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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Things Readers Hate

Head-hopping---too-stupid-to-live protagonists--mustache twirling villians. There are things we all hate when we read it in a book. This was a big topic of conversation on the RBRU Yahoo loop this week. Over the years I've collected quite a list. These are in no particular order, and sometimes a little overlapping. Comment with your own and I'll add it to the list for next time. I'll even give a free download from my backlist, reader's choice, to one random commenter.

  • I have to say that I really, really don't dig contemporaries where, in the heat of the moment, the woman says, "I'm on the pill," and the man says, "I'm healthy." I realize it's fantasy and all, but I'm pretty sure this exact scenario is how most people get Chlamydia.
  • Wimpy heroes would be my first choice.  How can they be heroic if they are weak?  They have to be major uber-alpha men.
  •  Mine is heroines that are too stupid to live. I hate when a woman does something idiotic and almost gets herself killed. Also heroines that are too weak and cutesy-wootsey they have no spine. Ick!  
  • Mine is when the female accepts the whole paranormal issue way too easily. "Oh, you are a werepenguin who shoots laser beams out of your eyes? Okay, that's fine by me because you are soooooo sexy. Let's get it on now."
  • Shoddy research.  Doesn’t matter if the book is historical, contemporary, or futuristic.  If you’re going to give background (and all good stories have some) get it right.  For many readers, ours are the only books they ever read, so the ‘facts’ that dress our stories serve an educational purpose. 
  • I hate when authors get the names of stuff wrong. I read one book where the guy called the control in a helicopter a joystick. One minute of research would have told him it's called a cyclic (I'm a pilot and those things irritate me.)
  • It really turks me when ALL the men have to be these 'beefcakes'. I don't mind an occasional beefcake, but come on! Not EVERY hero is this Adonis just right for the picking! I don't mind the muscles -- love them in fact, but heroes don't have to be so darn muscle bound! The perfect hair, the perfect teeth. Not a flaw on his skin. Why not have a average looking guy? Why not have a hero with some physical 'flaws'?
    And what’s with all the 6 packs? Most gay men I know (who are attractive in their own way) are either willowy <--- ---="---" --="--" a="a" and="and" are="are" as="as" average="average" beefcakes.="beefcakes." beefcakes="beefcakes" being="being" black="black" blah="blah" book="book" choose="choose" chunky="chunky" combos="combos" come="come" comfy="comfy" could="could" cush="cush" dumb="dumb" every="every" eyes="eyes" few="few" from="from" get="get" great="great" guy.="guy." hard="hard" has="has" have="have" having="having" hero="hero" heroes="heroes" hold="hold" i="i" interesting="interesting" is="is" jock="jock" li="li" like="like" limit="limit" looking="looking" lots="lots" makes="makes" man="man" many="many" me="me" men="men" middles.="middles." mr.="mr." my="my" myself="myself" nerd="nerd" nice="nice" normal="normal" nothing="nothing" of="of" old="old" on="on" or="or" perfect="perfect" pleasantly="pleasantly" plump.="plump." point.="point." prefer="prefer" read.="read." reading.="reading." rock="rock" roll="roll" s="s" short="short" smart="smart" so="so" soft="soft" start="start" stop="stop" tall="tall" that="that" the="the" there="there" thick="thick" thin="thin" time="time" to="to" up="up" variety="variety" verses="verses" want="want" what="what" when="when" which="which" white="white" why="why" with="with" word="word" writer="writer" wrong="wrong" you="you" young="young" yourself="yourself">
  •  Penis size -- I am sooooo sick of reading about penis size! Especially those ranging from 8 inches and up. PLEEZE! Really -- who cares? The average male penis is 51/2 -6 inches long. It's not about the size! It's how the tool is used! Besides -- from a hetro point of view, it is medically documented that the vagina canal is only about 61/2 inches long. With men doing it anal -- for the most part, anything over 8 inches usually does not get stuffed in there (watch some gay porn, and you will see what I mean) - and if it does, some serious harm can be done. It's like my Momma used to say -- more than a mouthful is a waste. (She was referring to breast size, but I think penises could fit in here as well).
  •  I hate it when the sex is just thrown in the story. The author needs to get off his/her lazy @ss and creatively use it to further the plot line. I cringe when I have to start skipping the sex scenes, just to get back to the real story at hand. I love sex scenes when they are well thought out (not meaning graphic) and flow well with the story. Sex thrown in just to have more words is a total waste of my time.
  •  Another thing that gets my goat is that the heroes ALWAYS have the perfect job! I am SOOOOO tired of reading about gay models, gay lawyers, gay cops, gay cowboys, gay firemen, gay doctors, gay bartenders, rent boys, gay actors, gay dancers, gay musicians... For once, I'd like to see a factory worker, a 7/11 worker, a male nanny, a bank teller, the garbage man, the city water inspector -- something!!!! There are so many other jobs out there that are just as interesting (if you take the time to research) and believe it or not, gay men work those jobs too!
  • I have four kids. Since I have a very clear idea of the consequences of unplanned pregnancies (also three grandchildren!!!) I am a stickler about protection. I also have a child living with the consequences of the PPV virus so it pisses me off royally when the H/H are idiots and don't think about STDs.
  •  Multiple orgasms. Maybe for experienced lovers, but for new lovers? A romance is not necessarily a fantasy, but the sex element often is.
  • Recreational sex between people who don't know each another well enough to know if they even like one another. Now this really ought to have consequences even with couples for whom pregnancy isn't an issue.
  • I am with you on the disregard for protection, even and esp. by BIG Names--and esp. in contemporary times. Do they live by different rules?  But the other thing that kills me is the apparent disregard for even thinking about the consequences of sex in historicals.
  •  Close on the heels of that, is the naive virgin who "knows" what goes where in the first sex scene. Darn! Who told her where that thing was supposed to go? Fit?
  • Recently this happened in a contemporary I read by a well known author. There was not one discussion of condoms or safe sex. The heroine was on the pill but she stopped taking them so she got her monthly. Of course she got pregnant. Cue irritated reader.
  • When sex comes fast and furious between characters that are virtual strangers, the discussion of medical tests, cleanliness, sexual history needs to happen BEFORE they are engrossed in the act! By the time most people get to that point, conversing in logical, complete sentences is not a priority!
  • Unless we're dealing with sci-fi, shifters or any other 'fantasy ' characters, I don't buy everyday heroes who are almost seven feet tall and endowed with ruler-defying equipment.
  • If the POV is of an alpha male hero, I skip the paragraphs where he ponders ad-nauseum about his deep emotions, childhood memories and motivations. He should be to the point, in my face and on to whatever he feels needs to be done at the moment. We the readers will know who he is by his words and actions.
  •  My pet peeve is the overuse of certain words.  There is a such thing called thesaurus!  One of my favorite authors uses the word "thickly" too many times.  Example, "I loved her so much," he said thickly.  Irritating.


