My Pet Peeves as a Reader

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We probably all have habits that our loved ones tolerate and overlook. I’m aware of a few of mine that my wife endures. I suddenly have acquired a taste for sunflower seeds for some reason. I don’t have any explanation of how I developed this fetish. Other than breaking them out at the occasional baseball game, I’ve never had much interest before. I’ve noticed that I reach for the sunflower seeds lately when I’m writing. Since I’m typing more than I ever have, I’m going through a lot of bags.

Photo by Pete Springer

I’m not positive I know why she finds this repulsive, but I’m guessing it’s the noise from spitting into my cup. She has a similar reaction when I absent-mindedly pick at my fingernails or toenails. I’m not purposely trying to bother her, and I’ve learned to shut the door to the computer room when I grab the seeds.

My mind begins here because I’m thinking about my pet peeves as a reader. I know I’m guilty of using some in my writing. By recognizing what bothers me as a reader, my theory is that I will learn to avoid these same habits as a writer.

Pet Peeve #1—Implausibility This characteristic is a dealbreaker for me. I’m not referring to fantasy, science fiction, and make-believe worlds. I understand that characters don’t always act predictably, but their choices must be plausible, even if we wouldn’t make the same decision. As readers, we often put ourselves in a character’s shoes.  We become invested in our protagonist, imagining what they’ll do. I don’t mind poor or off-the-wall choices, but they must be believable, or the writer loses complete credibility.

For example, if a character’s residence is on fire, they may have a variety of responses:

  • Perhaps they make sure everyone else gets out safely first.
  • Maybe they’re selfish, and their only concern is their own survival.
  • Conceivably, there may be something of great sentimental value they attempt to grab before exiting, though some might call them crazy for doing so.
  • I can also accept a character panicking or making bizarre choices because they’re not thinking correctly. Instead of choosing an alternate exit, maybe the protagonist hurls a heavy object through a window to break the glass.
  • There are many other plausible responses, but the writer has lost me if a character makes an entirely illogical choice. A person will not fix themselves a bowl of cereal, plan their summer vacation, or read the newspaper when their dwelling is on fire. (Sounds like a sketch for Saturday Night Live.)
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Pet Peeve #2—Creating Perfect Characters Protagonists are far more fascinating and, once again, plausible if they are imperfect. Even heroes and heroines have faults. These don’t have to be significant character flaws but giving them failings can make them more compelling. What if the protagonist has a big ego, has trouble with punctuality, is socially awkward, or tends to make quick judgments of others? Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. Doesn’t that make us more curious about him? I love characters who face internal conflicts because that makes them more human.

At the same time, why not include some redeeming qualities in our villains? Consider giving them some traits that make them more likable, tolerable, or multi-dimensional. Wouldn’t we be intrigued by a villain who is also polite, environmentally conscious, or kind to the elderly?

Photo Credit to Pixabay

Pet Peeve #3—Stories That Travel at a Snail’s Pace Once I get started with a story, I usually finish it. I do make exceptions, though. Two of the qualities that keep us reading are action and suspense. The plot doesn’t have to be one long speed chase, but it does need to keep moving forward. I think it’s wise to make the action ramp up and tone down at certain stages. It’s also an excellent technique to have some interludes of calm mixed in with chapters full of excitement. I like to take a breath at some points, but there should be a reason to include each scene. At the same time, we need to make sure we include enough description that the reader has a clear image of the scene in their mind. I’m okay with the occasional red herring, but I always want the story to continue developing and moving forward. Meandering side trips that have nothing to do with the plot are merely distractions.

Photo Credit to Pixabay

Pet Peeve # 4—Inability to Communicate a Thought/Sentence with an Economy of Words I’ll preface this by saying this is the number one thing I struggle with as a writer. For weeks, I came back from my critique group with words crossed off by my colleagues. I still am guilty at times, but I am getting better at recognizing it. (Kathy Steinemann has some fabulous books on this topic as well as practice exercises on her blog.) https://kathysteinemann.com/Musings/ Excellent writers communicate their thoughts with precise vocabulary—not long sentences.

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Pet Peeve #5—A Satisfying Conclusion One aspect that can destroy a good read is a terrible ending. When I invest the time in a novel and have loved it throughout, I am thoroughly disappointed when the end feels rushed, implausible (there’s that word again), or leaves me with too many unanswered questions. Endings can be tricky because not every tale is going to end with “happily ever after.” I’m okay with that if the critical questions get answered. If too many go unaddressed, then I feel cheated. Some writers have a unique talent to leave room for reader speculation, but I don’t want to have more questions than answers when I get to the end.

