I’m so floored by the response I’ve been getting from my discussion posts, and I just want to thank everyone for reading and participating! I’ve loved reading all of your responses. In light of this, I’ve decided to do a little series of discussion posts titled “Bookish Pet Peeves”; I wanted to take the time to highlight elements of stories that really don’t work for me and why. Hopefully, you will find it interesting and have some cool insights to share!
The pet peeve I wanted to focus on today is unrealistic elements in a story. Now, this may sound really weird, especially when you consider that my primary genre is fiction. There have been countless times when I say that a book was unrealistic and people say “What did you expect, it’s fiction!” I’ve even received very rude and negative comments about that on Goodreads!
But I’m sticking to my guns about this: books need to be realistic, regardless of their genre.
What do I mean by something being unrealistic? Well, I’m mainly referring to how believable something is. And no, I don’t mean the actual premise of the story. What I’m looking for is how believable the characters and plot development is. This may sound confusing, especially when you are dealing with fantasy or sci-fi genres. I don’t mean that the story can’t have dragons or magic or anything else that bends reality. But I want the progression of the story to be realistic. I don’t want the plot to jump all over the place and for conclusions to be made that don’t make sense. When I’m talking about realistic-ness, I’m talking about things that can’t be explained away because of world-building.
So what about characters? Well, I’m looking at the way they talk, at the way they interact with others. If your character is 30 years old but acts or talks like she’s 10 and there is really no reason given as to why this is, that goes down in the unrealistic column. Or if the story is supposed to take place in medieval times but all of the characters use modern slang, and this isn’t explained somewhere, this is going to be an issue for me.
Another thing that can bother me is if the author is either heaping on all of the good or bad luck onto a character. Yes, characters can get lucky or unlucky with whatever they are going through. But seriously, every single bad thing just has to happen to them? Or they just sit there and all of this good stuff happens? Can you see why I’m not down for this? It just doesn’t allow me to form a strong bond to the character or even take them seriously. In real life, people struggle and fight to get to where they want. I expect some of that in books, too.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that you can have inconsistencies within books that make it hard to believe that these interactions or events can really occur. Either this is because the author doesn’t explain this in their world-building or because it is literally going against their world-building. It’s important for writers to remember that readers need to believe in the story and the character. Without this, there can really be no connection between the reader and the novel.
These are just my thoughts on this topic. If you want to read more about this, I strongly urge you to check out Jackie’s post here! It’s a fantastic post and she has brought up some awesome points!
But now, I want to hear from YOU!
Are there any unrealistic story elements that you have come across? What did you do? How did it affect your feelings towards the book?
Is this a pet peeve for you or is it something you can live with?
Comment below and let’s discuss 😀