Fiction cliches you hate

(338 Posts)

I read mostly crime and thriller.
Can't bear books that take the first hundred pages to describe the landscape. Thick frost, frozen lake, snowy trees, onto the action please.
Detectives that drink lots of coffee and work all night but somehow seem to actually work very little

Terpsichore Sat 16-Feb-13 14:08:25

Have been reading these with great amusement, though haven't managed the whole thread. I'm sure someone must have mentioned the mania for writing in the present tense, which drives me insane - I hate, hate, hate it.
Actually Jane Green is a major offender, and I'm sure other people copy her because they think she's so successful, thus perpetuating the whole thing.

But my other hate is crime novels that open with a supposedly 'creepy' opening section narrated by the villain....usually in italics and full of meaningful spaces. E.g.

I watch her. She is unaware of my presence, and I exult as I stand, unseen, in the shadows.

Today is the day she will......die

Then it usually cuts to Chapter 1 and gritty banter in a police station somewhere, with a downtrodden 'tec chain-smoking and eating bacon sandwiches.

Oh FFS. Give us a break.

EllieCook Fri 15-Feb-13 07:43:31

I can't stand it when two characters hate each other at first and then after a series of misunderstandings bla bla, it ends in a big, passionate love affair. If he (or she) is an arrogant jerk, that ought to tell you all you need to know. We women do more damage to ourselves by buying into that stuff....

Jux Wed 13-Feb-13 14:24:02

Thank goodness the only chick lit I read is the stuff quoted or parodied on here! LaQueen, you could make a living - if it didn't make you ill!

I hate those conversations which take place merely to let the reader know what's going on, what the background is etc. I know it was said upthread, but it is such lazy, crap writing. Good writers manage to do it properly so you barely notice what they are doing. The current batch of editors are, imo, absolutely appalling and almost as bad as most of the writers on sale.

LaQueen Wed 06-Feb-13 13:35:49

Yep, that would be flippin Jemima J...only when you are super slim and toned can you possibly find happiness...except, of course Jane is slightly more clever than that...so her heronie shagged the stud muffin to death, but then realised that looks aren't everything and instead opted to marry the nice bloke back home, and allowed herself to become a size 12...wow, whoopee do hmm

grin That made me feel a bit rancid. But thanks.

Jane Green... I'm sure she did a transforming one where the heroine lost half her bodyweight in about 3 months, and was wicked toned too, and went off to America to meet an utter arse and did the gym and stuff. There was a buttery yellow suede skirt involved too IIRC. It was dreadful shite.

LaQueen Tue 05-Feb-13 21:25:53

I particularly detest Jane Green's style of CandyFloss Lit...

"Bella scooped her heavy mane of golden ringlets off her slender neck - the early Summer heat in New York was already sultry. She grabbed a mocha latte from a street seller, and realised that she'd forgotten to eat breakfast yet again - but, that was no bad thing, and she slid her hand appreciatively down her slender hips. This new Chloe dress fitted her like the proverbial glove, and her recent long sessions at the stylish new gym downtown was really giving results. Her legs had never looked so long and colt-like. She caught sight of her reflection in the glass window of Marni and wondered anew how she, shy, awkward Bella Ross, with the dusting of freckles across her nose and the over large feet, who was always skulking in the school library, had morphed into the glamorous sub-editor of Venus the hottest new women's glossy on the block..."

Oh do fuck off Jane, dear...you see we can all do what you do...look I just did it. Took me about 2 minutes flat to churn out such drivel angry

I like this, a sort of chick lit axis of evil. The book would get more and more twee, there would be more descriptions of clothes, more clumsy heroines, angst over fuck all and misunderstanding and knowing kids until BOOM it just explodes into a mass of pink feathers and you would NEVER get to read again as a punishment from god.

LaQueen Tue 05-Feb-13 14:58:22

Oh God, yes flippin Terry Goodkind's The Sword of Truth series...I had to give up on it, when I was 4 books in...

Got so utterly sick and tied of Righteous Richard and Wholesome Kahlan, never actually having hot monkey sex...and, even when they finally did it turned out that it didn't count 'because it happened in the Spirit World'

Just shag each other FFS - you'll soon realise that it really isn't all that.

LaQueen Tue 05-Feb-13 14:40:10

It's only a matter of time before someone writes a book titled The Bad Bride's Secret Summer Wedding At The Cupcake Bakery thereby covering all possible known chick-lit narratives angry

LaQueen Tue 05-Feb-13 14:23:11

Can't bear any of the Candy Floss, chick-lit.

They just merge into one pastel coloured miasma of when...Libby (the quirkily pretty, but ditzy) heroine, inherits a picture-postcard perfect cottage on the Cornish coast - so she packs in her vaguely glam PR job, and packs up her belongings in her characterful, original VW Beetle (typically called Mini, because that's like so quirky) and heads to Cornwall.

Naturally, her cottage needs doing up and Libby happens to have a real flair for interior design, and renovates said cottage in shabby chic style. She befriends a cute stray dog - which just so happens to be owned by the local, rugged vet (typically called Tom, or possibly Sam). Tom/Sam isn't conventionally good-looking, but has 'a cheeky grin and broad shoulders and kind eyes^.

