Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The more I review, the more I have to refine how I think about the story. I love it when language, situation, and plot all come together, but it doesn't always. I have to identify what's gone pear-shaped. Gone are the days when I could wave my hands and say oh that didn't work for me.

This list isn't complete, and it's in no particular order of importance. I've tied to remove identifying characteristics. The book with the issue may or may not have been reviewed here, and may not be m/m. But whatever it was made me grit my teeth, probably more than once per story. In possibly more than 1 story per week. If the mood strikes, I may expand on items in this list for future posts.

Have your characters fail to notice something overwhelming, unmistakable, and unavoidable. 

Have your crushed, broken, mutilated hero, who might need to be on life support, be ready for hot monkey sex.

Have your MC turn into a blithering idiot when love interest is in peril. 

Have your professionals be oblivious to doing what they are supposed to do best, with or without peril involved.

Fail to capitalize Deity.

Fail to provide a beginning, middle, and end to the story. Even if it's short.

Have your entire huge project brought to a halt because a non-essential team member gets incapacitated. 

Make the story encompass huge chunks of time where nothing happens, for no obvious reason.

Be gratuitously nasty toward women in general. 

Promise something in the blurb that the story was never meant to deliver.

Ignore the laws of physics. Paranormal/fantasy has some leeway here. Contemporary doesn't.

Save the day with cavalry coming over the hill if cavalry has not even been hinted at being in the story.

Make a big deal out of some person, attribute or object that turns out to be totally irrelevant. 

Use words that are out of place for the setting, time, or character.

Use words that have specific meanings in ways that have no connection, or that are indelibly associated with a particular book or movie.

The Great Wall of Text.

Baby talk. 

Twitching cocks. Pulsing assholes. Enough precome to submerge Cleveland. 

What general situation did I miss that annoys you readers?


  1. Awesome list, Crys! I'm afraid I've done some of these (the huge chunks of time thing, and maybe the twitching cock, ha, ha!). At least I never did baby talk or included any gratutitous nastiness towards women.

    Things I don't like in fiction are the words 'adorable' and 'yummy' (this might go with the baby talk), putting a 'safety' on a revolver, the generic North American city with no real detail, and men who cry more than once in a story.

  2. I really hate it when men "coo" at...well, pretty much anything that isn't a baby or a pet. "Crooning" I'm willing to be flexible about, but cooing? Not so much.

  3. Yes, those can be annoying. I especially find the "broken leg, surgery, concussion and sprained little finger" but ready to have sex in the hospital bed minutes after coming out of anaesthetic. WTF? Please.

    I tend to find continuity things irksome. Don't change his shirt color or position in the room midway through a conversation. He was sitting on the couch and now is leaning on the window? What? When did he move? And when did he change his shirt? Arrived commando and put on his underwear to leave? Huh? Was it in his pocket? And you don't eat chocolate mousse with a fork. That's still irking me a year later.

    And seriously, has anyone every PUT two 6'3" men in a normal sized tub/shower? Yeah. Good luck with that. Only one of them is getting wet and it's not romantic when you slip and the shower curtain is plastered against your leg. Not sexy. Worse yet? Bike couriers in NYC who have huge glassed in showers with 3 shower heads in their downtown NYC apartment. Right. Face it, they're sharing a stall 2 feet square with 3 rats. Let's be realistic.

    Whew. Needed to get that out. :-)

  4. I will say on failure to capitalize deity that this is a stylistic editorial choice. It is one of those grammatical rules that differs from one style and editorial manual to another. My publisher initially uncapped references to God and the Hes and Hims because that was their editorial policy, but because my main character was a fairly conservative minister, I asked to put the caps back in.

  5. Laura, to clarify, I had written that note several months ago, after reading a story where the characters blatted on and on about, "Oh god, he just took his shirt off," or "The kittens were cute but god it hurt when they climbed his legs." Each and every one of those uses was A) uncapped, and B) gratuitous, and B stuck out worse because of A. This happened at least 40 times (I counted) in the first half of the book, and it felt like equally often in the second half when I'd given up. Each and every small g at that point felt like a small sharp pebble in my shoe, and capping the word would have brought the repetition to the author's and editor's attention better. This was meant for one of those expansion posts I mentioned.

    If disrespect for Deity has become an editorial choice, I may have to reconsider my reading patterns. Quite aside from the respect issues, it's jarring, and anything that throws me out of a story is a not good thing.

    In the half of your book that Ive read so far, I felt that every use of Deity had been well considered and consistent with a minister's character. And I'm glad you prevailed on that issue, because given the theme of the story, lack of caps would have sent me screaming into the night.

  6. I'm reading this and taking notes!

  7. I didn't think you were talking about me. :)

    I just wanted to point out that whether or not God has a capital G may be determined by the publisher's editorial policy rather than the author. Just to give credit where credit (or blame) is due.

  8. Thanks for the clarification, Laura. I just can't imagine an editor wanting to give the reader lots of little jolts out of the story. I'm not a religious person but it bugs me. Partly for respect, partly because that's how I'm used to seeing it.

    In a story where it's a non-Judeo/Christian religion, it's not the same, then I'm good with the author choosing how to present it, assuming she wins her fights with the editors. (Val did an Asatru-based story and there wasn't an issue with caps there.)

    Yeah, "adorable" and "yummy" go right there with baby talk, ICK. Especially since "aren't you adorable" in a certain tone of voice means "you are the biggest ass in the state." Cooing, too, Tracy. Cooing is for pigeons!

    Tam, I'm still giggling over the visual with the rats. In my one and only long fanfic I had the character grump about hotel shower curtains that billow in at you.

    I can see a man crying more than once if the story is set up for it. If it's "my gerbil died" followed by "I have a hangnail" then, no.

  9. I actually had a boyfriend once who broke into tears at the drop of a hat. Not sure if that has anything to do with books, but I thought I'd share.

  10. Actually, cocks do twitch (or jerk a little). Not only have men verified this, I've seen it with my own eyes. :-)

    True what other commenters said about God/god. Some people are mightily offended when it's capitalized; some are offended when it's not; some publishers do dictate which version to use. So I suppose that's just another instance of not being able to please everybody.

  11. K.Z., the way to avoid giving offense to someone on the God/god issue is to save it for a situation where Deity is involved or invoked for a specific purpose, such as Laura's religiously themed story. Throwing the name around like it's just another neutral word is probably why not capping is becoming more frequent. It's not a neutral word, and writers should have lots and lots of words anyway, not need to use that one loosely.

    And yeah, I've seen the twitching where they guy's pulse makes it move a little, and of course while they're getting hard there's motion. It just gets me when it's like there's a dying trout in the poor man's pants. (I just read a funny lampooning of that.)


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