Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pet Peeves That Give Me THE RAGE

I’m sure this will surprise no one...but I’ve got pet peeves, too. Lots of them. But to keep this from turning into the never ending bitch session, I’ll just focus on the main rage inducers.

I think the thing that drives me the most insane is the misuse of the apostrophe. In addition to creating contractions the apostrophe’s other main function is to indicate possession. However, I see it being misused everywhere to indicate pluralization.

For instance, I absolutely lost my freaking mind last summer when I read my niece’s cute little pink shirt with a picture of a tiara on it.

The text on the shirt said, “Tiara’s make me look taller.”

I pointed it out to my brother, the high school teacher and said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe the grammar on that shirt.”

“What do you mean?” my brother (remember, he’s a teacher) asked.

Really? Seriously?

After I gave him the look of death, I said, “The pluralization of tiaras is t-i-a-r-a-s — no apostrophe. With the apostrophe, it’s possessive – that means that something belongs to the tiara.”

He tilted his head to the side and said, “Huh...I didn’t notice.”

At a loss for words, I cuffed him across the back of the head and left the room.

Another pet peeve of mine is misprinted signs. The worst one I’ve ever seen was in the liquor aisle of a local grocery store right after the holidays when they were clearance-ing out their holiday booze gift baskets. The sign said, “Liquor Gift Basket’s Our In The Main Isle.”

It said that. For real.

There were four copies of this sign up and down the aisle. I lost my mind. Being the incredible nerd I am, I corrected each and every one of them with my trusty red pen that I keep in my purse. Needless to say, my husband pushed the grocery cart into the next aisle leaving me alone with my pen and my rage.

Other pet peeves include excessive point of view changes – particularly when they drop into the points of view of random characters –cab drivers, waiters, a grandmother, a nosy neighbor – heck, I’ve even seen the point of view of a cat. As a reader, if it’s not a main character that moves the story forward, I don’t want to know what they’re thinking. And unless the cat’s thinking that what he’d really like to do is pee in the corner and hack up a hairball on the hero’s shoes, I’m not buying that POV anyway.

Another thing that drives me batty is when the characters the author has firmly established suddenly start behaving completely out of character (with no discernible internal motivation) because it’s a convenient way to move the plot forward. An example would be a strong, intelligent and logical woman who suddenly loses all ability to reason and agrees to meet a serial killer alone on a moonless night because the author needs her to get captured so she can be rescued by the hero. Now, if she’s going there because the bad guy promises he’ll release the school bus full of small children he’s holding hostage, at least there’s some relatively believable motivation, but if she’s going because he says he “has information for her” I’ll probably get the rage and throw the book across the room.

There are a lot of things that bug me, but these are probably the ones that make me the craziest...well, writing-wise, anyway. ;)


Margaret Yang said...

The women lured the by the serial killer would fall under the category "Too stupid to live." Even my children, who are the most generous and least picky readers, hate the TSTL character. We were reading a book called Emily Windsnap and the Monster of the Deep but they made me stop because the heroine was TSTL.

If elementary school kids know this, why don't professional writers? I'll never figure that one out.

anny cook said...

I think the thing that drives me up a wall are things that are misspelled...never forget the book I waded through where the "heroin" "shuttered" in "exstacy" every time the "heroe" "tutched" her. Strangely, it was a NY print book...

Kim Dare said...

Out of character characters drive me up the wall. Surely, after spending X thousand words with the character, the writer must know them well enough to see glaring personality changes? But somehow those characters still manage to survive...