There follows some trite denoument where Libby & Tom/Sam disagree over nothing remotely interesting...like...oh, I dunno...Tom/Sam sees a pair of Libby's old Jimmy Choos in the back of her car, and thinks she's really a city gal at heart, and isn't ever going to settle in the country.

Then...oh, actually it's so fuckingly mindlessly inane that I can't be arsed to finish the plot...but we all know how it ends, don't we girls angry

I hate all these + the Cute Kid Subplot (especially if it becomes Meaningful). Not Scout in To Kill a MB. Those little ducks who innocently remark Why Don't You Snuggle Aunty GreyPants you know she called her teddy Big Bear after you?
I particularly loathed that little boy in Love Actually. Him with the drumkit and the notices on his bedroom door. If ever a child needed an XBox.

lainiekazan Sun 03-Feb-13 19:43:17

Agree, RosyRoo. You know that these crap writers have only had their book considered because they have mates in the industry.

Agree too about the "local yokels". The bloke the girl meets back in their home town (why is it always somewhere quaint, too, and not Swindon?) may be a mechanic/tree surgeon/boat builder - but really he's a disillusioned human rights lawyer or surgeon erroneously blamed for a botched operation. Girls can't make a match for life with a thicko can they?

And may I suggest "the letter". How many times has the average person discovered a letter hidden inside a book containing a buried secret? Anyone?

Thewhingingdefective Fri 25-Jan-13 23:02:24

Just about every cliched convention of any genre annoys me, but mainly detectives living alone in an apartment with an empty fridge, a cat and a coffee pot.

RosyRoo Fri 25-Jan-13 22:26:08

There is an overwhelming tendency for the main protagonist to be either a writer or to work in publishing. Have authors got so little imagination that they cannot imagine a life outside of the very narrow world they operate in. Also, everyone seems to have loads of spare cash, even if they say they don't. They never seem to consider the cost before catching the train to Devon, or taking a taxi across town for an urgent romantic tryst.

Stropzilla Fri 25-Jan-13 18:16:53

Over describing something. I don't care what everyone in the room is wearing or how their hair is styled. Or the feel, weight, colour and entire history of the gun being used taking 2 pages to talk about.

Repetitive use of phrases. I'm looking at Terry Goodkinds Sword of Truth series. Being reminded every page of Richards "raptor gaze" made DH and I very stabby.

hackmum Fri 25-Jan-13 18:07:26

What a great thread. Haven't read it all, so apologies if some of these have been mentioned, but in crime fiction (this applies to both tv and books), there are certain things that always give the game away, e.g. if it begins with "and the body was never found", you know that the person is still alive. If there are identical twins, it was the other twin who was murdered/is the murderer, not the one you think. If a character is mentioned early on but appears to have no obvious role in the plot, then later on they will turn out to be really significant, ie they will be the murderer or lead to the murderer.

sieglinde Fri 25-Jan-13 17:26:21

and come to think of it, he shouldn't kiss her lips, unless he is her blood relative. Mouths kiss, not lips.

sieglinde Fri 25-Jan-13 17:25:35

Or 'he crushed her to him'. GBH, I think. Ouch.

Or kisses that taste of heaven, or some other such nonexistent substance.

NicknameTaken Fri 25-Jan-13 13:56:41

Mardy, that reminds me of my first kiss, which featured the memorable words "Why don't you spit out that gum?"

Have never been able to chew banana-flavoured bubble gum since.

MardyArsedMidlander Fri 25-Jan-13 13:12:14

Any romantic novel where he 'crushes his lips to her'- isn't that bloody uncomfortable? What if you are half way through chewing a sandwich?

NicknameTaken Fri 25-Jan-13 10:59:11

Any description of a dream. Not even the "then he woke up and found the entire plot to date was a dream" type, but any description of a dream whatsoever. It's boring when someone tells you in real life, and it's boring in a novel.

I will grudgingly accept "He woke, heart still pounding from nightmares that hovered just beyond his recall" but keep them beyond recall. Please, please, keep them beyond recall.

sieglinde Fri 25-Jan-13 10:51:32

Stephanie, total agreement about child abuse as the only motivator for anything at all. So so done to death.

Children's books about the Holocaust where the POV child doesn't realise what's going on in the nearby camp. Timeslip novels where the child POV character doesn't realise it's the nineteenth century for many chapters despite the steam trains and grime.

Dark fayries or fays or feyries or fairys? FFS.

Corygal, what books are you thinking of re a scholarship?

Trills Fri 25-Jan-13 10:36:05

You don't need a scholarship to go to Oxford - it costs just the same as any other university (which is "no money up front").

Corygal Fri 25-Jan-13 10:31:32

When the worthy and poor heroine escapes her meagre circs through a scholarship to Oxford.

FGS - what about the worthy people who aren't the next Nobel/Booker candidates? And the only people I know who got one had rich parents.

StephaniePowers Fri 25-Jan-13 10:25:29

Any of the following:
- child abuse, only revealed for what it is in the last 1/6th of the novel.
- alcoholic hero who has no bother at all in getting it up whenever he wants to, and despite years of alcohol abuse, is desperately attractive to a variety of women who could naturally do ten times better without even trying.
- 'getting away from it all' usually some sort of man trouble, only to instantly take up with the handsome local yokel. IME handsome local yokels always have 13-yr-old girlfriends and a warning that they'll be done next time for statutory rape, that never appears in such novels.

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