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When I looked at my first children’s novel objectively and got the excellent opinions of my critique group and beta readers, I did what I warned about—rushed the ending and left too many questions unanswered. It wasn’t until I reworked it several times that I felt satisfied.

What about you as a reader? What are your pet peeves? While you’re contemplating that, I’m going to grab some more sunflower seeds. Please don’t tell my wife.

120 thoughts on “My Pet Peeves as a Reader

  1. My only pet peeve is the writer who writes only for themselves. As a reader I want the writer to write for me. Show me don’t tell me. Make it exciting, not academic. Sure I may figure out the ending but don’t make the story so convoluted that I’m lost in a maze. Clean and simple is what I like. If I want complex, I’ll read poetry. Great post Pete. I too, find eating sunflower seeds offputting.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 1, 2021 — 8:14 pm

      Excellent thoughts, John. As readers, we should be able to picture the scenes through the writer showing instead of telling us what’s going on.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. That’s the idea. 😁

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting! I agree with all your points! In particular, I enjoy leaving some things up to each individual reader to interpreter but yes, having more unanswered questions makes it feel a bit rushed and sloppy (and at the same time, things tied neatly into a bow at the end also doesn’t appeal to me either- those endings sometimes feel implausible).

    Confession #1. When I write I always need a beverage! At night, it’s a glass of wine or cider and in the day, it’s a hot cup of coffee. It makes me feel like I’m working and fixing to finish what I start! I have to tell you, I’ve had a lot less motivation to write and read these days… I’m in and out of this funk and I kind of have to pull myself out of it!

    As I am typing this, I am munching on some cheese and salami, and my first thought is “oh gosh I don’t want to get oily residue from my fingers onto my laptop! So I just have a paper towel nearby to wipe my fingers each time I nibble lol…

    Confession #2. I secretly (not sure why it’s secret but I don’t admit this a lot) dislike when books use names of characters that are hard to pronounce in my head while reading it. I end up butchering the name or I give them a different nickname but then it’s hard to connect to a character that I don’t feel like I can connect with… that’s a weird quirk of mine I think! While I like realistic characters (I don’t need every character named “Stacey” but something easy to pronounce or at least the writer somehow explains the pronunciation of the character’s name helps somewhat!

    Maybe I’m being too picky?? lol

    Liked by 5 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 1, 2021 — 8:26 pm

      Beverages are always involved for me too. Maybe I need a mini-refrigerator next to my computer with all of the eating and drinking that’s happening there. 😊 I don’t think you’re being picky with the names. Along those same lines, I don’t know why authors sometimes choose two character names that are so similar like Benny and Billy. (No, they’re not twins.)

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Or a cast of thousands in the first chapter or two. Or a cast list before the story starts. “What? You want me to memorize a bunch of names even before we get started? Am I doing a reading for a part in your play?”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. petespringerauthor November 21, 2021 — 11:49 am

        I don’t know that I’ve seen this, though I’m not sure it would bother me. Perhaps, like a glossary, it could be there for reference needed. I know that sometimes when I’m reading a novel, a name will appear that hasn’t been mentioned for 100 pages, and then I have to flip back and search, trying to find out who they are.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Sunflower seeds – still not sure why you’d want them in the shell, but that’s what makes life so great – we all have our own “sunflower seeds”! As for your post, I have followed a terrific series of thrillers, only to have the protagonist suddenly become stupid and clueless – the exact opposite of what he had been in the first 5 books in the series…why? Because the “mystery” to solve was nonsensical…two strikes!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 1, 2021 — 8:31 pm

      I know what you mean about characters who, out of the blue, suddenly exhibit abnormal characteristics. I’m a big mystery reader, but it’s a massive fail if the plot is not set up correctly. I should have also added predictability to my list because who wants to read something we’ve figured out in the first chapter.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I totally agree on imperfect characters. They are more interesting and probably more fun to write. After all, no one is perfect. However, I have to say that I love long sentences. Long, lyrical, flowing sentences made me want to keep reading. They made me want to write better. William Faulkner, Charles Dickens, John Irving are three of many great authors who have used long sentences. A good work of literary fiction, for me, has a lot to do with the sentences. I don’t enjoy a book unless I enjoy the sentences. I am talking about books for grownups here. Kids books are definitely the opposite. Concise and straightforward sentences for sure. I also don’t need all the loose ends tied up or all the questions answered. Sometimes the story is about the journey and the growth of a character not answers.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 1, 2021 — 8:40 pm

      One of the beauties of any creative endeavor (writing sure fits that) is that we all have our preferences. If the language adds to the enjoyment of the story, then I’m all for it. Some writers pull it off beautifully, but I also get the impression that others are attempting to show their audience how intelligent they are.

