The other day, Carina Press was asking on Twitter about character traits we found annoying.
Whenever questions like this are asked, every author is bound to become paranoid. Every reader has pet hates, and for everyone, they’re different. The things that drive me crazy in books are often things other people love.
I would recommend authors never venture into threads on Goodreads or Amazon where readers are discussing words and phrases they hate seeing in books; it’ll freak you so much you’ll have to quit writing!
Despite all of that, here are some things that I could do without:
- The word Turgid. Especially in relation to sex. For whatever reason, it makes me nauseous.
- The gorgeous male supermodel character, who is also a successful businessman, former Special Forces soldier, owns his own aeroplane and helicopter, only wears designer clothes, buys expensive jewellery for his woman every five minutes, can play a piano and a harp and a triangle at a professional level, is an Olympic gold medallist – and NYT Bestselling author, owns a private island, and a collection of vintage sports cars. Pick one or two attributes please! These days romantic male leads are straight out of a thirteen year old’s fan fiction fantasy!
Sorry, couldn’t resist!
- The term velvet sheath for a lady’s you know what. Velvet sheaths belong in the 1980s, along with manroots and Fabio covers. I give Christine Feehan a free pass with that term though, because it’s her trademark!
- If you’re not writing a suspense novel, please stop and consider whether the lead male character in your small town bakery-set Christmas book really needs to be a former Navy SEAL. There’re so many SEALs in fiction these days it’s diluting the impact of the position. Even if you can’t help yourself, and feel the need to include the military in your small town cosy romance, what’s wrong with him not being from the Special Forces? Other military positions are honourable too!
- The romantic hero who is so jaded by beautiful women (who are, naturally, *always* raving bitches!) he falls instantly in love with the plain, personality-free lead female character (I call this Twilight Syndrome). If you create a male character who’s perfect in every way, you’d better give me a good reason for why he becomes obsessed with the boring girl no man has even looked at before.
- Which leads me to: empty shell heroines we can imagine are us. Another aspect of Twilight Syndrome. All the “women’s” books (especially young women’s books) that have inexplicably become bestsellers recently, feature these characters. Completely boring, forgettable young women who suddenly find themselves in a love triangle with two gorgeous, amazing, genius billionaires. I know women like to fantasise, but blech!
- Romantic heroes who are physically perfect, bar one flaw: their nose has been broken a few times. I’m not saying an author can never use this in their physical descriptions, but it’s something I’m seeing in every second book these days!