These are a few of the most irritating things…


Occasionally, I read a book that seems to be moving along just fine, and then a passage comes up that irritates me like nails on a chalkboard. We all probably have pet peeves about the books we read. Perhaps I’m more critical because I’m a writer…but I don’t think so. The readers I know and love are savvy and know the elements of a good book. In no particular order, here’s my list of things that drive me crazy if I read them.

small-feetThe heroine has tiny feet.
How many people actually think of their own feet as “tiny?”

The heroine falls asleep thinking about what’s going to happen or what already happened.

The heroine has “small perfect” teeth. One that overlaps is far more interesting don’t you think?.

Jumping in and out of heads/point of view.
Do readers notice or care when we even know what the cab driver’s thinking? I once got into a horse’s point of view, but my critique group didn’t get it slip past.

A couple jumping into bed before I care about them – or before they care about each other. Yawn.

baby readingThe ending feels rushed, as though the author only had so many pages in which to resolve everything.

A story that starts out with so much backstory that I feel as though I’ve missed the previous book.

Heroines who giggle.

Heroines who only need a shower and a little lip gloss to look like JLo. Yeah, right.

Heroes with bad attitudes and nobody ever calls them on it.

cranky_pantsAnother thing that irritates me and always has is the scene changing to another viewpoint and location just when the story gets exciting. As a writer, I understand it’s a pacing and tension ploy to keep the reader engaged and vary the emotional intensity, but….I’ve been known on many occasions to simply skip the scene in which the tension drops, flipping forward to the character I want to read about. Sometimes I go back for the other viewpoint, sometimes not.

So how about you? Do any of the things I’ve listed bug you or do you have your own pet peeves?

Excuse me now, won’t you? I have to go put my tiny feet up.

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36 thoughts on “These are a few of the most irritating things…”

  1. I’m reading a book right now that was obviously self-published, and it jumps from first to third person in almost every paragraph because no one informed the author that internal thoughts should be indicated by italics or a tag like, he she/thought. Talk about hard to follow. I’m constantly pulled out of the story and want to scream.

    I also hate unrealistic scenes where the hero and heroine wake in bed and immediately enjoy a mouth plunging kiss. I know what my mouth tastes like after sleeping all night. Please….what about that is romantic?

    Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the annoyance I feel when two people are having a conversation and the author feels the need to add a tag after each speck of dialogue.
    “How are you, John?”
    “Fine, Fred. And you?”
    “Just peachy, John. Are you going into town today.”
    “I thought I would,” said John. “Would you like to go with me Fred?” *I think you get the idea*.

    I’m bothered by a whole lot more since I took two wonderful classes given by a dear friend of mine. Things I never realized were so annoying now jump out at me and scream. I’m trying really hard to avoid using any of them in my current WIPS. 🙂 This was fun. I needed to let off some steam.

  2. Hi Cheryl! I wear a size 8 or 8-1/2 shoe … not tiny! These days it doesn’t take much to pull me out of the story. Head hopping does it. And I’m with you on the h/h being together too soon or without real feeling.

    About “giggling” . . . synonyms for “laughing” are kind of sparse. “Chuckling” never sounds right, makes me think of clowns. “Giggling” is okay for little girls only, maybe a boy if he’s very young). I’ve seen “Hooted” for “Laughed” or “hooted with laughter.” “Guffawed” makes me think of Walter Brennan. Maybe this is why I write dark books!

  3. Ouch, Cheryl, I’ve probably done at least half of these. Thanks for the reminder not to do them again. As an un-dainty lady, 5′ 7″ with size 10 (gasp) feet and teeth to match, I do grind my teeth at the overabundance of tiny heroines. For the record, Ruby, the heroine in my upcoming HH, THE WIDOWED BRIDE, is about 5″9″ and so voluptuous the hero can barely lift her, which he manages to do at least twice in the story. Thanks for a fun blog.

  4. As usual, you have me laughing, Ginger. I forgot about those morning kisses. Remember the commercial where the couple wake up and look dreamily at each other, then immediately cover their mouths and head for the bathroom to brush? lol

    Also, those heroes who’ve been shot or otherwise wounded and nursed back to health for weeks, and then they get up and kiss the heroine. Ugh.

  5. Good morning, Vicki. She laughed so hard tears came to her eyes or some such always works. Laughed is rather like said to me. Invisible unless you mess with it.

