November 16, 2018, 06:18:21 PM

Author Topic: Pet Peeves: What makes you put a book down/never pick it up in the first place?  (Read 10882 times)

Offline JMack

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If the first woman to turn up is inexplicably naked (happens surprisingly often) - especially if they're naked and evil.
Wait. What? There something wrong with that?
 ;)  ;D
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Offline cupiscent

Proving that we all have different tastes and that's what makes this genre so wide and exciting - I love titles with made-up terms - they fire my imagination and get me picking up the book to read the blurb to find out what the Lion of Al-Rassan is - and I am really enjoying the photographic cover trend. :)

Things I probably won't pick up:
  • Titles that are obviously about mercenary companies. These tend to be sausage-festival military-focused hack-and-slash, none of which is my thing, so I need to hear a lot of contradictory buzz about a book like that before I'll pick it up and have a closer look.
  • Books that don't mention a woman - preferably by name - in the cover summary. I have too many books to read to spend time on stories that are just going to aggravate me and make me rant on GoodReads about the lack of female characters. If no woman acts significantly enough on the plot to make it into the blurb, I've got to be being told by a lot of people that this book is amazing to even try.
  • Books where the summary just gives a lot of world history or establish the epic good/evil struggle, and then mention a character or two in passing. I love world and history, but I'm here for character struggles.

Reasons I have stopped reading a book:
  • Badly written. I want to take joy in the language, I want to enjoy the act of reading these sentences. I want to feel like the author has enjoyed crafting them for me.
  • Lack of connection. Most often this occurs because the author is telling me what the characters are feeling, but I'm not feeling it myself. Sometimes it happens because the author has used five chapters to introduce me to five separate storylines, none of which has given a compelling reason to keep reading.
  • Same old, same old. Everything is generic. This used to be RPG-party quest-prophecies, but the new black is thieves/assassins. The "ugh, another one of these" remains.

Offline Rostum

I will read to the bitter end unless something really makes me cringe and to prove it I am going to go back to reading Unicorn Mountain, a book I started reading a girlfriends copy of 25 years ago and never got to finish. And yes the cover art has a unicorn and a mountain on it. Buying this book second hand off Amazon has also caused a wide variety of gay BDSM Ebooks to be recommended so it may take a startling turn at some point in the unread pages.

Offline Lady Ty

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If the first woman to turn up is inexplicably naked (happens surprisingly often) - especially if they're naked and evil.
Wait. What? There something wrong with that?
 ;)  ;D
Please treat @sennydreadful gently . She has been suffering terrible SF film experience and needs R&R. My Twitter feed is in flames.
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Offline Roxxsmom

--Hmm, for me the first thing is an opening scene that confuses me or where I simply can't connect with the main character, or worse yet, have no idea who the story is even about. I don't need a story to start with high action (in fact, that can be confusing with no context), but I do want to get a sense for where the story is going and who I should be rooting for by the time I reach the end of the opening scene.

--Stories written in a distant omniscient also tend to be hard sells for me these days, unless the narrative voice is very interesting or the situation very clear and compelling. Same for anything written in exaggeratedly poetic, elevated or stilted language, unless there's a darned good reason for it and it's done very well. If someone (character or narrator) is talking like they have a stick up their butt, it had better be because they have a stick up their butt (in either a real or metaphoric sense).

--Flat, cardboard characters who feel driven by the plot and have no fears, doubts, hopes, emotions, or internal conflicts.

--Misogynistic world building. Doesn't mean fantasy worlds have to be feminist utopias (though I do enjoy stories where gender roles and norms didn't play out the exact way they did in ours), but if I'm not generally interested in books where the feelings, contributions, and perspectives of half of the human race are ignored or shoved into a very small box.

--Elves and other traditional fantasy races, particularly if they read like something out of a video game or D&D trope. If they're presented in a way that makes them interesting and not simply as a substitute for normal human diversity, then they can work. But they're a tough sell for me.

--Long, painstakingly described fight and action scenes that are (possibly) technically correct, yet don't ring true to the pov and are completely devoid of emotion. I don't read fantasy to marvel at the author's knowledge of medieval fencing techniques but to connect with the characters in the story and get caught up in their stakes.

Really, it all comes down to my wanting vibrant writing that allows me to connect with a character and their world. There are certain things I usually don't get into. Gray is fine in characters, but if they're completely evil bastards with no redeeming features or soft spots at all (or someone who's so darned good and perfect they're unbelievable), I usually can't deal with them. Rape and the torture/pointless slaughter of animals and children are especially hard for me. But a good writer can make a character I usually wouldn't like interesting, and that's really what I'm looking for.





Offline ScarletBea

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If the first woman to turn up is inexplicably naked (happens surprisingly often) - especially if they're naked and evil.
Wait. What? There something wrong with that?
 ;)  ;D
Please treat @sennydreadful gently . She has been suffering terrible SF film experience and needs R&R. My Twitter feed is in flames.

I just had to check! Funny :D And I thought I was the only one who screamed at the screen "run to the side, you moron!"

