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Friday, July 16, 2010

More Author Insight: Fiction Pet Peeves

NOTE: Sorry this post is very late. Life took over today as it sometimes does and this post got away from me.

What is your biggest pet peeve in fiction writing?

"When I read it, I get irritated by things that are shocking, just to be shocking. Or really anything that feels forced. It's transparent." - Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List.

"Ham-handed symbols. As Stephen Sondheim wrote, “Give us a break, Mr. Shephard!”" - Jessica Leader, author of Nice and Mean.


"Thinking YA means 'dumbing down.'" - Dawn Metcalf, author of Skin & Bones.

"Main characters that could qualify as 'Too Stupid to Live.' I can forgive a lot of things—a plot hole, cheesy declarations of love, stock characters—but if the main character doesn’t fly with me, the rest of the book doesn’t fly. A protagonist doesn’t have to be the bravest or the smartest or even the kindest, but if they’re constantly throwing themselves in harm’s way, or the plot is only moving along because they’re doing that, then I eventually start rooting for the other team to win. The other team being Death." - Alexandra Bracken, author of Brightly Woven.

"Too much coincidence." - Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting.

"I don’t like love interests to be too perfect. I like some of the awkwardness and silliness of love to make it into the book. There’s a scene in The Secret Year where the main characters joke around about frogs, of all things, and another spot where Julia complains about Colt tracking mud into her car. There’s a scene where Colt is getting over the flu and coughs in Julia’s ear when she calls him. I like those little unglamorous details." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

"Anything that's boring." - Janet Fox, author of Faithful.

 "Nothing irks me more than to pick up a book that's a rehash of the same tired tropes. There are no more original ideas, I know, but some are certainly trying harder than others." - Lisa Mantchev, author of the Theater Illuminata series.

"I hate it when I get this totally amazing idea in the middle of the night, and it's like whoa, it's all the muses and all the gods speaking directly into my head. Then I fall asleep, and can't remember any of it when I wake up. My dreams have eaten my best ideas." - Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer.

"Coincidence. It just feels very contrived. I know of one extremely successful adult author who makes me crazy when things just 'work out' or "happen coincidentally" in her books." - Shari Maurer, author of Change of Heart.

"My biggest pet peeve is over-the-top angst in teen fiction. I’m a fantasy writer and a fantasy reader, so obviously I don’t usually read that type of book, but when I do, I quickly get tired of characters feeling sorry for themselves." - Riley Carney, author of The Fire Stone.

"Bad boy/good girl couples in teen books." - Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy.

"Things not adding up. There has to be a motivation for characters to act certain ways, or for specific events to occur. Sometimes when I read a book, something random comes into the story and throws me off guard. This can be done well, and work in a good way. But if there aren’t some clues or motivators, it makes me a little crazy." - Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites.

"Formulaic story lines used because they're basically a "sure" bet for success. " - Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of Sisters.

"When a complicated book makes you wonder all the way through, 'HOW is this going to end,' and you are expecting something big and wonderful and completely unimaginable and then, it's just a big - WHAT!?!?" - Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn.

"Getting stuck." - Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King.

"Dumbed down language, especially for teens." -Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic.

Make sure you stop by on Tuesday to learn what the authors say they absolutely have to get right to make their stories believable.


  1. really interesting article, thanks for sharing!

  2. TSTL characters are the WORST! Oh my god. As a reader, I HATE that. Hate it. Give me a brillz character any day please. :-)

  3. I love hearing insights from authors this is a great post ^_^.

  4. This is my favorite question yet!

  5. Oh my gosh I love that I found your blog today! What a great question to ask and what great authors you snagged! I'm definitely following you and most certainly coming back to your blog for more fun posts!!!

    The dumbing down answer was great... Those who haven't read YA just happen to be ignorant when they say comments such as these!!