      The idea of crafting a story from beginning to end while trying to keep readers engaged is no small feat. I’m having fun trying something new. My limited experience in the past has been chiefly with short stories. You’ve got lots of time for reading, puzzles, and the other things you enjoy while the Doc is off hunting.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes some writers seem to like to throw big words and complex sentences around to show off. Not a fan of those guys.
        One of the reasons I only write blog posts now is because I no longer have the focus and struggle with engaging details for those longer projects. I hope you continue to enjoy your writing process. I know you find it very rewarding.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I share all of your pet peeves to some extent, but even more with the satisfaction of eating lightly salted, roasted sunflower seeds. There’s an art to eating them in just the right way so that you get the salt mixed up with the seed after you bite the shell open. Beware the calories though, they really do sneak up on you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 1, 2021 — 8:44 pm

      There’s always a catch. My suspicious antennae go up instantly when I’m enjoying any food. It usually means there is a ton of fat. It’s got to be the right kind of seeds and flavor for me. I don’t get any pleasure from eating watermelon.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. All your pet peeves are very legitimate.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 1, 2021 — 10:49 pm

      Maybe it’s just an excuse to complain.😎

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Putting them all in one post is the way to do it!👍

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Pete, I read your pet peeves with great interest. Number 5 is the one that annoys me the most and it is also the one I see the most often. I think a lot of writers don’t plan their ending and just don’t know how to finish their story properly. I can remember how disappointed I was when the ‘clown’ in IT turned out to be a spider. Yes, I know it was just the shape the alien took on earth, but … a spider!!! Number 4 is a modern thing. Victorian authors used long descriptions and sentences. The introductory sentence to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is very famous and it is a whole paragraph long … I’m just being contrary [smile].

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 1, 2021 — 10:56 pm

      I suppose if I haven’t enjoyed a book that much, to begin with, a substandard ending might not matter. On the other hand, I feel ripped off or cheated when I’ve enjoyed an entire book, and the conclusion falls flat or is disappointing. I may go back and amend my list by adding one more—predictability. I like surprises as long as they’re believable. If I already know where the author is going in the first few pages, I think that is a problem.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. A rushed ending can be a normal part of the drafting process I call “running out of gas.” The book coasts to the shoulder of the road and just stops. It should be addressed through revision.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 8:59 am

        I’m guessing that I’ll get better at pacing with more practice. In retrospect, I think one of the reasons I rushed my ending was that my word count was already high for a middle-grade book. Revisions are an excellent place for cutting and adding, depending on what the novel needs.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. The most important thing is that you recognize your own writing process and how it works, with the understanding that it’s completely normal.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Yes, I agree with you, Pete. It is the good books with poor endings I remember too. I also remember good books with good endings. A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway had been crying buckets.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. As a poet, the succinct use of words is a big deal to me. Of course, I expect the author to “set the scene”, but overly involved details of the physical environment can be daunting. I like my imagination to have a bit of room to breathe. Great post with something to learn for each of us!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:01 am

      No room for excess verbiage in poetry. Your precise word choices and vivid descriptions are some of your strengths as a writer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Pete! You are too kind.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Some great pet peeves. I think it is important to know what we don´t like as readers when we are writing our books. It is hard to write the end of a book and make sure the loose ends are tied up in a plausible way. I have found everyone´s idea of what is believable is different. Some people have said to me that it is unbelievable that a 12 year old would be allowed to go travelling without her parents. Well, I happen to know children at that age who do travel on their own. Of course there are always adults around in the background, airplane staff, aunts, uncles, teachers, friend´s parents etc. I also don´t like goody two shoes in stories and love it when they mess up too! A greta post. (and thank heaven for critique partners!)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:06 am

      Great point about what’s believable is different for all. We only have to watch our society in the last few years to observe that. Young people are much more world travelers these days as compared to when we were kids, Darlene. You don’t leave Amanda and her friends out on an island by themselves; adults are always nearby.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Your pet peeves are on point, Pete. A rushed ending is such a letdown. I am with John too, in don’t tell me how to feel. I don’t like it happening in life or in books. I can get ratty! 🙂 Enjoy your seeds, my go-to when writing is coffee.. ❤ to you both. Xxx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:12 am

      It is condescending when authors tell us how to feel. One of the lessons parents need to learn is that independent kids think much the same way. We aren’t doing them any favors by trying to solve all their problems.

