I was speaking with one of my critique partners today, and we got into this big discussion about how we dislike when characters have a misunderstanding that could have been avoided if one of them just asked the other the obvious question that everyone watching the show was thinking. Or if one of the characters lets the other walk away angry when they could easily say the thing that will resolve the misunderstanding.
Yes, easily avoidable misunderstandings as a device to create conflict, whether reading or watching it, I dislike this so much, it elicits an eye roll from me every time. The conflict just doesn’t feel logical. And because I’m aware that I don’t like this, I’m (hopefully) careful not to let this happen in my own writing.
Some other things that make me cringe? Emotional reactions too hyperbolic for the situation, metaphors that don’t make sense, and when authors forget a technological capability. When the power goes off, a logical person doesn’t risk dark stairs to the basement to retrieve a flashlight anymore; they use the flashlight app on their phone.
I can’t promise that I won’t ever include one of my literary pet peeves in my own writing, but because I read for what irks me (and conversely, for what I like), I’m more aware of these devices, elements, and other subjective shortcomings, and I’m more likely to not write them.
Do you have any literary pet peeves? When reading, are you paying attention to what irks you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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