April 6, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue
You know, I used to be able to simply enjoy entertainment. Now nothing is safe from the dreaded “Kira’s Over-Analyzation of DOOOOOOOM!” I feel so bad for The Husband. I make him sit for 20-30 minutes after every episode of our favorite TV shows discussing character interactions, plot developments, or ranting about a scene I hated and why I think the writers should be fed to a pack of rabid squirrels.
The point is that this really is an important tool for helping develop our own writing skills. This is a juicy topic which could cover many blog posts, but today I want to focus on one thing: What Do Other Authors do that Drives You Insane? I know this sounds like an excuse to rant (It is, I love my soapbox), but thinking about your pet peeves can help you avoid making similar mistakes. The point is not just to say, “God, I hate that!” but to really think about why it rubs you the wrong way. Then turn it around, think about what you would prefer instead, and determine how you can incorporate it into your own work.This is a group exercise, fellow blogizens, so prepare to get involved! This is my blog, though, so I get to go first. Sorry, I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.
My Pet Peeves as a Reader:
- Love at first sight– It’s that moment very early on in the story where the male lead and the female lead first make eye contact and they just know that the two of them are meant to be together. Cue the eyeroll.
Why the hate? Because the tension is already ruined for me. You’ve told me beyond a shadow of a doubt that these two people are destined to be together so any conflict that follows feels contrived and unimportant. Attraction at first glance is fine but not love. We’re talking about a book here not an eHarmony commercial! I want to see uncertainty, doubt, mixed messages, misunderstandings, you know all that juicy stuff that builds tension and makes the eventual hookup that much more satisfying.
- Damsels in Distress– I call this Bella Syndrome. I hate seeing female characters who only need rescuing, protection, and acceptance by a man. <Insert feminist rant here> Yes, yes. I get the appeal of the Knight in Shining Armor and I’m not immune to the concept. I, too, can appreciate seeing the protective qualities of the alpha male in action, but don’t make the girl weak and powerless! Even if she can’t wield a sword or has no super powers, she still needs to have inner strength and a spine of her own, something that makes her admirable and gives her position to affect the story.
- Supernatural Detectives in Urban Fantasy– Seriously, can we not think of any other profession for our main characters?
Apologies to all the great series out there with supernatural detectives (I ❤ Rachel Morgan 4ever), but the yellow pages is getting overcrowded with all of the options. I want to see something new and unique.
- Ignoring or Changing an Accepted Mythos– There’s nothing worse than buying a new book in your favorite genre, getting a few pages in and discovering that the author has hacked the accepted mythos to shreds and instituted his or her own in an attempt to be different. Your vampires don’t have fangs? Boring. Your vampires don’t need human blood to survive? Gah, you’re missing the whole point. They’re supposed to be parasites! Your vampires aren’t instinctively predatory, just people with fangs? Yawn. These concepts are the bread and butter of the PNR genre for a reason!
In fairness, re-imagining a mythology can make a phenomenal story, but it can go epically wrong if you’re doing it for the sake of being different. Every change you institute should make sense within the context of the larger message you’re trying to communicate. Don’t throw genre convention out the window on a whim, only if you have a really good reason for doing so.