Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Writers => Writers' Corner => Topic started by: Rostum on June 30, 2015, 07:00:27 PM

Title: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on June 30, 2015, 07:00:27 PM
I am sure someone has done this before but what causes the in drawn breath, the clenching of teeth, the sigh, eye rolling or just giving up on the book down and not picking it back up.

I really get wound up by strange noises described by arrows hitting well just about anything, but what really annoys me are descriptions of characters drawing swords from back scabbards. this is unforgivable to my mind unless the sword is actually a large knife it doesn't work. Looks cool in artwork, and a great way of carrying a sword you are not going to use but useless if your life depends on it. Yet it is the stock cliché in every sword and sorcery type fantasy.

 Take a deep breath and think about it before committing to paper the physical impossibility you are describing.
Still don't believe me take a broom handle outside. (Do not try this indoors folks unless you have 4 meter  ceilings) place the finger and thumb of your left hand in a circle around the handle and draw it through them with the right. How far can you get and did you just hit yourself in the ear?

I know this is silly but the sometimes the detail can destroy a good story.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: JMack on June 30, 2015, 08:21:05 PM
OK, a few things.

1. Resort to violence due to simple anger. I found this in recently in a self-pub. Characters would be bothered by something and immediately jump up and put a knife to another character's throat. And the other character just shrugs it off. OK, maybe you could come up with the right conditions for this, but as a knee jerk, it's ridiculous.

2. Unnecessarily gross imagery. I just ran into this this morning listening to "A Crown for Cold Silver." A character was so scared he felt his guts would fall out of his
taint
. Maybe I'm a prude that's just not useful language.

3. The romanticizing of assassins.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on June 30, 2015, 08:53:54 PM
Violence should always be the last resort unless it is unobserved and by surprise. Killing violence seems to be a bad idea in pretty much any society unless you have nothing left to lose.

I had to look up
Taint
not a use of the word I have heard before and anatomically incorrect to boot
seems to refer to the Perineum, an area of skin between the vagina or scrotum and anus
so how did that get past an editor?

Best served cold has a most interesting assasin who is a terrible, flawed and pathetic person, you will feel no empathy to him at all. I also don't get the you're a cold blooded killer so that makes you cool and sexy.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Eclipse on June 30, 2015, 10:26:17 PM
American spellings in medieval fantasy books like bangs, I just prefer British spelling but that's just me.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Raptori on June 30, 2015, 10:28:12 PM
This. (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/writers-corner/like-a-cat/) Once is enough to make me sigh and roll my eyes, many times just gets increasingly irritating. Can't think of what else bugs me right now...  ;D
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: cupiscent on July 01, 2015, 09:32:03 AM
Replying delayed by ongoing laughter caused by Rostum's original post...

OK, now that I'm back in control of myself: the first thing that leaps to mind is the first time my husband and I saw Wanted in the cinema. The movie opens with a prologue-text screen that made mention of... I can't remember the details, but I remember the was an order of monks and something happening a thousand years ago. And we said in unison, "Oh come off it." Quickest ever eye-roll: approximately ten seconds.

Things that are too neat, too grandiose, too rhetorical and too unrealistic are the things that get me snorting every time. Sometimes this is just the difference between what makes good oral-storytelling-myth and what makes realistic history (f'rinstance, "the kingdom endured in peace for thousands of years until..." makes good rhetoric, but it's unlikely to happen in reality).

But I can be won over despite the snort - Princess Bride springs to mind, because it makes it clear that it's consciously walking a line there.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: CameronJohnston on July 01, 2015, 10:08:49 AM
...but what really annoys me are descriptions of characters drawing swords from back scabbards. this is unforgivable to my mind unless the sword is actually a large knife it doesn't work. Looks cool in artwork, and a great way of carrying a sword you are not going to use but useless if your life depends on it. Yet it is the stock cliché in every sword and sorcery type fantasy.

Take a deep breath and think about it before committing to paper the physical impossibility you are describing.
Still don't believe me take a broom handle outside. (Do not try this indoors folks unless you have 4 meter  ceilings) place the finger and thumb of your left hand in a circle around the handle and draw it through them with the right. How far can you get and did you just hit yourself in the ear?

