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Quiet Man Cometh 11-14-2013 11:30 PM

101 things you're tired of reading...
 
Okay, the title is being a little more polite than what goes through my head when I read some of this stuff but thought I'd put it here.

1. Woe is me!

This one makes my eye twitch. When the character utters something about their personal state and how much it sucks, usually in some hopeless, dramatic fashion, especially at the beginning of a story when we pretty much know that things are going to get fixed. Oh will this sorry state of affairs ever end? Will I ever find true happiness? Will my dog ever come back home? The character may as well hold their wrist to their forehead or throw their arm over their eyes and shout "Woe is me!"

*holds hand to chest and faints*


2. Eyeballs are orbs.

This one is just overuse. I've probably used it at some point myself. No more orbs. Really, "eyes" is just fine. Please no more orbs.

Suzerain of Sheol 11-14-2013 11:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Quiet Man Cometh (Post 1598815)
Okay, the title is being a little more polite than what goes through my head when I read some of this stuff but thought I'd put it here.

1. Woe is me!

This one makes my eye twitch. When the character utters something about their personal state and how much it sucks, usually in some hopeless, dramatic fashion, especially at the beginning of a story when we pretty much know that things are going to get fixed. Oh will this sorry state of affairs ever end? Will I ever find true happiness? Will my dog ever come back home? The character may as well hold their wrist to their forehead or throw their arm over their eyes and shout "Woe is me!"

*holds hand to chest and faints*

My genial spirits fail!


Quote:

2. Eyeballs are orbs.

This one is just overuse. I've probably used it at some point myself. No more orbs. Really, eyes. Please no more orbs.
It's really an egregious example of amateur writers trying to sound profound when it's really just purple. Because, the choice is either just using "orbs" as in "his orbs narrowed" (WHAT?!) or adding an obnoxious descriptor like "jacinth" "cerulean" or "opalescent". *vomits*

Anyway.

3. Referring to personal combat as a "dance". Stop doing that, people. Call it a frenzy. A slaughterfall. A weighing of lives and deaths, of hopes and fatal deeds, of mercy and murder... just not a dance, I beg. :P

4. Stock phrases. Shorthand for actual imagination in prose. Please invest more energy in defining your own style instead of miming things like "quick as the wind", "razor-sharp", or especially anything as awful as "blind as a bat".

5. Descriptors appended to dialogue tags. "Said harshly", "replied sarcastically", or "quipped cheerfully", and the like. That needs to go away and never come back. Alternatives to said are fine, in moderation, "roared", "whispered", whatever, but only use them when they're really needed and try to convey the effective in a less blatant way. It's shorthand, again, for inventive writing.

6. Just... adverbs. Ever.

Quiet Man Cometh 11-15-2013 12:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Suzerain of Sheol (Post 1598819)
4. Stock phrases. Shorthand for actual imagination in prose. Please invest more energy in defining your own style instead of miming things like "quick as the wind", "razor-sharp", or especially anything as awful as "blind as a bat".

I don't mind that one so much, as long as there is a general awareness that it does nothing to enhance the writing. I tend to take most (keyword, "most") such phrases as more a statement of fact. So the character is blind, gotcha.


7. Capital letters where capital letters are not grammatically needed.

This is okay in moderate amounts, but when used to emphasize a word it bothers me. 'His eyes were Blue! They were so very Blue...' I can see that he has blue eyes, thank you very much. -.-

Suzerain of Sheol 11-15-2013 12:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Quiet Man Cometh (Post 1598830)
7. Capital letters where capital letters are not grammatically needed.

This is okay in moderate amounts, but when used to emphasize a word it bothers me. 'His eyes were Blue! They were so very Blue...' I can see that he has blue eyes, thank you very much. -.-

Is this a fan-fiction thing? I don't believe I've ever seen it, but it sounds nauseating. Just use italics!

8. Happy-go-lucky-murderer-heroes. If your character makes a career of cutting or blasting through vast swathes of other members of their own species, and is routinely involved in traumatic and violent situations... please ensure that these events and actions have an effect on their psyche and change them in some way.

9. Unrealistically prolonged and intricate fight scenes. People tire, especially when exerting explosive force through all their muscles over sustained periods. Also, fighting is messy. People make mistakes, everything doesn't look choreographed.

Espy 11-15-2013 09:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Suzerain of Sheol (Post 1598847)
9. Unrealistically prolonged and intricate fight scenes. People tire, especially when exerting explosive force through all their muscles over sustained periods. Also, fighting is messy. People make mistakes, everything doesn't look choreographed.

Currently trying to fix that. My writing still sort of a mess, though.

And yeah, 8 bothers me and is a thing I've been messing with for my characters.

