Bad & unnecessary sex scenes I don’t like a sex scene for the sake of a sex scene; it needs to move the plot forward, it needs to show us something about the characters, so they’ve learned something or are different afterwards. Jordan Castillo Price has a theory that all sex scenes is actually about something other than sex: power, distraction, revenge etc. So I’m not a fan of PWP (plot what plot) books – essentially a string of sex scenes one after another, with very little plot or characterisation to hold it all together. If that's your thing, all power to you, but it doe
Too much description - skip to the dialogue & action I find classic books difficult to read for exactly this reason. I cannot get on with Dickens or Hardy. I don’t want three pages of description about how much of a hovel the house they’re in is, or the bucolic view from the window across the field, with the pub in the background and the light shining on the metal of the horse’s reign. I really couldn’t give a monkeys about that. Get. To. The. Action. What are the characters doing? What are they saying to one another? Move it along please...Tell me the story.
Awful unrealistic dialogue - 'life would be so much better if it weren't for these *conversations*.' That was a bit of dialogue from a popular British soap opera. I dislike reading dialogue that makes me think, either ‘people don’t talk like that’ or ‘men/women don’t say those things’. A couple of female friends from the RNA have either their husband, or a female friend to check their male dialogue is realistic. ‘Would your husband say this?’ If the answer is no, then it has to go. Most men, generally don’t pontificate endlessly about how they feel. They tend to say much less than women.
Unnecessary swearing so it loses its impact – the characters use the c word every page or so. I read a book in which the c word had been used four times in the first three pages. It simply loses its impact. Just like in real life if someone swears with every other word, it becomes background noise. The real impact is when a person who never swears loses their temper and swears – then you know something’s wrong. It’s the same in stories. Swearing should be the exception, not the main part of the text.
Too many similar characters in a short story - who was it again? I do like a good saga. I’m ok with a list of characters at the start of a book. I enjoy immersing myself into a whole world of the cast of characters. That’s ok for a long book of 80k or more words. A short story of 13k words, not so much. A short story with a cast of thousands detracts from the main point of the short story – which is usually the two main protagonists. Stick to those two, and merge some of the other characters. I did this with my short story, Frangipani Kisses which is out in September from Wilde City Press. I had too many characters from the charity shop where the main character works, so I merged a few into one more rounded character.
What grinds your gears in books? Or if you prefer, what are your pet hates in books? Do these resonate with you?
I’d love to hear from you.
If you want to read more, check out my upcoming releases for the rest of 2014.
Best Friends Perfect Book One, is available from Wilde City Press and Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com Book Two is out 27 August and Book Three arrives on 17 December in time for Christmas - for those of you who'd like the full series to binge-read all together over Christmas.
And Then That Happened will be published by Love Lane Books in August.
Frangipani Kisses will be published by Wilde City Press in September.
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx