Pet peeves in writing. How does it affect your writing?

As a reader, I have a few pet peeves in the style of writers. I just recently read a well known best seller and almost lost my lunch a few times because it was the embodiment of most of them. For their protection I won’t reveal which book but it made me realize how much these pet peeves are affecting my own writing.

Pet peeve #1: repetition. This makes me absolutely insane when I am reading. The constant overuse of the same expression. I know, as a writer, sometimes we may need to use the same word or phrase a few times in a book because there is no other way to explain or describe something. However, when a reader begins to count the time you use it…there is a problem. We are writers and everyone has access to dictionaries and a thesaurus.

Pet peeve #2: over-the-top description. I do not nor do I believe most readers need a three page explanation of what a door knob looks like. A writer only needs to tell me it’s a brass, old-fashioned knob with a turn handle and I can imagine the knob perfectly. If they want to tell me about the tree their characters are sitting under a simple, “It was a mighty oak. By the heavy texture, graying bark and large impressive foliage you could tell it had been standing for years.” I get the picture, as I’m sure most of you do.

These two top my list and with them in mind I find myself editing my own writing for those things that annoy me as a reader. I have changed entire paragraphs to avoid repeating a phrase for the third or fourth time. I found a different way for it to work in the story. What are your pet peeves? I would be interested to find out what others find annoying when they read novels. If you are a writer, has it had an impact on your writing?



Filed under Author to Author, General Conversation

4 responses to “Pet peeves in writing. How does it affect your writing?

  1. I second the over the top description. Just give me what I need. I also have a hard time with first person, I’m not quite sure why. Oh, and kids who don’t sound like children. They’re just basically short adults.

  2. Those you mentioned are pet peeves of mine too. Some others are too many exclamation points, long paragraphs, and telling too much instead of showing.

  3. I’ve never been a fan of first person either. I can’t get into the story quite as much. I also agree with the long paragraphs even though I have been guilty of this myself. Another one for me is too much inner dialogue, It doesn’t always need to be written as if they are talking to themselves in their head.

  4. I agree with your analysis and I have one to add: I understand writers want to use unique words, but when the writer uses so many of them you can’t read one chapter without needing to look them up in the dictionary, the author has gone too far! One time I counted 5 unusual words on ONE PAGE that I had to look up in the dictionary, and I wasn’t reading particularly lofty literature. These were just ordinary books!

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