Hello all! Today, I’m going to list my top three pet peeves in books and give a short explanation as to why they’re a pet peeve.
- Too Much Tell, Not Enough Show
- Toeing The Line
Pet Peeve #1: Repetition
You know when your siblings decide to copy everything you say to annoy you? And it annoys you that they’re repeating everything you’ve said?
That’s how I feel about repetition in books. Especially in series.
I just recently returned a book to the library where it was mentioned twice what kind of truck the first antagonist had (though that may have been an editing error), and it recapped the first book in a bit of a heavy-handed way.
It’s true a recap might be necessary when writing the second book, in order to re-orient the readers into the characters’ lives and world.
But on the other hand? You don’t need to add a cup when a pinch will do.
Sequels need to expand on what happened in the first book, not repeat it. If something from the first book must come up, do so when and if it’s necessary. Another way to ease it in is for the characters to mention it. I find that if it’s mentioned through the narrative, then it seems heavy-handed and borders on telling.
Pet Peeve #2: Too Much Tell, Not Enough Show
If there is one rule in all of writing that needs to have a balance – it’s the “Show, don’t tell” rule.
Telling can be overbearing. It’s like you’ve been taken out of the story and plopped into a nonfiction book, in a way.
Historical fiction is one of the biggest victims of this. Now I’m not saying learning about history is bad – history is one of my favorite subjects. But the thing about historical fiction is that it’s not a history book.
It’s a story. Set during a real time period, yes, but it’s still a fictitious story. In writing about the events, views, and stuff of those times, don’t talk about them in the narrative. It’ll start sounding more like a history book and less like a story.
Show those things through the eyes and conversations of the characters. These things would have been normal to them. These things would have been a part of their lives, much like computers are part of our lives, hence why no one ever explains how computers work in a modern day story.
Show these things through the characters. Show how they work when the characters use them, but there’s no need for too much detail lest it turn into a history book, which is not what historical fiction is.
Pet Peeve #3: Toeing The Line
I’m a romantic. Always have been. I tend to gravitate towards romance in fiction, especially when it’s paired with the historical or suspense genres, though I’ve also picked up contemporary romances.
But if there’s one thing that’s caused me to gravitate away from traditionally published Christian fiction and more towards indie Christian fiction – it’s the way romance is sometimes portrayed.
I have a meter in my head that goes green, green-yellow, yellow, orange (no such thing as yellow-red), and red.
Sometimes…the romance between unmarried characters in trad Christian fic is focused a little too much on physical appearance. (How funny that we were just talking about that during devotions tonight)
It’s especially annoying when it happens RIGHT. WHEN. THEY. MEET.
THEY LITERALLY JUST MET. WHY ARE THEY STARING AT EACH OTHER’S LIPS?!?
Now, I do have a theory about this – most, if not all, authors in trad Christian fic are married. Thus, they’ve experienced that intimacy that comes with romance and marriage.
Meanwhile, most indie authors – at least the ones I know of – aren’t married. They’re mainly young folks around my age or a little younger, and so when they write romance, they tend to keep it tamer than their married counterparts in trad fiction. Myself, I tend to have my characters limit themselves to holding hands and hugs if they’re unmarried. If they’re married, they kiss.
When it comes to trad Christian fiction, some of it goes too close to the yellow, in my humble opinion. There was at least one book I came across that was definitely in yellow territory (pretty sure it was turning orange as well) that made me go (0.o) and I promptly put it down. I still skimmed to the end though, to see if the mystery plotline was resolved and frankly, even that was disappointing. (Probably because from the looks of it, it got shoved aside 99% of the time in favor of the main characters being oh-so-angsty about their past relationship)
In short: a lot of trad Christian fiction I’ve read has ‘romances’ that read less like actual romance and more like the other ‘L’ word.
And frankly, it needs to stop, because real love* does not focus on physical appearances.
*See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 for further info.
So, there’s my top 3 pet peeves. Tell me your thoughts below! What are your top pet peeves in books?