Mar 26, 2012

Posted by in Question | 16 Comments

Question – What Are Your Character or Plot Pet Peeves?

I’ve discovered something:  the more I read, the pickier I get about what you read.  My expectations get higher as my tastes almost mature.  And things that didn’t seem overly annoying once suddenly annoy the sh*t out of me.

This little epiphany of mine happened when I read Colette’s post over at A Buckeye Girl Reads.  She’s started a new feature on her blog called “Tuesday Chatter” and her first topic of discussion was Annoying Book Trends.  It’s not that I was oblivious to the fact that certain character traits or certain story themes drove me a little batty, it’s just that it had become a part of my reading life that I never consciously thought about it…until now.

And now I’m going to talk about it.

There are a few plot ‘things’ that tend to drive me nuts.  Of course there are exceptions, but as a majority I dislike storylines that involve love triangles.  It’s not really the triangle itself that bugs me but the fact that the only reason the heroine is in the middle of said love triangle is because she is weak.  The love-triangle-heroine who bugs me knows who she wants to be with from the very beginning (we see clues everywhere in the book) yet she won’t break it off with one guy because she is too afraid of hurting his feelings.  Yeah.  Grow a set would ya chickie?  If you know who you want yet are stringing someone along just because you’re too chicken sh*t to say goodbye makes you a bitch in my book.  I mean, seriously.  The Barenaked Ladies have a song titled “Break Your Heart”.  The premise:  Boy don’t want to be with girl anymore but he’s too puny-brained to actually do something about it.  Girl finds out.”  The girl’s words are some of my favorite song lyrics ever.  She tells the douche-bag:

What’d you think that I was gonna do, curl up and die just because of you?
I’m not that weak, you know.
What’d you think that I was gonna do, try to make you love me as much as I love you?
How could you be so low?
You arrogant man, what do you think that I am?
My heart will be fine
Just stop wasting my time


And it says what I want to say perfectly!  Heroine, w do you think you are girl?  What makes you so amazing that a man won’t be able to survive without you?  Stop wasting the guys time and let him find some nice chick who will treat him well in some other novel maybe.  Geesh…   So yeah, that is one of my biggest plot/character pet peeves.  If the chick is truly confused and treats all parties involved with respect, I’m okay.  As long as the love triangle doesn’t last 17 books.  Yeah…that would be another pet peeve.

Another character/plot ‘thing’ that really bothers me, and I mean really bothers me, is when a heroine has many chances to get help for her addiction/money problems/bad hair/whatever but refuses because she is too damn proud.  Why why why would someone purposely suffer when they don’t have too?  There are so many people out there who don’t have a choice and who would jump at the opportunity that is offered to our character but nope.  Too.  Damn.  Stubborn.  Gah *spit*

Well, look at that.  This is sort of along the same line as my first pet peeve isn’t it?  Apparently I don’t do well with heroines who are too proud for no damn good reason.  Hm.

The last one I’m going to bring up today is the “OMG I am so bleh and he is so dreamy and there is no reason he should want to be with me but he is so I am just going to question and question and question it until I drive myself nuts (which is pretty much the whole fricking book) and compromise our amazing relationship” plot/character ‘thing’.  Holy cow does this ever bug me!  Unless the guy is slime and only wants you for sex, in which case you would pretty much know, you are questioning his judgement and basic moral fiber by questioning your relationship.  He sees something awesome in you so just shut the f*ck up and be happy he sees it because when you go all “wha wha wha” I sure the hell don’t.

What?  Too harsh?  *blinks innocently*

So those are the three plot or character ‘things’ that bother me.  A lot.  Now it’s your turn to tell me what are your character/plot pet peeves?


  1. Wow…you’re getting angry with that post. 😉

    I agree with you about the love triangle… I think those heroines are too weak to take a decision; they’re afraid of losing both men and remain alone but that’s not the way it works.

    The other plot which is annoying me a lot is when the heroine is so irresistible that all the things containing testosterone are obsessed with her. I just can’t believe it. It doesn’t work with me.

    But I have to say, now I’m doing a rigorous selection before buying my books. And that’s why I enjoy so much visiting blogs like yours to get very sensible advices on my books. 🙂

  2. Oy! great topic and well said!

    It drives me nuts when the heroine doesn’t want a relationship with the great guy because she is so worried about being hurt (again) I literally stop reading those books. Really? You aren’t going to ever date again because you were burned? Get over it!!

