Sunday, November 25, 2012

Little Irritations

I used to read a ton of fantasy books as a kid, but the older I've gotten, the less tolerant I notice I am with them. I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that I'm 'growing up' (I still collect Pokemon cards for crying out loud!) but I do know that there are a few things about fantasy books that irritate me and will guarantee I don't read them.

1 ) If you have a pronunciation guide at the back of your book, it isn't worth my time.

This one is the only one that I have been successful with... it was a challenge.
A lot of fantasy readers that I've met say that the ability to pronounce a character's name doesn't bother them. They recognize the name and just kind of skip over it in their mind. They know who the author is talking about and that's all that really matters to them.

I guess it's a quirk of mine but I tend to mouth the words as I'm reading a passage, like saying it out loud will help me remember what's going on better. Sometimes that's a crucial thing when you're reading a monster of a book like George R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, or even J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

This problem that I have also extends into science-fiction novels especially with extraterrestrial names. I realize that these fanciful names help build fantasy and science-fiction worlds and that the further they are from our own worlds, the more highly-regarded they are creativity-wise.

As true as that is though, there is a truth that people like things that are familiar to them; they are just more comfortable with them. I bring to example that in the Elizabethan era in Great Britain, if a play being performed was not to the audience's liking, they would boo the actors and request something they were more familiar with.

2 ) If you reference LARPing or D&D (when you aren't a D&D sponsored book) or any other popular fantasy thing (ex: World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.) , I will not take you seriously.

Seriously, I know both are popular but please don't reference them in your book. I grit my teeth even when authors use 'YouTube' and 'Facebook' in their prose, even though I know both of the websites are huge in the modern world. I think having to reference something in real life in your fantasy novel makes the story that much less creative, and we know what a stickler a lot of fantasy readers are for creativity. Like any other rule out there, there is only one exception and that is Andre Norton's Quag Keep. This is only because Quag Keep was the first novel to reference LARPing and even poke fun at it, comedic fantasy at its' finest. But are you really so lazy in your novel as to have to reference something else to spare you the trouble of having to describe it in your own book? Lame, dude. Just lame.

 3 ) Recycling the same plot is boring...

I'm looking at you, David Eddings. Yes, the first 'magic stone' series was well and good, but did you have to write a second series in a 'different world' with a 'different magic stone' and it was 'totally not what you wrote in your first series, guys' .... this goes back to the 'the weirder your names and your plot is, the more likely it is to be highly regarded' ... people like it when you go out of your comfort zone a little bit. Granted, some of the best known authors have a formula that works for them and they just keep writing it. Just because they are best-known though doesn't make them the greatest authors. All of the authors I know who are considered generally awesome by everyone like to push themselves to writing something different, and I totally respect that.

Then again, there is a problem with high-fantasy that it is the same plot (generally a war) that is recycled over a series of books, but with different characters and different sides. I suppose if you have compelling enough characters and an interesting enough world like in the case of Lord of the Rings then it isn't much of a problem, but... well, I've beat a dead horse long enough. You guys know what I'm trying to say, right?

4 ) I'm not officially diagnosed but it is in my family and I think I have mild ADD

Anything over 300-400 pages is difficult for me to tune in to that long, and any series that stretched on with the same plot for like seven books with not a lot of variation is near impossible. Hell, I can't even watch an hour long TV episode before I feel like I'm bored and need to do something else. The only thing I'm good at tuning in to is video games and progressive metal albums. I'm slightly better at paying attention to audiobooks, but I'm guessing it's because I'm an auditory learner.

So, what do you think? - do you have some quirks about reading books? Discuss.

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