1. A romance heroine who is too stupid to live
Imagine the scene, you're happily reading away, enjoying the story when suddenly the heroine decides to walk down a dark alley. She needs to follow a blood trail, even though she's all alone and has no skills to deal with what she might find. Or how about this one: the heroine, who's been told by the experts in the story not to do something, does that exact thing as soon as their backs are turned. Even though commonsense and basic logic would tell any woman that it's a bad idea. These heroines are TOO STUPID TO LIVE. They have no place in a decent novel. Didn't this sort of thing end with the bad horror movies of the 70s? Aren't we over dumb women walking into places no sane woman would ever go??? I mean, seriously, it's the 21st century. What woman in their right mind would do something like this? When I find someone like this in a book I just want to throw it out the window.
2. It's all a misunderstanding
I HATE when the characters spend a whole book fighting over something that could have been solved with a conversation in the first chapter. This is not a plot. It's a farce.
3. Repetitive internal monologues
Enough with the endless emotional angst already! What age is the character? 13? I sometimes wonder if writers think readers are dumb. You don't need to tell your reader something over and over for them to get it. Reading one paragraph where the hero ruminates over his childhood trauma is enough. You don't need to bring it up every couple of pages. Instead of telling me what he's thinking about all the time, how about showing me through the action how he's dealing with it? Page after page of angst is only interesting if you're a fifteen year old writing a diary. For the rest of us it's BORING.
4. Characters that have nothing endearing about them AT ALL
I read a book recently where the hero and heroine were totally unlikable. I kept waiting for a scene or a turn in the story where I'd find out they had depth of character. I wanted something - ANYTHING - about them to make me like them. It never happened. Why would I read about people I can't identify with and don't like? This boggles my mind.
5. Characters who act out of character
This one really makes me mad. I read a book recently where the heroine was smart, sassy and cautious - until about 10% from the end! Then she suddenly did something so stupid and out of character it made no sense whatsoever. It pulled me out of the story and ruined the book for me. I can see why the author did it. It was an easy way to move the plot along and get the ending she wanted. It was also the lazy way. I won't be buying this author again. I'm worried she'll do that to me in future books. Once bitten...
6. NEVER, ever use this phrase: velvet over steelI think this was used to describe a penis once in the 70s and a whole bunch of romance writers thought: "Hey, that is so groovy, I need to use it too!" NO. DON'T DO IT. For a start it isn't accurate. I wrapped velvet round a steel pipe and it is nothing like it claims to be. On top of that it's a screaming cliche that's so overused it makes the reader laugh. And you generally don't want a reader laughing in the middle of your oh-so-hot sex scene. Unless you're writing romantic comedy and intend for this to happen. Which gives me an idea... :)
7. Flogging a dead series
Three times recently I've read the latest books in series by authors I love and discovered the same thing--they should have let the series die! It's obvious from the way the books are written that the author is totally over it. Their lack of interest, and joy, comes through loud and clear. Readers might want more of the same from you, but if your heart isn't in it you aren't doing them any favors by writing those books. Do something else with your talent. Give me a book that's just as well written as some of the books in your past instead of a half-hearted attempt to do what you think I want. LET THE SERIES END.
Okay, I feel so much better having gotten that off my chest. Phew! If you have any pet peeves, don't forget to share them with me. Trust me, you'll feel the weight lift from your shoulders when you do! ;)