  6. Elizabeth I cannot wait to read your story with the voluptuous heroine! One of my long ago heroines, Thea in Land of Dreams, was one of the most appreciated characters I’ve ever done. I can’t tell you how much reader mail I got regarding her size. Readers loved her.

  7. How many of you think the picture of the little feet in those big red shoes is hilarious? I crack myself up every time I look at it.

  8. What always made me shake my head was when the guy and gal were in bed at night making love and he says “I can see the love in your eyes” Give me a break-it is dark.

  9. I’m a size eight not little feet! I hate it when the author rushes through the end of the story! It seems like you loosing something with this!
    Loved the little feet photo!

  10. I’m a size ten, I don’t have little feet. I also hate it when the author rushes through the end of the story. The way some of the stories end it seems like there could be a second book to it to finish the story.

  11. Good morning, Tracy, Joye, Quilt Lady and Becky! I think we all agree on some of these points.

    Just realized I hadn’t made any coffee and it’s nearly 11. Ordinarily I’d have been at garage sales now, but it’s raining. 🙁

  12. Cheryl, I love this! I think every one of us has pet peeves. I hate long rambling prologues. I find myself skipping half or more of it so I can get to the real story. Like you, I hate when the H/H hop into bed the first rattle out of the box. I also hate long love scenes that run on and on, describing all the body parts and what they’re doing. I need an emotional investment when a H/H finally come together in bed. That’s just a start of the things that throw me out of a story. My list is pretty long.

    Love your images! So cute.

  13. Two that you mentioned are at the top of my list.

    The tendency for the H & H to hop into bed by chapter 3. Not much different than picking up a hooker. Come on, how about taking the time to develop a relationship and actually have it and them mean something to each other.

    The other is a tendency I’ve noticed more and more lately for books to end badly (be rushed). The author does a good job developing characters, good tension and suspense during the story, plot works well. The story comes to the climax of the drama, then they drop you. That’s it?! No final resolution of the relationships or real ending to the story. It is like they reached their word count or lost interest in the story. They rush through the last chapter either not resolving all the issues or throwing the answers at you. A bit like having your date dump you out a few block from home saying “It was fun, but you can make it from here on your own.” You probably won’t go out with him again, and you will probably think twice before you buy that author again.

    Thanks for another fun post.

  14. “It was fun, but you can make it from here on your own.”
    AGHH!! Too funny, but exactly right.

    Thanks for stopping by Margaret, Patricia and Linda!
    I’m with you on the emotional involvement required, Linda.

  15. I just read a contemporary that I loved where the hero wouldn’t go to bed with the heroine before he married her. No, it wasn’t a Christian romance which made the ending all the better.

    BUT, and there is a big BUT, there was a two year old son of the heroine who was put to bed with a bottle every night. First, I have a two year old grandson and those kidlets are drinking out of sippy cups.

    BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, doctors have warned for years now about the danger of putting a child to bed with a bottle because of tooth decay. Every time that boy was put to bed, the bottle was mentioned. ARGH. I loved the book otherwise but it drove me crazy all the way to the end.

    Not that I am upset or anything…;-)

  16. First of all I admire anyone who can write well and I would never criticize an author if she keeps me entertained. I blame the editor! LOL
    Continuity issues drive me crazy. I have to keep going back to figure out where the heroine is and what she’s doing. Okay, she’s sitting down to eat, the hero takes her in his arms and suddenly the’ve been magically transported out in the moonlight, then she gets up from the table. Is this a flashback, a daydream or a rewrite that didn’t get enough attention?
    Also, errors like mules that give birth, a calico cat that’s a tom, and mountains in Kansas can make me crazy. I’m willing to suspend disbelief for a time but if she’s mountain climbing in Kansas, I want the author to tell me where.
    That’s what I love about all of you at P&P. Your blogs show you do your research!

  17. Oh I agree with the things that bug you… and like you said the ending feeling rushed is a huge pet peeve of mine… also can not stand reading pages and pages of descriptions… I want to get a feel for the area and characters, but do not over describe everything and bore me to tears!

  18. Fabulous post, Cher. I just read a terrific book where the hero a number of times had “calloused” hands. Yikes. I agree with Judy H…that’s editorial, in the long run. One thing I think I’ve learned is that 19th century male horses were gelded. Stallions were too hard to work with and always wanted the fillies. I fortunately had time to change stallions to geldings in a galley stage one time.

