partners is a co-dependent whiner who can't live without the other, and it's portrayed as a good thing.

    Also, ending where the climax is really stupid or where it goes down a totally random rabbit hole. I read a novel where the book focused on a mysterious, seemingly-demonic entitiy in the desert, and at the end, it was a monster that the hero had to fry with electrical wires, because electricity was the only thing that could kill it. The electricity concept wasn't even introduced until right before the climax scene, and it felt like a copout.
     
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  5. izzybot

    izzybot Oportet Vivere Contributor

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  6. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    Oh, hell yes! Thanks!
     
  7. Boger

    Boger Senior Member

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    I once tried to read a book and only realizing the sick feeling I got wasn't because it was so bad, it was because the book radiated a royal smell of stale sweat, you know, slowly drifting and surrounding you, not the cheese, goat, type of sweat, but the tropical, ripe, fertile smelling one. I had to throw it in the trash, a second hand I won't be giving a second look.

    Also, poorly translated books. Any book can be translated, but not anyone can do it properly.
     
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  8. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thin characterization, or characters who are simply puppets used to move the plot along. I was revisiting some of the science fiction I loved as a child recently, and most of it doesn't hold up. You can tell it was written for pulp magazines. (I used to read the Doc Savage pulp stories. Doc had five assistants, and the original author kept calling them "the five greatest minds ever assembled in one group." Well, these five so-called great minds were always behaving like fools, or like small children, just so Doc could look superior to them all. I kept throwing these damn books across the room for idiotic crap like that.)

    Also, weak prose. I have a pretty sensitive ear when it comes to style, and if the prose rhythms are jarring, or the imagery inappropriate, it really annoys me. I keep rewriting the author's sentences in my head just to improve the fidelity, as it were. And that's not my job as a reader.
     
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  9. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Oh, boy, where to start:
    1. getting period dialogue or mannerisms wrong (everything sounds like current street slang; having Sherlock Holmes—or even a 1960s hippy—doing a fist pump and saying, "Yes!")
    2. again in period stories, using politically-correct casting in a lame attempt to portray our ancestors as decent human beings; they weren't; let's learn to live with it.
    3. any story that glorifies war, brutality, weapons, or killing for whatever reason
    I'd go on, but just thinking about these things is putting me in a bad mood.
     
  10. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Ugh, Twilight.

    One thing that irks the hell out of me is big plot twists that never really happened. Twilight was again responsible for me saying this. There was this huge battle where multiple main characters died, but then BAM, it was all just a premonition and everyone is fine. It's fine when it's early on, like in Final Destination, but Twilight was just a cop-out for some much needed action.
     
  11. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unworthy in the eyes of the LORD Contributor

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    I hate to say it, but you misspelled "peeves".

    And SPAG is #1 for me.
     
  12. BC Barry

    BC Barry Member

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    -Typos and bad grammar drive me nuts, i.e. their, they're, to, too, etc., ad naseam.
    -Adding new information to the end of the sentence instead of combining it just seems lazy to me. "Finally, she was able to scale the wall although it was difficult, it was difficult because there were no handholds and she was weak and tired." Instead of: "Finally, despite her exhaustion and the lack of handholds, she scaled the wall using the last of the strength in her trembling arms."
    -Skipping a major detail and leaving the reader wondering. "It took most of the day because of the danger, but he managed to cross the river. Now, he traveled the worn path." Why was it dangerous? What was so hard that it took a whole day to cross it? How did he manage to cross it?
    -And the opposite side of that: Too many details. The reader doesn't want to know the shape and color of every rock in the river.
    -And finally, characters who change their minds too much. They hate something, have always fought against it. Yet 3 chapters later they think it's okay because the guy doing it is cute.
     
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  13. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    DAMMIT. I have already failed, haha:-D
     
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  14. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This I can't stand - collective behavior to make it easier for the writer and the mc. I've seen collective hate - so the mc looks more sympathetic. Collective love - so the mc looks more desirable and collective stupidity for the mc to look more intelligent. On the internet people can lump into groups and click like all they want but face to face is a whole nother dynamic.

    I also don't like when characters discuss things they already know because the writer is afraid to put the information in a what might be seen as an info-dump or a tell.

    Character motivation - when that's flimsy it can get frustrating. The writer should create enough steps and baggage, and action and dialogue and thoughts that a character's behavior, no matter how bizarre should make sense ( whether we agree with it or not. )
     
  15. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I also dislike when characters know way more than they should. Being a genius isn't the same thing as having knowledge and for some reason in a lot of stories, smart characters are also walking encyclopedias. Oh wow, Captain Picard sure is well read and a great military leader. Holy crap, he's an expert in particle physics too, smart guy! Wait, he's a medical exert too? Why? Intimate detail of 1940s culture? Okay, how old are you Captain? Oh, you managed to repair the technology that humans have been fine tuning for six hundred years with a stick? Come now, sir.
     
  16. Mikmaxs

    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    Two things, for me:
    Authors who lie to the audience then act smug about it when the audience can't guess what's going to happen, (*coughAndThenThereWereNonecough*),
    And authors who are clearly forcing a plot to go and do what they want, whether or not it makes sense or is even the most interesting thing to focus on. Seveneves did this a lot, to the point that I couldn't stand to finish it despite some genuinely great parts.
     
  17. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unworthy in the eyes of the LORD Contributor

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    The deus ex machina that technically isn't. An author throws a million and one possible solutions into the story, red herrings everywhere, and then "surprises" you with one that's mentioned one time, on page 11, before the story even got going.
    Looking at The Execution Channel and the movie "Layer Cake".
     
  18. Sapphire at Dawn

    Sapphire at Dawn Member

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    I read and write mainly historical and so for me it's historical inconsistencies, changing of major facts and (in particular) characters who act out of time. I tried to read a novel from my library a couple of years ago where the MC was introduced in the first few pages as some sort of secret doctor to Henry II. She was the only woman in Europe to have obtained a medical degree. She was also young and beautiful (as far as I remember) and none of the male characters who encountered her in the first few pages treated her with anything other than reverence and respect. To me that seemed totally implausible for the time period and I never got past the first chapter.
     
  19. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    Talking about mistakes by the writer, rather than their laziness, incompetence, or other aspects of the writing that I dislike, factual errors annoy me a lot.

    One of the easiest to recall is near the end of War of The Worlds, when Wells stated that the Martians never managed to invent the wheel; near the start of the story, he wrote that the end of the cylinder had a cap of some sort that unscrewed - try making a functional screw thread (interior and exterior) without a lathe, which makes use of wheels/gears. I may be wrong, but I got the feeling Wells added it as an afterthought.

    A short story from years ago that I read made reference to the chitinous shell of a clam - at the time I was pretty sure clams have shells made of calcium, and it proved so. Chitin is a quite different, and organic substance.

    Recently in one of Child's Reacher novels, Child made reference to a gas chromatograph for detecting metals, I think. GCs are not used for this purpose.

    This is not to say I have a tantrum if I read a story where something occurs which might otherwise seem impossible (like Star Trek's transporter/warp drive/etc).;)
     
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  20. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I think the same thing. My thoughts on sci-fi are that laws of physics we haven't discovered yet are fine, but manipulating already understood things in futuristically silly ways annoys me. I'd rather a space ship have a force field protect it than having a character tell me that we've discovered a way to make steel billions of times stronger (I forget which book I read that in.) But gimme a break, we understand how nuclear physics works, you're not making steel any stronger.
     
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