Description Rant

Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 | 1 comment

I’m not sure I’ve ever done a rant prompted by a book before, but I’ve been simmering about this topic since yesterday and I just need to share my anger with someone. So, I’ve been excited to read this one particular book for quite a few months. I’m not going to divulge what the title is, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m picking on this one author. I’ve actually encounter this same issue in books by two other authors, so it’s not as if it’s only something this one author does.

I pull up the book on my kindle with a sense of excitement because, as I said already, I’ve been looking forward to this. I’ve heard wonderful things about this book. The prologue is intriguing, with an interesting overview of a sort of alternate reality earth. I flip eagerly to the first chapter, where I am promptly assaulted by a first person account of sunbathing with a four page description of not only the main character’s outfit, but her hair and her figure. I close the book. I probably sat there dazed for a few seconds. There is nothing–nothing–I want to read less than a self-absorbed character which is exactly how that woman comes off after spending five hundred words describing herself. The rest of the book might be marvelous, but I’m not sure I can wrangle myself into caring at this point. I would much, much rather have no description at all than be handed that so early in the book.

I don’t spend that much time thinking about how I look, ever. I just don’t. If I think about my appearance at all I’m more likely to complain about how unruly my hair is behaving that day, or how the bags under my eyes seem to be growing by the hour. This is exactly why I avoid giving descriptions of my characters in scenes from their PoV. It’s so difficult to make the character seem anything other than self-absorbed and disgustingly vain. I wouldn’t even want to have a conversation with a person who spends pages describing herself, never mind read a couple of hundred pages about her life. Ugh.

Now that I’ve rambled for entirely too long about this. Do you have any fiction pet peeves you’d like to share?

One Comment

  1. Fiction pet peeves? I cannot suspense belief long enough for the story to be told. Ya know, the ‘too stupid to live moments’ we encounter. A group of traveling teenagers decide to hang out in the cemetery, make friends with the extremely sexy stranger and decide, ‘yeah, its a good idea to go to their remote castle on top of the mountain.’ In what world? Or the blonde going into the basement in her pink, see-through teddy with a candelabra to illuminate her way, just to investigate a strange noise . *shaking head* — I just don’t see blondes being that dense. Sorry. —