Stacy's Place on Earth
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Thursday, October 12, 2006:
Bad habits you can't get past
I don't know if I've blogged about this before, but it's been on my mind lately: character's bad habits.
Since I don't want to have paper cut-out characters that are so perfect they are boring, it's understandable that they will end up having flaws, idiosyncrasies, little quirks that can endear them to readers, annoy them, or plain just drive us crazy. Some habits are easy to overlook, and might even be ones we can identify with ourselves. Others might be deal-breakers - you know, the type of thing that can keep us from caring about the character(s) and ultimately about the story.
One thing that I really don't care for is characters who smoke. Now I know that some of you may smoke, so I don't wish this to come across as any personal attack because everyone should live their own lives doing whatever it is they do and I'm not going to like you any less because of it - that's not what I mean to do at all. In fact my best friend smokes, and I still love her *g* But for characters in a book I'm reading, it is a huge turn-off. I think it has a lot to do with growing up with my mom who smokes, and whenever I go and visit, I could back smelling like cigarette smoke and I have to re-wash everything in my suitcase, which is usually 2 loads of laundry because I pack like I'm going for a month. But I am seriously digressing here. The bottom line is that characters who smoke are not appealing to me. The ones that live on "caffeine and nicotine" seem more like a cliche' of the stressed-out workaholics that seriously need a vacation, or a new career, and I really don't want to read about that because it hits too close to real life. Not mine, but a few people I know live like this.
A huge pet peeve for me is the whiner. Instead of the person that overcomes any kind of adversity and gets on with their life, this character lets every little challenge infect all area of their lives, usually ending up unable to have any true last relationships or any type of normal life. And just for clarification, I believe we all need to vent and rant sometimes, even our characters, but not dwell on it every single freakin' day! Now yes, there are events that happen in life that can impact us very strongly - losing a parent, being in a physically and/or mentally abusive relationship, suffering through a serious illness. But there are ways the character can behave and react to their circumstances that allow the reader to feel admiration and respect. As much as we can feel sympathy for someone else's tragedy, after awhile we begin to lose patience and understanding for someone who must broadcast to the world about their misfortunes and who is clearly looking for that sympathy. Whereas the ones I admire are the ones that persevere and try to overcome any obstacles that are thrown in their path without announcing to the world all their business. (I've often noticed it's the people that keep it quiet that are suffering the most).
What bad habits annoy you? Any deal-breakers?
Has anything caused you to throw the book at the wall?
Feel free to give book examples.


  1. Well, I don't really like it when my characters smoke ~ but it's not a complete turn off for me. I can overlook it if the character is good.

    The last wallbanger for me was Too Tempting to Touch by Cheryl Holt. There were just one too many ick factors in that book and I could not finish it ~ although I tried. I got to page 111 before I quit. Some of the things I hated? Obsessive use of the words prick and cock; the main character's sister had sex with her father ~ and I guess there were some even worse things that happened, but luckily I didn't read it that far.

    Other than that, I can't really think of anything.

  2. Oh I sooooo agree about the whiny characters. What is sexy or manly about this? And a whiny heroine sounds just as idiotic.

    Smoking I don't mind if it's a suave, cool, street-wise character. I guess it depends on how the author writes him.

    Can't think of any other habits I would hate.

  3. I don't go for the whiners or the hero who is feeling so sorry for himself. As for smoking, that is okay, because sometimes it just fits the character so well, depending on how the Author writes it up........

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