Friday, August 24, 2012

Reader Friday: Stop It!



Welcome to Reader Friday, your chance to dive in and make your voices heard! Today we present an opportunity to share a pet peeve you see in novels and film. 

Here's mine: I was watching a recent, and forgettable, movie via Netflix streaming the other day, and up came a line of dialogue I can just as well do without, thank you very much. There was a tense emotional exchange, then this:

"It's not about ____! It's about ____!" 

How many times have we heard this? I thought so! So I just want to say, Stop it!

What about you, dear reader? Here is your chance to tell filmmakers and novelists alike, Stop doing that! 

What's your pet peeve?

44 comments:

  1. One of my peeves are when characters address each other by name in every dialogue exchange. No one does that in real life! If they would have taken the time to read their work out loud, they would have caught it.

    Another one is a bit strange. Have you ever noticed that when an author wants to convey that a male character is very tall, they are always described as six and a half feet tall. I'm not kidding. Every single one. It's like some weird subconscious thing, like they don't know they are doing it but everyone else is doing it, too. Six and a half feet. Every...single...one of them.

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  2. Bad love scenes. If you can't do them well, don't do them at all. If you must include one, then go tasteful, mildly titillating, but short and very Hitchcock (pardon my Freudian). Be suggestive; don't flaunt it. That cheapens your story.

    Excessive descriptive prose (in the case of a visual medium, exposition). It's the reader/viewer's right to form their own interpretation of the scene, rather than having a detailed schematic forced on them. I put down books like this very quickly, and usually don't pick them up again.

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  3. Asparagus...any mentions of asparagus just make me cringe.


    ...and when they say "Fnyork!" hearing that every five minutes would drive anyone crazy

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  5. Hi guys, I've been a bit of a lurker here at TKZ - been visiting for over a year, but haven't got involved until now. Thanks for all the great posts!

    I've just read Cross Country (James Patterson), and something which bugged me was a hyperactive use of exclamation marks and italics. I've read other books by him, but never noticed it before. Very distracting.

    Also of course the over-use of adverbs when writing dialogue, Harry Potter anyone?

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  6. Making the woman protagonist stupid. We're getting a huge influx of women protagonists, and I keep running into ones where it seems like the author (not always male, by the way; women authors are WORSE) thinks women are blithering idiots. In one thriller I read, the only reason the villain didn't win was because the woman protagonist was dumber than he was. In another woman screeches at the male sidekick nonstop, completely not ignoring the fact that the bad guys are coming after her and hiding would be a good idea (and this after said bad guys have already tried to kill her).

    By the way, these capchas are horribly hard to read. I usually have to cycle through a bunch to find one that works. A friend who is blind and uses a reader wouldn't be able to post to this site at all.

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    1. I've noticed the capchas too. They have a sound icon to click on though, for your friend and ME. That could help.

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  7. A few I can think of:

    Firstly, people (writers, journalists, anybody) who say England when they clearly mean Great Britain. As one person I read put it, referring to Great Britain as “England” is like referring to the entire USA as “Texas.”

    Secondly, when a character goes to another country and the writer makes the local population (or in Crime/Thriller the security services) incompetent just so they can make their character look good. Different countries have different ways of doing things and this is usually for a good reason.

    Thirdly, the “everything must be on ebook; the paper book is dead” mentality that some people (especially in the media and unfortunately it seems the publishing world) seem to have.

    It ignores the fact that some people may not be able to afford the £90+ to buy an e-reader, some people with (for example eyesight problems) may not be able to read an e-reader screen and some people just prefer an actual paper book to read.

    Even some bookshop websites now seem to go to the kindle edition as default, with the paperback as almost an afterthought. Why can’t we have the choice?

    All the Best.

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  8. In movies, a character being able to walk up to a computer, guess the password and hack into it with a couple of keystrokes.

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    1. Or the INVENTED database that combines every kind of cross-over data they need to hit ENTER in one keystroke and discover the man with dislexia who belongs to a foot fetish club on the Upper East side and owns a vintage jaguar that he stores yet never drives. Yeah, that guy. One name pops out and the clever detective takes credit for great sleuthing.

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  9. Joe: Yes, that’s always a frustrating one. The password box is also in clear text, not asterisked. And they never seem to have to use the mouse.

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  10. Joe: and the password is entered into a large text box, labeled "PASSWORD," that takes up about 1/4 of the monitor.

    Some dialogue tics I can do without:

    "What do we do now?" "We wait."

    "We've got company!" (which is never used to mean guests visiting one's home)

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  11. Another one that comes to mind is the overuse of the word "at", especially at the end of sentences. E.g. “We don’t know where he’s at.” What’s wrong with “We don’t know where he is?” It’s even 1 letter shorter!

