Top 10 Bookish Pet Peeves

1. Overuse of exclamation points!!!!!!!

This one grates on my nerves. I am of the opinion that unless a character is actually shouting, there’s no need for exclamation points.

2. Redundant physical description of characters, especially when expounding on their “hotness.”

An author can mention that adorable dimple maybe twice before I start to roll my eyes. Attraction is good. Romantic tension is good. But I really want these character to be attracted to each other for reasons OTHER THAN their physical attributes.

3. When internal thoughts interrupt a conversation for so long that I lose track of the conversation.

If characters are truly in the middle of a conversation, there’s only so much free space they have in their brain. You can’t have a three-page inner dialogue and expect us to believe that all happened in the two seconds it took you to answer a question.

4. When an entire plot is centered on a misunderstanding that a five minute conversation could solve.

I’ll buy into a misunderstanding for MAYBE a fourth of a book, then I’m just screaming in my head, “HAVE THE CONVERSATION!” This is especially problematic in books where you have both points of view and thus the reader KNOWS that there is no good reason for this conflict to go on other than stubbornness.

5. Unnecessary dual POV, especially when it repeats the same scene but from the other person’s perspective.

Multiple points of view can absolutely be done right. But when they’re not…

I wrote an entire blog post dedicated to this subject, in case you care.

6. When the heroine and her best friend are the only reasonable women in the book and all others are cliche mean girls, vapid, or self centered.

Not every popular girl is mean. Not every ex-girlfriend of your love interest is a witch. Your main character should not be the only down-to-earth, thoughtful girl around. That’s insulting.

7. Unhealthy relationships made out to look like swoon-worthy romantic relationships.

I’m lookin’ at you, Twilight. There’s a lot I still love about those books, but Edward removing Bella’s car battery to prevent her from doing something that she wants to do is WAY not okay. Also, him watching her sleep without her knowing…

8. When the story is too big or too small for the book length.

I don’t need to read about a character’s every day activities. I get that they live a normal life a lot of the time. Please skip that part and just tell me the interesting stuff.

And when you are telling the interesting stuff, don’t go too fast! Interesting action happens because of complicated situation that you should explain so that we can all ride the adventure along with the characters in full support of what they’re doing.

9. When a character has too-stupid-to-live syndrome.

There’s this scene in the first season of 24 where the main guy rescues his wife and daughter and they’re waiting for a helicopter to pick them up. They’re crouched behind something and the daughter wants to go out into the open. Dad says no, it’s dangerous. Daughter (who has spent the last 12 hours being held captive) thinks he’s being dumb and goes out into the open anyway.

Really? Really, what’s-your-face? You’ve been terrorized by bad guys for the last however many hours and you don’t think this situation warrants just a smidge of caution??

10. When a hero and heroine fight and fight and fight, then kiss, then fight and fight and fight, and then supposedly live happily ever after.

I’m guessing this opinion is less universal than a lot of the others, but I just can’t get on board with a couple who agree to love each other even while it seems they can’t stand each other. That’s probably because I’m allergic to contention and I can’t handle it and it makes me cry when I encounter it in real life.

It’s just not my cup of tea.

So there you go. A random list, in no particular order, of the things that turn me off when I’m reading. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What are your pet peeves?

The Greatness of Vulnerability

One of my favorite book scenes of all times is in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At the end when Harry is talking to Dumbledore in his office, discussing the prophecy.

“Neither can live while the other survives.”

Dumbledore explains that the details given in the prophecy applied to Harry, but they also applied to Neville. It’s the moment when Harry finally understands what being the Chosen One will eventually mean. Continue reading

The Mushy Stuff

Have you ever been reading a book, and when someone asks you what genre it is, you kind of wince as you admit that it’s “just” a romance? I know I’ve had this inclination. Heaven forbid I be caught reading that mushy love stuff. What a waste of time, right? Except that, no, it’s not. The romance genre shouldn’t be viewed as less than any other genre, but somehow that’s the hand it’s been dealt.