      I am enjoying your advice column, Jane. It’s also neat to get the male and female perspectives in your and Tim’s responses.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’ve just talked about parenting and how ‘hands off’ we need to be, Pete. We agree with you.

        Thank you for your kind comment. We never stop learning do we? Much love to you both. ❤ Xxx

        Like

  11. Some excellent peeves Pete… I particularly don’t like endings in a stand alone novel that leaves me hanging.. not so much if there is one or two loose ends if it is a book in a series. Implausible characters in books, films and dramas also irritate me. As to the sunflower seeds.. apart from the salted roast flavour.. perhaps your body is telling you that you need zinc…x

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:18 am

      I’ll pay attention to my zinc levels the next time I have my bloodwork done. You would know better than me about that, Sally.

      When I was writing my book, I kept wrestling back and forth about making it a stand-alone or part of a series. In the end, I compromised by leaving enough room to start another book in the series if I chose to do so. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the freedom to create a fresh story with new characters.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Great Pete…and once you have received feedback for the first I am sure that will guide your decision…x

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I try my best to approach each book I read on its own terms because not all genre conventions are the same. A pet peeve I do have is when dialog is used for exposition that should be the job of the narrator. Deal-breakers for me are overuse of what my dad used to call The Great American Adjective (a four-letter word beginning with ‘f’.) Consistently incorrect grammar (outside of dialog) is also a deal-breaker.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:26 am

      We’ve had this precise discussion regarding dialogue in my critique group. Characters don’t always use correct grammar, which gives a writer more freedom. I had never heard the term “Great American American Adjective ” before. Swearing becomes such a habit that I wonder if people are aware that it has become a part of every sentence they utter.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Again, according to my dad, overuse of The Great American Adjective indicates a paucity of vocabularly. Something similar happens with standup comics. Instead of developing a routine that is genuinely perceptive and funny, they think sprinlking in some f-bombs will make whatever they say inherently funny. Sorry, dude, you’re gonna have to do better than that.

        Like

  13. Those sunflower seeds are good for you! Regarding what works for us as readers, I also do not like rushed endings. I also dislike too many characters, bad spelling and grammar, repeated words and plot holes.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:30 am

      Writing’s pitfalls can drag down the enjoyment of a book. Repeated words—good call, Stevie. I laugh to myself when I see the repeated use of rare words. It makes them stand out like a sore thumb.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They’ve trolled through the thesaurus, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:37 am

        I read a book recently where the author fell in love with the word “inconsequential.” Everything in his life was “inconsequential.” It got to the point where I wondered if the author was purposely messing around.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Lol! That reminds me of newsreaders during the pandemic; everything has been ‘unprecedented’. I’m mightily sick of that word.

        Liked by 3 people

  14. I agree with all of these, but I especially relate to Pet Peeve #4. I tend to be extremely wordy and find that I have to cut a huge percentage of them in editing. I like that phrase “economy of words.” I also need a satisfying conclusion to any story I read. These are great. Thank you for sharing, Pete!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:35 am

      I’ve read books and watched movies that were absolutely brilliant right up until the conclusion. It’s a huge letdown when that happens. I sometimes wonder if a writer looks back years later and regrets the choices they made.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I’m with you on all of those, but definitely with your wife when it comes to sunflower seeds. Just, why? I now have this vision of you with seeds permanently stuck between your teeth, or maybe they fall out when you bend down to play with your feet? Keeping that door shut sounds very sensible 😂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 1:31 pm

      I’ll admit it’s not a great habit. Somehow I rationalize it by telling myself, I don’t smoke, chew tobacco, use drugs, or drink more than the occasional beer. It’s funny how we leave these loopholes for ourselves.😊 My wife doesn’t really do anything that I find particularly annoying.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess on balance the one quirk isn’t too bad – or three, if you count seeds, fingers and toes. It’s very unsporting of your wife not to provide you with anything for a retaliation though 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 1:45 pm

        Maybe I should tell her that I’m looking for a woman with some annoying habits. 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That may backfire 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I read a ghost novel where I think someone inherited a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere that most of us would not spend a single night after immediately sensing lots of things were strange. So they moved in and put their poor little toddler and baby by themselves in the freezing attic bedroom ….

