Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Annoying annoyances in your reading

On the YAtopia blog (one of my favorite frequent visits) over the weekend, there was a post about things in books that annoy you. She covered some classically over-used occurances that always pull me out of the stories. I was actually glad for the post, because as a writer, I like to know how not to annoy readers :)

But, I want to be a bit more constructive than just pointing out annoyances. To me, the difference between a good story and a great story is seamlnessness of storytelling, i.e. never letting the way something is written pull you out of what is written. Don't let the writing interrupt your story... they should build upon each other.

So here is something that pulls me out of a story--

In third person story, switching point of view. I know it sounds odd, but I have read several books lately that are told in third person limited and spend much of their time extremely focused on one character, narrating events clost to this character, and then suddenly (sometimes within the same paragraph), you're reading about what someone else thinks in response to the main character.

Is it technically wrong? I don't know, probably not... but it is abrupt. If you are closely following character A for 50 pages and feel totally immersed in character A, and then all the sudden you hear something character B is thinking, and then you are right back to character A, its disruptive. Maybe its just me...

So what about you, dear readers. What pulls you out of a story?


  1. I tried reading BOOK OF LOVE by Abra Ebner not to long ago, and the way it was written made it impossible for me to even finish the book. The story could have been amazing, but when you have to go through each scene through every characters point of view it gets old real fast.

  2. You know what bugs me is when people dont take the time to describe what characters look like. They say dark wavy hair. (That was the last one I read) and That was about it.

    I want to know skin color, freckles? eye color? Lip shape? tall? short? Fat? thin? muscles? hair color? Consistancy? Everything, I want to know what this person looks like!

    That is a big deal for me when I creat a book and character, I make sure you know what they look like so you can picture what they are doing, what there lips look like when they talk.

    I get frustrated with faceless characters!

  3. It isn't technically wrong to switch pov, but it's kind of a respected standard nowadays to at least use white space between paragraphs when you intend to do it, if not waiting for a new chapter.

  4. Be judicious. Check.
    Describe characters. Got it.
    Great advice! Thanks...

    Chris, I see that a lot, and I think it would help somewhat. I just find it distracting when, for example, you're totally limited to Joe's thoughgs for 150 pages. You see Joe interact with other people, but in terms of what is going on in the heads of the characters, it is all Joe all the time. Then suddenly, on page 150, Joe tells Ann she is pretty and Ann thinks "Oh, Joe is hitting on me, but I am not ready for a relationship." Ann's thoughts blind side me, there... A white break would help, but then stay with Ann for at least a couple of paragraphs before you jump back to Joe. Or tell me what they are all thinking throughout the whole book.