Posted by: Trisha Leigh | April 18, 2011

I Would Leave You at the Altar for Justin Timberlake and Other Facts of Life

Peeve is a fun word. I love that J.K. Rowling named her poltergeist Peeves because seriously, how perfect is that?

I have some pet peeves about movies, books, and television shows. If these situations and/or characters crop up, it makes me want to A) scream B) throw something C) scream and throw something.

Not that I would ever actually do such a thing.

Here are some of my personal pet peeves when it comes to writing:

1 – One character has been in love with another character forever and chooses their wedding (or immediately before their wedding) to confess their love. The person being confessed to cancels their wedding to run off with old love. (Almost no one in real life has the balls to leave someone at the altar. Not to mention if they’ve proposed to another woman/accepted a proposal from another man, they are probably in love or have convinced themselves they are).

2 – The reader is completely aware of a plot twist, but the characters are not. Every time they come close to learning the truth something happens to keep them in the dark for longer. (Annoying and insulting to my intelligence as the audience. I prefer you utilize an actual plot to keep my attention instead of the same OMG ARE THEY GOING TO FIND OUT NOW game in an endless loop).

3 – A nerdy girl is immediately hot as soon as she takes off her glasses and lets her hair down. (Nuff said).

4 – Teenagers that spout from poetry, Shakespeare, or classic novels as though they have these things memorized. (I’m not saying referencing said material is wrong, and in fact I do it too. Teenagers can enjoy reading Shakespeare and poetry and Jane Austen, but for the love of all that’s holy most people do not communicate by quoting classic prose).

5 – When one single conversation could clear up every misunderstanding between characters but instead we break up/run away/fight wars over a conflict that doesn’t exist. (If sh*t is going to hit the fan, it should be for an actual reason with actual consequences. Ex: The entire last half of Breaking Dawncould have been avoided. The Volturi were presented as rational throughout the entire series. If Edward and Bella took their daughter – who had a beating heart the Volturi would have heard from 500 yards away – they would have not had to amass a war and there could have been more happy vampire sex).*

You're welcome for this photo, ladies. And gentlemen, if that's your preference. 🙂

What this all boils down to is this: I want characters and stories to feel real, which means I shouldn’t be 100% percent sure what’s going to happen next. I should be able to guess what someone is going to say, or how they’re going to react. If you showed up the night before my wedding and asked me to run off with you, I probably wouldn’t do it (there are a few notable exceptions to this, Justin Timberlake included). I love Shakespeare. Like, love. But if you quoted it at me during a normal conversation I would look at you like you’d lost your mind (unless it was an obviously famous quote). I still look hot whether I have glasses and a ponytail or not.

You get the point.

*I recently realized I reference Twilight quite a bit on my blog. I’m always quick to tell you how much I enjoyed the series, because I did. I use those books because the majority of my readers have probably read them and can relate to the examples.

What are some of your pet peeves, or plots you can’t stand that seem to be recycled in film and in print?

What I’m watching right this minute: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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Responses

  1. All your peeves make sense. I see their peevedness and am equally peeved. Peeved (all done with writing peeved).

    I think my issues with books are more with characters. I. hate. whiney. characters. I also dislike the author telling me so and so is this way over and over again when I’m able to see it just fine.

    Great post, Trisha. Love you lots.

    • The telling seems to be a running theme with people, which I find interesting since as aspiring writers “show don’t tell” is beaten into our brains. Also, I hate whiny everyone, characters or real people.

  2. Agree with your peeves and Peeves! Well-said.

    Like Harley, I hate when books TELL me instead of show me. I recently reviewed a book in which I was told repeatedly how courageous and brave the heroine was and yet… she really never did anything all that brave (IMHO).

    I also hate when a subplot drags on. And on. And on some more. It becomes a daytime soap opera. Just resolve it already and move on!

    My latest peeve is in mystery/suspense novels when the MC-slash-amateur detective spends pages after page asking herself the same obvious questions. “Why did Character 1 do X? Who killed so-and-so?” Yeah, we kind of all want to know the answers to these questions – that’s why we’re reading.

    • I hear you on the soap opera thing, Patty. I recently decided not to keep reading a series for that very reason!

  3. DUDE. NUMBER THREE ALL THE WAY.

    I also get peeved if something bad happens to a certain character, and they use it as an excuse to be whiny/do messed up things for waaaaaay too long, like multiple seasons long. I felt that a little bit towards Dawn in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (one of my very favorite shows ever) and it took me a long while to really LIKE her.

    That, and how people in movies/TV NEVER SAY BYE WHEN THEY HANG UP THE PHONE. WHAT’S WITH THAT!?

    • Yes, Dawn rubbed me the wrong way for SO LONG, agreed. And right? Girls who wear glasses are totally hot! 😉

  4. Wait. I want to see you in glasses before I concede anything … oh, what am I saying? Of course you look hot in glasses too.

    One of my pet peeves is good sex in thrillers and mysteries. It is rare that it’s not simply a sidetrack or distraction. The problem is good sex isn’t a problem. It doesn’t advance the plot. If I want to read good sex, I’ll read erotica — which will almost always do it much better than even the best thriller writers anyway. Or romance, where the good sex is good and the bad sex is better.

    That said, I do like bad, awkward, embarrassing sex in thrillers and mysteries. Bad, awkward, embarrassing sex creates problems and can either advance the main plot or introduce intriguing subplots. That’s good.

    (Mind, I don’t mind if the characters HAVE good sex. But I’ll probably skip over it if it doesn’t happen off-camera.)

    • I’m going to let Linda’s response stand in for mine on the sex comment, Bill. Then again, awkward embarrassing sex can be amusing to read, also. I’m curious where you would put the Pete/RJ sex from Lost Dog on this sliding scale…

  5. I agree completely with Patti and the overuse of questions in mysteries and thrillers. Not only does it insult the reader, but I think it also shows a lack of faith in the author’s own ability to convey the story.

    I catch myself trying to do that same peeve in my own writing sometimes. Most of the time I recognize it and strangle myself with the geeky chic’s pony tail holder until either the lights go dim or I wise up. Other times…

    • A lot of comments (including my own) regarding insulting the intelligence of our readers. Something to remember, methinks, even though sometimes its hard when you really, really want to be sure something gets through!

  6. I just can’t believe you’d leave me at the altar for Justin Timberlake. I thought I meant more to you than that. *sobs*

    And Bill…I can’t believe you like bad sex better than good sex. That’s like preferring turkey bacon to the real thing.

    Frankly, I’m leaving here today a little disillusioned…

    HA! Just kidding.

    My pet peeve is over-explanation by the author. It’s like some writers are so afraid you’re not going to interpret the plot events exactly as they want you to that they spell out every freaking detail. Just trust the readers, for Pete’s sake. If a few of them don’t get what you mean, so be it. It’s better than annoying the majority of intelligent readers who WILL get it without being clubbed over the head.

    • Preferring turkey bacon to the real thing – VERY NICE. I thought turkey bacon wasn’t bad until I visited my aunt and woke up to the smell of real bacon and OMG it’s not the same thing at all. Over-explaining is annoying when I’m reading and sometimes hard to avoid when I’m writing. It’s tempting to just want to make sure, especially if its a point that’s particularly important to the plot, a character (or the author 😉


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