    Liked by 5 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 1:37 pm

      That’s a perfect example of illogical behavior. There’s a commercial on American television these days of some frightened young adults. One of them says, “Quick, let’s go hide in the garage behind the chain saws.” The next shot is of the serial killer inside the garage shaking his head at their stupidity. 🤣

      Liked by 3 people

  17. I’m not keen on overwriting, when it feels like the writer has to prove how clever they are at describing something, such as a place or an emotion. Of course this could just be me expressing my lack of the grasp of someone’s skill or craft, but I find I lose attention quickly. George Orwell once wrote a great essay on the simplicity of writing (that I’m too lazy to look up right now!) but in it he basically says there is a strength in the simplicity of writing.

    Fortunately it’s rare that I come across a book or novel I don’t enjoy and get something good from it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 1:43 pm

      I’ve seen the Orwell essay. He preached honesty and unpretentiousness. His philosophy was “never choose a long word when a short word will do.” I disagree with that philosophy at times, but why choose vocabulary that most of your readers have never heard?

      Liked by 2 people

  18. great post, Pete, Do you think you became more aware of your pet peeves once you became a writer?

    I’d have to go with the peeve of reading a book that I thought was great all the way up to a disappointing ending. Maybe it’s just hard to have book be great from start to finish…

    I know that blogging and snacking go hand in hand for me; I would imagine it is even more tempting when trying to write a book.

    and that first protagonist you mention in pet peeve #2 sounds a bit like me… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 1:53 pm

      I read books differently now since I’ve started writing. Before, I read merely for pure enjoyment (not a bad reason), but now I pay more attention to the way each author executes a tale because I’m at the point where I want to know why something does or doesn’t work.

      Since we all have our imperfections, it’s nice when the characters do as well. As we’ve discussed before, some faults don’t change our opinions of others, while some are a bridge too far. I think the same is true for story characters.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. each time you write about your book, I get more excited about when I will be able to read it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 5:36 pm

        This is a long process. At the children’s writing conference I attended, they said to expect two years before ever seeing your book in print. That’s assuming I am lucky enough to find a publisher. It requires a fantastic amount of faith and perseverance, but we Springers don’t give up easily. You may run circles around Cal Ripken’s record by the time it actually happens.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I pretty much agree with all your pet peeves – wouldn’t be snarfing down sunflower seeds though! My main peeve is readability – I hate having a book to review that I am forced to slog through because of generally poor syntax. Too much telling and not enough showing is also an irritant!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 2:00 pm

      I didn’t know that sunflower seeds were offensive to so many people. I imagine it’s the spitting and not the seeds themselves. I guess I’ll have to continue to do my thing in private or give it up. It is one of those odd things I began during Covid, which is a terrible excuse when I think about it.😎

      Ah, readability. Most certainly, it will affect our enjoyment when we have to work hard to understand the writer. One of my bosses was a brilliant man, but his writing skills in his emails left a lot to be desired.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I agree with all these, Pete, especially #5. I hate rushed endings. Ambiguous ones too, unless the writer plans a series and leaves the ending open. My other pet peeve is head-hopping. It takes skill to pull off omniscient POV, but when a writer changes POV within a paragraph or even a scene, that’s a no-no for me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 5:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Joan. I know exactly what you mean about head-hopping. I’ve read books where the author pulls it off skillfully, but others turn into a confusing mess where it’s hard to understand who’s head you’re in. Changing points of view in the middle of a scene or paragraph—sounds like a recipe for disaster.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Like those commenters before me, I agree: Great post! I think the one that bothers me the most is that of the ‘rushed’ ending that ends up being not in line with the rest of the book/story/tone/even voice of the characters involved…I honestly think the writer has ‘given up’ on me, the novel, the characters, her/his passion by succumbing to the temptation to just ‘get it done and over with at any cost.’ That said, I can understand the frustration that might have contributed to that scenario…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 5:48 pm

