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Sun Worshipper

Pet-Peeves in Novels?

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Just like the title says, what are some common things you come across that just make you roll your eyes when reading a novel? Is it a particular archetype, plot point, theme, phrase, etc?

Personally, if I have to read the sentence "his eyes seemed to change colours depending the light" one more time, I am going to gouge my eyes out.

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Excessive use of Italics for emphasis (see: Bakker's last two novels)

Excessive use of emo tearjerker melodrama  (see: Hobb)

Excessive use of D&D mechanics / video game-ish systems  (see: Erikson, Sanderson)

Excessive use of proletariat stereotypes about nobility / elites (see: Erikson, Abercrombie)

Excessive use of 'mystery box', to little eventual result (see: Bakker, potentially Rothfuss)

Excessive use of Too Many Words to make the book seem epic / doorstopper syndrome (see: recent Tad Williams, Rothfuss, Sanderson)

Excessive use of description vs. plot momentum (see: Robert Jordan)

Excessive use of grimdark/edgelord content to the detriment of the story (See: later Bakker, Erikson)

Excessive use of libertarian snowflake syndrome / surprise-sex as narrative tension (see Goodkind)

 

 

Edited by kuenjato

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4 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

So...you hate books?

Love 'em. Personal library in the excess of 4,000. But these are issues that are ultimately detrimental to these artists; almost all have milked the tendencies described above to the point of painful redundancy (except Goodkind, he was terrible from the first sentence). 

I'll probably not bother with new releases by any of these authors, except perhaps the First Law sequel series and maybe Bakker's third, if it ever comes out.

Edited by kuenjato

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5 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

See, I could accept that if the list didn't include Hobb, but since it does, we must have en epic Kung Fu battle in outer space. To the death.

Damn, excessive use of outer-space kung fu battles is another trope for the list.

28 minutes ago, kuenjato said:

Love 'em. Personal library in the excess of 4,000. But these are issues that are ultimately detrimental to these artists; almost all have milked the tendencies described above to the point of painful redundancy (except Goodkind, he was terrible from the first sentence). 

I'll probably not bother with new releases by any of these authors, except perhaps the First Law sequel series and maybe Bakker's third, if it ever comes out.

What do you mean by 'mystery box'?

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56 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

See, I could accept that if the list didn't include Hobb, but since it does, we must have en epic Kung Fu battle in outer space. To the death.

Could barely get through the first trilogy. Everything I've read since makes me leery of embarking on more blatant audience manipulation. But, different strokes and all that. Some like the tearjerker stuff. I like it, but in moderation, otherwise the effect reaches oversaturation (which was my issue with the Assassin's trilogy).

 

43 minutes ago, Sun Worshipper said:

Damn, excessive use of outer-space kung fu battles is another trope for the list.

What do you mean by 'mystery box'?

Where the 'mystery' is the central hook of the series, and usually the set up scenario / complications are much more interesting than the actual resolution. Speculation on narrative possibilities / the central mystery drives the form. It's a term from JJ Abrams, on how he snags in an audience; problem is, JJ often doesn't have any answers (or if he does, they're pretty weak). For Bakker, his second series was focused on the mystery of what the ubermench anti-hero was going to do at the end of the series, unfortunately that resolution was very lacking for many readers. For Rothfuss, the mystery of the Chandrian & the killed King & how the world turned crapsack & Kvothe's various braggadacio at the beginning of the first book took a big backseat to some dull 'adventures' that feel like 90's whiteguy wish fulfillment and some puzzlebox that seem to excite some readers but IMO are mostly a big yawn. 

Edited by kuenjato

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I don't like it when elements are blatantly shoehorned into fantasy and science fiction to make it consistent with the contemporary morality of the author's society or to address moral issues from said society. Of course, all authors will take ideas from our own world, but there's a difference between subtly incorporating something and hitting the reader with a sledgehammer. This is most prevalent in old Soviet novels simply because works that didn't adhere to government guidelines would be censored and never see the light of day, but it's fairly prominent in several American works too.

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Young character with forced romance

When a character is young, you can expect a first-love story. Sometimes this works well, but other times, it feels forced and distracts from the main plot, as if the author only decided to add it late in the writing process. 

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1 hour ago, 4 Eyed Crow said:

Young character with forced romance

When a character is young, you can expect a first-love story. Sometimes this works well, but other times, it feels forced and distracts from the main plot, as if the author only decided to add it late in the writing process. 

Also difficult to write, because young love is so hormonal driven and goofy. Hard to find the balance.

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@kuenjato has a good list. 