    I think my biggest pet peeve though is when the heroine is faced with a difficult decision and instead of asking for help, she thinks it would be best for everyone if she just leaves (runs away) or keeps it a secret. I get so so angry when my heroines are stupid.
    In Courtney Milan’s Turner series, each of the heroines were faced with a deep dark secret. They have 2 choices, run and hide and make everything worse, or take a good look at the situation and bring the hero in on the plan. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that in each of the case, she is smart and formulates a plan WITH the hero. She bucks up and tells them the bad news and TOGETHER they work out a marvelous plan.
    I know previously I was annoyed with those secrets but after reading that Milan story I was like “FINALLY!!!”

  3. The last one is one my biggest pet peeve story lines!! Or the he is too evil, I can’t possibly be with him one. (Then why the heck are you hanging out with him for the entire book. lol?

  4. Mothermayhem says:

    I’m still stuck on the 27yo virgins. Characters that are super smart and sexy, who have made it through college/grad school/law or med school and have never had sex or maybe had one disappointment, until they meet their ultra sexy, oversexed alpha male. Then said male is so overwhelmed with their innocent sensuality, they change their man-whore ways. The best is that Miss Innocent wants to return her lovers oral attention with a knock the alpha’s head off, porn worthy BJ. Really!

  5. I think in the end it all boils down to the talent of the Author, some of them can do magic their pen, almost like a seduction, and a well written book could take me into any scenario I’ve already experienced for a thousand times and make believe it and feel it for the first time.

  6. Yay me! I got a picture!

  7. Oh I HATE when they refuse help. I’ts not being proud and standing on your own legs. It’s being weak and stubborn, and stupid.

    And yes I hate when characters stay together when they do not love each other. The other person deserves better

  8. “Too. Damn. Stubborn. Gah *spit*”


    Your post made me giggle, Julie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you that worked up.

    Here’s my list:

    Love Triangles – You summed up the majority of my issues with poorly executed triangles beautifully, Julie. At one point I might have been inclined to say ANY love triangle was a bad thing, but having seen some well executed triangles (like the one in Shadow Reader), I’m now inclined to say my biggest problems with triangles occur when the heroine refuses to make a decision. The decision doesn’t even have to be permanent, but trying to string along two guys at once is unkind, and lacking in honor. It makes me loose respect for the main character. She needs to have the strength to pick a man – even if she changes her mind and breaks up with him later… she should make a decision.

    Lack of character growth or character regression in a series – Lack of character growth is bothersome. Characters should grow and learn throughout a series – becoming better (or at least different) versions of themselves. Seeing a protagonist make the same mistake over and over again is irksome. But what really makes me furious is when a character DOES learn and grow in books 1 or 2, and then reverts back to previous habits / behavioral quirks later in a series. That growth is so vital and important, and often so hard won. As a highly character-focused reader, I feel like I’ve grown WITH the protagonist – I’ve shared their heartbreaks, celebrated their victories, and rejoiced when they finally conquered their personal demons. Seeing them grow and learn, and comes so far, only to mystically regress back to their flawed “Book 1” state, with no reason given drives me batty. A recent example of this issue can be found in the Study series that you so kindly (indirectly) recommended in your 5-books-of-the-appocolypse post, Julie. I LOVED Poison Study, and I enjoyed Magic Study, but I felt like all of the characters took a series step back in development in Fire Study. I yelled at Yelana more than once for refusing to trust and confide in her friends. I felt she’d learned her lesson with that issue in the first two books, and seeing her regress that much, and act that childish made me want to throw my book across the room.

    Lack of strategic thinking or helpless-girl-in-need-of-a-white-knight syndrome – I guess I’m just not a fan of stupid people, but when characters do things that blatantly fly in the face of logic, common sense, and reason too many times I just want to throw up my hands and scream. This type of silly behavior is often put in books, to give the hero of the story a reason to swoop in on his white knight and rescue the heroine, but I still hate it as a plot device. There are far more sensible ways to put the heroine in danger without making her look like an idiot. Picture this – we have a clumsy, somewhat geeky girl, that’s just learned how to wield a sword. She decides it would be a GREAT idea if she storms a castle to rescue her captured friends – but fears endangering those around her so refuses to tell anyone what she’s doing and goes on her mission solo (Yes, Torrent, I’m talking about you). . I guess that example kind of ties into your pride pet peeve too, Julie. Basically the entirety of the Hush Hush series uses the stupid-protagonist-in-need-of-a-white-knight plot device.

    I guess my post can be summed by up by saying I need my protagonists to engage their brains, make decisions above love, and allow their life experiences to actually teach them things.