      After writing a novel of fiction, I’ve got a greater appreciation for how much skill it takes to craft a good book. Some flaws are more forgivable than others, but a poor ending is not of them. I don’t want to get invested in a novel to have my hopes dashed in the end. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Laura.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Based on this post, it seems like you are learning a lot about the craft, Pete. Writing fiction is an entirely different ballgame than memoir or non-fiction and it is a world I’m not familiar with, except from reading the rare novel. Having a critique group is crucial, especially for those pesky pet peeves we have about other people’s books. 🙂

    My biggest pet peeve would be typos. I cringe when I spot too many of them and it distracts me from the story. Again, these are hard to detect in your own writing, so I can’t be too hypocritical about that and I have to learn to glance over those mistakes, despite having been a teacher, editor, and proofreader as past professions. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 7:42 pm

      I agree that typos leave a bad impression. They create the belief that someone is uneducated, even if that is not the truth. Perhaps it’s part of my teacher’s genetics, but I’m curious how someone can let those slip by.

      I like to learn, which is part of the fun of trying fiction. Every week I leave my critique group grateful to have learned a few new things about writing. I’m lucky to have such great teachers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lucky, or you picked the right group and are open to constructive criticism. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 8:08 pm

        It certainly helps to check one’s ego at the door. It’s easy when working with those who share a goal. I get as invested in my partners’ projects nearly as much as my own.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. I hate, hate, hate writers that think they have to describe every little thing. Let me know your protagonists is tall if you like and even that he has blue eyes, but please don’t describe the pattern his freckles make or how he ties his bright blue shoe lace. Make sure you leave something to my imagination. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 2, 2021 — 9:59 pm

      Especially when we’re at a suspenseful and dramatic part of the story. If someone is breaking into the house, keep the tension going. I don’t need to hear about his bright blue shoelaces and patterned freckles then.🤣

      Sounds like we might be neighbors, Rosie. From looking at your blog, it appears you might be from Mendocino. My wife and I are retired educators living in Humboldt.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not quite neighbors. I live in Antelope, a suburb of Sacramento. I wish I lived in Mendocino. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 8:57 am

        I attended the Spring Spirit event with SCBWI in Citrus Heights a couple of years ago, so I’m familiar with Antelope.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. I suppose it’s a subset of the believable character point . I dislike modern mores being imposed on characters when the setting is say 1950 or 60. Read say James Bond and he’s an amoral misogynistic racist. Yet he’s of his time. Similarly Huck Finn or Mr D’Arcy are naturally flawed by today’s mores. Yet read a book written now but set back then and the writer may make their hero avoid such traps. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading such a work…. A comprehensive list… well done Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 9:02 am

      Great points, Geoff. How about the scenario where a character from an earlier era is using some form of technology that hasn’t been invented yet.—just a bit of a forward thinker,🤣

      Like

  25. I think most of us agree with your “pet peeves” Pete for me the ending is as important as the opening words of a novel we need to be intrigued enough to carry on reading maybe guessing the ending at some point…I love it when I am wrong especially if it surprises and delights me…but that’s the same with films as well they go along at a cracking pace and then like damp squib they fizzle out…:) x

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 9:13 am

      Guessing the ending is part of the fun of reading. It’s the basis for every “whodunit.” Unpredictable endings are the best as long as they aren’t totally illogical. I love stories that have planted subtle clues ahead of time. Just don’t ask me to believe that a housecat travels through the desert and brings the victim’s cellphone to him so that he can call 911. 🤣

      Liked by 2 people

  26. what i’ve learned to do when reading something that ticks me off or isn’t interesting to me, is just stop reading it. i give myself permission to not finish every book or piece i read if it doesn’t hold my interest. life is way to short and there are so many opportunities to find things that i enjoy reading, rather than suffering through something.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 9:18 am

      That sounds like the prudent move, but I usually plod on unless the plot is terribly dull. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a blind spot with me. My wife is the type of person who will walk out of a terrible meal, and I’m the goofball who hangs on, hoping that dessert will make up for it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. i do have that philosophy about most things, but for some reason in the book arena, i just move on – i certainly can identify with your optimism, though

