I find certain authors do certain things consistantly enough to really annoy me. For example, the Janet Evanovich “number” series… EVERY single thing that is grey is “gunmetal grey”… can’t she find some other adjectives? And pavement is ALWAYS “macadam”. I’m a big believer in varying one’s vocabulary when writing. I try not to use the same words too often.
Another author (name excapes me) always described EVERYONE as having a “full, wide mouth” every single person. Variety, people!
And John Grisham. He is a good storyteller. He pulls you in to the plot… but then it’s like he gets bored with it and just sums everything up in the last 3 pages. The last 3 pages are almost like Cliff’s Notes. Drives me nuts.
Anne Rice starts too many sentences with conjunctions. And in the last book of hers that I read she used “insofar” a lot.
I just read A Handmaid’s Tale for the SDMB Book Club thing and I thought the author used waaay too many commas. Not that I’m super-grammar man or anything, but all those commas were really distracting.
A lot of authors describe things as “sensual.” I like sensual, but I get sick of reading that word a lot.
I read a book a while back–I can’t remember which one–where I learned on every other page that blood tastes metallic. I don’t know what was more amazing, how everybody was always getting blood in their mouth all the time or how the author couldn’t come up with any other adjectives to describe the taste.
Recently read Ira Levin’s Son of Rosemary. Lots of sentence fragments. Weird constructions. Super annoying. Missing subjects. Wanted to throw book across the room. Didn’t like it.
Certain authors of military fiction ruin their action scenes by describing all the hardware’s specs. “And Sergeant Cecil Adams fixed the beam of his MP5 Heckler & Koch submachine gun’s French manufactured LaFleur laser sight on the terrorist’s forehead, squeezed the trigger, and sent three .45 caliber bullets manufactured by Acme Ammo flying through the air.” Or something like that.
Thomas Harris also goes too far with the botannical studies. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I walk outside I never take a moment to catalog every type of tree and bush in the surrounding area; both Clarice and Lecter seem to do this obsessively.
The thing that bugged me most about Stephen King, apart from the
(obvious overdramatic mental flash tricks ohmygod mygod i cant believe hes using this same device in yet another book!!!)
is the way characters always seem to be clawing out their own eyes. It was [sub]NEAT[/sub] at first, when it was in the short story “The Jaunt,” and it was effective and creepy and unsettling. Then it happened again in Firestarter. And The Dead Zone. And then countless other stories. There are plenty of other gruesome things that people under stress could be doing, no?
And I forgot, insomuch as I neglected to mention, in much the same way as a young girl’s gesture, witnessed serrepticiously from across the room in sixth grade, the blossoming trees visible through the dirty paned windows outside an echo of my own entry into adolescence, how Michael Chabon’s sentences tend to collapse under the weight of their own dependent clauses.
What never ceases to annoy me is when an author assumes you know a foreign language. As a heavy reader of non-fiction, I come across this phenomenon all too often. The author will be discussing a subject and then write, “As So-and-So says [long stream of foreign words].”
Perhaps, the author believes that all educated people speak French, which was probably true about a hundred years ago, but a footnote translation might be nice for those of us belonging to the Unwashed Masses.
I think Pat Conroy missed his calling - the man has a knack for using beautiful language, and can make even the most horrible things sound poetic.
That said, he’s probably the single most annoying author I’ve ever read. He’ll use ninety-two words to convey a simple point, and his characters are so outrageously over-the-top that even the most willing reading can’t suspend disbelief for long.
I remember noticing in Jurassic Park that Michael Crichton absolutely could not stop using the word “tinny.” About 40% of all communication in the novel takes place over walkie-talkies, and the author feels the need to describe their voices as “tinny” EVERY DAMN TIME!
Also annoying is E.L. Doctorow’s obsessive use of ellipses in Waterworks, and practically every single sentence in Thomas Harris’ Hannibal. It’s especially grating when an author starts off the novel in one tense and then suddenly switched to another. SEE? :mad:
I enjoy Harry Turtledove’s novels. He’s famous for his alternate history stories, although he’s also written straight science fiction, fantasy and serious historical fiction (the guy’s incredibly prolific).
However, in some of his books, this happens: Character A states an opinion. Character B offers a different point of view. Character A considers Character B’s statement thoughtfully, then nods, indicating acknowledgement that Character B does indeed have a point.
Fine – but this happens over and over again, possibly dozens of times in one book.
Let’s not forget that every female in Robert Jordan’s books feels the need to sniff continuously.
Or his obsessive need to remind us of exactly what each character is wearing at every costume change. How many times do we need to hear about the gilt lavish silk jackets or exactly what color the slashes in every dress are.
Not exactly fine literature, but I had a friend tell me that I should read a Francesca Lia Block book. I picked up a few from the library, and they nearly made me gag. Every character is some superhip teenage punk rocker/goth, they’re all vegans, if they have parents, they’re these wonderful, free spirit hippie parents, and they’re all either gay or their best friend is gay. No variety in the characters in any of her short stories or books.
Poppy Z Brite is the same way. 15 pages of describing the characters gothic attire, shaved head and piercings, another couple that list all of the cool undergraound bands and stuff that the character listens to, a few references to rockstars and vampires, and some gay sex. I don’t think that straight males exist in her world. Oh yeah, and IIRC, the female characters are always in love with the male characters, which leads to heartbreak. Once again, no variety.
Terry Brooks talks WAY down to the readers. I couldn’t make it through The Sword of Shannarra because I got tired of being treated as too stupid to see even the most obvious of plot contrivances thundering down the runway.
Harry Turtledove! I love his books, but does he have to repeat that Atvar-and-hologram-of-a-knight scene at the start of every Worldwar/Colonization/Whatever with Lizards in it book?
In fact, that’s not the only thing repeated. How many time do we need to know that Quebecois have a peculiar way of swearing, or that the Race thinks that human sexuality is disgusting, or read how ginger makes a Lizard feel like he is bigger than a Big Ugly and could defeat thousand landcruisers or something?
I had to stop reading Clive Cussler when I could no longer find amusing the way he would make cameo appearances in his own stories. At first it felt like a fun poke at Hitchcock. By Sahara (or maybe Dragon) it seemed to have become a ponderous chore. Robert Parker slips himself into his Spenser novels every now and again, but when he does it’s done with a lot more humor and elegance, something that is increasingly becoming rare in Spenser novels.
I am very glad that Harry Bosch has retired. His constant problems with the LAPD brass were beginning to make me think that Michael Connelly didn’t know what else to do with him. “Hmmm, we can’t kill off his boss … we’ve done that already!”