Discussion: Pet Peeves in Fiction

I have so many pet peeves about fiction because I read a lot.  Here are the ones I hate the most:

  • When authors write ‘utilize’ instead of ‘use’ every single time.  It doesn’t make you sound smarter, trust me.
  • Just bad grammar in general.  Not the deliberate kind I have on my blog (because it’s supposed to be informal) but just bad grammar out of ignorance in a published copy.
  • LOVE TRIANGLES.  Please, please, please, can we just agree to stop this travesty?  It’s so overdone that it makes me want to throw my Kindle at the wall whenever I see it.  There are more important things in life than “Which boy do I like best?”.

And this one isn’t the author’s fault (usually), but:

  • Bad formatting.  Even on NetGalley, which gives out ARCs, I expect to be able to read your book.  Some publishers just think they can download the text straight from a Word document (or whatever they use) to the .mobi format without any changes.  That results in things like totally unreadable text obscured by pictures, every single sentence being on a totally different line, random numbers and crap in the text and sometimes even parts of the text are totally unreadable because they’re supposed to be a different colour in the physical copy but light colours don’t translate well to the .mobi file.  I actually had to send a publisher a pretty annoyed note about the last one.  Please: format your book, even if it’s just an ARC.

Okay, rant over.  Now it’s your turn: what are some of your biggest pet peeves in fiction?  Is there a trope you just hate with the passion of a thousand fiery suns?  Or do you just hate when people don’t take the time to proofread properly?  Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Diantha Jones (@DianthaJones)

    I agree, love triangles are the WORST. I also hate Insta-Love. Stop playing, people! You don’t fall madly in love in a few days! Sure there are the random real life cases of love at first sight, but that’s rare. Like you said, this is about as overdone as love triangles are.

    • Carrie Slager

      Exactly! Sure, there’s Insta-Lust; that happens all of the time. But love? You sure as heck can’t love someone in just a few days because you really don’t know them yet. Just being attracted to them doesn’t make it love.

  2. Rebecca Vance

    My biggest complaint with any fiction, no matter what the genre, is a flat ending. There is nothing more infuriating than investing all of my time and interest in a novel, get invested in the characters and care about their problems, to have the ending not fulfill the story promise. Many leave unanswered questions and/or the ending feels hurried and incomplete in some way. This will cause bad reviews and have readers vow to never buy another book from this author.

    • Carrie Slager

      That is so, so true. I don’t mind some unanswered questions, but the main ones that were posed throughout the story do need answers. The ending has to feel satisfying, like you know exactly what happened. There can be some doubt about what happens next, but things should be wrapped up by the end and the story promise as you put it should be fulfilled. There’s nothing worse than an unsatisfying ending!

  3. jmdavisauthor

    My pet peeves in fiction are the following.

    Stories that start out with backstory.

    Using the main character’s name seventeen times in the first chapter, when there are only two people in the scene, one male and one female. The book was not self published, supposedly edited by a top notch editor. The book appears to doing well and is getting rave reviews. Readers are forgiving, but if this story ever goes to an audio book, I predict the first chapter will be edited to replace the character’s name with the words she and her.

    Using the word “that” when “who” should have been used. I see this mistake often in novels. The machine that cut his hand was removed from service. The woman who cut his hand was charged with assault. The woman that cut his hand is incorrect usage of the word “that”.

    All right is actually two words. It has been violated so much, some dictionaries have begun showing alright as the correct spelling.

    A character cannot place their eyes on something or someone. They can stare, glare, focus, look, and gaze. Margie’s eyes need to stay in her head, instead of on the divorce document her husband placed in front of her.

    People often speak in sentence fragments so they are acceptable in fiction, but I prefer to read them in dialogue and used sparingly in narrative.

    If the story is a good one that holds my interest, I will still read it, even when it contains some of my pet peeves listed above. Everyone makes mistakes, even editors, but it is best not to repeat them over and over, or most readers will put the book down.

    Thank you for this opportunity.

  4. Jemima Pett

    Lots of good things for me to remember not to do, but most of them are also my pet peeves (or my editor’s 🙂 ) I’m with you on the trad published books that are appalling in ebook. How dare they slight indie authors for poor editing??

    Given I read a lot of older kids/younger YA fantasy, I’m getting really bored with “(s)he woke up on his/her xth birthday and discovered (s)he could / his/her destiny….”

    Thanks for the lists! 😀

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