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  #1  
Old June 22nd, 2009, 6:07 am
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Your writing peeves

What are your pet peeves when it comes to writing, or other peoples' writing? What things bother you when reading someone's story, that you try to avoid in your own writings?

1. Un-necessary eye and hair colour description: "Maria-Tasha-Louisa-Olivia had sea-blue, huge eyes, with the longest lashes anyone ever saw. Her hair was the colour of ravens, flowing silkily down her back, like a river with black water."

Just "Maria had large blue eyes and black hair" will be enough for the reader (or at least me) to understand that her eyes are blue and her hair is black.

2. Moments when it is obvious that the author Did Not Do The Research.
Honestly, when I know that something is definitely incorrect, it throws me off, especially if it affects the rest of the story. For example, to be a nurse (or even Voluntary Aide Detachment nurse) in WW1 you had to have a) at least SIX months of experience and b) be at least 23 years old. I'm sorry but little things like that nag at me if I know that the author hadn't quite thoroughly done the research. I'm sorry, Theresa Breslin, even if Char-"Mary Sue"-lotte did pretend she was 20, she still would not have been allowed overseas to nurse in France. Still three years too young!

3. Obvious moments where the author can't bear to kill off children in the story.
Sure, perhaps in fiction grenades might be 'kind and considerate' and spare the child, but I wouldn't want to try this in real life. If it's too obvious that you don't want to kill the child, you might run the risk of losing crediblity in the reader's eyes. Even Jurassic Park does it: Tim can survive 10,000 volts shooting through him and is still okay!


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  #2  
Old June 22nd, 2009, 11:08 am
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Re: Your writing peeves

I like personality in characters a lot. If I come across characters that the author wants me to like but all I hear about is their looks ie. perfect, hot, amazing, gorgeous etc, it's frustrating because I want to know what they're like as a person, heart and mind. This is just my personal opinion, what I'm drawn to in a character.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina View Post

1. Un-necessary eye and hair colour description: "Maria-Tasha-Louisa-Olivia had sea-blue, huge eyes, with the longest lashes anyone ever saw. Her hair was the colour of ravens, flowing silkily down her back, like a river with black water."
Yes, I do agree about liking concise descriptions.

One type I like is:

"So-and-so stood by a window, random sunbeams that had evaded the clouds danced on her plum-coloured dress."

Quickly it describes the type of clothes she likes and what the weather is doing has been slipped in; so they don't have to directly spend time mentioning it later.

Sometimes I don't mind in-depth descriptions if they have a point. For instance, say a personification of Winter, and his/her hair, eye-colour, clothes and presence enforces what and who he/she is.

Quote:

3. Obvious moments where the author can't bear to kill off children in the story.
Sure, perhaps in fiction grenades might be 'kind and considerate' and spare the child, but I wouldn't want to try this in real life. If it's too obvious that you don't want to kill the child, you might run the risk of losing crediblity in the reader's eyes. Even Jurassic Park does it: Tim can survive 10,000 volts shooting through him and is still okay!
Yes, if it becomes obvious the author is squirming out of a situation like that, and a very obvious Deus ex machina (I think they're called?) comes in to play to get them out of trouble, it can be a bit much to believe.

The research point, is a big one.

Sometimes historical situations can be changed slightly to allow for the fictional character to take part. Then the author does a historical reference in the back of the book to acknowledge the changes. Bernard Cornwell who wrote the Sharpe series does this very well. But, he has done a great deal of research in order to make the shifts believable.



Last edited by Annielogic; June 24th, 2009 at 11:12 am.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 7:55 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

Overuse of the word "orbs" instead of "eyes". I don't use this description in real life and I don't know anyone who does so why is it okay when we write?


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Old June 23rd, 2009, 10:09 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

I agree with all above, but also grammar and spelling mistakes really bother me. I know I do a lot of them (at least when I write in English, but you have to excuse me there; I'm not a native speaker and I haven't had the best teachers), but if you work as a writer (journalist, author, etc.), can't you please at least read quickly through your book/article/whatever to check that you haven't done obvious mistakes such as "she are reading"?