    I had an editor once who wanted NO scene breaks if H and H are in the same action even though the POV changed. Totally bugged me. oxoxoxox

  19. Julie,

    One would think an editor would catch something like that 2 year old with a bottle, but many of them are YOUNG and I mean young. Not getting children right can ruin a book for me, too. Anyone who knows kids can tell the author doesn’t have any. I am irritated right along with you.

  20. Judy, you are so kind. I agree that editors shoulld be catching this stuff, because everyone makes mistakes, but it’s their job not to let them get through.

    Sometimes a continuity wrror does happen in the revision or edit stage, which is unfortunate. Every author needs a first reader.

    COLLEEN – I’m with you on the description. Less is more, especially in our fast-paced culture. Readers are used to watching TV and movies where everything happens like lightning.

  21. Good point on the stallions, Tanya. Horse lovers would catch that one.

    I never make breaks for POV changes, because I don’t like to point it out to the reader while they’re absorbed in a scene. I think it’s probably a matter of the author’s preference.

  22. okay..i totally hate a rushed ending
    i spend days reading this book and then when the best has finally come it’s like the author just wants to be done with it
    i also hate when it’s over and we don’t get to hear what happens…unless there is a sequel please give me a little happily every after chapter so i know they have some kids and a farm or at least make sure all unresolved issues have been resolved…i need closure

    as a mom of three young children that i have nursed and am still nursing the youngest…i hate when new moms are hopping right back into bed after popping a baby out
    if you’ve ever had a baby you know things are a mess for awhile…and then the descriptions of the lovemaking scenes where they “suckle their lovers nipples” yeah people–he’d totally be gulping down breastmilk by now
    that drives me nuts

    i also hate when two people fall in love before they’ve even said 10 words to one another…i need some flirting and courting
    you can fall in lust immediately…that’s fine…but not love

    that was a fun vent post–thanks!

  23. Too funny! I love your post. I read a cat romance by a well, double well, know author and suddenly the H/H decided to crawl under (yes, I said under) the table and do something kinky right after they sent her or his young son off somewhere to play. I never found out where he went and how long he was gone…but totally hated the H/H for being so unconcerned with the little tyke’s welfare. I’ve never read this author since. And, I hate overly used, worn out cliches! And, Scooby-Do endings make be totally crazy. I detest investing my time in a book just knowing something great is going to happen and suddenly the author wraps it up and hands it to me like a Christmas present I picked out myself and she threw in a grocery sack with a red ribbon tied on top! Fun post.

  24. Tabitha, I completely agree on the post-partum sex issue. I’ve nursed babies, too, and all I could say is STEP AWAY FROM THE BOOBS OR DIE.

    Phyllis, your Scooby Doo ending analogy is perfect. Oh, gee, it wasn’t really a problem after all, only a misunderstanding under that sheet. lol

  25. Great post, Cheryl! I agree with all your “peeves,” and have one to add: I hate it when the hero is filthy rich, but hides it from the heroine until after they’re married. What guy would ever do that – and how could you trust a guy who hid such an important fact from you?!?!?! Drives me crazy. Thanks for offering a place for us to vent!
    I also hate pat endings, where everything is suddenly wrapped up in one conversation. A complex story deserves a reasonably complex ending, or I feel let down.
    And Tanya, you had me worried about the stallion thing because there’s a stallion in my next book, but it’s a contemporary and he’s a stud – literally, for breeding. So I’m okay. Phew! (the cowboy in the book is a stud, too, but in a different way:)

  26. Great post Cheryl! I agree with your peeves – I read a book where the heroine was described as having “tiny hands” which would have been fine except that the rest of her was voluptuous – more of a Rita Hayworth than a Kate Moss so I had this mental picture of a normal size person with tiny hands and it kind of threw me (esp. because it was mostly mentioned in the love scenes and it was just WRONG!)

    I don’t like rushed endings either – but even worse, I hate it when the loose ends aren’t tied up. I don’t love the deus ex machina to resolve problems – I’d prefer the plot to not be so complicated that such a device was necessary but I also hate it when I get to the end of the story and things are left hanging. I’m not a fan of the ambiguous ending (hence why I loathed the movie “No Country for Old Men”!!).

    So, to recap, I like a HEA with all the loose ends tied up but not so pat as to be unrealistic, I like to have some time with the h/h to enjoy their HEA but I don’t want it to drag either – as you can tell, I’m so easy to please!! Poor authors – what chance do they have?

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