6 Things That Ruin Books For Me

6. Too much exposition. Nothing makes my eyes glaze over and my mind wonder about they get fortunes inside fortune cookies like a downpour of exposition. I’m all about drawing the outline of the plot, giving hints and cliff edges of the world as we venture further into the story. I can forgive some exposition, but like everybody else, there is a point in which I need to be shown and not told. When a two page summary of the buttons on the Duke of Wellington’s coat is a little numbing, especially during a big battle and a nearby officer gets shot. I’m at my wit’s end wanting to hear the conversation. Which goes a little like this:

“I dare say sir, I’ve been shot.”

“By god man, so you have.”

“How about a quick tea before you see the doctor.”

“Absolutely sir. I’m feeling a bit peckish.”

There is just something that tickles my funny bone when stereotypical British dialog is afoot.

5. Endless Introspection. Another quick way to lose me as a reader is to have seemingly endless character introspection. I prefer story driven plots in the first place, so throwing in that extra character introspection for the plot is going to make me go cross-eyed. When a simple question sparks a fifteen page soul gaze, I’ll remember which book to use when I need kindling for a fire.

“What flavor of ice cream?”

I could tell by the way he asked what flavor of ice cream I wanted that he was tortured as a child like me. I wonder if it was the same way it happened to me. That one time in Jr. High when I was asked the fated question. That one simple question about ice cream made me realize people were selfish and self-absorbed. That loss of innocence standing at the counter of Baskin Robbins and their 31 flavors of heaven when everything I believed was ripped out of my heart to make way for somebody else’s preferences.

The day when….…….BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. IT HAS NO GOD DAMN RELEVANCE TO THE STORY!

4. Dishonest Enthusiasm. What I mean by this is a lack of care and love behind a writer’s work. If you don’t care and love the story you are writing, I’ll pick up on it as a reader and I’ll become uninterested. I’m sure everybody has read a story before and a little way through it realized it was flat. I have found, typically, this is caused by a lack of ‘giving a fuck’ in the writing.

Sherry went to the marketplace. She bumped into her ex-lover. The both looked at each other in surprise.

“Hi,” Sherry said.

“Hi,” Ron said.

Then they pushed their carts away and out of their lives again.

Stories like this become toilet paper in dire situations.

3. Shitty Pacing/foreshadowing. This has two edges that both equally piss me off. The first one is something akin to the entire book being explained in the first few chapters due to bad pacing, the rest of the book being completely superfluous, and then in the end we find out things could have been prevented early on and saved us moments off our life.

Chapter 1: Something bad is starting.

Chapter 2: Stop the bad thing from continuing.

Chapter 3: Fred down the street has the power to stop the bad thing, he just hasn’t done it yet. It is very obvious that he is going to.

Chapter 4-40: Random shit that isn’t necessary.

Chapter 41: Fred simply stops the bad thing, the end.

We knew in chapter 3 what was going to happen, it should have just happened and ended the story.

2. [INSERT SOMETHING IMPORTANT]. This is when you get through the entire book, just for the end to hit you with something never mentioned or alluded to before. For all intents and purposes, it is new information that up until the end had zero relevance to anything. When it is a series, this is a little different. For stand alone books, it is almost unforgivable. We spend the entire book getting to the volcano, to stop it spewing lava on the peaceful and tranquil land, just for our heroes to be cock-blocked by seemingly randomly inserted bullshit.

“Okay guys, here we are. Finally we made it to Mt. Nazi. It was a long journey and people died, but we made it.”

“What do we do now?”

“No idea, lets blow the top and cover this bitch.”

“Whoa there John, we need the Scepter of Explosion for that.”

“The what?”

“The Scepter of Explosion, it is hidden in the Marsh of Woes.”

“Really? We passed through there and you didn’t feel the need to mention this?”

“We must time travel to reach it.” 

Time travel was never mentioned before, neither was the Scepter of Explosion. We spent the entire length of the book just for something to be randomly inserted to make the story seem more interesting. You can’t polish a turd, no matter how much you rub it, or randomly place corn in it (random plot twists).

1. Unsupported and Thinly Veiled Opinions as Facts. This can come in the form of mouth foaming fervor against politics, religion, class status, etc. When somebody makes an argument or one-sided statement that is unsupported. These are the worse for me. I hate it when people write stories as vehicles for their own biases and prejudices without justifying them or offering any structured argument. They just simply read as rants with some basic story elements as flavor.

“Republicans/Democrats are idiots. They are self-absorbed clowns that are only out for themselves. They would do anything for money, even sell their grandmother’s wheelchair. They wake up in the morning and eat puppy sandwiches and kitten milkshakes. Then they drive a car that runs on panda tears and baby seal blood to get to their work.

If you are going to make a claim, no matter how wild it is, back it up or justify it with something. If your book is a giant metaphor for something current and relevant to our society, at least put the time in to make it sensible. Actually I’m not sure which is more insulting; Thinly veiled opinions or the assumption that because somebody makes a wild accusation in a story setting, people will eat it up.

Note: There are exceptions to everything, these 6 opinions of mine aren’t any different.

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One thought on “6 Things That Ruin Books For Me

  1. Aris says:

    Brilliant. I think you touched on every annoying thing in a book other than Mary Sues, but they’re so terrifying they need not be mentioned xD

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