|When there are so many books to choose from, why put your reader off with e.g. silly typos?|
I’ve recently read a book published by an author who appears to sell well. It had many good points – great characters and setting, funny incidents that made you smile or even laugh out loud, but if I hadn’t been on a long train journey I doubt very much I would have finished it.
It contained two of my biggest bugbears:
1) Typos. Three major ones, where character names were used wrongly. That might not even count as a typo, rather just pure carelessness. It certainly pulled me right out of the story as I tried to work out why X was suddenly doing something when he/she wasn’t even supposed to be there.
2) Contrived plot/suspense. By contrived suspense I mean that the author, narrator and characters all know ‘something’. This something is hinted out to the reader but not actually revealed. This drives me mad. I can share a character’s suspense if they themselves really don’t know something, but I just can’t believe it when the character does know but the author is manipulating me to think something else.
In this particular book the hero was pining after a previous lover who had an androgynous name so it could have been a man or a woman. Nowhere in the first third or so of the book was he/she or his/her used in connection with this character. Clearly we were meant to be kept guessing. But why? The hero obviously knew. It didn’t add anything to the plot, just gave you a little thought ‘oh I wonder …’ which would have been fine for 4 or 5 pages but not a third of the book! And as soon as the lover is shown to be female the book is littered with use of the appropriate feminine pronoun in relation to her, so this obviously was completely contrived.
Black mark. Don’t play with your reader unless there is a point.
And that wasn’t the only example of contrived suspense, there were at least two others, so it was no wonder I wanted to scream at the book more than once.
The annoying thing was, apart from these issues, it was a good read. One that could have been made great by some judicious editing. This was a traditionally published book, so no excuse that there wasn’t an editor involved. It makes me wonder what went wrong. Lack of time? Experience? Training?
When you’re reading a book, what are the kinds of things that infuriate you (or, as I say more politely in the title, put you off)?