Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Turns You Off About a Book?

Yeah, that's a slightly odd title for a post, but I had a long car ride and well, those things give you lots of time to think.

I'd just read a book where the characters literally met for the first time and within an hour were getting horizontal. Now I know this happens. Duh, one night stands. But they KNEW they were destined to be together because it was LOVE. Now I can sorta buy into the love at first sight. I can even kind of buy into the fated mates business.

But I have a hard time buying into it when the very first sex the couple has is spectacular and they KNOW it's forever. Why do I have a hard time with this? Probably because I've had sex. GASP. I know, crazy. Anyway, the first time I did it, it wasn't the stuff of romance novels. It was awkward at times, a little klutzy, and well, the first time. I don't get how the first time for the characters, especially a virginal woman who is 32 or a gay-for-you man can not possibly be klutzy.

Before you get all cranky on me, I know. This is romance. It's supposed to be fantastic sex. Just sayin'...

Another thing. Fated mates. Now, I can go for the mates thing. It's sexy to think there's this guy/girl out there who is uber sexy and totally waiting for the heroine/hero. It's very cool. But there's the human factor. What if after a while she's not that in to him? What if he dies? Is she stuck for all of time? Come on.

Again, I know. This is romance. Things will happen. I guess I'm saying and maybe I'm guilty of this, call me out if I am, but don't paint the hero/heroine into a corner. Give them an out. Okay, so they are fated, but give them the option that just because fate says they are, doesn't mean love agrees or something like that. And the first time, someone can really clunk teeth, or roll off a bed. It happens. Trust me. I know.

Those are two of my reading pet peeves. What are yours? What really drives you up the wall or makes you want to throw the ereader? Let me know.


Ana Hart said...

What really drives me up a wall? Hoo boy. That's a long list. I guess I'll just hit a few points and hope I don't come across as being TOO bitchy ;)

1. Laundry list physical descriptions. For example: Megan stood at a petite 5'2" with a trim frame. Golden hair fell in waves down her shoulders, framing a heart-shaped face with a pert nose and blah blah blah blah. I would have already put the book down.

2. First person narrators who give a laundry list description for themselves (also known as "the convenient stopping to look at your reflection in the mirror during the first few paragraphs of the story" syndrome.) Who sits there and gives a mental running monologue of their appearance? No one. There are plenty of other ways to show us how the character looks through interactions with other characters and various dialogue with other characters.

3. Stiff dialogue. I understand characters from the distant past are going to have a more formal way of speaking, but if your 21st century hero starts talking like he walked right out of 16th century England, I'm going to put the book down. Real people use slang. Real people are grammatically incorrect. Deal with it.

4. Sex scenes that read like an instructional manual.

5. Grammatical errors in published works. I can understand one or two but when you've got a whole slew of errors (misspelled words, improper nouns being capitalized, missing punctuation marks), I'm going to stop reading . . . and feel like I wasted some good money on that book.

6. Characters who "hate" each other but then "fall in love" overnight. This bothers me to no end. The first romance novel I ever read was set in the "Wild West" and told the story of a man and a woman from feuding families who were bitter enemies and HATED each other, but wait! One night, he glimpsed her under the moonlight . . . and he knew it was love. Just like that. Years and years of blood feud erased because of some lunar spotlight time. Needless to say, I never finished that book.

7. Authors who over explain things. I was reading a book the other day and, like a trooper, I made it to Chapter Three. I don't know HOW, but I did. Why I'm surprised I made it that far is because the author in question was over explaining things like a [insert awesome simile here]. So, your heroine's bound and gagged? Brilliant. Thanks for telling me. There's no need to then go on for three long paragraphs reiterating again and again that she's bound and gagged, detail the exact manner as to how she's bound and gagged down to the fibers in the rope, and/or do several replays of how she came to be bound and gagged. It's okay. I got it the first time you said, "She was bound and gagged."

Wendi Zwaduk said...

It's funny you said all those things, because I totally agree with you. I can't stand first person in long books anyway, but yeah, how can you in a first person tell the reader what YOU look like?!?!?!?!

Great comment!