At the top of my list is excessive melodrama, both within the plot and especially within the character’s emotional response.  So many emo drama queens with no resilience or sense of perspective.  (I know it puts me in a small minority here but I didn’t enjoy Hobb.  I read the entire Farseer trilogy and found it sophomoric, laden with plot holes and basically a blatant attempt to manipulate tear-jerking)

MarySue/GaryStu characters have to come second, especially when they represent naked and cringeworthy wish fulfillment.  Harry Potter, Rand Al’Thor, Dany and Jon, and many more.  

Modern PC virtue signaling shoehorned into books is an unfortunate and widespread weakness, but almost every book reflects the values of its time and I try not to let it annoy me.

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6 hours ago, kuenjato said:

1 Excessive use of Italics for emphasis (see: Bakker's last two novels)

2 Excessive use of emo tearjerker melodrama  (see: Hobb)

3 Excessive use of D&D mechanics / video game-ish systems  (see: Erikson, Sanderson)

4 Excessive use of proletariat stereotypes about nobility / elites (see: Erikson, Abercrombie)

5 Excessive use of 'mystery box', to little eventual result (see: Bakker, potentially Rothfuss)

6 Excessive use of Too Many Words to make the book seem epic / doorstopper syndrome (see: recent Tad Williams, Rothfuss, Sanderson)

7 Excessive use of description vs. plot momentum (see: Robert Jordan)

I think Lovecraft is to blame for introducing 1 the horror, the horror, the unspeakable horror. 3 is always bad but fortunately does not mar too many books that would otherwise be good. 2 is very much in the eye of the beholder and it depends on the skill of the writer if it gets too annoying (I read Dickens in spite of his sentimental tearjerking moments). 6 and 7 depend on the writer's skill. Unlike Jack Reacher or similar stuff, Fantasy and sometimes also SF is for me not only about exciting plots but also about atmosphere. As most genre writers are not very good with words, this is a frequent problem and can result in 6 and 7. 5 is probably bad but I don't know the cases hinted at and cannot think of any obvious ones atm, so it does not seem as frequent.

4 and its more general (though rarely more subtle) version mentioned by Iskaral Pust " Modern PC virtue signaling shoehorned into books is an unfortunate and widespread weakness" or siblings like "American style selfmademan shows stuffy nobles how the world really works", "HS/college kid magically transposed to fantasy world becomes kickass warrior after a couple of weeks training", "armor is useless", "everybody can be good at anything as long as she works hard enough" etc. annoy  me a lot. Most of all the inconsistency that usually follows from them but also the shallowness of the world that usually results.

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Prophecies. I can tolerate them if they are played with in an interesting way, or subverted, or treated as one of many possible branching futures, but the idea of fate or predetermination personally annoys me.

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1 hour ago, Gorn said:

Prophecies. I can tolerate them if they are played with in an interesting way, or subverted, or treated as one of many possible branching futures, but the idea of fate or predetermination personally annoys me.

I actually like the tragic irony that is used with prophecies already in Greek mythology and drama: Usually the sayings of the oracle are either misunderstood

Spoiler

(e.g. Croesus who destroyed HIS OWN empire by crossing that river and attacking the Persians

or the very measures taken to prevent the predicted tragedy lead to the very outcome warned against

Spoiler

e.g. Oedipus or Paris being removed from their parents

But it is not easy to come up with another interesting twist on prophecies if such twist were already a common trope 2500 years ago.

Edited by Jo498

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Regarding Kuenjatos list: criticism of Erikson and Hobb is wrong (since they are both awesome), but the list may be valid regarding others. Actually, point 6 is wrong regarding Williams at least regarding MST ( the content that s propably considered padding is not that, anymore than the poems of LOTHR is).

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Spoilering in the guise of foreshadowing.

I sincerely hate this.

Foreshadowing is an awesome technique when done right. It's when you re-read or re-watch something and notice a minor detail someone says or does and realize the meaning it will have down the line. Or, like GRRM, who sometimes does it well, sometimes a little too obvious, it can clue people in on what may happen or be revealed in the future (R + L = J) but doesn't necessarily have to be and can be debated on...ad nauseam in some cases...

But don't tell me "this person" is going to die or "that person" will betray someone. Subtly hinting at it is ok, but when the author flat out tells me, I get mad. You're giving me spoilers for your own damn work, in that work!

Happens mostly in first person narratives, especially when they are speaking in past tense, but it can happen in third person too. Sometimes it's understandable for the plot to say starting out "this person is going to die" but most of the time I feel the author is doing it to try and hook the reader and it just pisses me off.

Patrick Rothfuss was a big offender of this to me. I liked The Name of the Wind for the most part, but Kvothe just flat out mentioning things that were going to happen while he was telling his story turned me off so much I've had no desire to start on the next book.

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