I know this is silly but the sometimes the detail can destroy a good story.

Well it might be be historically accurate but it's actually pretty easy to quickly draw big swords from back-scabbards, just not too elegant, and I wouldn't want to have to rush it while begin attacked:
1 - Scabbard is not a solid length of leather, but instead has a long slit on the top(draw) edge, or only covers the tip and a foot of steel, with hooks at the top for the hilt. Lift the hilt a foot and then pivot blade up and over.
2 - Belt is loose and yanked round until sword is horizontal on the shoulder, then draw, other hand pushing back the scabbard. Clumsier than method 1 though.

Of course, that's never portrayed in the writing or artwork...so...yeah...
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 01, 2015, 11:06:47 AM
Quote
Well it might be be historically accurate but it's actually pretty easy to quickly draw big swords from back-scabbards, just not too elegant, and I wouldn't want to have to rush it while begin attacked:
1 - Scabbard is not a solid length of leather, but instead has a long slit on the top(draw) edge, or only covers the tip and a foot of steel, with hooks at the top for the hilt. Lift the hilt a foot and then pivot blade up and over.
2 - Belt is loose and yanked round until sword is horizontal on the shoulder, then draw, other hand pushing back the scabbard. Clumsier than method 1 though.

Of course, that's never portrayed in the writing or artwork...so...yeah...

1- I can see working but I think it lacks a certain elegance
2- I would expect any back scabbard to come up horizontal (I pity the fool stood behind you) on the draw but still cannot see 32" of blade coming free unless your arms reach to your ankles.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: ScarletBea on July 01, 2015, 01:24:18 PM
At the moment I don't have anything to add here, but I'm loving the technical sword discussions :D
Last summer, or maybe the one before, I went to the local park and there was a group sword fighting there, so cool! Some were learning, others were going for it.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: JMack on July 01, 2015, 01:36:53 PM

Well, this is interesting. Back draw of Japanese sword. Relies on pulling down on the bottom of the scabbard with one hand while drawing with the other.

https://youtu.be/TBcpirMVu0Y
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: ClintACK on July 01, 2015, 02:18:08 PM
Honestly, I'll forgive almost any eye-rolling fact error (How tall is that wall of ice?  And they're getting up with a hand-cranked wooden elevator?  How old is that protagonist?) as long as the characters catch hold of me.

What loses me in a heartbeat are characters who do things because the plot demands it rather than because it's what they'd do.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 01, 2015, 07:56:01 PM
@ScarletBea (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=32020) if they were reenactors they tend to be creatures of habit and will be there every week at the same time unless they have a show. Leeds armoury has it's own branch of Arma but they dont tend to fight in public places as the police get called. They really don't play nice.

@Jmack (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094) thats pretty cool but he thows the scabbard away you couldn't do that if it was attached by a baldick or sash. As in carried on the back. he gets a nice snap to the blade on the draw as katana scabbards are rigid the curved blade also helps the draw. I think I would stick to drawing from the hip at least the sword is across your body while you do so. BTW the reason the sword he is using is so heavy is because he is then really fast with one weighing 2lb.


Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Francis Knight on July 01, 2015, 08:24:33 PM
One of my fave books deals with "carrying a sword on your back" with a slip ring that releases it from the back so it slides to the hip -- pretty sure I've seen that in a museum somewhere too. Seemed pretty logical

Most people will get antsy about authors getting things wrong that they know about, but an author can't know everything! And sometimes you'll get pulled up for things that aren't actually true, but what someone/most readers thinks is true.

My personal bugbear is horses. Get them wrong at your peril.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: ScarletBea on July 01, 2015, 08:30:39 PM
See, I'm much more conventional and boring: spelling and grammar are my bugbears ::)
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 01, 2015, 08:33:24 PM
Quote
What loses me in a heartbeat are characters who do things because the plot demands it rather than because it's what they'd do.

Have ground my teeth quite recently about that.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Francis Knight on July 01, 2015, 08:38:17 PM
See, I'm much more conventional and boring: spelling and grammar are my bugbears ::)

Which is why editors/copy editors are worth their weight in gold, even if you self pub

Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 01, 2015, 08:46:27 PM
Quote
What loses me in a heartbeat are characters who do things because the plot demands it rather than because it's what they'd do.

