deird1: Fred reading a book (Fred book)
[personal profile] deird1
Here, in no particular order, are various things that really annoy me in novels:

1) Destiny

Not in the sense of Destiny Affects The World In Cool Destinyish Ways. The Belgariad, for one, did that quite well.

No, the thing that annoys me is when Our Heroine spots a Gorgeous Man, and is instantly attracted to him for no discernible reason. ...and then he turns out to be Our Hero.

Seriously, why are these women so brilliant at this? Do they have Protagonist Spotting Radar? Are they super-sensitive to the almighty hand of Destiny? Why do they always know who the important characters will be the moment they see them?

2) A Sanitised World; Now With Less Germy Horribleness

You see this a fair bit in Christian Fiction (TM). It is, after all, Christian literature, so we can't have anything unpleasant in there. Like violence. Or sex. Or suspect movies. Or unhealthy food. Or swearing.

The example that annoyed me the most was in a book where one of the characters said something dreadful, and the other character (and I quote) "said a foul word that expressed what he thought of that".
He clearly said "bullshit". We know perfectly well that he said "bullshit". You're the author - either actually use the word, or get the character to say something else that isn't swearing! Really!

The reason this gets on my nerves so much is because violence (or whatever) does actually happen. I don't have a problem with writing a story that is happy and fluffy and has no violence; but writing a story that explicitly excludes violence on the grounds that "nice people shouldn't think about such things" is leaving people unprepared to deal with the world if they should ever encounter real-life violence. Nice people shouldn't only have opinions on nice things.

3) Good People Are Good

...and because they are good, they do good things, they have good thoughts, they watch good movies, and they agree about everything.

This leads to main characters who all have the exact same taste in food, movies, and everything else. It also means that, if you're trying to figure out who Our Heroes are likely to be (see: #1 in this list), you can just look at which people share the most opinions in common with the author.

I read a novel (actually pretty fun) set in Ancient Rome once: in a group of three doctors, one thought that sickness was the result of offending the gods, one thought it was due to an imbalance of the humours, and one thought it was due to teeny tiny little creatures spreading germs. Guess which one ended up being the protagonist?

4) The Book (new) Of The Film (old)

Particularly when it's a kids tv series.

I first discovered this when I was twelve. There was this brilliant tv show, and these brilliant books about the same kids! I watched two episodes, and then I read three of the books, then I saw a couple more episodes, then I read a few more books...

...and then I saw an episode. And read a book. And realised what they were doing.

You see, they had this awesome sequence on the tv show, that went something like this:
(Please note - the following sequence is totally made up out of my twisted imagination.)
Our Heroes are sneaking into the circus to stop the killer robots. First Mike runs cautiously across the ring; then Tammy.

Mike: "Tammy! I think I've spotted the robot overlord!"

Tammy: "Oh no! I think the robot overlord has spotted me!"

The robot overlord turns and fixes Tammy in its laser sights; Tammy screams; Mike picks up his portable supercomputer and starts hacking the overlord's systems...

And then the novel went something like this:
Tammy and Mike started sneaking into the circus to stop the killer robots. Mike ran cautiously across the ring. Then Tammy did.

Suddenly, Mike spotted the robot overlord. "Tammy!" he called, "I think I've spotted the robot overlord!"

Then the robot overlord turned and fixed Tammy in its laser sights.

"Oh no!" Tammy cried. "I think the robot overlord has spotted me!"

Tammy screamed. But Mike picked up his portable supercomputer and started hacking the overlord's systems...

It's exactly the same thing! Word for word!

Of course, it's not just restricted to kids books. I bought a new Agatha Christie novel once, only to find out that it was written by someone else, and adapted from one of her plays. That in itself wouldn't have been a problem, except that the novel writer clearly hadn't put much imagination into it. So the whole thing went:
(Also totally made up, and the strike outs are purely sarcasm.)
Sandra picked up her wine glass, and walked stage left across the room. Then she turned to face Andrew, and said in a challenging voice "Why do you suspect me of the murder?"
"I've already told you I don't," Andrew said. Then he moved upstage to the window...

You can't write like that. Books should work differently from stage performances, which work differently from tv shows, which work differently from epic poems, which work different from films, which work differently from interpretive dances - because they are different things. You can't just transpose stories word-for-word from one medium to another.

...this concludes today's ranting. Questions? Comments?

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deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)

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