Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Miller0700, Jun 22, 2016.
Whether this means cliches or writing in general?
Boring the reader.
That's about it.
And irritating the reader. That can also make them put the book down.
May mean headhopping. Or unclear writing, i.e. the reader not knowing who is talking in dialogue. But I have recently encountered a sample where exactly that happened but the story was too good to stop reading (and I am famous for getting annoyed with books ). So this rule is not set in stone.
I'd agree with 'boring the reader' - which is kind of a personal taste.
Irritating a reader = making the reader want to put the book down because something about it drives them up a wall. Being irritated by a book is very subjective, so I'm not sure I can elaborate. All I know is I've put down as many books from being irritated as I have from being bored. Usually, it's major head-hopping issues (so I have no idea what's really going on with the characters), or issues with a character not acting the way they should (like not doing the OBVIOUS thing they WOULD do).
1) A blank page
2) A still, blinking cursor.
Plagiarism. No explanation necessary.
Exasperating the reader - deus ex machina
lame plot twists
an over abundance of clichés
insulting the readers intelligence by explaining things over and over again
Boring them - this can happen when a writer wants to rant, gush about their world or their invented technology or they've written a scene they feel is brilliant
but isn't doing much of anything.
Characters with no clear motivation - In one story I read on another site the mc, a girl, treated guys like utter morons for no specific reason and when I asked the writer why - they explained that the girl didn't want to be treated like a mere 'girl' - but since there was no scene that a guy had ever treated her like a lesser being the mc came across like a bitch. You need to show why a character is behaving a specific way. Some sort of set up or past baggage.
Actually aside from grammar issues there's not a lot of story no-no's that you've can't get away with. A lot of published stories have gotten away with my list. But then again you have to do a lot to stand out in publishing as readers are being pulled in all directions - self publishing, trad, graphic novels, blogs.
My big no-n0: not turning off the editor and just writing. Once the editorial function is activated, I'm screwed.
There should be a sign over my keyboard that says TURN THE GODDAMN EDITOR OFF!
This thread needs a little more elaboration. Some of this just doesn't help because it's general and vague.
I'd say a big no-no is trying to tell the reader everything about your story's meaning without letting them figure it out. Really obvious meaning are boring. So try to be subtle, imply it in what occurs and reference it in dialogue. Of course, the meaning can be made a little obvious sometimes but if it is have that as a very late part of the story so they can figure it before it they want to and can.
Trying to make your own book cover.
Well, sometimes they're cool. If you're an artist. But usually...
I can't even.
Obvious plot holes and people who don't act like people drive me insane and make me stop reading.
Writers who don't bother to research a topic they want to write about and assume they know enough.
If you're basing a medical scene off of what you know from other fiction or TV, stop and do some real research.
If you're writing a scene with a few cops doing their job and you've never been a cop, stop and do some real research.
If you're a virgin and need to write a sex scene, well.... I'm sorry to hear that. Do some research.
That is pretty awful.
I came here to say just this. I'm former military (of no particular distinction and no combat experience), and I don't know how many times I've nearly put a book down because somebody went looking for the keys to the Hummer (Jack Reacher), pulled out a .45 magnum (in a Tom Clancy book, nonetheless), ran around calling NCOs "sir" or some such nonsense. Movies are even worse for that sort of thing, yanks me out and makes me question everything else.
- When the narrative says the same thing over and over. (Look stupid, I am not stupid. I get it.)
- When the heroine almost falls over backwards when the hero comes into view. Every single time. Worse, when every other female in the cast does the same. And every single time the heroine describes the hero in detail, how much she loves his ... (Even if you are ruled by your ... I am not! Or at least generally not. )
- When smiles are given and glances are thrown with adverbs abounding, every second sentence (Can't you vary this, at least a little bit? Makes me think the characters are just blueprints of each other)
These are really annoying me, such things could so easily be avoided. Just give the work to a few Alphas/Betas worth their salt. All other 'mistakes' I can apparently tolerate if the story is good enough (i.e. headhopping, POV mistakes, unclear speech,..).
What's the problems here? I'd really like to know what's actually wrong so I know what not to do. And what's right?
Sure thing. All this applies to the US only, and I'm a Marine, so I'm not totally up on all the customs and courtesies of the other services, but:
1) Military vehicles don't have keys. You don't want to be in a firefight and have somebody drop the keys or get killed or evac'ed or something and be stuck there. There are things that can be done to prevent theft, like in Vietnam they used to take the distributor rotors out of their jeeps to keep them from getting stolen, but there aren't any ignition keys, just a switch.
2) No such thing as a .45 magnum. There's a .44 magnum for revolvers, .45ACP for the Colt Government model (standard issue in the US from 1911 to 1985, still common for cops and gun enthusiasts), a .45 Long Colt for old-style single action revolvers, and entirely too many different other calibers to list, but no .45 magnum.
3) US military only, Marine-specific. Officers are all addressed as "sir" or "ma'am" by anyone lower ranking than them, including other officers. Enlisted are addressed by their rank, e.g. "Lance Corporal Aschendale" (or "Hey, shithead", but that's another story). The Army tends to address E-5 sergeants through E-7 Sergeants First Class as "Sergeant", but try that with a Marine staff sergeant and she'll tear your head off. E-7 Gunnery Sergeants are often addressed as "Gunny", and master sergeants are, with their consent, addressed as "Top" by their troops, but enlisted are never, outside of Marine Boot Camp, addressed as "Sir". Marine recruits in Boot Camp address everyone, down to the damn post-boxes*, as "Sir" or "Ma'am", but that ends on graduation day.
*There's a mail box outside of the chow hall where recruits can send mail home. Marines have to salute a variety of things, including officers, flags, and little stickers on cars that indicate that they are owned by an officer (really), so it's a long running prank for recruits further along in boot camp to screw with the newer guys by telling them they have to salute mail boxes, since they are official US Government property. When you're in boot camp, it seems no less insane than most of the other stuff you have to do, so....
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.45_Magnum. Um, this looks like one...
I stand corrected. Still damn rare though.
You have to care about what you're writing.
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned these on another thread recently but, these two don't usually make me stop reading but they can be annoying.
Characters with similar names making them difficult to differentiate. Do you really need a Mary & a Marion? A Jack & a Jake?
Made up names and words that are impossible to pronounce.
Dialogue where the made up dialect is impossible to understand or just nonsensical.
Don't assume the reader will automatically share your opinion and portray an arrogance about it. "These folks displayed the typical lack of education found in most small towns across America." I don't remember what book that was from and it isn't word for word, but it makes my point, hopefully. That wasn't the character's thoughts, that was the author describing the town and I found it unbelievably arrogant and just plain wrong.
"All women have this strange need to talk and cuddle after sex and she was no different. He was struggling to keep his eyes open." No explanation needed.......I hope? lol
And so on.
I've read all the Reacher books, and I seem to recall in one of them, Child made exactly that point - that there aren't keys to a (military) humvee in case they were dropped. I can't say for sure which novel, but it was one where he was still in the military. Perhaps he made the error earlier, and then was at pains to correct it?
That said, I agree with you: getting a basic thing wrong is very poor. I encounter it from time to time when I read stories that have "forensics" (I'm a former forensic scientist) in them.
Separate names with a comma.