And I absolutely hate word division mistakes. The local newspaper is very good at dividing words at the wrong place. They obviously haven't got someone who reads through the paper to correct any mistakes at all before printing it. I seriously consider volunteering for such a job, they wouldn't even have to pay me. If I see a mistake when I read anything, I get this strong urge to correct it (more accurately: the mistake screams at me and wants me to help it so it's not a mistake anymore, and how can I resist that?), so I would be very good at my job. Only, as I have experienced, fifteen-year-olds are seldom taken seriously about this kind of things.

Oh, and if a word/expression/etc. is repeated too many times, I have to stop reading and just go for a walk or drink a cup of tea or something before I continue. Norwegian book translators are usually very good at that, that's one of the reasons why I mostly read in the original language, if possible.

I am a perfectionist, especially when it comes to grammar.


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  #5  
Old June 24th, 2009, 6:35 am
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Re: Your writing peeves

I rather hate typos in published writing, as it just seems like the author/editor didn't really care that much. Personally (and I bet a lot of people would disagree), I think it's annoying when people just declare things "well-written" and then when asked to explain what that means, say something vague. IMHO, "well-written" is something extremely subjective that changes depending on the reader. I also am disgusted with pretentious writing.


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  #6  
Old June 24th, 2009, 7:27 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

I agree, especially with the typos. How many people does it take to catch one?


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  #7  
Old June 24th, 2009, 8:06 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

Noticable typos and grammatical errors irritate me. When a timeline is off, like a matter of age that doesn't make sense in comparison to an event. It bugs me. I feel an orderly timeline is necessary.


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Old August 10th, 2009, 4:54 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

Typos don't bother me very much as long as it isn't obvious. I can understand how hard it is to find every mistake and it's probably been edited a number of times.

Personally, I hate it when authors write the words "I mean," too much. (In first person)

Ex. I mean, why does she think she can act like that?

I'm currently reading Blue Moon, (sequal to Evermore) and though it's on the bestseller list and a really good book, I find it REALLY annoying how many times the author put writes I mean.

Like what was said above, too much detail is pointless and a waste of my time.

I was reading a book called Winter Solistice. The first 5 pages or so are discribing a ladys dog and her walk to town. Once she gets to town a guy randomly asks her to come to dinner with him and his wife.

Why does the author need to put all this detail in if it's meaningless? Unless it means something important then the author needs to learn to take it out. (maybe they should try reading 'The Elements of Style', and foucus on rule 17: Omit Needless Words)

Now I make many errors myself, so I'm not trying to be a hypocrite; those are just my pet peeves.


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  #9  
Old August 10th, 2009, 5:16 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

I hate things like

'The Elves were a dying race in their twilight' *Reaches for Chain-Ax*

Or 'The misty morning light shone down on their ageless faces filled with the wisdom of millenia'

AAAARRRGGGHHHH! AAAARRRGGGHHHH! AAAARRRGGGHHHH!

This was cool when Tolkien did because it was his creation and he wasn't ripping off someone else.

*Grabs Chain-Ax and goes off to hunt down the generic fantasy writers*

Or

'The Dark One (lord, king, whatever, there are so many of them it likes Attack of the Clones) brooded on his dark throne (They were on sale a American Furniture Warehouse) from his dark tower (Is there perhaps a suburb of Dark Towers?)
In the dark land (Perhaps thats the name of neighborhood?)'

When Tolkien did it it was okay because it was his creation and since it was his creation it was original. But these people aren't Tolkien they never will be Tolkien. Why then can they not grasp that? Instead of ripping off the founder of the Fantasy genre? Was the entire genre dropped on its head as a baby?


