Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Few Things That Drive Me Crazy

 When I'm reading a book, I want to know where things are taking place. Where in the world are the characters? 

Over the  years I've judged a lot of writing contests--and ever so often I've read a book with a good plot but had no idea where it was taking place. Or when the characters are who knows where, having a conversation.

Then there's the other problem where the author gives far too much description of everything, slowing down the plot. I think it depends upon the genre too. Readers of historical fiction love the details of the setting and characters. A fast-paced Western, detective novel, thriller needs to have the plot moving along at a quick pace. 

Though the reader doesn't need a weather report, weather can add a lot to the suspense of a story and problems for the main character. 

We do need to know what the main characters look like--but it isn't necessary to let the reader know everything all at once. When it comes to the taxi driver or some less important character, the reader needs to know very little unless that person is going to turn up again. 

Then some of the things in dialogue that are strange. One of the biggest is when one character tells another something that person already knows. The sentence often begins, "As you know...."  When the information could be given in the narrative.

How about having a person laugh a sentence? Or gasp a sentence? What I mean is something like this, "What kind of a get up is that," he laughed. Or, "I heard something," he gasped. Both would be fine as a sentence following the dialogue. The best kind of dialogue tag if you want to cut down on the he said, she said, is to use an action.

"Get out of my way." Jenny shoved her way through the crowd. 

Grandma put down the tea cup. "That was lovely, my dear."

And what about the heroine who knows there's a killer loose, hears a noise in the basement, and goes down there all alone?

So there are my pet peeves--what are yours?




Morgan Mandel said...

I like books with few descriptions. I also can't stand dumb heroes or heroines who invite trouble.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks for your comment, Morgan. Reading a book now I really like, but there's way too much about what birds are doing. Weird.