"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Friday, April 17, 2015

O = Offensive Storytelling Tactics

Today I'm talking about literary pet peeves; those little things that shouldn't ruin your day but inevitably drive you crazy!

Love at first sight. Not the cutesy fairytale kind, where the author wants to save space and get to the point, but the other kind: The kind where the main character goes, "Oh my God, he's so hot! I'm in love...because he's hot!" Bitch, please. If that's you're only reason for loving him, you need help. I've met pretty faces, nice abs, and soft hair... I understand the appeal, I do. But if the pretty face belongs to a jerk, no amount of manscaping or money is going to impress me. I have little respect for women characters who don't know the difference between love and lust. I especially don't like this concept in young adult fiction. Is that what we ought to be teaching kids? How important looks are to a relationship? Needless to say, I avoid most contemporary romances.

Failure to world build. You see this in badly written sci-fi and fantasy novels. The author has this great and elaborate idea for a story and character and just starts writing. And why not? The concept is solid, right? But a concept isn't everything. Characters need motives and they need to fuel those motives with history, preferably their own, otherwise why are they involved? And you can't just say a civil war is taking place, you need to say what the people are fighting over, what they hope to achieve by fighting. And no, you can't just have a sorcerer cast a spell and save the day because he's magical; every world, even imagined ones, have to have rules: things that can be done, things that can't. Actions need corresponding consequences. If the author doesn't know the answer to "why?" and "how?" he or she can't reasonably expect an audience to know...the audience isn't telling the story.

Editless novel. This drives me crazy. I know not everyone who writes is topping the sales list, editors are pricey, but come on. An author should never ask for money for a book that is full of grammar and spelling errors. Why don't Indie's handout a half dozen manuscripts to any educated humans in their life and say, "If you've got time, can you highlight everything that's wrong with this story?" Independent authors are turning into Yard Sale authors: "Please, won't you buy my unloved junk?" And I've read a few good ones, don't get me wrong... But so many are bad, that it gets awfully easy to start stereotyping. That makes it so much harder for the good ones to get noticed. Edit, edit, edit, edit, edit.

Do you have any literary pet peeves?


  1. I absolutely agree on the love at first sight thing. I feel like there needs to be something within the character to inspire that kind of devotion, and "hot" isn't it!

    1. Yay! Lol, usually when I bring this subject up, someone tells me "You need to be attracted to someone to pursue a relationship..." and I'm not saying you don't need to be attracted, I'm just saying, attractive qualities aren't restricted to physique.


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