Some of My Reading Pet Peeves

Yet another post written on the iPad2 while dawn squeaks across the horizon. Expect typos. (I can’t catch all of them)

There are a few things that bug me when I’m reading that are not necessarily errors or even a sign of poor writing. A great deal of them trace to the fact that I cannot stand a self-indulgent witer. For example, I find Mary Sues and Mary Settings to be abominable.

A Mary Setting is when the setting is idealised to please the writer. The perfect high school, amazing headquarters for those special people where they’re free to be special. I don’t know if you can have a Mary Setting without a Sue to go with it, but they feel like separate things.

But there are much smaller things that fall under the category of self-indulgent. Insertion of the writer’s favourite things, for instance. It probably shouldn’t bother me every time a main character names the music they’re listening to, but it does. Even when it’s music that I like. That is not the way to pander to me.

And don’t even get me started on characters who are supposed to be avid readers or aspiring writers. Characters who are published novelists can be okay, but young writer characters are so often author inserts who talk glowingly in Guess-Who’s opinion on writing… it just makes me want to gag. Every time a character has an interest in reading or writing, they gush, and I stop reading.

Bullies. I know it’s an easy and ultimately useful trope, but no one ever seems to use it right. The bullies are always reprehensible villains with no motives or personalities beyond He wants to hurt tne main character and is Mean. Sometimes he has a reason. Usually that reason is stupid (because he senses that she’s not human) or cliché (his parents are abusive and he’s taking it out on someone weaker).

Oddly enough, the bully type in Surviving High School is a good use of the trope. A guy in school punches you for talking to his girlfriend, resents you for joining the football team and taking his friend’s spot on the team, and his more general anger issues are explained by a very recent tragedy in his life. Best part? You become friends over time if you make the right choices.

What else…? Explaining pronunciations. There does not appear to be a way to tackle this without being heavy-handed. I have seen a first person narrator spend a page on explaining how to pronounce her name. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought it was a perfectly normal name and already knew how to pronounce it. So I was basically forced to sit through a lecture on a topic I already understood before it would get to the story. Not a book I finished.

I’ve talked about this one. Just don’t choose a hard-to-pronounce name if it bothers you so much that someone might say it wrong. Nobody likes to lectured.

It’s funny. I read once that video games are a flawed medium because they demand conditions to be met before you can continue. A comparison was drawn between them and books, stating that you do not find a reading comprehension test at the end of each chapter that will make you re-read the chapter if you fail. But that was kind of what this felt like. If I skipped ahead, I would break my flow and likely miss some bits of story stuck inside the lecture. Slog through this crap or you cannot pass.

Cultural opinions that do not fit the setting. This one sets me on fire. A quiet bonfire in a barrel, but even so. On a whim, I read a re-telling of A Study in Scarlet that had paired Holmes and Watson romantically. Sort of like the Pirates vs Ninja argument for me. It was rather dull and often anachronistic in a very lazy way, but the last straw was the inclusion of a cross-dressing character at the end.

Cross-dressing as a topic makes me shrug. I have my own gender confusion and identified as male for years. Still do, to some extent. I will not dislike a character for this sort of thing.

What drove me batty was the fact that the story just derailed so that Watson and Holmes could gush over her. Even referring to her with adamant feminine pronouns and other insistance upon seeing her as a woman.

Because every genderqueer person is lucky enough to have a body, face, and mannerisms that effect their true gender.

There’s also the fact of when this story is supposed to take place. I don’t care how open-minded Watson is. I don’t think he would have had the language or ability to not only accept this, but to defend it. (with no opposition, I might add) Even if he could have, I still have two questions. Why would he? And why is he conforming so strongly to the modern idea of its acceptance?

That’s all I can think of right now, and the morning has since begun. Time to approach the day.


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