Pet Peeves of a Writer/Reader

Generally, I adore reading and writing.  But sometimes, things just happen that rub me the wrong way.  For example:

1) Spoilers in the Book’s Summary.

We’ve all been there.  Halfway through the book, enjoying the story and the characters and the suspense, and we can tell that something big is coming soon, and the story is building, building – but we already know what’s coming because we read the back of the book!  Oh my goodness.  Please.  The back of the book (or the summary on goodreads) should only tell me the MAIN premise of the book.  It shouldn’t take away from the big plot points!  ARG!

2) Newest Book in a Series Only in Hardcover

I’m a broke high school student, soon to become a broke college student.  I frequent my library a lot more than my local Barnes & Nobel.  When I do buy books, I rarely buy them full price.  (I love that Target takes 20% off regular price on all their books!)  Furthermore, if I have a choice between a paperback and a hardcover that costs three dollars more, I’ll always go with the paperback.  But when a new book in a series comes out, I SWEAR, IT’S ONLY AVAILABLE IN THAT SUPER-EXPENSIVE HARDCOVER!  FOR THREE. ENTIRE. MONTHS.  (I just made up that number, but it seems about right.)  Ironically, it’s never free at the library during this three month period either.  Because that would be too easy, right?

3) Typos in Handouts

I’m taking English 102 at my local community college this semester.  My professor is a professional.  A teacher.  An expert.  Yet could someone please explain to me why she doesn’t bother to proofread her handouts or assignments before she gives them to her students?!  There have been more typos and inconsistencies than I care to mention.  Every time I see one, I cringe inwardly (since I suffer from CSCS, remember?) and glare at my professor just a little bit.  Now, I recognize that everyone – myself unfortunately included – makes typos now and then.  But it seems like an English professor should hunt after them with everything in her.

4) Repeating the Character’s Name Needlessly

Ella walked down the street to where George sat feeding the birds.  He gave her a piece of bread.  With a smile, Ella took it and started breaking it up into little pieces.  He handed Ella another piece of bread, and they sat in happiness together, feeding the birds until Ella had to leave.

Okay, I totally just made up that horribly-written scene, but I’m trying to make a point.  It irks me so much when a character’s name is mentioned, then they are referred to by their pronoun (he/she) for the next two sentences, BUT THEN THE AUTHOR WORRIES THAT MAYBE WE FORGOT THIS CHARACTER’S BEAUTIFUL NAME SO THEY REMIND US.  Let me make myself clear: once you mention the character’s name, only mention it again if it’s confusing to simply use he/she.  (This is at least what I learned as a writer.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

5)  Starting Sentences with Long Dependent Clauses

Phrases such as “While she ____” and “As he ___” at the beginning of the sentence SLOW ME DOWN AS I READ.  It’s so much easier to read “he ___ AND ___.”  Unless it’s absolutely necessary for the character to be doing these things at the same time, PLEASE don’t use “while” and “as” to start sentences.  It’s just as bad when too many sentences start with -ing phrases.  “Staring at herself in the mirror, Star blinked rapidly.”  “Looking for her brother, Emma hurried through town.”  NO. No. nooooo.  Please.  It’s so much easier to read “Emma looked for her brother as she hurried through town” and “Star blinked as she stared at herself in the mirror.”   (Please note that occasional use of these types of sentences don’t bother me.  But when two per paragraph use long dependant clauses to begin sentences, it drives me insane because it means I have to work harder as a reader.)

Okay.  I think that’s about it.  What about y’all?  What little things bother you as a reader or writer?  I hereby open the comment section up as a place for shameless ranting!

2 thoughts on “Pet Peeves of a Writer/Reader

  1. Fussy writers! HAH! No, that was just a joke. 😀

    What irks me is contradictory advice from agents. Recent examples:

    – tells you your first page isn’t dramatic enough while the agency touts a flagship novel whose first pages are as dull as the doldrums with barely any drama to it.

    – states on their website they understand that just because they don’t like it, doesn’t mean there’s no market for it, then rejects you on the basis that they ‘didn’t love it enough’.

    Ok, ok, that’s not actual WRITING, but you said rant, so… hehe…

    As for real writing things, I think characters moving around the stage without actually doing anything, without creating plot, and generally doing nothing of interest.

    Evident lack of proof reading – always annoying, and yes, an English Teacher should do that – how hard is it to use Word? But I now have my cat sitting on my arms, so this may end up a mess too!

    Huge block paragraphs (i.e. no shaping)

    But sorry, have to disagree about the hardback thing – it’s only a few months, and authors do need to make SOME money, seeing as how hard it is these days.


    • Hahaha! These are great! Thanks for sharing… and let me know if you find out a way to get cats off of your lap while trying to write. Them always seem to want to cuddle when you’re busy. 😉


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