By the way, I don't think I ever read a book whose first woman appears naked ??
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Offline ultamentkiller

My turn offs.
1. I don't care if any of the characters die. What's the point of reading it then?
2. If the goal is unimportant to me. I can love your characters all day long, but if the goal isn't fun, I'm out.
3. If I think it's outright copying another fantasy story, or is remarkably similar. Go away! Why are you writing? Go back to your fan fiction!
4. Slow plots. I think that's with everybody, but if I've read about 50 pages and nothing important has happened, kill me.
5. Too much detail. I don't need to know what the guy in the red suit looks like if he's not an important character. I don't need to know that this person slept with that person if it's not contributing to the plot. Especially if it's a character that only shows up once. Ahem, The Great Gatsby. Gah!
Out of all the books I've picked up on my own, there's only two I've outright put down. Book of The Black Earth, and Red Country. On the bright side, I at least made it to part 5 with Red Country, but when I read the words "Part 5", I threw up my hands and said, "Wait, I'm not done yet? Can we just get this thing over with?"

Offline Yora

but the new black is thieves/assassins. The "ugh, another one of these" remains.
It's not that they can't be good, but it always sounds like the stuff that was done with vampires and drow in earlier decades.
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Offline madfox11

Chosen Ones and Prophecies* are on the top of my list of pet peeves. If they feature prominently in the title or blurb I am very likely to never bother reading the book. It is not that they cannot work, but more often than not they cheapen the victory for me.

Over the years I have also taken a dislike for stories that switch a lot between various characters, or at least, when such is done within the same book. I have developed a similar dislike for books in which the protagonist never ever wins or ends up broken. It is not that it makes no sense, but if I want depressing I can watch the news ;)

Offline Hedin

I'm not really sure what makes me pick a book up to at least read the blurb, I'm assuming it has something to do with the title and cover art but I've never been able to narrow it down.

I very rarely put the book down once I get past 100 pages or so, if I figure if I made it that far it must be tolerable and after investing some time into it I want to see the pay off (granted in most cases the time invested in the first 100 pages is a lot less than the time investment it would take to finish the book, no one ever said this had to be logical).  Basically in those first 100 pages I'm just looking for something thats well-written and has a character or two I can see myself start getting interested in as the book goes along.

Offline DrNefario

2. Portal stories. Forgive me, but one of the first things to make me not even want to buy a book is to make it about a young person, or group of young people, transported from our world to a fantasy realm. Yes, there are ways to do this creatively, or to turn the convention of what I described on its ear, and when writers can do that, they have my appreciation. But so often it's just so that we can have a character we "identify" with who's just as new to this world as we are and thus can have things explained to them so that the author can explain it to us. I would much rather you throw me into your world and have me so focused on the characters and plot that the rest of it just falls into place.
This used to really bug me as a child. It's so common in children's fantasy - Narnia being the obvious example - but it really used to put me off. I think it has the exact opposite of its intended effect: it diminishes the reality of the story. If a story takes place entirely in another world, it has its own internal logic and reality. If you then say that it is some kind of magical adjunct to the mundane world we know, that gets undermined. The whole thing can be dismissed as a hallucination or dream.

I think the best portal stories work in spite of their portals rather than because of them.

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I hate covers with photos of real people (or which at least look like a real photo) who are photoshopped into a fantasy setting. Seems to be some kind of new trend unfortunately.

Example:

It's a good book, though.

Thank you! Same here. I have been wondering why this trend has been skyrocketing. It looks tacky and terrible I am certain that this trend comes from the romance novel industry, in an attempt to attract women to fantasy. As if women only care for romance.

Offline Yora

Since I read purely for my personal entertainment, I feel no reservation in saying that I won't touch any portal fantasy.

For some reason that always appears to me as cheap and not being "real fantasy". An alternative world in which magic exist is fine. Adding magic to our world and explaining that we don't see it because it's hidden in a different location just feels fake to me and as if the author isn't really commiting to writing fantasy.

Offline madfox11

Since I read purely for my personal entertainment, I feel no reservation in saying that I won't touch any portal fantasy.

For some reason that always appears to me as cheap and not being "real fantasy". An alternative world in which magic exist is fine. Adding magic to our world and explaining that we don't see it because it's hidden in a different location just feels fake to me and as if the author isn't really commiting to writing fantasy.

Doesn't 'magic we don't see' just about describe most urban fantasy books? ;)

Personally I like portal books, but that is because I like stories that are about people being thown into a completely alien world and seeing how they deal with it, especially if the author does not ignore the impact such modern concepts can have on the world itself. Of course, I have also read my fair share of portal stories that are mostly about chosen ones, prophecies and the origin of the protagonist having no impact on the story so I understand the hesitence.

Offline Rostum

Quote
Thank you! Same here. I have been wondering why this trend has been skyrocketing. It looks tacky and terrible I am certain that this trend comes from the romance novel industry, in an attempt to attract women to fantasy. As if women only care for romance.

It's cheap. the same thing happened to film posters a collage of stills blended together by the intern is cheaper than paying an artist to create something glorious.