10. Short choppy sentences. Yes, I get that they're structurally correct, but reading that makes my head hurt. It feels like everything is moving at a really fast pace. I do the short-sentences thing maybe once in a while, but usually in action scenes where the action is rapid and abrupt.

Suzerain of Sheol 11-15-2013 10:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Espy (Post 1599064)

10. Short choppy sentences. Yes, I get that they're structurally correct, but reading that makes my head hurt. It feels like everything is moving at a really fast pace. I do the short-sentences thing maybe once in a while, but usually in action scenes where the action is rapid and abrupt.

I prefer abrupt sentence fragments interwoven with more complicated sentences to emphasize a particular moment. All part of the reading rhythm.

I know the style you're talking about, it can be effective in small doses, but an entire book written that way would be maddening.

11. Description of character's appearance. I really don't care what color eyes a character has, where their oh-so-badass scar is located, and what kind of silk their doublet is stitched from. If it doesn't have some narrative relevance, I'm not interested. It's just filler and another crutch for engaging prose.

Unless the PoV character has some kind of OCD related to what people wear, I'd give that a pass for a short story, but even still, no way in a novel.

Quiet Man Cometh 11-15-2013 10:33 PM

As an exercise one time, I took every character in a story of mine and changed their ethnicity, just to see what it would do. (Was watching a show that was talking about the sort of roles actors are able to get according to their ethnicity, like African Americans usually getting the roles of villains or uneducated types.) Previously, everyone was white, not out of conscious thought, but out of habit. I made one character African American, another Asian, and another Eastern European. It didn't change a bean.

12: Info dump!

I shouldn't have to say this but I still see it. Please, keep information to what's needed at the moment in time. I don't need to know a character's life history when they are first introduced. It's especially annoying when it happens during something else. I don't need to know where a character found their sword, what they named it, why, and who they already killed with it in the middle of a fight.

Managing info-dump might mean that you don't get to tell your reader everything you want to about your lovingly crafted setting or characters. It sucks sometimes, but keeping things trim really helps the writing, and there will be other moments to show off stuff.

Suzerain of Sheol 11-15-2013 10:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Quiet Man Cometh (Post 1599094)
As an exercise one time, I took every character in a story of mine and changed their ethnicity, just to see what it would do. (Was watching a show that was talking about the sort of roles actors are able to get according to their ethnicity, like African Americans usually getting the roles of villains or uneducated types.) Previously, everyone was white, not out of conscious thought, but out of habit. I made one character African American, another Asian, and another Eastern European. It didn't change a bean.

12: Info dump!

I shouldn't have to say this but I still see it. Please, keep information to what's needed at the moment in time. I don't need to know a character's life history when they are first introduced. It's especially annoying when it happens during something else. I don't need to know where a character found their sword, what they named it, why, and who they already killed with it in the middle of a fight.

Managing info-dump might mean that you don't get to tell your reader everything you want to about your lovingly crafted setting or characters. It sucks sometimes, but keeping things trim really helps the writing, and there will be other moments to show off stuff.

Even if it *is* relevant at the time, do try to work it in naturally and don't just drop it in a huge wall of text talking straight to the reader. Unless your name is Jonathan Ronald Reuel. :|

13. Resurrection/cheating death. Unless it's a plot point, like, "If you kill the bodily form of the Nazgul, they'll simply fly back to Sauron and be re-endowed with earthly essence", if someone is killed... leave them dead. And pulling the ol' "Let's have Aragorn fall off a cliff, won't that be DRAMATIC?!?!?!" is a horrible idea. Unless you're writing some kind of avant-garde literary short fiction, having your character die of freak natural causes really shouldn't happen, and you shouldn't waste time trying to trick the reader into thinking it did, only so you can say "Gotcha!" ten pages later. Unless your name is John Ronald Reuel. :P

Quiet Man Cometh 11-17-2013 07:19 PM

14: "Blood red"

I have no actual objections to something being described as blood red, so long as what we are looking at is actually that colour and not just red. I've seen blood often enough to have a fair idea of it's colour, and it shifts, and no, it's usually not that red unless it's a thin layer smeared on something. Seriously, a tomato isn't red like blood. It's red like a tomato. Please don't use such descriptions for colour unless it's actually the right colour.

I'd also like to know where people go the idea that "ginger" means red, too (talking about colour here, not references to red-headed people). What about ginger is red? I've never seen red ginger before. Ginger root is brown and pickled ginger is often pinkish. What's the deal?



On the capitals thing: I've seen it around, but more often in amateur fiction then published fiction but I've seen it there too. It's just irritating to me.