Have ground my teeth quite recently about that. Out of character always jarrs

Quote
One of my fave books deals with "carrying a sword on your back" with a slip ring that releases it from the back so it slides to the hip -- pretty sure I've seen that in a museum somewhere too. Seemed pretty logical

Not seen this but can see it working except wouldn't the blade be the wrong way up? Or maybe i am not getting it after all? You could hold a baldric over your shoulder if it wasn't cinched by a belt with the sword straight over
your shoulder and drop it to your hip if needed but why would be the question.

If i could write I think the scene where the barbarian tries to draw his 2 handed sword over his shoulder while in a narrow underground tunnel may have some comedic merit. At least briefly.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: jefGoelz on July 02, 2015, 03:34:16 AM
In no particular order (and off the top of my head):
1. plots driven by character stupidity (antagonists or protagonists).
2. grammar that is so bad as to make it difficult to read.
3. so much world-building that it seems like a travelogue rather than a novel (particularly at the beginning).
4. withholding information that the POV character would have.
5. multiple cliches that aren't twisted in some way.
6. main characters that have no agency, just get swept along by the actions of others
. . .
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: jefGoelz on July 02, 2015, 03:38:10 AM
Violence should always be the last resort unless it is unobserved and by surprise. Killing violence seems to be a bad idea in pretty much any society unless you have nothing left to lose.

In a world that approximates ours, that is true. Maybe only the first and second-world countries, at that.

In a fantastic world, it might not be true (the baddest swordsmen in a society of farmers might be able to get away with anything). However, there should be consequences - - without consequences there might not be a meaningful story.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: jefGoelz on July 02, 2015, 03:40:24 AM
This. (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/writers-corner/like-a-cat/) Once is enough to make me sigh and roll my eyes, many times just gets increasingly irritating. Can't think of what else bugs me right now...  ;D
all of my ex-girlfriends had the fidelity and loving, self-sacrificing, personalities of cats.
;)
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Doctor_Chill on July 02, 2015, 04:29:02 AM
I don't like head hopping, which is why I usually stay as far away from omni as I can get. ;)
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Misty.Mikes on July 02, 2015, 06:50:51 AM
Female characters who are described as "tough" or "strong", only to immediately qualify that with, "But not as strong as a guy.  Obviously." 

Apologies to anyone who might like this series, but the Mercy Thompson books come to mind as the worst offender I've seen. 

In the very first page, we are introduced to a woman running a garage (that she of course only owns because it was gifted to her by her male former employer). By the end of the page, all we know about Mercy is that she's totally strong and independent.... but not as strong as a Big Strong Man, and therefore is having trouble with this Very Important Engine Repair.  :P 

Give me a break. 

By the end of the book, all of the important plot events have been driven by the actions of male secondary characters.  In fact, there were several times where I was forced to endure sitting and listening to a scene that was all about Mercy's squishy girl feelings while there were far more interesting things being done off-screen by other characters. 

That is not a strong female character, if you ask me.  That is a fragile flower cosplaying as a biker chick. 

Needless to say, I did not pick up the next book!  XD
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Francis Knight on July 02, 2015, 08:52:05 AM
Not seen this but can see it working except wouldn't the blade be the wrong way up?


Not if you have it on your back the right way? It was a long time ago I saw it in the museum (or wherever) but no, it wasn't the wrong way up. I'll see if I can find a pic ETA it is annoyingly hard to find on google! Will keep trying. Maybe it had another name....


Quote
why would be the question.

Ease of movement while not needing your sword, iirc. Having a ruddy great sword at your waist would unbalance you/get in the way. Having it on your back is much better for moving (esp when riding?) but the slip ring meant it was the matter of moments to have it where you could use it.



Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 02, 2015, 05:36:27 PM
Quote
Quote from: Rostum on July 01, 2015, 08:46:27 PM

Not seen this but can see it working except wouldn't the blade be the wrong way up?


