10 – Flat characters and stereotypes– Characters that don’t show any growth throughout the story and/or are almost caricatures. And stereotypes….urgh. It’s just a specific type of flat character, really. The super gay best friend/sidekick who is essentially there for humor, all women but the heroine are just jealous and horrible bitches, the alpha-hole hero who has no redeeming qualities but somehow the heroine loves him and so does everyone else, deep down…
9 – Inconsistent characters – I just said I wanted character growth, yeah? Well inconistent characterization is NOT character growth, though sometimes it seems to be explained away as that. I’m talking about characters acting completely out of character, with no logical or believable reason behind it. Or bam, halfway through the book, it’s like reading a completly different character altogether.
8 – Too big a cast – too many people to keep track of – It drives me nuts when I can’t keep track/keep up and then have to scroll/page back and figure out who the person is.
Now, I’m actually fine with a larger cast. *I* have a larger cast in my Albion’s Circle series, but I hope I avoid (and try VERY hard to!) falling into the trap of making people go “Who’s this again?”
So the problem isn’t necessarily a large cast (though I think there likely is a limit to how many people you can effectively have playing a decent role in the story), but more often, the issues is how it’s executed. If the cast is introduced in a style reminiscent of classical literature like The Iliad or J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, the author may want to step back and reconsider a few things.
7 – Insta-love – I know I’ve mentioned this in another post at some point… I want to see people fall in love. I want to see what about the characters the others love and be rooting for them. That’s why I read romances. So, when it’s instaneous – and not talking about immediate attraction/lust here – I feel let down as a reader. Big time.
6 – Lack of research – If you’re going to write about something, in detail, then you need to know what you’re talking about. An example – I was reading a book in which the hero was a private investigater. There was a murder and he’s called by his cop friend. The hero then proceeds to show up at the crime scene, pokes around, takes a file in full view of everyone, touches everythign with no freaking gloves or anything, basically compomising the crime scene and evidence. I’m no expert in law enforcement or crime scene investigation, but even I know there is no way that would freaking happen!
5 – Overselling the research and/or knowledge – This is a personal one for me, and I’m sure there are people who disagree and perhaps like this kind of thing, but I don’t need a run down of every furnishing and antique in the family mansion. I don’t need page upon page of all the sights in the city that story takes place in so I know that the city was googled. For me, if it isn’t important to the story, I don’t need to be regaled with all this information and it pulls me completely out of the story.
4 – Head-hopping – When we’re bouncing from one character’s head to another, when that results in confusion and having to skim back to figure out who’s head we’re actually in…
And falling under the same umbrella – too many POVs. Especially if it’s just once in the story and it’s a character who doesn’t even play a large role. There are ways to impart information to the readers without going into, say, the waiter’s head for a matter of paragraphs just to let us know a tiny detail.
3 – This is more specific to paranormals…. The vamps, the weres, the supernatural beings are all drop dead gorgeous and physically perfect.
And don’t get me wrong… Having pretty characters, not a problem. But being told ad nauseaum just how beautiful and stunning they all are, how they could all be models, etc., it gets old very quickly.
2 – The irresistable heroine. Everyone wants her. EVERYONE. Even her gay married dentist is re-evaluating his sexuality because omg she’s just all that.
1 – This is specific to story with BDSM elements – when a character is into BDSM, it’s because at some point in their life they were abused and they are broken somehow. That the character just needs to be fixed, and when they are good and whole and healthy again, they won’t need to do “that” anymore. Because just being into it, just enjoying it, just getting something out of it without a terrible, horrible, no good past pushing you do it isn’t enough.