It’s Friday, and that means it’s week 22 of the MFRWauthor 52-week blog challenge. This week’s prompt is My pet peeve in a book.
I’m a demanding reader. I’m going to admit that right off the bat. I think I always have been in some ways. Becoming a writer has, I think, made me even more demanding in some ways, and more forgiving in others.
I’m more demanding about the things I know it’s possible to do in a book with a bit of work, and more forgiving about the things that are extremely difficult, more forgiving when an author I love publishes a book I don’t love. I understand how life can sometimes bulldoze through a writer’s life and throw him or her off-stride for a while.
There are, however, some things that will almost always made me give up on a book and will sometimes make me give up on an author, depending on how frequently I encounter them in the author’s body of work. If I had to pick, and I suppose I do in the spirit of today’s topic, I’d say that my number one pet peeve in a book is when an author shows me one thing, but tries to tell me another.
For example, in a romance, often during the first meeting between hero and heroine, an author will write a scene that contains very little dialogue and a whole lot of introspection. The hero and heroine spot each other from across a crowded room. Maybe exchange a few rather dull words, and think a lot about each other–how amazing their eyes are, how sculpted the others’ cheekbones, how trim the waist, how perky the breasts…whatever.
Strip away all the introspection, and what the author has actually shown me is a very drab scene in which nothing actually happened. The hero and heroine have a conversation something like this as they meet in front of an elevator:
“Are you here on business?”
That’s what I’m shown. Nothing wrong with it, I suppose, but it’s not particularly scintillating conversation, nor does it show me anything about the characters’ personalities. So when an author tries to tell me, as the characters part ways, that the hero finds the heroine different from any woman he’s ever known before, or that he perceives her to be witty, sarcastic, and/or the requisite feisty, my hackles begin to rise. There’s no reason for the character to think such things except in the author’s imagination. Certainly nothing that has actually happened would lead a reasonable person to that conclusion.
Or when a heroine spends 3 or 4 pages of introspection thinking about how she’s through with romance and has a goal to, maybe, be the first woman doctor in Wyoming territory, then walks into a room, spots a handsome stranger, and immediately starts thinking about him in terms of romance material.
Granted, there’s always room for the self-deluded character. I’m fine with those. In fact, I really enjoy a well-written unreliable narrator. The author can show me in subtle ways that the heroine wants to be through with romance, even though she isn’t, really, in her heart. It’s when the author doesn’t recognize the contradiction in his/her work that it slides over into the “pet peeve” column for me.
If it happens often enough in a book, I’ll put the book away. If it happens in another book or two by the same author, I’ll stop buying the author’s work.
So there you have it: my pet peeve in a book. What is yours?
This is a bloghop, so be sure to check out the other authors’ links and see what they think. You’ll find the links below…
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