Not if you have it on your back the right way? It was a long time ago I saw it in the museum (or wherever) but no, it wasn't the wrong way up. I'll see if I can find a pic ETA it is annoyingly hard to find on google! Will keep trying. Maybe it had another name....


Don't stress it or give up time better spent on it on other things.

Quote
Quote

why would be the question.

Ease of movement while not needing your sword, iirc. Having a ruddy great sword at your waist would unbalance you/get in the way. Having it on your back is much better for moving (esp when riding?) but the slip ring meant it was the matter of moments to have it where you could use it.


I have worn a number of swords from different periods and certainly ease of of movement doesn't come into it if its set up properly for the user. You adjust your gait accordingly and it keeps one hand busy but you can run with no real risk of tripping yourself.

Now here is something for you.
If you are riding you remove your sword and scabbard from your waist. As you move you will give the horse false guides with the scabbard if you don't by tapping it on the flank with the end of the sword.
Ponies only tolerate being told to go and then being reigned in every time they try to for so long. The ears go back and they lose the rider pretty quick as a rule. On medieval war saddles a steel ring at the front and offside of the saddle gets round this you can still draw your sword but don't tap your horse on the flanks as you are riding as the saddle is angled and hold the blade away from the horse.

Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Francis Knight on July 02, 2015, 06:48:26 PM
I managed (at last!) to find a piccie of what I am talking about, or similar anyway

Apparently, today's reading suggests, in Europe back-scabbards were not the thing, but they were in parts of Asia. Which makes sense as the book I am thinking of had Japanese...themes?

Anywhere here is pic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scabbard#/media/File:Samurai_wearing_a_nodachi_(field_sword).png

The string? or whathaveyou would be worn short to keep it on shoulder, but could be slipped so the blade drops down to draw.

As for blade getting in the way -- that probably depends a lot on the size of the sword! In Europe, many times big swords were taken to battle on carts. Which is probably even a slower draw....but a big thing flapping behind your legs knocking stuff is not ideal in many situations

If you know you aren't going to use a sword, or need to, in the foreseeable makes sense to have it out of the way, but still accessible


And thank you for today's procrastination
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 02, 2015, 09:38:09 PM
I thought that might be your avoiding real research or writing excuse.
Thanks for going to the trouble. I see what you mean now. I think the way this works is you grab the handle and pull the scabbard down the curve, the weight of the nodashi and the fact that the scabbards are rigid keeps the scabbard in the rings (loose knots) but you can pull the scabbard through them. So really you are pulling the scabbard away rather than drawing the sword from it. I couldn't do this with a straight bladed  sword of simular proportions (10-12" grip and 42" of blade) but the curve helps with the draw. I also note how low the Katana he is wearing is set and the wakizishi is round his back. This is to keep it's hilt out the way so he can use the bigger sword without catching on the other blades he carries.

I suspect the stuff on carts are replacements for the stuff you are carrying. It dont last long when it gets used.
Most soldiers carry their gear, but will also need replacements. You also need to be able to clear a battlefield you don't have to retreat from of any tin wear and sharp and pointies or they get used against you again.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Francis Knight on July 02, 2015, 10:37:47 PM
Well it's not entirely useless research!

Apparently taking swords on a cart to battle was A Thing in places/times. If you are travelling through friendly territory on your way to a battle...you carry some defence, but your big sword goes on the cart.

In Europe, a common way to carry a big sword was over the shoulder, no scabbard (many wqoodcuts show this sort of image for example http://www.albion-swords.com/images/swords/albion/nextGen/maximilian/landesknecht-Doppelsoldner.jpg ) but it;s not exactly practical in usual situations, ie not going to war. I keep thinking of Laurel and Hardy and the innocent swing of the two by four....slightly more fatal when a sharp edge is involved. And like I say, things were different in Asia from in Europe (unsurprisingly!)





Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 03, 2015, 12:43:59 PM
Yup its hard to find a picture of one of them Swiss dudes without a sword over his shoulder. This is made easier as only some of the blade is sharp and some of the blocks involve holding the middle of the blade with the off hand.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: jefGoelz on July 04, 2015, 02:06:37 AM

Apparently taking swords on a cart to battle was A Thing in places/times. 


Or just have a squire be a caddy who gives you your weapon, upon request.

