This week’s question:
What are your literary “pet peeves”?
1. Too many characters. If I can’t even keep track with a glossary, it’s too annoying, especially characters whose life I can’t even recall.
2. Self-deprecation. Unless you write like Jonathan Tropper, please avid trampling a character. An occasional one-liner is fine, but a self-deprecating narrative throughout a book is annoying. Also, why is every woman in contemporary literature not happy with her physical appearance?
3. Excessive physical description. I have read enough food labels at the grocery store, so please just make a long story short.
4. Excessive length. It’s exactly what the “How to Say Nothing in 500 Words” handout warned us back in 9th grade writing. Check out my review of Birdsong for a solid example.
5. “Shoehorning”. Ever felt like an author is trying to fit every bit of information researched into a novel that has nothing to do with the story?
6. Open jaw. Finish what you started, don’t leave bundles untied.
7. Cliché, cliché, cliché. Why does almost every modern fiction revolve around drug/drug abuse and alcoholism? This is the reason why I stopped reading Bret Ellis Easton after Less Than Zero? Same old stories with different settings and same annoying, immature, obnoxious, self-entitled rich young kids.
8. Spin-off. How many Jane Austen sequels do we need? That whole Darcy business has been explored to death. Even from the perspective of a monster. Have we not had enough?
9. Name dropping. It’s just so out of place.
10. Unreal dialogues. This is what distinguishes bad fiction from great literature. We unconsciously filter out the crap in people’s speech to refine sense and meaning. What we’re left with is a type of distilled speech far removed from the realism of what we hear and, crucially, we rarely notice this until we see it with our own eyes, while reading a transcript of what someone said.