Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Writing Pet Peeves

As writers, we all have pet peeves -- those little words, phrases, or character actions that make us cringe each time we read them. I avoid using them in my own writing and have to restrain myself from pointing them out in my critiques.   I am curious to here what your writing pet peeves are because what makes one reader flinch, may not bother another at all.  Here are a few of mine:

~Female MCs who bite their nails (yeah . . . just yeah.)

~Raised eyebrows and/or narrowing of the eyes (The last two combined made for some pretty tough reading of a certain vampire book for me!) 

~The word gingerly . . . especially when reflecting a male's actions (Maybe I'm just hanging out with the wrong group of men, but I have never seen a guy to anything gingerly.)

~Extremely loooooooooong text sequences (I simply don't have the time or the patience to figure out what all those acronyms mean.)

~Drain pipes or trellises strategically placed next to 2nd story windows (first it's predictable; and, second, any parent who puts a structure like that near their teenage daughter's windows, deserves to have them sneak out!)

So that is my list of writing pet peeves. I would love to hear yours!


  1. What about the girl who tells the guy she doesn't love him for his own good/safety? C'mon...seriously?

  2. What about the over-accomplished teenage boy who is model gorgeous? You know the one I'm taking about. He's either a concert pianist or DaVinci-type artist.

    Or a poet...yeah. That one gets me every time.

  3. The one I'm guilty of is pouting/winking. Apparently, my characters have some serious facial twitches (oh, and that eye narrowing thing you mentioned).

    The one that really bugs me and I don't know why - someone absentmindedly biting the inside of their cheek/lip so hard it bleeds freely.

    Or the bad boy who's all evil (sometimes literally) until love turns him completely angelic (sometimes literally).

  4. I find myself editing out "narrowed eyes" and "raised eyebrows" from my drafts. They always sneak in!

    Personally, I don't like when a character "looks to be" something:

    'The man looked to be in his early twenties.'
    'I'm looking to be in Sales, after I graduate.'

    Sounds...inarticulate, to me.

  5. OMG I love all of yours. I could list dozens, which sounds awful because they're 'pet peeves' but really, for me a 'pet peeve' is just something that sticks in my head and makes me remember it with a bad taste in my mouth. Usually, they aren't things that ruin a book for me. That said the combination of eyebrow/squinting eyes/vampires should never NEVER be used again.

    For me, a pet peeve that really WILL upset a book is the classic bad guy who never really does anything all that bad and turns out to actually have a heart of gold scenario. DO NOT go to lengths to describe a guy's 'bad assedness' to me if he's going to run into traffic after a kitten. Do I WANT him to save the kitten? OF COURSE. But would a genuine bad guy risk his neck for a scrawny, undersized fuzzball that's likely going to cut him long wide and deep in its terror? No freaking way. I want a bad guy to be bad. Otherwise, he's just a good guy poser to me.

    Another grievance would be the whole 'I'm just an average ordinary girl, there's NOTHING special about me in the slightest never mind that three packs of werewolves two warlocks and several species of alien are trying to take me hostage' scenario. I mean really? I love a good ordinary girl. But she has to BE ordinary. And frankly, I'm ordinary for the most part, and trust me, there are NO aliens or other cool creatures knocking on my door. So either make your 'average girl' average, or make her ACCEPT that she's NOT actually average when the s*#t hits the fan and stuff goes down. Otherwise she's just whiny and I'm jealous because awesome (if maybe bad) stuff is happening to her.

    Whew. Sorry about the blather...

  6. Oh yours are great. Mine would be the damsel in distress. Does she really have to wait for the hero to open the door for her. I can't stand for a female to sit by and "need" someone to save her.

    Hi to a fellow crusader!!

  7. A pet peeve of mine is when things are too convenient for a character--no matter what it is. "We need to escape--oh look, there's a magical un-piloted helicopter right over there! Let's go use it!"

    Or, 'hm, these characters should kiss, I'll just make the girl stumble and fall onto the guy and their lips'll meet perfectly and voila!"

    No thank you.

  8. It bothers me when you can tell if a character is good or bad just based on their appearance.

  9. I hate cop outs. As in "it was all a dream" or a critical character goes unconscious and can't really relay what happened next, which is the thing everyone was waiting to hear! I like the characters to make a choice, not to have it made for them.

  10. Well I have too many to list, so i will just laugh at all the ones above and be done with it.

    yes its a cop out, but there you have it. i need to get writing. (oh sorry about the cop out Lindsay) :-)

    great post. Happy crusading and nice to meet you!