But where did this need to undermine the value of the romance genre come from? Somehow action and comedy and sci-fi feel more acceptable. Is it because they’re more male-centric? Well…yes. I believe so. Action is about being tough. Science fiction is about sciency stuff. Comedy makes you laugh. But romance. Ooh. Geez. Romance is all about feelings. That’s girly stuff. As if men don’t experience emotions. As if valuing and discussing and wanting love someone makes a person less than. Continue reading

Point of View

I write from one perspective. All of my novels are told from the point of view of one character only—the heroine. I do that on purpose, and I’ll tell you why.

  1. With a romance, I feel like dual perspective can slow down the story-telling. You end up rehashing portions of the same action from both points of view. That can turn into more words telling less of a story.
  2. If I were to do dual perspective, I would need to write half of the book from a male point of view, and I simply don’t think I’m good enough at that to commit to it.
  3. My biggest reason, though, is this: My books are—first and foremost—romances. The big question that is going to be answered at the end of the book is always:

HOW WILL THEY END UP TOGETHER? Continue reading

Loving Your Characters

When I start reading a book, there are many factors that might prevent me from being able to immerse myself in the story. One of the biggest is unlikable characters. I imagine that’s the case with many readers, especially if you enjoy character driven books. We don’t want to cheer for a character that we just don’t like. Sometimes I don’t like characters because they’re boring, other times it’s because I don’t respect them. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that writing likable characters is essential for an author’s success.

What’s the first step to writing likable characters? You have to actually like them yourself. If you don’t love the characters you create, then how can you expect readers to love them? Continue reading

Empathy, Validation, and Vocabulary

I was contacted last week by a good friend of mine from High School. Abi does short interviews with all kinds of people on all kinds of topics using SpareMin. This week she wanted to interview different people about the value of literature and she asked if I’d have a couple minutes to talk with her. Of course, I said, “Yes!”

As I thought about the topic, there was no lack of ideas that came to mind, but the three that made their way to the top of my list were these:

  1. Books teach empathy.
  2. Books can validate our own experience.
  3. Books give us an emotional vocabulary.

Continue reading

When Did We Lower the Standard?

I heard a song the other day that started with the lyrics, “Guess it’s true I’m not good at a one-night stand.” The sadness of those lyrics struck me. The assumption that the majority of people are/should be good at having meaningless physical relationships speaks to just how much society has devalued genuine feelings and emotions like love, affection and caring. It’s become the norm to “use it and lose it.” The fact that the word “it” is used in that term should tip us off to just how much we’ve dehumanized each other.

The song is sung by a man and it got me thinking on the condescending remarks people tend to make that “boys will be boys” and “men can’t help themselves.” I’m guessing many of you agree that the latter is bull and that men can and should control themselves. But what of the first one? There is no denying that little girls and little boys tend to have different interests depending on their gender; but what does that have to do with the crippling idea that men have no self-control? Continue reading

How Romance Novels are contributing to Rape Culture

Before I was lucky enough to find blogs and other resources that I could rely on for book recommendations, I would troll Amazon. If a description caught my eye, I would look at the sample pages. In doing so I discovered a disturbing trend in romance novel plots. Two books still stick out in my mind. One started with a drunken man stumbling into what he thinks is his room at an Inn. He then assumes that the girl sleeping in the bed must be a prostitute and he treats her as such. The second book started with a ‘gentleman’ (it was a regency, I believe) coming upon a lady in a garden. He only sees her from behind and mistakes her for someone he was supposed to be meeting for a romantic rendezvous. He ends up assaulting the poor girl before realizing she’s not who he thought she was. When he does realize, there is no apology. He just turns on the charm, brushes it off as no big deal, and they part ways. Later, during the social gathering they are attending, he winks at her from across the room.

I went back and read the descriptions of these books and realized that, yes, in both cases I had just met the hero and heroine of the book. These were the two people that were going to fall in love and live happily ever after.

What the crap??!! Are you kidding me? Continue reading