Liethell 12-06-2013 01:02 AM

Quote:

I'd also like to know where people go the idea that "ginger" means red, too (talking about colour here, not references to red-headed people). What about ginger is red? I've never seen red ginger before. Ginger root is brown and pickled ginger is often pinkish. What's the deal?
If I may jump in this thread, I think it comes from the colour of red-headed people. The actual ginger you cook with doesn't have a lot of red hues in it, so I'm not sure what else it could be.

15. Unnecessary Violence.
I see this in a lot of books nowadays, and maybe some fanfiction. Sometimes a character will simply smash a hole in a wall to get his point across. I understand the character is needlessly violent, and that can be a great character point, but doing so five times in a row lessens the impact of violence. (I suppose unnecessary romance can go with this.)

Violence and romance are like spices; use sparingly!

Suzerain of Sheol 12-06-2013 01:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Liethell (Post 1602110)
15. Unnecessary Violence.
I see this in a lot of books nowadays, and maybe some fanfiction. Sometimes a character will simply smash a hole in a wall to get his point across. I understand the character is needlessly violent, and that can be a great character point, but doing so five times in a row lessens the impact of violence. (I suppose unnecessary romance can go with this.)

Violence and romance are like spices; use sparingly!

*cough* Peter Jackson *cough*

16. Shallow and weak portrayals of female characters. This is really pretty simple, I don't know why so many writers struggle with it.

A. Female characters are not prizes for male characters to win.

B. Female characters have lives and interests beyond being inanely in love with your protagonist,or romance in general.

C. To make a female character cool and enjoyable to read about, she doesn't need to be a man on the inside. You *can* have a badass female warrior or two, but give a fair amount of thought to what makes them tick, and keep in mind the characters (of any gender) don't need to be murdering monsters on the battlefield to be strong.

D. Actually, as a rule, just... don't identify your characters by their gender so much as their motivations, personalities, experiences, social status, religious beliefs or lack thereof, or any number of other more interesting, complex, and fulfilling psychological perspectives.


(What Suze really means is don't Twilight your female Characters. -Nexy)

Poggio 12-07-2013 01:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Suzerain of Sheol (Post 1602111)

16. Shallow and weak portrayals of female characters. This is really pretty simple, I don't know why so many writers struggle with it. [/B]

D: but what if my female is a stock based off a stereotype of a real female generalization!

So XD I am not sure if I am allowed to add to this list, if not I can delete it but …

17: “Olive Skin ”

It is actually one of my biggest pet peeves when describing an ethic character of the Mediterranean origin or tanned skin individuals. I know that food descriptions can be overused in general especially when describing African Americans but this one is particularly bothersome. Unless the person is sickly and dying or as black as an actual olive (Which I have not met a person with a slimy green twinge in their skin.) It shouldn’t be used. Especially given the rich adjectives that neutral tones can be called.

Suzerain of Sheol 12-07-2013 02:27 AM

Of course you're allowed to, Pog. :)

And that's a really good one, it has some unfortunate implications, and should really have every attempt made to eliminate it.

18. Breaking perspective

This is one of my personal gripes, it might not apply to everyone's taste. Essentially, when you're writing from a character's perspective, you don't give details that are outside their perception, and you don't have them talk to the audience with their thoughts. Unless they have some reason to cogitate upon their own remarkably oh-so-beautiful blue eyes like azure sapphirean orbs upon the sea kissed by a balmy sunrise... spare the audience the mention of them. It breaks suspension of disbelief, among other sins...

Espy 12-07-2013 02:31 AM

I struggled with "olive skin" for the longest time ever. I think it's supposed to be like...tan? From what I remember, "olive" is referring to the gold-ness that some olives can have (not all olives are green/black), and it includes such a broad range that I really don't know what authors are describing when they use that term.

Quiet Man Cometh 12-07-2013 03:40 AM

"Olive" does seem to be some means of referring to people in a non-white/black/Asian fashion. Pog probably has it right with Mediterranean. I think it is supposed to lean towards tan-ish, but it's probably one of those things where someone liked the word and used it, and then someone else thought it worked and used it, and so on. I wouldn't be surprised if it's getting to the point where it's becoming the standard word to use just like "black' or "white" even though, technically speaking, they could be just as inaccurate, colour-wise.


To expand on what Suze said, another thing that gets to me is when authors appear to forget that their characters are not reading what is happening, so say things that don't make sense verbally, such as when comparing the spelling of word without having the character sound it out letter by letter. I've only seen it a couple of times, so not sick of it, but it does come off as odd.

Fauxreal 02-21-2014 08:12 PM

19. Cell phone Speak.
U R GR8! USE YOUR WORDS PEOPLE... I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir. I could say more, but do I need to?


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