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Thread: Your writing pet peeves

  1. #1
    Elite Four Member EmeraldSky's Avatar
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    Your writing pet peeves

    What turns you off when reading, and why? Do cliche characters drive you up the wall? Overdramatic storylines make you throw the book at the wall/click away? Plot holes make your head spin?

    For me, this is what turns me off when reading (and to an extent, playing a story-heavy game like an RPG):

    No set up--Dropping your characters in medias res can work, so long as you go back and explain how the characters got to that point.
    Taking forever to get the story started--if you introduce the characters in chapter one, and they haven't even started on their epic adventure by chapter 7, I'm putting the book back/clicking away from the story.
    Insta-romances with the sole point of getting the preferred pairing in the bedroom--if there's going to be a romantic subplot, I would prefer the two characters fall in love at a reasonable pace, have respect for each other, and healthy boundaries.
    Constant violence and action--give the audience time to breathe with a moment of levity or two.
    Unlikable/annoying characters--give me at least one character to cheer for.
    Too much description--I don't want to know the entire history of your world from the get go--just give me relevant info as the story requires.
    Last edited by EmeraldSky; 01-25-2018 at 01:13 AM.
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    Not insanity. Supersanity. Death's Spook's Avatar
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    Despair.

    I'm not talking about "I hate dark storylines now and forever": that would be extremely hypocritical. But if your characters are stuck in "this is suck now and forever OMG there's no hope, at all, period", then I'm gonna end up putting this stuff away. Why would I care about something that has no moments of triumph whatsoever? It is right and proper that I feel fear for your characters, but if I feel despair, then I'm just gonna get up and leave.
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    Used Thunderbolt! Arrow-Jolteon's Avatar
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    Karma Houdini- Any time a character does something incredibly amoral and suffers absolutely zero consequences for it. Expect people to excuse it with "but they have a tragic past!!!" as if that somehow makes every atrocity they committed a-okay. Like dude, I'm sorry that Emo McPrettyBoy had no friends as a child, but if his response to that situation was becoming a murderous terrorist, then he's crossed a line and needs to account for all the people he's killed. Especially if there are other characters in the story who have suffered far worse things and didn't become evil because of it. Please do keep in mind that "consequences" here doesn't mean "punishment"; they are not the same thing nor are they mutually exclusive. If a character spends a good chunk of the story being a murderous jerk, then it's only natural and justified that other people would distrust them and even shun them for a while. That's a consequence.

    Making established characters incompetent/weak/stupid/jerks to make a new character look good in comparison- I feel this is pretty self-explanatory, but it comes with a word of advice: if it's necessary for everyone in a story to be nerfed just so your new character (be they an OC for a fanfic or just a character you introduced later in an original story of yours) can shine, then the real solution is for said new character to be rewritten so they can shine on their own merits rather than by upstaging the rest of the cast.

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  6. #4
    Writing stories about bugs Scytherwolf's Avatar
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    Okay I just now saw this thread. XD

    Agree with everything Arrow said.

    Here are some other ones of mine:

    The "Woe is Me" Plot Derailment: It's fine to have characters feel bad about their situation, but in some stories I've read, it goes way too far. I've read stories where the entire plot grinds to a halt to focus on one character's woe. The story goes out of its way to portray the character as having pretty much the worst life ever, which is increasingly frustrating if, at the same time, there are other characters in positions just as bad or worse than the "woe is me" character, but those other characters aren't focused on. I've read stories that made me want to throw my laptop at the wall because of this. HATE IT.

    Beauty/Cuteness = Goodness: I absolutely hate when stories have all the good guys some pretty and/or cute looking species, and all the bad guys "scary" or intimidating-looking ones. Or, even worse, if there's a scary-looking evil species that turns good, they suddenly change into a pretty/cute looking version of their species. I've actually seen this and it sucks. I really don't think a character's appearance should be an indicator of how good or evil they are. I just hate that.