        Liked by 1 person

  27. This is a great list, Pete, and I couldn’t agree more with these pet peeves. Villains that are pure evil are boring to me, as well as heroes without any flaws. And a character must make plausible choices and take plausible actions. Rambling tangents and wordiness were definitely things that I struggled with as a new writer and my critique group, like yours, was very instructive with their red pens! Lol. One thing that you didn’t list that bothers me is terrible editing. I can easily forgive a few typos or grammar issues, but a book full of mistakes seems sloppy to me. I used to read every book to the end, but stopped doing that about ten years ago. There are just way too many good books out there. Why use my limited time to read one I don’t enjoy. Great post.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 9:33 am

      I want to take those poorly edited books out back and shoot them. 😉 I’m a bit of a grammar nerd. (Just what every party needs. 🤣) I suppose that’s part of the educator in me coming out. At the same time, I’m aware of my limitations. I didn’t take shortcuts writing my first book, but my one regret was that I didn’t have it professionally edited—never again. (I cringe now when I look at my excessive use of adverbs.)😲 Extra pairs of eyes that are trained to look for those things are a necessity. It would be like thinking I know more than a mechanic because I know how to put gas in a car.

      Your writing is beautiful, Diana. I’m betting a lot of that is a combination of talent and experience. Have you worked with the same editor for a long time?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I try my best, Pete, but like you, I was a member of a wonderful critique group for years. Those writers taught me more than I can possibly say. And we all get better with time and practice. Just write write write, and no short cuts. I’m looking forward to your next book. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  28. I fully agree with John, but why not eating sunflower seeds? 😉 Honestly not mine, but here in the region there are people who eat beef stomachs, as a specialty. Lol xx Michael

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 10:55 am

      It is interesting how we find certain foods and habits more disgusting than others, Michael. I suppose that’s what makes life so interesting. It would be an awfully dull existence if we were all the same. Thanks for being so supportive and for all of the reblogs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thats true, Pete! If we were all the same, we would act like the incestuous nobiles in the archaic times, and would have to fight against another every minute. Lol xx Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  29. You’ve certainly hit a nerve with this one, Pete! I’m with you on pretty much all of this and anyone starting out writing would do well to make themselves familiar with this list. Good luck with the publishing! x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 12:58 pm

      Everyone’s list will be different, and I respect that others may have other peeves just as valid. I think my overall point is that writing is a developmental process that goes on forever. There is no “I’ve reached the pinnacle moment” because there’s always something to learn. I had a similar philosophy as an educator. We have to be willing to put ourselves out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Me, I hate spitting. I had to get a COVID test before coming in the hospital -the saliva one- and I nearly threw up several times. Can’t you buy the pre-shelled kind?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 4:37 pm

      I can, but there’s some kind of pleasure in breaking something open. I know it sounds goofy—perhaps it’s a guy thing. Give me a hammer and let me smash something. 😄 I’m thinking of those remodeling shows on television where the people seem to take pleasure in taking out a wall. (assuming they have someone there who knows what they’re doing.🤣)

      I don’t know too many women who eat sunflower seeds. I can see you now, Chel—A new baby in your arms while you’re shooting seeds out across the room. 🤣🤣🤣

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure my spitting seeds would go over so well at this COVID-sensitive hospital. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  31. Great share Pete. I’m especially with you on 3, 4, and 5. I like meat and a lead up to something. Flowery prose is not my thing, reading or writing. Kathy’s series is fantastic! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 3, 2021 — 4:42 pm

      My writing style is more like yours. Many people can pull off the flowery prose, but I’m better at humor than description. I’ll keep working on it because I know it’s important. When I look at my fiction writing objectively, I can see it is an area I need to improve upon.

      Kathy is someone I’d love to have as a writing coach. She articulates concepts with clear examples.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. With you on the humor Pete. And writing nonfiction is a different animal than fiction when it comes to flowery prose. 🙂 I agree with you on Kathy as a coach!

        Liked by 2 people

  32. You’ve created a lot of buzz here, as usual! All of your pet peeves became issues when I wrote my memoir. One in particular I remember is Pet Peeve #2—Creating Perfect Characters. Actually, the opposite was true for me: “creating too imperfect characters. One of my developmental editors chided me for making my dad such a villain. “Tell the reader some good qualities,” she said.

    Your writing shines. Eat more sunflower seeds, Pete!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 4, 2021 — 9:10 am

      Hmm. Not sure that I agree with your developmental editor on this one, particularly if you’re speaking of your memoir. The people in our lives are who they are. Isn’t that what love is, to accept others as they are?