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  12. I see this phrase a lot in various forms: "released the breathe he/she didn't know he/she had been holding."

    UGH!

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  13. One of my peeves is the word THOUGH. It pulls me out of the story and I've never read a line when it was necessary.

    "We don't know where he's at though."

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  14. How about the detective who turns to his assistant and says, "Get me the names of every person within a twenty mile radius of each murder victim going back 40 years. And make it fast."

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    1. And the person who gets the "make it snappy" order is usually the only one who EVER really works. They're at every crime scene, do all lab tests, and get every crap assignment on the case.

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  15. And who does the ratings for cable TV movies? That 3-star guy should be fired.

    Maybe 3-stars is code for "someone's naked."

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  16. Can't stand the words myriad and akimbo. It annoys me when someone feels a myriad of emotions and their arms are akimbo. :)

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  17. Right, Jordan. Garcia in CRIMINAL MINDS is a prime example.

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    1. Definitely. Baby girl.

      The asian cop on GRIMM is one of my fav characters. He is EVERYWHERE.

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  18. Ok, how about women detectives who dress like they're the NEXT TOP MODEL and wear nosebleed heels trying to walk on a beach or run? Or they wear a thick dark duty belt over their posh dress and all they have on it is their badge. Try watching THE GLADES for practically anything on these comments thus far.

    I watched that Ashley Judd TV show that got cancelled just to see her run and kick down doors in her wedges. She played an ex-CIA operative who apparently never read the footwear manual.

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  19. I have several - First one is when somebody is chasing somebody. The first person gets a crappy car and the second gets either a SUV or a Sports car.

    Second on is when anybody yells "Hey stop!" like they would listen and stop.

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  20. Jordan: The shoe thing BOTHERS me so badly! Otherwise good cop shows get RUINED by the shot of the female detective in four inch heels.

    I can't wear two inch heels without taking my life in my hands, and I am supposed to believe they can run down a suspect without breaking an ankle?

    AND AND AND those heels? They are always the designer kind that are 500 dollars (I am looking at you, Risoli and Ilses). Right. On a cop's salary, they're spending that much money on shoes.

    Another pet peeve of mine, and this is particularly bad in urban fantasy, is the "strong" female character, when the author thought "strong" meant "belligerent."

    Seriously, you ruin any suspense you've built up to meeting the uber powerful master vampire if our heroine walks up to him and just mouths off in front of everyone to show how "strong" she is, and how she doesn't "take any crap from anyone. Not even 1 thousand year old vampires that can kill you with a blink of an eye."

    It makes your antagonist look weak and your protagonist look stupid.

    I've seen other versions of that scenario in just about every genre, and it never fails to piss me off.

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  21. Regarding that Asian cop on GRIMM, I amuse myself by pretending he's the main character, and the other guy is just delusional.

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  22. Pet peeve in movies: Wheny they always finding a parking place right in front of the building. Why don't they have to circle? or park three blocks away like the rest of us? :-)

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  24. I agree with Matthew regarding England/Britain and generally not knowing or understanding the region or area they're supposed to be working in or talking about.

    Alaska gets that all the time especially in movies purporting to be filmed in AK but actually shot in Washington or Vancouver BC (Northern Exposure) or Massachusetts (The Proposal). After seeing TV/movies like those tourists come up here to see what they saw in the movies and then learn that:
    1. We have no round trees
    2. Petting moose will get you killed
    3. It rains in the southern part of Alaska ... a lot
    4. It doesn't rain much in Fairbanks...they get forest fires instead

    I do get some good belly-laughs at outsiders trying to pronounce Alaskan words though, fastest way to tell a tourist or a new guy.

    words like these: Tok, Wasilla, Anaktuvik, Koyukuk, Testamina or Kuskokwim and Tlingit

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  25. Two particular rhetorical questions frequently found in romance novel introspection, usually in regard to feelings about the opposite sex: Where did that come from? and How did that happen?

    Please stop.

    I also hate when the character, again in introspection, starts addressing the readership as in "He ran into the tree, just as YOU would expect." Would I, really? Not a great example off the top of my head, but I see this all the time and it's jarring. It's like when a character in a television show or movie turns toward the screen and begins to address the audience.

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  26. As we seem to be on the subject of female detectives in fiction, many of them seem to have long, flowing hair that they never tie back or cover. How it doesn’t end up dipping in a blood pool or contaminating the crime scene in some other way, I have no idea. Maybe they get a special shampoo?

    Basil, I was just wondering what you meant by “we have no round trees?” What shape are they?

