I’m not a hard-to-please reader for the most part. I have a lot of patience for long descriptions, a bit too much purple prose, or slow pacing. There are very few books that I pick up and do not read cover to cover, regardless of the faults I find. However, I’ve noticed a disturbing and frustrating trend in the last several books I’ve read.
There are lots of ways that writers can be lazy, we all do it from time to time, in some areas more than others. None of us are perfect, but there are two kinds of writer laziness in particular that I’ve come across a lot of lately that annoy me to no end.
First, the unnecessary repetitive use of a word in a manuscript. For example, The Silvered by Tanya Huff used the words ‘hysterical’ and ‘hysteria’ so many times that I wanted to scream. I understand that all of us have our little words or phrases that we tend to fall back on, but there comes a point where it is just too much. That is part of what editing is for, to reduce repetitiveness. I don’t know if the case with The Silvered was due to a bad/inattentive editor or writer laziness and dispassion, but when the traditionally published books are supposedly better edited than those by indie publishers, I expected better than that. That extent of repetitiveness should not get through to the final draft. These writers (and their editors) I want to throw a thesaurus at, because there is no real good excuse.
Second, is where the writer uses a word, without making sure that it has the meaning that they intended to convey. In the words of Inago Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Using the wrong word often makes a scene/emotion feel contrived, if not plain confusing, when paired with action that doesn’t match up. That tends to poke holes in my suspension of disbelief and nobody likes that. If I’m not sure that the word I’m using is right, I make sure to check a dictionary, as should anyone who wants me to take them seriously as a writer. I have a secret: I used to read the dictionary as a kid. For fun. Maybe that’s why these two things are such pet peeves for me.
I finished reading Prophet (Books of the Infinite #1) by R.J. Larson early this morning and did a review for it on Goodreads. If you're interested in reading this Christian Fantasy series, stop by to check it out. Don't worry, no spoilers.
Next post, I’ll be sharing my Custom Character Questionnaire that I’ve made to help tackle character development, for anyone interested!