When it comes to reading material, I’m pretty laid back. I prefer fantasy and the paranormal, but I’ll read just about anything, no problem.
If I have a writing peeve, it’s lazy storytelling.
That may sound funny coming from someone who sells short stories. But I’m not talking about length. I’m talking about lazy writers who use tropes to band aid their plots.
For example, Mama Bear is a Trope. Mess with her kids, and she’ll kill you. Think Ripley, Molly Weasly, Sara Conner. All good mama bears… but that’s not the only thing they do in the story. They are rich, full characters with wants and desires outside of that trope.
Do I have a point? Yes, I do. I acknowledge tropes, use them, even love them. I do not rely on them to carry my story.
Another example, fridging a character in place of characterization. ‘Fridging’ a character is when you kill a flat character solely for the main character’s growth. Example, Maximus’s wife in Gladiator.
The woman had no personality, no goals, she existed just so Commodus could brutally kill her, and make Maximus angry.
We didn’t even get to know her through flashbacks or Maximus telling someone about her. She’s an idea: the faithful, beautiful wife who is brutally murdered.
And it’s lazy storytelling. Yes, even successful movies can, have, and do rely on lazy storytelling.
Yes, I understand that the pain of losing a spouse is universally understood. It’s still lazy storytelling. If you can’t bother to name the character or write any lines for them, if you’re just relying on ‘universally’ understood emotions to carry your story, instead of developing a character, you are a lazy storyteller… no matter how pretty and perfect your prose presents itself.
This is not to say that simple characters are lazy, either. There are plenty of one shot, scene stealing characters who get no more characterization then the one place they appear.
The difference is… they get some characterization beyond staring forlornly in the distance, even if its harried waitress getting off work. You see her rubbing her feet as she talks about heading home and taking a load off… right before the vampire kills her.
Guess what, that paragraph, right there…. more characterization than Maximus’ wife got.
Okay, seriously, I’m done now. Like I said, we all have our pet peeves. As someone who prides themselves on their characters, people who don’t (and the people who let it slide with a shrug) … just bug the crap out of me.