Pet Peeves

Someone asked what my pet peeves were when it came to fiction.

I suppose it depends upon whether you’re asking me as a reader or as an author.

As a writer, my favourite reader peeve is …

"But I liked the characters in the first book, but in the third book they’re getting all weird and doing stuff I don’t like."

Characters grow up and change as they do… just like people.

Children usually only stay young forever in cartoon strips…. (or become writers of children’s books.)

As a reader, my favourite pet peeve is when the author starts killing off the characters… not because they have to, but as away to purge themselves of the need to ever go back and write about them again.

"Aha!" Goes the logic. "Now the series is dead forever!"

… and then ten years later they’re back to writing stories about the same ‘already dead’ characters during the time when they were still ‘alive.’

Never made sense to me.

Other pet peeves

I hate senseless death and slaughter. If a character has to die, it should be for a reason… unless of course the protagonist is a serial killer or psychopath…. in which case I’m not going to be reading it anyway.

I don’t think all endings have to be happy, but they don’t have to be doom and gloom. I can pick up the newspaper or watch the evening news report if I want that.

I hate ‘dead-mother’ books… the ones where everyone important to the protagonist is dying of some fatal disease, which causes said protagonist to spent 300 plus pages professing their angst and and having anxiety attacks over something they didn’t cause and can’t do anything about.

I hate books written as a means to deal with the writers own childhood traumas. Once again they’re generally angst filled and purposely aimed at the children’s and young adult market.

Sadly, this also includes the dead mother category.

"If I had to have an unhappy childhood, then so should you…" or so seems the logic of the reason they get published in the first place… except that for the most part they’re purchased and read by adults.. not kids. The kids who receive them as gifts generally use them to prop up the uneven legs of bookcases or the wobbly chair they sit in while reading Harry Potter books.

(If you’re starting to get the idea that my focus as writer is primarily in the children’s to young adult market… don’t. You’d be dead wrong.)

Another pet peeve… what the hell is so wrong with humour? Stories can be funny and entertaining and still have drama.

… and let us not forget…

Why is it that all leading ladies seemingly must (for some in explicable reason) need a man to save them and/or must fall in lust with their stuff.

… and along with gratuitous violence, why must there always be the obligatory badly written gratuitous sex scene? It seems to me that some authors can’t write a story without their hero or heroine getting laid.. even if it’s only ‘suggested.’

….goes off to check fine print in contract to see if there’s a hidden clause I missed… Nope.. Couldn’t find it.

On what a character looks like:

Some readers complain when there’s too much character detail, others complain there’s not enough. As a writer I need to know what my characters look like, what their personalities are and what interests them.  I can’t write characters generically or have them being one dimensional… and I haven’t read many books by authors who have. I wonder why that is, eh?

True, not all characters need to be handsome or beautiful or evening charming… but how many books would we sell if it was always the hideously ugly harpy of a princess who lived happily ever after with the foul tempered, badly disfigured prince?

I have other pet peeves, but they’re getting hungry and it’s feeding time here at the vicious circle.



About Gwendolyn McIntyre

Author, editor, businesswoman, musician, lover of jazz and horses. Chief investigator of all things that go BUMP in the night.
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