Monday, April 11, 2011

What ruins a read for you?

Lately the writing blog world has been frequently focusing on the annoying problems we encounter in our own writing: too many adjectives, using "smiled" too much, and so forth. Today, I'm focusing on a similar topic.

As a reader, what annoys you? What problems do you encounter that pull you from the story and, essentially, ruin the read?

They may be the same things. In fact, I read one LDS novel where all the characters "noted" everything. No one "said" anything, they were too busy noting. And it drove me insane.

But usually, as a reader, my complaints aren't quite so specific to one word or phrase (let's face it, we judge our own writing harsher than other people's). Here are some of the things that bug me or "ruin a read" for me.

*Dialect. Oh, how frustrating to have to wade through long paragraphs of Cajun speak. A reader is forced to dissect each sentence to understand what the characters are trying to say. For me, it's too much work to ask of the everyday reader. My current WIP has several Scottish characters, and I'll admit, at times, I was tempted to do all their dialogue in true Scottish words--I'd researched it for heaven sakes! But in the end, I only utilized a few sentences here and there.

*Foreign names. I hope this doesn't sound prejudice, but if I can't pronounce a foreign name, it becomes very distracting while I read. Last year I read a novel about a Korean family. There were probably 8 characters with traditional Korean names. I absolutely could not keep the characters straight and I finished the book not really knowing who did what. I don't know how to remedy this because many wonderful books include foreign names. Maybe I'm just not the target audience for this type of book.

*Overuse of big words. A book I read early this year had a character with an impressive vocabulary. He would regularly spout long streams of sentences that most readers wouldn't understand at all. Now, this was a great book, but I often found myself skimming over any dialogue from that character. This extensive vocab was paramount to that character's image, so it was essential, but still, it often took me away from the story.

What takes you out of a story? What bothers you or "ruins a read" for you?


Chantele Sedgwick said...

Frequent swearing. Like swearing just to swear. I don't mind if there are a few curses here and there, and if it's part of the character. (Unless they say the F word multiple times.) The authors that use swearing just for the shock factor sort of bug me. :)

Jolene Perry said...

WHen the characters do something out of character. Makes me CRAZY - especially because it usually feels like it was done simply to further the plot.

Melanie Jacobson said...

The name thing is distracting to me, too. And funnily enough, I'm writing a book with Cajun characters in it right now (totally true) but I will "note" your concerns and avoid dialect.