Harlie Reader said...

Your list is almost perfect. :)

Here are mine:

1. In a ménage, I would like the characters to get to know each other first. I know its "fantasy" but seriously? Unless its a BDSM scene at a club, let's get to know each other first. Most people don't do this unless they are completely drunk or doped up.

2. The overuse of BDSM as a whole. I blame 50 Shades for this and I'm tired.

3. Heroine's running from something or someone. In a RS that is perfectly fine with me but not in a contemporary.

4. Please, please for the love of anything holy...if your hero is Alpha, don't make him an asshole! Lately, so many Alpha males have left me cold. I would have bitch slapped him by Chapter 2 and left him.


Harlie Reader said...

One more:

In historicals, please let's have the heroine's with some intelligence. Not every single one of them was born to marry or hang out with the Ton. Some of them actually had jobs.


Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Good ones, Harlie!

Cara Marsi said...

Love this post. You hit on most of my pet peeves too. I can tell you feel deeply about these items. One peeve I have is misused words where words sound alike but are spelled differently due to their meanings. Like farther and further. That's my biggest word use pet peeve. Use an editor or a friend with a good eye. I love Regencies, but was everyone a duke in those days? I find I get irritated after reading yet another Regency where the hero is a duke. I also don't like heroines who are stubborn to a fault--a woman who does stupid things that almost get her killed because the hero told her she shouldn't do it, and God forbid she should listen to him. Or heroines who are so emotionally closed and proud to a fault.

Molly Daniels said...

Cara, you just explained my main pet peeve:) Thank you!

And yes, with the whole shifter there so such thing as FEAR when your loved one is suddenly sprouting fangs/tail/excessive body hair? I'd be worried I was about to be his next meal! Not thinking, 'WTH is happening...this is COOL!'/'I'll watch and see what happens.'

Cathryn Cade said...

A fun and funny list.

My plea -- no more heroines who are furious/hurt in one paragraph and then giggling and ready for sex in the next. Puh-lease! When I'm that angry it takes more than 5 minutes for me to get over it.

I don't care if the hero is an alpha-hole at times, as long as the heroine calls him on it. And he needs a sense of humor or at least moments of uncertainty to balance his large and in charge self!

Thanks for sharing,
Cathryn Cade

Elf2060 said...

I loved this post and the stated my feelings so perfectly! I tend to be more fastidious than many and quite a few scenes in many of the current titles give me an 'eww' reaction but I figure there is something for everyone.

Sandy said...

LOL What a rant, Cindy. I have to agree.

Cathryn, I use to have heroines who giggled one moment and were serious the next when I first started writing books.

Cindy, I voted at LRC for you.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks everyone! These aren't all mine, by the way! Every time I've posted this, I've added to the list. :)

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

And congratulations to my winner, Cathryn Cade!

Nina Pierce said...

OMG! I am so laughing at most of those! Thanks for sharing your list.

Nina Pierce said...

OMG! I am so laughing at most of those! Thanks for sharing your list.

Dalton Diaz said...

Oral sex when they're on the run for days in a remote jungle. Ewwww!

laura troxel said...

LOve the list. Thanks for sharing.

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