Authors, read for what irks you (#IWSG Blog Hop)

Authors, read for what irks you

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, Authors, read for what irks youmetaphors 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.

I compiled this post for the monthly IWSG blog hop. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs, or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)

Thank you to Freepik for the image I used in this post.

62 thoughts on “Authors, read for what irks you (#IWSG Blog Hop)

    1. Absolutely. Thanks for stopping by, Pat, and shalom aleichem. All of your comments came through. It’s just that sometimes, WordPress holds them for approval, which I have to do manually. I deleted the last two comments per your request, though. 🙂

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    1. If it were that easy the divorce rate would go down maybe 70%. If people talked to each other and got out of their own bags and their own way and resolved everything like a 1/2 hour 70s sitcom. But they don’t. They puff up and get territorial and all their baggae from everywhere comes into play and then you have people, not cardboard cutouts that look like people.

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  1. I can handle a few “misunderstandings” if the author has set the scene. However, continued blow ups between main characters over things that a conversation would resolve are very distracting to me as a reader. I need to feel and believe it!

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    1. Second verse same as the verse holds true for many things unless it is a character flaw and then it’s part of the story line. Avarice, bad judgement about the opposite sex, gambling, pick an addiction from career to drugs. Ultimately turning that cart around IS the story line, or letting run in stream of consciousness. Without formulas life is stranger than fiction.

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  2. Uncharacteristic behavior. My example: A hero does everything right. Follows the letter of law. Talks about know the difference between right and wrong while chasing down a bad guy. Then for some reason, only known to them, they go against everything they stood for and take the law into their own hands. Or worse, they discover who it is and instead bringing them in they make an exception for wrongdoer (because… ).

    I see it a lot on TV and it’s not okay.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  3. I agree! I’ve encountered those superficial conflicts and they annoy the heck out of me. Not sure about the hyperbolic emotions though. I tend to write inappropriately unconcerned characters. Oh death and destruction surrounds us? Maybe we should go get a sandwich? I have to have other people step in to tell me whether or not the emotional responses that I write are realistic.

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  4. First of all, I’d love to have been part of that conversation because YES. Those things earn an eye-roll from me too (can’t stand when something doesn’t feel authentic). Miscommunications happen, sure, but when someone could so easily clear it up with a simple question/statement, I get *so* annoyed. So, I totally get where you’re coming from.

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  5. Points well taken. This business of “technological capability” is annoying, and since technology is so quick to change, I’ve had to rewrite stories that I want to keep in modern day. It does take some time to craft a story, so while I was crafting away, Apple and Microsoft were coming up with new ways for us to communicate. Remember the Flip Phone? For that matter, do you remember the telephone booth? Today’s Superman would have a darned hard time finding his changing room these day!

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  6. Too many “ly” words. The tag “asked” after a question mark, unless it demands an “ly” modifier in which case I am doubly cheesed. Stilted dialogue because it’s lazy. Similes as style. Conflict is difficult to predict. Humans are complex psychological beings. What may be obvious to one is not to another. More bothersome I think is dull, perfect, overdone call and response dialogue where everything wanders down the page in an equational fashion. Weak adjectives. Over writing. Whatever your writing issue might be, BAM is the answer. I have re-read some 50s JD MacDonald lately and the credit modern authors give him is well deserved. Somehow, with proper, precise words you are there, you know who else is there, who they are and you are in the middle of them watching something go down. It’s not perfect, it has voice, but it happens without any BS glaze or cute language. Kim kicks Bob. Anyway. Sloppy sentence structure, sloppier paragraphs, all that bug me. So you could say “Sloppy pissed him off. Sloppy and lazy and lack of crafts(person)ship” if you were JD MacDonald and wanted to nail it.

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  7. THe silly misunderstanding is a tough one to swallow as a reader, and I was horrified when I realized I’d used it in one of my own stories! It didn’t make it past that draft 🙂

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  8. Yes we do use the flashlight app on our phones. I hope I never make you angry. And by the way, thank you for your reference to Heather Ezell. She’s picking me up and I am so excited. Huge fist bump for success to you 🙂

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  9. I know what you mean. It’s crazy isn’t it, as a writer, you strive to make a story as real as possible. In the editing stage, you’d really hope to catch all those things that don’t spring naturally from the story as a whole – because if at any point, it seems contrived, the story falls flat on its face.

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  10. Yes, yes, and yes! If I have more than one eyeroll in the first few pages of a book, I am out! The ‘too stupid to breathe’ character has long passed its expiration date. I just dumped yet another book where the MC became the prime suspect in a murder with absolutely no good reason, and not even a colorable bad reason. Stupid conflict is not interesting conflict.

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  11. I am also annoyed at conflict for the sake of conflict (though I’m sure I use it from time to time. I need to do better). I am also annoyed when writers follow the Rom Com formula and require a “revelation” that breaks up the couple temporarily. You can almost bank on it happening with less than 30 pages to go in the book.

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  12. I have been told that real conflict is the reason behind the argument not an argument for the sake of argument or creating conflict fillers. Great points. If the story and character are good enough to get me through the first 3 chapters most of the time I don’t get peeved per say. Only if I spend money on a book I cannot read and never finish the story. Does not happen often because I have specifics I look for that normal will get me a decent story to read or at least be worth the money.

    Happy belated IWSG.

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  13. I totally agree with your remark about misunderstandings in books and movies. It drives me crazy as well. But, here’s the thing… This happens in real life as well. Just look at relationships within your (extended) family… I think often “Why don’t you just talk about these things? Communicate, people!” I feel that the things that annoy us most are the things that are common sense to us. Yet, lots of people don’t think or act that way. Sigh!

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  14. The prologue that takes the most exciting scene from the end and just sticks it in front as a way to “draw” readers in. Long descriptions of what a character looks like by having them look in a mirror. Not starting with action, but description. Little kids who speak/think/act like adults which is explained away because the kid “reads a lot”.

    I could be guilty of some of these.

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  15. If misunderstandings leas to hilarious situations then I’m with it. But if they lead to tense situations then…yes, I feel like telling them off!

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  16. I feel the same way when watching a movie! There’s no fun in watching a character acting stupidly when it could have been avoided. Typically I read more non-fiction, character development books so I (fortunately) don’t come into contact with this frustration as much as I used to!

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  17. I don’t like it when there is a big buildup or cliffhanger for the end of a scene and then the resolution in the next scene is just some people talking to each other or whatever. I actually don’t mind normal, understated resolutions; what I mind is the fake tension/suspense. Sometimes I read for that, but more often I read to get real insights into human nature and how people think and behave. Not everyone’s life is full of tension and suspense, and some of us like it that way.

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  18. I’m not much of a television/movie person and I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, especially when it comes to learning things for my writing journey… 😦
    I’m definitely missing out on something…
    I’m thinking that I can fill this gap by reading more writing craft books? BUT I’m wondering, how much of a difference is there between learning it from the visual, screen-watching perspective versus the written word in craft books?
    Makes me wonder…

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