Reader Pet Peeves

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Did you know readers have pet peeves?

As a reader, there are definitely things that drive me batty.

For example, one of my pet peeves is when authors use dialogue to drop in story information, like this instance when a mother is speaking to her daughter to convey a description, "Don't forget to brush your long, waist-length blond hair, dear." Um, okay. What mother would really drop a description like that into everyday conversation?

Another of my pet peeves is when authors introduce too many characters too soon, requiring me to open up a notes page on my iphone and keep a running tally of the characters' names just so that I can keep them all straight.

Often it's all too easy for authors to write in our own little kingdom of oblivion without chatting with readers to find out what they may or may not like.

So in a recent Facebook chat with my readers, I threw out this question: "When you're reading a book, what's your biggest pet peeve? We authors are always curious what drives our readers crazy!"

There were over 80 responses!

I thought I'd share some of those reader pet peeves so that all of us can become more aware of what readers don't like. While these little nuggets might not contain any hard, fast writing rules, these readers do offer some excellent advice.

Reader Pet Peeves:

Regarding Plot:

• Taking forever to get to the plot.

• Misunderstandings between the two main characters that go on and on and on. After a while, I just want to shake them and say, "Okay will you two just be honest with each other!"

• When a sub plot is started and then dropped - I get frustrated not knowing how it turned out.

• When I can predict the ending way too early.

• When characters flip flop too much. When they move from one act or scene to another without really finishing up the previous one.

• Loose ends! Unless the book is part of a series, I like all of the loose ends to be tied up.

• Epilogues that are too short and just added so everything is wrapped up quickly.

Regarding the Writing:

• Bad grammar and repeating phrases. Also a lot of adjectives, adverbs, and other stuff added to make the story longer.

• The awkward sentence that sometimes creeps in and you have to read it two or three times to understand what they are "getting at."

• Too much description and too many details bog the story down for me and it becomes boring. It's a balancing act here--some is needed, too much becomes painful.

• I hate when authors insult my intelligence by highlighting what should be subtle clues.

• Lack of research for details. If they get details wrong for lack of checking things out, it really bugs me.

Regarding Characters:

• Making the main characters too unlikable in the beginning if they are a "work in progress." Sometimes it's hard to bounce that image out of my head. Some authors take it a bit too far.

• The frequent repetition of what a particular character feels or believes. I don't mind being reminded once or twice, but once I've been told I don't like having the info repeatedly dished out.

• When the main characters angst over the same thing throughout the majority of the book without progressing. It gets repetitive and boring.

• When the dialogue does not represent the person who is speaking.

• Repetition of an action that is a habit for a person. If the heroine bites her lips when nervous I get it after the third time it's pointed out. When it gets to a dozen times I am irritated.

• Character names (especially main) that I am unsure how to pronounce or how the author intended it to be pronounced.

Enlightening pet peeves, aren't they? Thank you, dear readers, for sharing them!

Are there any other pet peeves that you would add? What bothers you the most in the books that you read?

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