Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun....
Back before I started reading a lot about How To Write, I accepted most writing at face value. There were books I loved, books I liked, and books I didn't care for, but as long as the tale was reasonably well-told, things like adverbs and word repetition didn't bother me.
Nowadays, little things jump out and wave at me, interrupting the flow of the story. I kind of wish they didn't. But here are a few of the things that have always, and will always, get on my nerves:
1. Over-writing. Too many adjectives, bulky sentences, too-obvious attempts to sound literary. Words have to proceed smoothly, without catching the reader and tripping him or her up.
2. Other people's notes in the margins. I don't notate my own books; marginalia not belonging to me are even more annoying.
3. Tense shifts. More tense shifts make it into published novels than I'd have ever expected, and while I don't claim absolute immunity from creating them myself, they totally throw me off when I'm reading.
4. Bad endings. Stories that don't resolve, or that hit the reader with a mean gut-punch, or that otherwise show no concern for the reader's intelligence or emotions. I wrote a whole blog-post about this once.
5. Awkward similes. I ran into this recently; without taking examples directly from the book, it would be things like "The bay was very blue, like a pool of sapphires that rippled and pulsed as if stirred by a giant invisible washing machine agitator." The book was otherwise good, but the similes kept making me snicker.
6. Tics. This is actually one of my own biggest problems—the tendency to create a phrase that I like and re-use it over and over. It's fun to write, but annoying to read. Robert Jordan, whose Wheel of Time series I love very much so far, never refers to a woman folding her arms without saying "She crossed her arms beneath her breasts"—and every time, a little voice in my head shouts "A MAN WROTE THIS."
7. Lack of terminal stop. It's a simple copyediting mistake, one anyone can make. But it happens with some frequency in published books, and I always feel as if I've run off a cliff. If there's a pen handy, I'll draw in the missing punctuation.
8. Objective voice. The story just isn't very interesting if I don't get to experience the protagonist's feelings.
9. Unlikable protagonists and/or sidekicks. Jerks, cads, buttkicking who-needs-a-man women; too many displays of things like arrogance, dishonesty, extreme selfishness, lack of mercy. Sorry, but if I wouldn't want to make that person my friend, why would I want to read a book about them?
...and perhaps the biggest, most frustrating one:
10. Caricatures and stereotypes of Christians and the Church. Treatment of religion as some merciless, controlling, murderous organization makes me want to throw the book across the room. The portrayal of Christians as hypocrites who do nothing but make their children unhappy and insult people who disagree with them makes me want to cry. I have been a Christian my whole life, and a member of both evangelical and Catholic churches. Yes, I've come across a few instances of hypocrisy, control freaking and failures of mercy. But I've also come across immense love and forgiveness and honor, not to mention truth and something to hold onto in an unstable world. I know the Church intimately, and love her with my whole heart. People might as well be attacking my husband or my sisters or my parents. Don't mess with my dearest and best.
...apparently I could write a whole blog-post about that. Heh.
Oh, and since I just took a lunch break and read Kathy's list, here's a peeve I totally should have included: Cover art that doesn't match the text. I just ran into that this week—a heroine with straight hair and a perfect face on the cover, curly hair and a big scar in the book. Argh.
What are your own pet peeves regarding books?