My Top 5 Pet Peeves in Writing

We all have little things that bug us. Here are some of mine. These are things that are sure to get me to stop reading, and possibly get the authors hate mail. Besides being my personal dislikes, they’re just bad writing. Without further ado, here’s my…

pet peeves

5. Typos. Yes, we are all human. We make mistakes, and if I’m editing a manuscript for a friend, or even reading something just for feedback, I’ll understand, circle it in red, and not even mention it. But if I paid money for a book, you owe me some damned effort and typos always look like unfinished editing.

4. Jargon. This is where an author will introduce, then fail to define (even contextually) a series of neologisms which usually turn out to describe things that could be named in plain English (or whatever language you read). The worst offenders are sci-fi and fantasy authors, and you know the ones I mean! This is not a hook. I will not read your book to expand my imaginary lexicon. You need to make me care about the characters and the plot. NEXT!

3. Poor pacing. The speed at which the plot points occur is crucial, especially in the beginning. If a book starts with decent characters but then fails to introduce any interesting action, I’ll put it down and feel bad. Action does not mean car chases or murders. Action indicates people doing something. Recall my review of Finding Camlaan. Not only did nothing happen, nothing was hinted at for later. This works in reverse too. If your plot points start to happen int too rapid a succession, it can distance your readers from the work and start to sound like a laundry list of cause and effect events.

2. Preachiness. Ever read the Left Behind series? Well I haven’t. I mean, I read most of the first book. I may even have finished it. But I remember only one thing about it. How great Jesus is. Yep. A series of 24 plus books and I boiled it down to a four word sentence. I was a Christian at the time I read it and I still couldn’t stomach it because every three pages like clockwork the characters pause, interrupting the plot, to reflect on how awesome Jesus is. You know that feeling when you’re being instructed why you should believe something—the stuff they do in elementary school—imagine having that feeling after you’ve paid to relax and enjoy a good book. There are many things wrong with preachiness; a. It alienates the reader, especially if their beliefs differ from the author’s, b. it interrupts the plot, and c. it’s not what the reader paid for—it’s an advertisement when it’s supposed to be fiction.

1. Lack of originality. Clichés in narrative. Overused plot devices. And the three most hated and feared words in the English language: TEEN PARANORMAL ROMANCE. If it’s done to death, it’s done. I review a few books a week on my blog, but I pick up and put down more than double what I review. I can’t make it past the jacket blurbs on most books, but it’s because they’re all telling the same story.

I know, I know, there are technically only three plots in existence, but still. Every YA book on the shelves today is either about vampire sex (since Twilight) or about some chosen one leading a rebellion (since Hunger Games.) If it sounds like I’ve read a book before I’m not going to read a knockoff; I’ll just read the one I liked again.

So there you go. This list is based a little bit on my personal preferences, but there are plenty who I’m sure would agree with me, these are things one should strive to leave out of your books, whether you’re writing them or reading them. Post some of your pet peeves in the comments below!


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