I Can’t Stand it When… #MFRWauthor

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.

Moody Blue 01I’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.

Couple 05 Unsplash smallFor 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:

“What floor?”

“Two, please.”

“Are you here on business?”

“No.”

elevator unsplash smallThat’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.

Country Woman smallOr 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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5 thoughts on “I Can’t Stand it When… #MFRWauthor

  1. Meka James says:

    Ah yes, that inner monologue. Sometimes it’s too much for the exact reasons you said. Stop thinking it and just say it! Same with the conclusions they seem to jump to out of the blue. If they’ve said two words to each other how in the world do they think about all these other things that make this person so great or different. I’m left feeling like I’ve missed something. Now I’m thinking I should have added insta-love to my list today as I can’t stand that either and insta-love usually follows the set up you described.

  2. RobinMichaela says:

    Insta-attraction, I understand. Insta-love? Not so much. You make a good point about how can a heroine be adamantly against love, but meet the handsome stranger and suddenly she throws her resolve out the window. Now, I’m hoping I haven’t been writing a scene/character like that…*face palm*… As an author, it can be tough to separate the writing from the movie playing in my head!

  3. Linda McLaughlin says:

    I agree, Sherry. Always better to show than tell. I know some exposition is needed, but the H/h need to interact with each other. How about a little flirting? Or a biting argument. Either is preferable to a lackluster meeting.

  4. Ed Hoornaert says:

    This is a great peeve, one that I share. Showing the attraction between two people is quite hard, and showing that attraction deepening approaches heroically difficult. IMHO, most romance novels don’t do it well. Even romance movies, despite multi-million-dollar budgets, fail as often as they succeed. Love at first sight is usually a cop-out, a lazy shortcut … and I say that even though my own life and wife are a living example of love at first sight. On my part, at least. In truth, though, it was more like lust-at-first-sight, followed by infatuation and eventually love.

  5. alinakfield says:

    This is a good one, Sherry. It’s a great conflict setup to have a heroine who’s through with romance meet a hero she can’t help being attracted to, but getting the balance and motivation right is so hard to achieve as an author. It’s very humbling to read everyone’s posts!

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