Friday, December 10, 2010

Literary Blog Hop and/or Emma

Literary Blog Hop
Another week, another Literary Blog Hop, hosted by The Blue Bookcase.  This week's question is:
What is one of your literary pet peeves?  Is there something that writers do that really sets your teeth on edge?  Be specific, and give examples if you can.
It took a bit of musing for me to come up with an answer to this because while I am often irritated by things writers do, it's not necessarily a consistent peeve.  To draw from some other bloggers' complaints, I may be irritated by the use of he said/she said, but I may also prefer it if done well.  Like everybody has mentioned, I am driven crazy by editorial errors because come on editors, isn't that you job?  (I feel justified in saying that because I have been rejected from so many editorial positions in which I obviously would have put an end to all editorial errors ever.)

The answer came to me last night while I was reading struggling through Emma by Jane Austen.  I know, I know - Jane Austen's so amazing, I've said so myself, what could I find wrong with it, blahblahblah.  Well to be honest, I find it a little dull though productive in that it gave me not one, but two answers to this week's Literary Blog Hop.  Yay?

1) Characters who are merely caricatures.  Are Mr. Woodhouse or Miss Bates capable of being useful at all?  These characters have no depth whatsoever and all they ever say is a continuation of all they have ever said; that is, nothing.  They remind me of Jack Gellar, Monica and Ross's father on Friends, except he at least occasionally shows some emotion that runs beneath the surface of his ridiculousness.  Also, he only show up occasionally and thus is good for an occasional laugh, but Mr. Woodhouse and Miss Bates are there constantly, wasting incredible amounts of space by contributing nothing to the story.  And even when they're in another room, the other characters are talking about them.  Stock characters can be okay occasionally, but when you (cough, Austen) take it too far, it really raises my hackles.
And makes my eyes glow, apparently.
2) Authors who write the same story over and over again.  I've read four Austen novels, in the following order: Pride and Prejudice, which I loved; Northanger Abbey, which I loved; Sense and Sensibility, which I liked; and now Emma, which (to be polite) I am less than enamored with.  Taking Northanger Abbey out of the mix, because it doesn't quite apply, the plots of the other three novels seem to just be copies of one another with names and details changed.  Reading Emma, I can find the equivalent characters in P+P: Mr. Knightley is Mr. Darcy (just poorer), Mr. Elton is Mr. Collins (just hotter), Mr. Churchill is Mr. Wickham (just nothing, they're exactly the same person).  Et cetera.  It was a fun read the first time around, but by now I'm just bored of the same old thing.  Yes, plots are often reused, but this precisely?  At least stick them in another setting or something to make me feel like I'm actually reading something new and not rereading P+P for the umpteenth time.

6 comments:

  1. it's been a while since i've read "emma" so i'm not able to remember specifically the characters you write about as being caricatures...but in a broad way, i'm with you on that. i want my characters to read like real people, and if they have one defining characteristic i lose interest in them quickly.

    although austen does write about the same themes in each book, that's one of the things i like about her...i used to hate austen, but now her books are sort of comforting to me. i'm not sure how many times i've read any of them, but i feel like i can read them countless more times and not be bored by them. almost like coming home. although one of the reasons i can do this with her books is that they seem to slip away from me pretty quickly after i finish them; otherwise, i wouldn't be able to handle a yearly reading of "pride & prejudice." for most books i'd consider that a bad thing, but with austen i'm glad i can't retain more than the basic plot points after finishing one of her books. (you've got me thinking now about why this is, though...)

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  2. Cardboard stereotypes that are merely their to promote the author's point of view, or as plot devices.Lazy, Lazy, Lazy.

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  3. I haven't noticed authors writing the same story over and over again, much but I do notice the same type of story coming back in different books (by different authors) - For instance, a brother and sister going back to see/bury their old/dead father in the small town where they grew up and then discovering something terrible from the past.

    Been there and done that. :-)

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  4. "(I feel justified in saying that because I have been rejected from so many editorial positions in which I obviously would have put an end to all editorial errors ever.)"

    Way to be ambitious. =)

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  5. I mix my Austen's up all the time because they stories are so similar. Find a wife, find a husband. The end! And yes, useless characters mean no plot. If you ever come across a book called 'Free Food For Millionaires', do not go near it with a barge pole. Full of useless characters.

    Here's my pet peeve: http://mywordlyobsessions.wordpress.com

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  6. Emma was my least favorite Jane Austen novel, and perhaps those are the reasons why. It was the only one that actually bored me.

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