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  #10  
Old October 12th, 2009, 9:59 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

i hate it when people use IM language in it, such as,LOL, IKR,IDK, or useless abreviations for words that aren't even that long, like w/ for with, and stufff like that. in the final copy i know that no one does that, but even in rough drafts, i really can't stand it


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  #11  
Old October 24th, 2009, 7:47 am
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Re: Your writing peeves

Let's see, I have quite a few so stick with me for a moment...

1. I work in a bank and I see a LOT of e-mails coming through my inbox every day, including e-mails I was CC'd on that are going out to bank customers. One person I work with, who happens to be very bright, has a bad habit of sending out e-mails to customers without a second read-through. Often, I'll read one of the e-mails and see numerous grammatical errors, unprofessional formatting, uncontrolled punctuation (e.g. "???????") and undeniable proof that they didn't even bother to press the SpellCheck button once before pressing Send.

This is a huge pet peeve for me because I tend to read through anything I send or post at least 2-3 times (yes, even posts on CoS or other forums). I don't just view it as a reflection on myself, I view it as a measure of respect for the people I am attempting to communicate with. Honestly, if you can't take an extra 30 seconds to reread what you expect someone else to follow, how can you say that you respect them?

2. I agree with the original poster regarding the comments on purple prose. Nothing annoys me more than excessive description when it comes to a character's physical appearance. Sentences that use "ruby red lips" or "crystal blue eyes" always get an extra eye-roll from me. What some writers don't realize is that too much description will do the exact opposite of what they intended. Most users of purple prose only want to bring the readers further into the story by providing greater detail, but instead they push the reader away by removing the much needed chance to fill in the blanks.

3. To and too; it's and its; their, there, and they're; sense and since; you're and your; etc.

4. "Common speak" outside of dialog. I've been finding this to be an increasingly larger problem over the years. Some new authors try to "write like they speak." If I find a good example, I'll add it here.

- Inigo

EDIT: I went back up and read another post (I believe it was 2 posts above mine) that mentioned Evermore, a book I recently finished reading. This reminded me of another pet peeve. It is incredibly annoying when an author becomes attached to a particular phrase or word and they can't seem to help but stick it into the book at least once per chapter. Just like the "I mean..." mentioned above, I noticed that a lot of characters in Evermore "pressed his/her lips together" in an exaggerated act of irritation. This also reminded me of how many Twilight characters were "chagrined" by something. A thesaurus is a great tool, I wish some authors would give it more of a chance.


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Last edited by Inigo Imago; October 24th, 2009 at 7:58 am.
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  #12  
Old October 25th, 2009, 2:06 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

I have a few.

1. Grammatical errors/ sentence fragments.
These can easily be corrected. I don't mind if there is a few in a good book. I find it acceptable for errors to be missed.

2. Poetry issues.
This could go with anything written and not just poems. On another forum I am a part of I've noticed a lot of people like to write poems that all revolve around love and wanting to die. I mean, there isn't anything wrong with that idea but they are all typically written the same way. There isn't beauty or sadness in it. I don't feel anything but cheesiness (not a word)

3. When people try too hard.
When it's obvious the person tries too hard. Like with gore, they go crazy and just kill tons of people. For instance, I might get haters but, I think J.K. Rowling went overboard with the deaths at the end. It felt rushed too me.


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Old October 26th, 2009, 1:32 am
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Re: Your writing peeves

It depends. Some authors use a little too much description and not just once, but over and over. Like with the Twilight series. The author has Bella relating what Edward and his siblings look like to her. In the begining that's alright, but throughout the book she keeps doing the same thing. It's like ok, so he's a god I got it.

And doing transitions is difficult. Some of them I've read make me wonder what is going on. The transition from memory back to reality isn't clear.


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  #14  
Old October 30th, 2009, 4:20 am
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Re: Your writing peeves

Another pet peeve of mine is when authors keep repeating the colour of his/her eyes or hair very frequently, as though they fear we'd forget within two pages.

e.g. His dark brown eyes locked with my own light green. "You think you can manage Potter?" he quipped.
"Yeah, he's a good boy." I answered.
He rolled his brown eyes. "You're a hardcase, you are."
"Heh."
Those brown eyes narrowed at me.

