Characters repeatedly using each other’s names in conversations

This is one of my biggest literary pet peeves, and one of the ones that I just find SO distracting. Imagine two characters, John and Jane, having a conversation, and their entire back-and-forth is just: “Hi Jane.” “Hi John.” “How are you, Jane?” “I’m good, John. What about you?” “I’m doing great, Jane.” Like ?????? When I think about how I have conversations in real life, I almost never use the names of the people I’m talking to in the conversation, so seeing this coming up so often in novels drives me crazy. Some inclusion of names is fine, but when every single line of dialogue includes the characters’ names, it’s extremely irritating. (I DNF’d The Atlas Six like less than 20 pages in because this dialogue issue was EVERYWHERE, and also the writing was just generally awful lol.)

Obvious/simplistic mannerisms or gestures

Another thing I’ve found that I don’t like: when authors give characters the most boring, simplistic gestures or mannerisms. “What do you think about this?” character A asked, putting her fingers to her chin and tilting her head inquisitively. Like, no. The characters start to feel like cartoons when their gestures/mannerisms are so obvious. Would love to see more subtlety than just tilting their head when they’re asking a question. 😬

Characters knowing things they can’t possibly know

I hate this so much. I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things, but this is one that really annoys me. I’ll be reading a novel and then the character will just discover extremely detailed and specific things from A Look that another character gave them or whatever. People know a lot of things from studying other people, reading their body language, etc., but when characters start gleaning very convenient, important plot-relevant information just from a basic Look, I have trouble suspending my disbelief.

Gender essentialism

This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a major red flag for me, especially in romance, and will pretty much immediately lead me to DNF if I find it pervasive in a novel. I’ve seen so many egregious examples of gender essentialism in romance; there are truly so many wild examples I can think of (“a feminine chair” ??? really??).

Magical realism short stories whose entire plot is just “weird things happen”

I love short stories, but I encounter so many magical realism collections that are not trying to make any point or tell any kind of story beyond “weird things happen.” Throwing a bunch of “magical” stuff at me does not make your story an actual story lol. Would love something at least narrative-adjacent, or that has some degree of finesse.

Being told something without it being shown

Another self-explanatory one, but I see this so often, and it annoys me to no end. Character A will be like “wow, Character B is so funny!” when Character B has not shown anything even vaguely resembling a sense of humour. It takes me out of the story so fast, and really makes me distrust the book’s writing. I don’t want to be told to believe things that I don’t actually believe, based on the evidence from the novel.

Overly romanticized writing about books

Omg I find this so irritating. I hate books–especially fiction–about books. I love reading, as I’m sure a lot of us do lol, but I cannot stand overly romanticized writing about books that’s like Wow, that new book smell! I love cracking spines! Like ?? It doesn’t resonate with me at all; I don’t like to read because of the new paper smell or whatever. This kind of writing just strikes me as trying super hard to be Quirky and Special when sometimes reading is really not that deep. People like to read because people like to read. It doesn’t have to become this weird thing that Only Special People Do.

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

12 thoughts on “MY LITERARY PET PEEVES (discussion)

    1. right ??? it feels so pander-y too like the author thinks that just because we’re reading a book that means we’re automatically on board with any kind of flowery writing on ✨ Books and Being a Book Person ✨

      Liked by 1 person

  1. i love this post and it definitely got me thinking! gender essentialism is an especially funny one i think and i’ll admit it gives me a good laugh every time i come across it because authors will assign gender to the weirdest things ever. it’s even funnier because english is technically a non gendered language, so unless you’re talking about a person or an animal, gramatically everything else is genderless (*cue conservatives having a meltdown over the english language being inherently ✨nonbinary✨*)! the funniest i’ve recently seen is in sarah j. maas’s books. i mean i’m not arguing that the woman isn’t a damn good storyteller, but by golly if she doesn’t gender the most ridiculous things (example: “he gave her a purely male look”—what do you mean by that, sarah, what?!). but i digress…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL right?? ive truly seen some wild things get gendered in the books that ive read in the past couple of years (“feminine chair” is currently at the top of the list). wish authors would stop to just think about their word choice for a second 🤷‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m agreeing with these so hard – especially the first and last. My husband and I joke that because we actually call each other by our names so infrequently that if we use each other’s full names, it makes us feel like we’re in trouble! And I have gotten to the point where I generally don’t want to read a book if it’s set in a bookstore or the main character is a writer and it is about being bookish in some way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hahah yes!! like when you think about it people dont use each others names that much except when they want to call them or get their attention, so it stands out so much when names are mentioned SO MANY times in dialogue in books…and i think writer characters can be interesting if done well (an example that comes to mind is Alice from Beautiful World Where Are You?), but i just cant stand books about Loving Books lol

      Liked by 1 person

Let me know your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.