    Patricia, I agree that having a character or narration directly refer to the reader (breaking the fourth wall) can be very jarring, but I feel it can also be very effective if done right. I think it depends heavily on the type of story and how it is used. Usually it either has to be for outright comedic effect or it has to be done very subtly.

    There’s a great example of the subtle kind in “Blink,” an episode of the British Sci Fi series Doctor Who. These aliens known as “The Weeping Angels” appear. They look like stone statues and are said to only move when nobody is looking at them, but can move so fast that in the blink of an eye they could go from across the room to right on top of you. But you never see them move in the whole episode, even in scenes where there are only The Weeping Angels and no other characters are present. Reason: Because even when no other character is present, someone else is looking at them. You, the viewer.

    Of course they messed that up in later appearances, but I think it’s still very effective in that one episode.

    All the Best.

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  27. Oh and can I offer an idea for a later Reader Friday?

    As we’re discussing ‘pet peeves’ here, what about discussing the opposite in another Reader Friday? Favourite things. Not whole books or plots, but the little details, the ‘spices’ as James Scott Bell calls them in “Plot & Structure,” that you read it and it adds something to the story or makes you smile.

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  28. Matthew--I love that idea. Those unexpected morsels MAKE the book, right?

    Elizabeth--You cracked me up, sista!

    My husband and I get such a big kick out of bad crime shows AND those HGTV shows where people are looking for houses and NEED granite kitchen counters to cook. Yeah, right.

    We want to shoot Youtube videos of our comments while the show is running. We're a tag team of cynicism.

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  29. Matthew, Alaska has all pointy trees like evergreens, long thin tall trees like birch and aspen, or squiggly trees like alder and willow. I guess they are round as far as circumference, but the tops are not shaped like a ball like hickory, ash, or oak.

    Here's a link to pic of Alaskan wilderness and they literally twist tied extra branches into the trees to make them look more 'real' as well as redecorated the house with false walls and fireplace to make it look more Alaskan (even though it was situated on Sitka Island, a major Alaskan community for over a hundred years.

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  30. Using 'mop' or 'shock' to describe a hairstyle. I've never heard either in actual conversation.

    I read the following line recently, and it was nearly enough to make me give up reading:
    "He ran stickily through the mud."
    Granted, it was a $0.99 Nook book, but still...

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  31. In films:
    The girl is being chased and she CAN NOT run any distance without falling down.

    In books:
    Anachronistic use of contemporary phrases in period settings, eg, a novel set in the 1940s or 1950s where a character says, "At the end of the day..." or, "Been there, done that."

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  32. Basil: Ah, right. I think I was thinking of the tree’s trunk; as in cross section they tend to be, well, round. You had me imagining triangle or square trunks.

    Jordan: Glad you liked the idea. And I agree. It’s the big ideas that get your attention with a book, but it’s often the little things that make you stay and want to read more.

    Rob: “He ran stickily through the mud.” That actually makes me laugh. It manages to be descriptive yet tell you nothing.

    And finally one last pet peeve, then I promise I’ll stop so you don’t all think I spend the whole time moaning (I really don’t.)

    Knowing there is a published author out there using my real first and last name, and it’s a pseudonym. Meaning I guess I’ll probably have to use a different name, or add initials or something, if I ever get published, to avoid confusion.

    (That said, they are in a different genre, they aren’t very prolific, they only wrote a few books and haven’t had anything published in a decade or so. So I don’t know if that makes a difference or if it’s like actors/directors/producers etc where they seem to have rules that there can be only one.)

    All the Best.

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  33. Mine is anything emotional. For most men, hunger is an emotion.

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  34. CAPITALS used for emphasis - in some of the later HP novels this got VERY ANNOYING!

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  35. Another favorite Friday request -

    Readers/TKZers share their favorite protagonists and the traits/behaviors/elements that make them so engaging (i.e. why do the characters "work" so well)

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  36. I am six and one half feet tall, and so is every character in my books.

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  37. make that five and a half feet tall...

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  38. Suspect starts out by saying, "You won't believe me if I tell you," then gives an outlandish story delivered with wide-eyed sincerity. Detective turns to colleague (they're usually standing behind a two-way mirror) and says, "It sounds like he's telling the truth." g-r-r-r....

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  39. Okay. Better late than never. I was out in the woods looking for round trees the past five days.

    Why do the TV cops always slam their car doors just before sneaking up on someone's house?

    Well maybe it's just deception. People inside just sit there after hearing a dozen doors slamming and say, "Relax. Couldn't be the cops out there, dude. Must be Larry bringing more dope."

    Other guy says, "Whoa! It's party time, man."

    So, boy are those slackers fooled. Eh?

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