    Predators are Evil: Another one I hate is when predator species are portrayed as evil just because they're predators. Killing prey slowly for no reason, having evil monologues at them before they try to kill them...it makes no sense. Predators are just trying to survive. They shouldn't care about any of that unnecessary evil stuff.


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  8. #5
    your turn to roll Suicune's Fire's Avatar
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    Pretty much everything people have said so far, but there aren't too many I can think of. I haven't read in a while, so I was trying to think about games or other media but I haven't seen or played anything lately that I didn't enjoy. Had to really think about things that hadn't been mentioned.

    Personalityless/incompetent female - I think this used to be a lot worse in the past and has gotten better, but the inclusion of pathetic female characters who need to be carried by a man. I've seen this time and again to the point where I just turn anything off when it fails to show me an actually competent female character. By that I don't mean just one with a "dainty" characteristic--I just mean a poorly written, stereotype-ridden female character whose existence is solely to make the male look brave or strong. It's almost more annoying when there's a single female character who seems to be used as a box-ticker like "oh yeah seven males but one whole female, perfect" like no.

    Nonsensical drama, especially over miscommunication - I've seen so many movies where drama is initiated over the stupidest things. It frustrates me because good drama is fine - like real, substantial problems that drive a wedge between characters or complicate circumstances - but poorly written drama shoved in there just for some flimsy semblance of conflict is just overbearingly frustrating and annoying. The number of times I have seen this is astounding. When it's miscommunication, it's even more annoying, because it's like oh my god just talk to one another and then there'd be no drama. Seriously. Sometimes miscommunication can be done well, but not like 'Girl A sees Guy A kissing Girl B and storms off, assuming he initiated it' when it was shown to the audience that the Girl B kissed him against his will but then fails to explain it to Girl A/Girl A refuses to believe it. So. Annoying.

    Insta-romance also annoooyyyysss meeee so much. Like I get instant attraction, but not instant romance. It just. That's not how it works. And it's so artificial.

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  10. #6
    Used Thunderbolt! Arrow-Jolteon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suicune's Fire View Post
    Personalityless/incompetent female - I think this used to be a lot worse in the past and has gotten better, but the inclusion of pathetic female characters who need to be carried by a man. I've seen this time and again to the point where I just turn anything off when it fails to show me an actually competent female character. By that I don't mean just one with a "dainty" characteristic--I just mean a poorly written, stereotype-ridden female character whose existence is solely to make the male look brave or strong. It's almost more annoying when there's a single female character who seems to be used as a box-ticker like "oh yeah seven males but one whole female, perfect" like no.[/FONT]
    I want to make an addendum to this if you don't mind, because I feel what I'm about to say is an extension of what you wrote: Anytime a female character is introduced as a super tough, no-nonsense badass, only for her to have absurdly poor showing in practice; getting constantly beaten in combat or getting herself into danger that she somehow can't get out of on her own and needing to be constantly bailed out by her male companions (who by contrast, live up to their hype). At best, this type of female character will only ever defeat minor faceless villains onscreen and be stated to have victories against major villains offscreen, but when it comes to fighting major threats onscreen, she constantly gets her butt kicked. Even more jarring when a male character who is supposed to be more inexperienced and/or incompetent ends up having a much better performance.

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  12. #7
    Cheers and Good Times! Neo Emolga's Avatar
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    I agree with sooooooo many of these.

    Deus ex machina underdog - Deus ex machina is bad as is, but this is extra salt on the wound. I like rooting for the underdog, but only when they've earned it and they proved to be resourceful, careful, and strategic in trying to overcome what they're up against. It also makes sense if they took a beating physically and emotionally in the process. But if they totally avoid a struggle against a stronger entity by bs-ing some randomly-inserted nonsense that gives them an instant edge and suddenly they're heroes of the world with a single cheap shot, I don't even want to continue and I usually end up wishing the bad guys won instead. I don't want to read about how all <hero character> had to do was shoot one arrow in their <insert weak spot> and that's instant death for an enemy that was causing so much trouble (Bard the Bowman, I'm giving you the evil eye on this one). No, struggle and whittle away at that monster. Make it agonizing. Make it costly and make it involve some trial and error and some failed attempts as well. Make it look like they could lose. Get a real battle going, not a single lucky shot.