    – Jessica / Mithrendiel

  9. Oooh! I have so many!
    In terms of romances, I hate when there’s nothing else in the plot but falling in love. I need a little something else to keep me interested. I especially hate when the main characters spend the entire time in a single setting, like locked away in a room where nothing. else. happens. I’m much more of a fan of Nalini Singh-style romances where there’s a whole lot more going on besides the romance, and the plot and romance help to propel each other.
    I also hate the big misunderstanding that can be resolved with a simple discussion, and stubbornness for no reason. It’s not an enduring trait – it’s just stupidity!
    With UF books, I hate story lines where all that happens is the main character goes from one person to another trying to find ‘clues’, gets nowhere, and then something random happens at the end of the book to make the whole plot pointless. I don’t hate love triangles if done well, but I don’t like extraneous relationships and/or sex for no reason in the books. It needs to have a point.
    I also hate the random need to put dogs and/or children in the books as a way to be endearing. It’s not original anymore. It’s totally contrived.
    My biggest pet peeve of all is giving the heroine a backstory of abuse to garner sympathy, especially when it in no way speaks to the character in the present. I honestly quit reading books that rely on that contrivance at this point. There are so many other ways to make characters interesting.
    Whew. That felt good to get off my chest.

  10. Reading other people’s posts, reminded me of another huge pet peeve of mine… pregnancy at the end of a book as a way of bringing the hero and heroine together. Gah! I HATE it when authors do that. It’s so often used as a way to soften the hard core alpha male types, but it leaves me feeling very unsatified because I then feel like the only reason why said alpha male stuck around was because of the baby.

  11. Zendastark – The overly incredible heroine can be a bit much, I agree with you there. 🙂

    Michelle – Yes, get over it! Well said.

    Colette – Oh yes! The ‘he’s too evil’ plot thing. That is annoying!

    Mothermayhem – The BJ virgin who gives the overly sexed guy the best. one. ever. Yes, that is a great one to have as a pet peeve. LMAO!

    Lup – You are right there – it all depends on the author. And yay, there you are! 😉

    blodeuedd – Refusing help really is one of my mostest biggest pet peeves ever. Grr.. *shakes fist*

    Jessica – I too would have put ‘all love triangles’ a bit back but there are some good ones out there now, like Shadow Reader. Great example of a decent one. And very well said about character growth. SO important. And you know what? I still gave Fire Study 5 stars because I feel it finished the series well but there was something about Yelena that always bugged me a bit but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…and you just did! You are so smart Jessica! And boo to the stupid people. And GAH! The pregnancy thing! Worst ever!!! GREAT comment!

    Sara – I think it’s also important that there be more to the plot than just the love thing as long as it goes with it. Writers who stick an ‘issue’ in the story just to say that the couple has to overcome something annoys me. In fact, that would be another pet peeve. lol It fits in with what you said: things need to have a point. And background stories with no real relevance! OMG there seems a time not long ago where every heroine and her dog came from some sort of abused background. You can still be a strong woman who is ready to conquer adversity while coming from a decent home. Totally agree with you there!

  12. Oh yes Jessica reminded me of the other thing I really hate. A HEA does not mean that the couple needs to have a baby!!! Yes they don’t even have to get married. They can just be in love.

  13. Great post, and great comments. I dislike TSTL heroines, and too alpha male males, the kind that grab the heroine, and hold her, and take her against her wishes where the hero wants her to go. No means no!
    Or when the hero kisses the heroine, and she immediately gets senseless and gives in to all his wishes.

    How about a virginal heroine, who does not only gets kissed for the first time, but has lots of sex immediately after? (historical romances).

    And indeed, the “big misunderstanding”. Talk it out people!

    Lol, I could go on for a while longer.

  14. I HATE it when the characters fall madly deeply in LOVE and have that special connection after only a couple hours of having known each other!! I get there is lust and attraction at first sight, but love takes more than gazing into the other person’s eye and knowing their first name! aargh!

    Too stupid heroines, too insecure heroines (the ones you mentioned who don’t feel worthy of the dreamy and super sexy men ugh..), too playboy jerk heroes, cruel heroes who the reader should fawn over, they all irritate me.

  15. Northwoman says:

    Great topic. I have seen and agree with all of these pet peeves in some form or another. One of my favorite series, at least the first 8 books, Sookie Stackhouse has most of these pet peeves! Sort of. I love some of the characters in these stories, but I have “grown” myself to have other MORE favorite series than this one which got me into this genre of reading.

  16. Michelle – I’m with you there!

    aurian – Big misunderstandings… grr…

    Stella – OMG Yes! Love too soon. Definitely very annoying.

    Northwoman – I’m the same way. I still love my ‘firsts’ but there are so many others that I have been introduced to since then. And I’m pickier of my ‘firsts’ now too. lol

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