Fiction Pet Peeves

Hello, friends! I’m in a grumpy Monday kind of mood, so today I’m going to talk about some of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to fiction. Let me know some of yours in the comments. What little things immediately pull you out of a scene and make you cringe? In no particular order, here are some of mine…

Over-use of Slang to Establish Setting or Mood

A prime example of this for me is Libba Bray’s Diviners series. This series seems to be super beloved in the book blogging community, and I’m not trying to trash it as a whole. I enjoyed the story itself well enough, but it got to the point where it sometimes felt like every other word was “fella” or “doll.” With a lot of authors, slang is so overused that it makes their characters feel like caricatures. Pepper in just a little bit of it and call it a day; otherwise it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Insta-love

Love at first sight can be cute and done well, it’s just that it usually… isn’t. Just because the characters fall in love quickly doesn’t mean the audience doesn’t need to see the reasons they love each other. Even worse, however, is when characters who hate one another seemingly flip overnight because searing hated seems to be confused with sexual tension. Relationships between characters take as much development as the characters themselves; there are no shortcuts with this. This seems particularly prominent in YA, but I think it bothers me less in that context because I think a lot of teens are constantly “falling in love” at the drop of a hat. (I’m not judging; I was totally guilty of this.)

Gorgeous Female Characters made “Relatable” by Making Them Clumsy

Why is this such a trope? Authors write a gorgeous female protagonist (bonus points if she’s somehow blissfully unaware that she’s even remotely acceptable looking) who seems to be desired by all the male characters in sight. Then faced with the question of how to make this character feel more flawed and relatable, nine times out of ten, they just make her physically and/or socially awkward. Female characters can be flawed in just as many ways as male characters. It’s time to branch out a bit.

Male Authors with No Idea How to Write a Human Woman

We’ve all read books with female characters that would never have been written by a woman. The most recent book that had this effect on me was Artemis, by Andy Weir. I was in love with The Martian so I bought Artemis when it came out without even reading the blurb first. Then I started reading, and the female protagonist was… Mark Watney 2.0. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Mark Watney, but if I want to read about him, I can just read The Martian again. In Artemis, 99% of his personality was just imposed onto Jazz, and I couldn’t stop hearing Mark Watney’s voice through the whole book. It definitely pulled me out of the novel and diminished my ability to enjoy what was actually a pretty fun heist story.

Protagonists Internally Monologuing about Their Appearance

This is just lazy writing. We’ve all read scenes where the protagonist wakes up in the morning and goes to the bathroom mirror to begin getting ready for their day. They then take this opportunity to list all of their features for the reader’s benefit. (Bonus points if this is combined with the previous bullet point, where a male author can’t write women, and the protagonist proceeds to describe herself in an awkwardly sexual tone. No. Just no.)

A lot of the time, this awkward method of relaying information isn’t even giving us information that we need. A story doesn’t often require the reader to have an in-depth understanding of each character’s appearance. Things that impact how the character interacts with the world in a meaningful way should, of course, be prioritized. Is the character living in a society that’s racist towards their particular demographic? Are they ridiculously attractive or unattractive? Average and forgettable? Super short? This is information we probably need. What we don’t need is a female protagonist admiring the curve of her own hip as she stands in front of a full-length mirror in a nightgown. (Seriously, why do men write these kinds of scenes?)

Toxic, Creepy Relationships in YA

It’s 2018 and I’m still mad about Twilight, you guys. But honestly, petition for a genre marketed to young girls to stop romanticizing stalking, controlling behavior, men with anger issues, ridiculous power imbalances, etc. Give teenage girls healthy relationships as examples. Give teenage girls examples of female characters running the other way when they see these giant red flags waving all over the place.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these were some things that were on my mind today. Let’s discuss in the comments! What are some of your biggest pet peeves? Do you feel differently about any of the things I’ve listed here?

Thanks for reading!

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9 thoughts on “Fiction Pet Peeves”

  1. My biggest pet peeve is age gaps. Like the girl is 18 and the man is 30 or 35 or something but its not creepy because he’s actually a 200+ year old supernatural being. It’s still annoying and creepy to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, like imagine being 200 years old and wise beyond words and spending your time romantically pursuing teenagers. I’m not even 30 yet and the thought of dating a teenager is horrifying lol.

      Like

  2. I hate the appearance monologue too, it’s exhausting and completely breaks immersion because you’re aware that no one does that. No one stares at themselves in a mirror and starts listing of their features, there are better ways to describe a character physically and no author should settle for the laziest. The clumsy gorgeous protagonist is so infuriating, being clumsy is the most harmless character flaw ever, it can hardly be called that, and it’s so transparent that the author wanted their character to be perfect but read somewhere that realistic character need flaws…ugh.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “it’s so transparent that the author wanted their character to be perfect but read somewhere that realistic character need flaws…ugh.”
      Yesss, this is exactly what irritates me about it. They want to give the character a “flaw” that has zero possibility of making them difficult to like. It’s lazy. If you’re a good writer, you can write a complicated, actually flawed character, and people will still be able to love them. We love imperfect people in real life all the time. It can be done! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Toxic, Creepy Relationships in YA <— this. Romanticising or normalising this kind of toxicity is a disservice to our young people. I had to explain why Twilight is not 'the most romantic relationship eva!' to some young people when this came out. Not. Right.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I hate supernatural love scenes. I’m kind of a prude to start with, but when your love making makes the other person burst into fire or other such dramatic descriptions I just get annoyed.

    Like

  5. Every time I see that scene with Bella playing volleyball, I laugh every time. A month ago, my friends and I had a twilight drinking game and we took a shot every time Bella fell. But yeah, the clumsy girl character is overused and a tad bit unnecessary.

    Liked by 1 person

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