Okay, okay, we get it! He got brown eyes!

Speaking of eye colours, another cliche that sometimes annoys me just a tiny little bit is 'chocolate brown eyes': we've heard that way too many times. Okay, let's say the person's got dark brown eyes. Here's some more fresh ways to describe them:

1. His irises blended in so well with his pupils, his eyes appeared almost completely black at a distance.

2. His eyes were the colour of dark chocolate, with about 75% cocoa.

3. His big eyes were the colour of darkened oak wood.

4. Two brown-black eyes stared back at me.

5. A pair of dark brown eyes sat close on either side of his nose.

Please excuse all these references to brown eyes; I have a thing for them today for some reason.


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  #15  
Old October 30th, 2009, 1:26 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

Quote:
What things bother you when reading someone's story, that you try to avoid in your own writings?
Uncreative plots.

I only write stories for one franchise, and even that series uses a pretty recycled plot. One can only go adventuring, or have someone attack their home so many times.


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  #16  
Old July 22nd, 2011, 8:51 am
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Re: Your writing peeves

My biggest writing pet peeve of the moment is the excessive use of ellipses. I'm getting sick of people replacing periods with this punctuation intended for unfinished thoughts or pauses. Ellipses do not belong in professional writing unless there is an actual purpose to having them. In fiction writing, these are good if a character is speaking and trails off without finishing a sentence or if a character is cut off by an interruption (though I would prefer "--" in those cases).

For those of you just starting out in an office job where you will be expected to send numerous e-mails a day: using ellipses (more than once a month) is akin to telling your boss that you are incapable of making a decision on where to end the sentence.

*cough*

It becomes very difficult... you know... to read sentences that just continue to be separated by so many dots.... It is especially frustrating to find these in professional writing... such as e-mails... or office memos... because it seems like the author is never able to complete a thought...

You know what I mean...


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Last edited by Inigo Imago; July 22nd, 2011 at 8:54 am.
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  #17  
Old July 29th, 2011, 10:15 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inigo Imago View Post
For those of you just starting out in an office job where you will be expected to send numerous e-mails a day: using ellipses (more than once a month) is akin to telling your boss that you are incapable of making a decision on where to end the sentence.
I'm not sure I would classify e-mail correspondence in an office as "professional writing."


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  #18  
Old July 31st, 2011, 7:18 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

Very random, rushed endings that laugh in your face for having wasted time reading a long winded tomb of a novel that comes to no real, thought out conclusion!

Yes, I'm talking to YOU Stephen King :/ *Throws copy of The Cell at the wall*


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  #19  
Old August 1st, 2011, 2:35 am
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Re: Your writing peeves

Quote:
Originally Posted by Korhil View Post
When Tolkien did it it was okay because it was his creation and since it was his creation it was original. But these people aren't Tolkien they never will be Tolkien. Why then can they not grasp that? Instead of ripping off the founder of the Fantasy genre? Was the entire genre dropped on its head as a baby?
Tolkein wasn't particularly original as he was cribbing from northern European mythology.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marina View Post
Another pet peeve of mine is when authors keep repeating the colour of his/her eyes or hair very frequently, as though they fear we'd forget within two pages.
Unless it has some bearing on the story why mention it at all?


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  #20  
Old August 21st, 2011, 3:57 pm
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Re: Your writing peeves

I hate it when authors feel it's necessary to insert fragments on at least every page. Fragments can be very effective if they're used very infrequently. But when you use them constantly, all they do is annoy the reader.

For example:
I could have run. Forever. Without ever stopping.
I wanted to be free.
I felt human again. Alive.

(I just made that up.)

And actually, not only are all those sentences broken, the word choice is poor, which often happens in this situation.


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