      Like so many things in my life, I find a connection to my years as an educator. When I conducted parent/teacher conferences, I always tried to include some positive traits of each student (even the children who had very few things to be positive about) and then balanced that with areas to work on. In a sense, I think we’re all works in progress.

      I can hardly wait to tell my wife that you think I need to keep eating my sunflower seeds.🤣

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Pete, I didn’t sugar-coat my dad, but my editor suggested that I make him a more “round” character by including some positive interactions rather than depicting him as wholly an evil man, because he wasn’t. (Walks in nature with me, love for music, etc.)

        Liked by 1 person

  33. I’m late commenting, Pete, because I wanted to take time to read all the comments. It’s interesting to compare writers-as-readers’ peeves with some of the rules I see in advice to writers blog posts. It looks like rushed endings, too much description, and typos are the big 3. I agree with you that all scenes have to contribute to the plot. I’ve just cut a couple from my WIP that were just side trips.
    I used to love sunflower seeds in the shell, but somehow lost interest in them. They’re best in outdoor settings, if spitting out the shells is your thing. I’m sure you don’t do that in the house, though!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 4, 2021 — 10:12 pm

      I realize some of my peeves are things I’m still working on in my writing. That should mean I’m more aware of these deficiencies when I see them. I’d like to think that I’m improving by being more aware of them. As one of the better writers in my group says, “I’ve been doing this (writing) forever, and I’m still learning.” I like his attitude.

      I can’t explain my sudden fixation with sunflower seeds. I suppose it’s like some people’s needs to have coffee or smoke a cigarette. I’ll admit it’s not the best habit, but I justify it by thinking I do some of my best writing then. This is pretty disgusting, but I spit them into a cup while I’m typing.😝

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are worse habits than sunflower seeds. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  34. You hit a nerve with #4. As a hopeful children’s book author, using few words is key. Making those fewer words have the same impact on the reader is difficult. I enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine when I write. A sunflower seed fetish is interesting, Pete. Yes, close the door when you write. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 5, 2021 — 7:16 am

      “Interesting”—read between the lines, buddy.🤣 I close the door a lot, though I’m very conscious about sending my wonderful wife the wrong message. It may be time to spit my last seed. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Like you, I can’t stand when a writer drags on about the color of the paint for pages. Get to the point, already! Sex scenes thrown in just for the sake of adding word count annoy me, as well. If the characters are invested in each other and the situation warrants an emotional scene, okay. Otherwise, there are other ways to show love.
    When the characters spend half the book driving from point A to point B to A again or eating this that and the other thing (sunflower seeds notwithstanding :)) it makes the book clunky and I end up browsing or worse yet, tossing it aside.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 5, 2021 — 11:17 am

      Great examples, Jacquie! Get us to where we’re going without a bunch of fluff. That reminds me of what we used to say when we were kids. “Are we almost there yet?”😊

      By the way, I want full credit for your next novel—The Man Who Refused to Give Up His Seeds.🤣

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol, that has a few connotations 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  36. these are all great ones — mine is when extraneous stuff is added that doesn’t propel the story forward…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 5, 2021 — 11:19 am

      Right! The one question that can’t be asked enough is “How does this advance the story?” If we can’t justify it, then it’s got to go.

      Liked by 2 people

  37. Interesting read! I agree that a terrible ending is super deflating

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 7, 2021 — 9:59 pm

      Right! Who wants to invest hours in a great read, only to be let down in the end? Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

      Like

  38. Brilliant pet peeves, Pete – I agree with all of them. I hate long stories and long movies – unless there’s a very good reason for the length. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor November 8, 2021 — 7:37 am

      I typically finish what I start, but I will make an exception for long books or movies. If I’m going to invest a lengthy amount of time, the product better deliver. I think pacing becomes the most significant challenge then because it can’t all be one long thrill ride, yet who wants to be put to sleep?

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Tarot of the Missing November 8, 2021 — 7:17 am

    I completely agree on the pet peeves. The perfect characters one especially. Humans can’t relate to those types of characters because they aren’t nature in terms of what reality is really like. Nice work on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor November 8, 2021 — 8:04 am

      It’s hard to put ourselves in others’ shoes if we can’t identify them. Since we all have our flaws and challenges, our characters should be engaging in the same respect. Multi-dimensional characters are often the most intriguing. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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