Friday, May 22, 2009

Story Pet Peeves

Recently I've read a few blogs and/or reviews wherein the person mentions some story pet peeve that they just hate to read. Whether it is "gay for you" or "the big misunderstanding" or whatever other story elements bother them. This got me to thinking. Are there plot elements that bother me?

The only one I can think of is the TSTL (too stupid to live) main character which can be present in any plot, really, but thankfully I come across that much less in m/m romances (which is almost all I read these days). But this isn't really a plot element.

So in all honesty as long as the story is good and entertaining I don't really have a problem with cliched plots or "gay for you" or "big misunderstanding" or "secret babies" or "May-December" or "crazed stalker/ex". Any of that. Like I said, done well, I am fine with it.

So for anyone out there who might be reading this, are there plot elements you don't like to see in stories?


  1. Good post Shawn
    I have been thinking about that recently and I've always wondered why readers stick to Authors if they know the type of protags they produce..

    When it comes to reading i have no pet peeves - as long as its a story, i go in with a open mind...even the predictables

    I can't be put off a story by one thing - i do get the TSTL though, but i realise after awhile that without the TSTL the plot would more than likely be a totally different animal...

    I can probably say i shy away from certain book with child abuse, or rape - every year i try reading one, but my heart literally can't take it...

    It kills me inside...

    good post - i await what others pet peeves are, i might have some and don't even realise it...


  2. Yeah I just see so many people commenting lately about how this story or other annoys them and it made me stop and think, really? Not much bothers me.

    I will say I am also uncomfortable reading child abuse or rape, at least detailed accounts of it. If it happened in the past to a character I am okay with it. But I do not want to read it happening in a story (or watch it happening in a movie either).

    But mostly, like you, I have no real pet peeves. Well, here's one but it doesn't stop me from enjoying the story.

    A character who has unprotected sex with another character after knowing them for a couple of days. I don't have an issue with the sex but no condom??? It has me shaking my head every time. I still read and enjoy the book though.

  3. I'm with you on the TSTL characters - I don't care for them. It usually doesn't take long before the character has annoyed the hell out of me. I can understand a sheltered character or someone who is thrust into a new situation and doesn't know how to handle it, but the individual needs to be bright enough to eventually figure stuff out and stop acting so...stupidly.

    Other than that, I don't have any story pet peeves that will immediately turn me off a book. If it's done well, I can get into most any book.

  4. Hi Shawn

    Picking up from Erotic Horizon's blog- There also nothing I get too naggy about. There's usually a purpose for everything that's in a story, and if you cut it out, the story losses something. Even the TSTL characters (as long as it isn't the main character - but then why did it get published). I always feel like that characters there to teach the hero/heroine something.

    I usually will go with any storyline and enjoy the outcome, I might wish it had a different ending, but then it would be my story and not the authors.

    Dottie :)

  5. I don't really have any pet peeves when it comes to a story as long as I'm entertained. The TSTL plot line can be produce some funny story lines.

    I have to say I don't like to read about child abuse or animal abuse. Two things I try to stay away from.

    Good topic!

  6. This is a good topic! Yes, actual scenes of rape, child abuse, or animal abuse will make me toss the book without finishing it.

    Other than that, I'm tolerant enough to keep reading and not gripe in a review, but I do notice things that grate on me such as ...

    male characters who act like 13 year-old girls,

    lovers who are immediately perfectly compatible,

    the generic city,

    the big misunderstanding that could be cleared up with one simple question and answer,

    and technical errors like putting a "safety" on a revolver! I have to admit that last one irks me a lot.

  7. Thanks for coming by and leaving your thoughts on the topic, everyone. It looks like most of us agree on the abuse/rape elements which is probably why most publishers discourage them. You see more of those elements in print books especially thrillers or romantic suspense or even women's fiction.

    I didn't think of technical errors but you have a point! Things I know are wrong would bother me. For example knowing LA as well as I did if someone rearranged things I would be annoyed unless they clearly established it as some sort of "alternative universe" LA or something.

  8. This is a great topic, Shawn. I've also noticed readers saying how they hate particular themes or things happening in books. As a writer this always sends shivers of horror through me. I'd think, oh, have I done that? Sometimes I was guilty. ;) In the end I decided I should continue on as I'd started, writing the books that appealed to me. That seems to have worked out.

    As a reader, I'm fairly forgiving. I go into a book with an open mind.
    Like many of you, TSTL characters tend to make me put the book down and choose another. I've also read a couple of books lately where the scenery/setting read like a shopping list. I don't like that either.

    Another that you've mentioned is child abuse and animal cruelty. It depends on the book and the way the author has handled it.

    Oh, and one more that you've mentioned. Condoms. Unless the author has given a good reason for their absence, this scenario makes me scowl. I don't buy into the excuse that it ruins the romance of the scene.

  9. Oh I definitely have done plots that I've seen people claim they don't like. One of my most recent releases had a "misunderstanding" as part of the plot. See to me, in real life people often have misunderstandings in their relationship and so I don't know why the element can't be used in a story. As long as the "misunderdtanding" doesn't keep them apart for years.

    As for condoms, yeah, recently I read an interracial heterosexual romance that I liked but the characters not only never used condoms they never discussed it or even thought about it. Which to me was strange. I don't have a problem with an established couple deciding to not use condoms but when you've known someone for two hours...that's just crazy. Yeah it's fantasy but still.