Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Lany Freelove Cassandra

I like the story but… complaints about style/substance/etcetera

41 posts in this topic

I read a book recently, where I liked the story a lot, but the writer left me totally annoyed. 

There are 2 main complaints: 1) the main character is said to have two PHDs (in Clinical Psychology and Forensic Psychology) yet she talks like someone who hasn't has Psych 101 (at the author's level). While I don't expect the main character to use lots of "$3 words"* in normal conversations, I really don't think "crazy" and "disturbed" are proper terms for discussing a mental diagnosis. What it comes down to, the author does not have the knowledge to write a main character with this level of education.  Which truly, would have been fine.  As far as I can tell, the main character doesn't need these degrees. (they had very little to the story, or even the back story) [overall, her speech comes across as barely college educated, based on word usage, and my opinion]

2) [and the bigger issue for me...I cringe every time I read these parts] The story features a "Drag Queen" as a secondary character.  The author seems to conflate several ideas that are completely separate: Drag Queen, Transvestite, Transgender, Gay.  While it's clear in the book not all gay men are drag queens, she has every drag queen, and anyone interested in seeing them perform, as being gay. I didn't realize at first that she had thrown in transgender women into this as well until a conversation about a woman (the main character) thinking about getting waxed at the salon that specializes/caters to Drag Queens and the nail tech says she might want to go somewhere else as they mainly do drag queens prior to surgery.

It makes it hard to read the books, but I like the main character (mostly) and I really like the story. I just cringe when these types of things come up, and that takes away a lot of the enjoyment.

("A Mansion, a Drag Queen and a New Job" (Deanna Oscar paranormal mystery #1) by CC Dragon)  I'm going to read #2, and then see if I'm willing to read any more.

(I have a thing for paranormal mysteries)

*$3 word is an NCIS reference

So what types of issues/faults an author injected into stories has taken away from what otherwise would have been an enjoyable book? Do you keep reading? Do you read other things by the author? Do you post reviews about the things that bothered you? Please share examples

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THE ANGEL IN THE WHIRLWIND TRILOGY by Christopher Nutall.

Basically, it's a space opera starring a Daenerys looking protagonist and I very much was ready and willing to enjoy this. However, the villains are Space Muslims. Caricatures of Space Muslims. They're women-hating anti-technology nasties who have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I kept expecting there to be some sort of twist but no, they are just a bunch of Space Orcs and their scheming masters.

I don't normally conflate the politics of authors and their books but the fact it was the shining paradisaical homeland of the protagonist versus the Evil Corrupt Primitives just made me unable to enjoy it.

This despite the writing being crisp, the characters likable, and the situation interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kind of different, but I swear every other book I read has the protagonist being a writer. Or if they're young, they dream of being a writer. I know they say "write about what you know", but it just comes across as incredibly lazy. I might just be unlucky with the ones I've chosen, but I think every almost Stephen King I've read has the lead character as a writer of some kind. There is a tv tropes page about this- http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MostWritersAreWriters (I wrote the thing about King before looking at the link- there is a ridiculous list there of all his writer characters. The one about the Kennedy assassination isn't, but he is an English teacher and wants to write a novel, so pretty close.

Also, God damn dream sequences. I hate them so much, because they're almost always horribley on the nose. GRRM puts a terrible one in Dragons where Tyrion has a dream where he has two heads, and he kills his family, and one head is laughing, while the other is crying. Jeez, just write in capitals TYRION FEELS SUPER CONFLICTED. But again, this seems to be every book I read. And the more abstract ones- I don't care. Hearing about other people's dreams is boring, that's well known.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I consider Brandon Sanderson to be a very entertaining author. I think he crafts some fascinating worlds. I also can hardly continue to read his newest, because the dialogue is so awkward. Characters consistently use completely anachronistic phrases, to a point that I literally have put the book down several times since I purchased it, simply because I couldn't continue with the awful conversations. This isn't limited to interactions between characters - the inner dialogues can be just as jarring. Last book featured a young girl trying to understand her magical powers, which she described as "her awesomeness". It is probably my single least favorite chapter I can ever remember reading. 

I have bagged on this damn book multiple times on this forum, but I do enjoy a significant amount of it. I want to know what's going to happen to these characters, and I want to see this wonderful world develop even more. I enjoy that he has a crazy overlying mega-plot that unites all of his novels. I just have such a hard time with his style of writing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, mankytoes said:

Kind of different, but I swear every other book I read has the protagonist being a writer. Or if they're young, they dream of being a writer. I know they say "write about what you know", but it just comes across as incredibly lazy. I might just be unlucky with the ones I've chosen, but I think every almost Stephen King I've read has the lead character as a writer of some kind. There is a tv tropes page about this- http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MostWritersAreWriters (I wrote the thing about King before looking at the link- there is a ridiculous list there of all his writer characters. The one about the Kennedy assassination isn't, but he is an English teacher and wants to write a novel, so pretty close.

Also, God damn dream sequences. I hate them so much, because they're almost always horribley on the nose. GRRM puts a terrible one in Dragons where Tyrion has a dream where he has two heads, and he kills his family, and one head is laughing, while the other is crying. Jeez, just write in capitals TYRION FEELS SUPER CONFLICTED. But again, this seems to be every book I read. And the more abstract ones- I don't care. Hearing about other people's dreams is boring, that's well known.

Here's a question - do you find the movie 'Sucker Punch' kind of underwhelming, because the bulk of the action is actually 'action' - just a dream sequence?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find that movie insulting beyond belief and possibly the most misogynistic piece of filth ever made does that count?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Callan S. said:

Here's a question - do you find the movie 'Sucker Punch' kind of underwhelming, because the bulk of the action is actually 'action' - just a dream sequence?

Haven't seen it, but I don't really like action films generally. But yeah, that doesn't sound like a strong hook. It's a bit of a cop out, instead of just making a fantasy film. You don't have to do any world building or have internal consistancy. Even in primary school, when we wrote stories one of the rules was you can't end with "it was all just a dream".

52 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

I find that movie insulting beyond belief and possibly the most misogynistic piece of filth ever made does that count?

Sounds kind of intriguing, but I'll still probably give it a miss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

I find that movie insulting beyond belief and possibly the most misogynistic piece of filth ever made does that count?

My own reaction was, "So, Zach Snyder thinks guys who like Underworld and Ultraviolet where sexy girls kick ass is misogynist and the fans are MRAs while writing a movie about how women who try to better themselves all die horribly or get lobotomized."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very odd film. I think he was just trying to make a girl power film, and it all went terribly wrong. Not at all what I was expecting ...

 

But I also think it will have a cult following someday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 29/11/2017 at 1:10 PM, mankytoes said:

Also, God damn dream sequences. I hate them so much, because they're almost always horribley on the nose. GRRM puts a terrible one in Dragons where Tyrion has a dream where he has two heads, and he kills his family, and one head is laughing, while the other is crying. Jeez, just write in capitals TYRION FEELS SUPER CONFLICTED. But again, this seems to be every book I read. And the more abstract ones- I don't care. Hearing about other people's dreams is boring, that's well known.



My pet hate (which doesn't apply just to books) is dream sequences or imagination spots which provide a character with information that proves true relevant in the actual plot (Gravity and The Dark Knight Returns are very guilty of this). Fantasy actually gets away with it a bit more because of the potential for magic, and I actually enjoy a good prophetic dream sequence, such as a few of Martin's, or the ones in Eye of the World that were the only bits of that book I actually liked.





I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but I've grown to absolutely loathe the 'rape as character development' cliche, and its related form, 'rape as backstory'. So many writers seem to think that the only way to give a woman something to brood over, or a dark past, is to have her raped. Of course, it's even worse when a woman gets raped to provide character motivation for a man, but to be fair I seem to come across that a lot less often.
 

 

Oh, and for something more like the OP with a specific example: Koko Takes a Holiday, by Kieran Shea, which sells itself as a comically OTT post-cyberpunk adventure and would have delivered on that quite well, but completely ruins itself and makes itself completely loathesome by having a central plotline dedicated to mocking depression and suicide, and perpetuating the myth that depression is a choice. Like, fuck you, Mr. Shea.

 

And a fantasy specific trope that's popped up a lot more often due to the spate of fantasy westerns in recent years- essentially conflating Native Americans with Elves and making them out to be a magical unity of mystical nature-men. It doesn't usually ruin the book for me- the trope has popped up to greater or lesser extent in several books I've really liked, including Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes (lesser in that one, to my memory), John Hornor Jacobs' The Incorruptibles and Felix Gilman's Half-Made World duology- but it's annoying, and really disrespectful as hell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 28/11/2017 at 4:43 AM, Lany Freelove Cassandra said:

I read a book recently, where I liked the story a lot, but the writer left me totally annoyed. 

There are 2 main complaints: 1) the main character is said to have two PHDs (in Clinical Psychology and Forensic Psychology) yet she talks like someone who hasn't has Psych 101 (at the author's level). While I don't expect the main character to use lots of "$3 words"* in normal conversations, I really don't think "crazy" and "disturbed" are proper terms for discussing a mental diagnosis. What it comes down to, the author does not have the knowledge to write a main character with this level of education.  Which truly, would have been fine.  As far as I can tell, the main character doesn't need these degrees. (they had very little to the story, or even the back story) [overall, her speech comes across as barely college educated, based on word usage, and my opinion]

Here's the thing: writers are con-artists. We have to make people believe in a fictional narrative, and in doing so we invariably have to make it sound like we know what we're talking about. The author in your story doesn't need to have a PhD in Psychology, and they don't even need to properly represent what such a person would say. They need to create the illusion that they are representing what such a person would say - and in this case, the illusion seems to have failed.

"Write what you know" is terrible advice, BTW.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate it when characters are supposed to be really smart but actually arnt. If that makes any sense. It's late and I cannot sleep.

also, accents. I'm looking at you Peter Brett 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/1/2017 at 9:53 AM, polishgenius said:

essentially conflating Native Americans with Elves and making them out to be a magical unity of mystical nature-men.

I'm not sure what the issue is with that?

Is there some implication they have to be less in some other respect to be that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did not click on that link but I remember the interview and he literally said in his batman movie batman would get raped in prison. Almost verbatim.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0