"The two-hander, boss?"

"No, Mac, give me the hammer for this guy."
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 04, 2015, 10:12:14 AM
Quote
The two-hander, boss?"

"No, Mac, give me the hammer for this guy."

 ;D
I seem to recall a scene from jabberwoky which is exactly that. Except the knight just grunts until given what he wants. Tom Holt has a squire with a golf cart to carry all the stuff the hero might need in one of his books.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: m3mnoch on July 05, 2015, 05:08:18 PM
you guys have hit on a few of mine -- head-hopping, silly motivations, etc. -- but the one that makes me insane is getting pounded by a relentless cavalcade of adjectives.

for example:
"He licked dry lips with a dry tongue and adjusted his purple cape about his bony shoulders."

that's one of the first sentences in legend.  i almost put the book down right there.  the only reason i ended up reading (and enjoying) the book was because of the ridiculous amount of praise and recommendations and awards for gemmell.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: SugoiMe on July 09, 2015, 01:36:04 PM
It might have been mentioned, but I'm never keen on reading pages of description about the setting.  I don't really care about what kind of foliage there is, whether the trees are spruce, fir, douglas, whatever.  You tell me trees and I'll think of whatever comes to mind.  A bit is fine, but not three pages.  I'm looking at you, Terry Brooks.  Couldn't get through the Windsong of Shannara (think that's what it's called) because of all the description.  I like books that give enough description to immerse you in the story, but only enough so the rest is left to the imagination.

Fancy, educated language way beyond my expertise.  Thanks to learning Japanese, I've dumbed down quite a bit, and I feel quite stupid when I can't understand a string of words.  Maybe I just need to read more, though. lol
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Rostum on July 09, 2015, 04:37:08 PM
I think one of the advantages of writing is readers use their imagination to fill in the blanks. There are writers here who do not like to paint themselves into a corner with intricate description of things not important as well.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: Roxxsmom on July 10, 2015, 05:13:27 AM
Getting things really wrong with horses and their abilities, or with animals in general. All those wolves that attack groups of travelers, for instance. It's very unusual for these animals to attack humans, even when they're alone and unarmed.

And those little things about the middle ages that everyone knows but aren't really true. Not that fantasy novels have to be (or even should be) set in the European middle ages, but many writers like to do it, and they often cite realism for things that are not realistic...

It's true, though, that we tend to be harder on mistakes in our own areas of expertise. At the other end of the extreme are writers who are experts in something, and part of their motivations for writing their novel seems to be dispelling myths and misconceptions. I've run across people in crit groups, for instance, who have actual marital arts, combat, or sword fighting experience, and they often default to writing combat scenes that are detailed and realistic at the expense of moving the scene or story along in a way that's interesting.
Title: Re: Annoying Reading
Post by: RemadeGold on July 17, 2015, 01:40:56 AM
That is a pretty good discussion on swords. Out of my league, though.  Anyway, I turn the grammar and spelling editor off when reading for myself, so unless it's REALLY bad I'm not going to notice.  That said, the shortlist of peeves:

1) Too much talking during a fight.  You're trying to kill each other, not bake a cake.
2) Female characters -I admit I'm a bit rough on female characters. Most are either useless or men with bras.  As someone else alluded to (Misty, I think?), there's more to being tough than being able to bench press 5 tons.  (This works the other way, too: there's more to being "sensitive" or whatever than emotionally vomiting left and right.)
3) The male lead being wimpy to make the female lead look better.
4) *Never* telling me what a character looks like. (First person is the exception; it can be too awkward to have the narrator describe him/herself.)  Ex: There's one book I read where two thirds of the way through the book you learn this major character's skin color. The color didn't matter, but if you haven't given me a basic idea of what a character looks like in the first few paragraphs of introduction, whatever image I conjure is what they look like, forever.

Things other people mentioned already:
--Overdescription
--Characters doing things that don't make sense or are out of character. (It doesn't have to be *rational,* but people follow *some* sort of thought process, and I should know at least the gist of it.)


Miscellaneous aside: I don't mind omniscient. The Iliad is omniscient. But a good omniscient POV is never confusing, and that's where I think many people mess up.