    Overuse of a fictional language - Some fantasy/science fiction books are notorious for this. I don't mind a little bit of it. A word or sentence here and there is fine. It helps build the lore and makes it clear some races and cultures have their own language. But if there's a ton of it and the characters are singing in or having long monologs in the author's own made-up gibberish, I usually just end up just skipping right past it all because I CAN'T BLOODY READ IT. Having things a reader can't read and understand is like having a movie suddenly go black-screened for a good 10-15 seconds. Things like that don't make it to the cinematic hall of fame.

    Death Fodder - "Let's give the main hero tons of underdeveloped character allies just to have them die!" A character's death really has no ping on the reader if that character didn't feel believable anyway and never actually did anything. If you want it to have tragic effect, then they should be doing things, having an important impact, and give the reader the feeling like they really have a chance of surviving. If you want to make it hurt, kill the main character's mentor. Or the fun, whimsical character that had a good sense of humor. Or the one that saved the main character's life in a near-death situation that was the main character's own fault. To some, the character that's doomed to die should be developed enough to the point where they could be someone's most/least favorite character and they should have done something that makes their loss painful or "yeah, about time that schmuck got what's coming to him!" But the reverse of this is just as bad. "Oh, here's a bunch of enemies for the good guy characters to kill! And one of them is a top leader that no one ever knew or talked about until two minutes ago!" Very bad. If the hero(es) fight someone that high up, they should be getting cut and shot up in the process. It's better if they don't even pull it off the first time and end up having to run away.

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  13. #8
    Writing stories about bugs Scytherwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo Emolga View Post
    I agree with sooooooo many of these.

    Deus ex machina underdog - Deus ex machina is bad as is, but this is extra salt on the wound. I like rooting for the underdog, but only when they've earned it and they proved to be resourceful, careful, and strategic in trying to overcome what they're up against. It also makes sense if they took a beating physically and emotionally in the process. But if they totally avoid a struggle against a stronger entity by bs-ing some randomly-inserted nonsense that gives them an instant edge and suddenly they're heroes of the world with a single cheap shot, I don't even want to continue and I usually end up wishing the bad guys won instead. I don't want to read about how all <hero character> had to do was shoot one arrow in their <insert weak spot> and that's instant death for an enemy that was causing so much trouble (Bard the Bowman, I'm giving you the evil eye on this one). No, struggle and whittle away at that monster. Make it agonizing. Make it costly and make it involve some trial and error and some failed attempts as well. Make it look like they could lose. Get a real battle going, not a single lucky shot.
    Oh wow, this one annoys me a lot too. And on that note, villains that are portrayed as competent but turn into cowardly weaklings the moment the hero stands up to them. In most cases, I want to see some struggle when the protagonist fights against villains, even less important or lower ranking ones. If the hero is completely annihilating them with little effort, there had better be a good reason for it. If they're doing so repeatedly under the excuse that "their family/friends/love interest was in danger and that made them super determined" it bugs the crap out of me. The villains have motives too, ones that would probably make them pretty freaking determined as well. Plus having your loved ones in danger doesn't make you automatically able to easily win a fight against someone twice your size or more. And if the villain immediately turns cowardly and all "Weehhh, don't hurt me!" when the hero shows even the slightest bit of resistance, I just roll my eyes.


  14. #9
    H I S T U F F N E S S Green's Avatar
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    Overuse of adjectives. Which i myself am subject to. My use of adjectives makes me want to cut off my fingers. I know it is a silly thing, but if you overuse an adjective, i am majestically turned off from the story. Unless it is finessed in such a way that blows my breath away.

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