Jennifer Lyon

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022
Today’s Reading Gripe

Sometimes I regret not listening to reviewers. In this case, it’s the latest  murder mystery I’m trying to listen to.  I saw somewhere in the reviews that the listener couldn’t sort out the characters. I ignored it and am regretting it now.  I’m half way through the book and giving up.

The story set up is two men who didn’t know each other meet in a warehouse and are murdered. Their wives are the story protagonists trying to find out who murdered their husbands and why. But all the characters blend together into one big pile of I don’t care anymore.

At first I blamed the narrator and tried to mentally latch onto characteristics to tell them apart, then realized…the author has written all the characters as if they’d been cut from the same loaf of bread. They have different backgrounds but the only way we can tell is when the author reminds us, not by differences in in the way the characters move, speak or act. As if he forgot to give them different personalities as demonstrated through the character’s actions and words. It’s maddening as a reader. It feels like the author could just narrate this story without the characters. Bland. Boring. And why should I care?

It’s possible that listening to the book is exaggerating the problem, but I’m done even trying, This author is on my do not buy list, I’m not going down this boring rabbit hole again.

I’m also mad at myself because I ignored the reviewer comment that should have warned me. But the stupidly arrogant voice in my head said, “The reviewer probably just wasn’t paying attention.” Um, hello? I’m often doing something else while listening so I’m guilty of not paying close enough attention if the author doesn’t have solid grasp on creating individual characters. I will zone out of I lose interest too. Which I kept doing in this book because I was lost.

Anyway, that’s my reading gripe today–characters need to be fleshed out as fully as three-dimensional people that I can identify from their way of speaking, moving or reacting, or I’m going to lose interest.

Do you have a reading/listening gripe you’d like to share?

6 comments to “Today’s Reading Gripe”

  1. B.E. Sanderson
    March 16th, 2022 at 7:13 am · Link

    Bummer. I can’t do audio because when I read, it’s like I hear myself reading the book in my head and other voices would totally freak me out. But I can see how that book might be annoying.

    And now, being the paranoid weirdo that I am, I’m wondering if I differentiate my characters enough so they don’t all come off as the same. Or wouldn’t sound the same in audio. Not that I could ever afford to do audio, but gah.

  2. Viki S.
    March 16th, 2022 at 2:50 pm · Link

    I don’t think I’ve come upon that in my reads and I mean reads because I have never done audio. It would make me quit the book if all the characters sounded alike.

    Sorry you didn’t listen to the reviewer. Honestly, I don’t always listen to them either. Especially if the book with bad reviews is from an author I normally read.

    Sure hope you find something good to read soon :).

    Have a great day!

  3. Silver James
    March 16th, 2022 at 3:11 pm · Link

    Well…I’m glad I decided to actually check your site. For some reason this post didn’t pop up as “unread” in my blog roll so I’d know to click and open it to read. I’ll have to be more watchful.

    So. yeah. Totally on board with your gripe today because I pretty much ONLY do audio books these days. A good narrator can make or break a book. A good producer is less important but sound quality is important. And finally, the author needs to give the narrator–who IS a VOICE ACTOR–the materials to work with.

    Back in high school speech, I used to do a contest events called Dramatic Interpretation and Humorous Interp–the difference being one is dramatic, the other is humorous. Like d’uh! :lol: Anyway, the “cuttings” were taken from books, short stories, playes, etc. and the whole point was to portray each individual character. Side note, I wonder how many narrators did the whole HS speech contest thing? Anyway, I digress.

    I’d like to think that due to that experience, when I write a character, I also hear them in my head, thereby infusing their individual personalities, which would/will give a narrator something to work with if/when I get the bucks to go audio. I REALLY need to win the lottery.

    As for me, my current gripe is “cut and paste” scenes, especially when it comes to the romance. Yes. I’m aware that Tab A fits into Slot B (or slot a or c) only so many ways. But dammit. Don’t get lazy and just retread a scene you’ve used in a different book. Heck, I’ve read some that they recycled in the SAME book.

    Anyway, you and me are pretty much on the same page when it comes to gripes. LOL Have a great day, witches, and happy reading/listening!

  4. Jennifer Lyon Apodaca
    March 16th, 2022 at 5:55 pm · Link

    B.E., LOLOL, ok I think every writer with even an ounce of humility thinks the exact same thing! But you have voice down, so don’t worry.

    I can’t listen to most romances in audio, so we all have our own weird quirks. And the narrator can make or break a book for me. And I say do what makes you happy :-)

  5. Jennifer Lyon Apodaca
    March 16th, 2022 at 5:59 pm · Link

    Viki, I’m with you on authors I read and love–I don’t pay attention to those reviews either. But I do for authors I don’t know, and I’m usually looking for things that bug me personally like bad narrators. On the flip side, I’ve bought books from bad reviews because the reader hated the very thing I love in a book :-)

    Hope you’re having a great day!

  6. Jennifer Lyon Apodaca
    March 16th, 2022 at 6:14 pm · Link

    Silver, that’s weird on your blog roll. Can you let me know if it happens again. Right now, I’m thinking a twitchy glitch, but if it’s something on my end, I can try to figure it out.

    Narrators is one of my two top reasons for scanning reviews on audio books! I’m so with you on narrators making or breaking the book–assuming they have decent material to work with.

    I have hired a narrators and I was picky. It was a heck of a lot of money, but he was/is and actor. he narrates under a different name that he acts, but I was happy with his work. However that’s up the the listeners to judge.

    I took a college speech class, does that count? But I think narrators need more than that. I’d go for the professionals, and if I was looking again, I’d stalk the best.

    I’m all for you winning the lottery :-) I was hoping to win enough to get the things I want in the new house, but it turns out, that’s not a “hoping to win the lottery” does not count as income or assets, and I had to make all my selections based on $$ I actually have. Whatever.

    I think I got off topic :-)

    YES!! I’m back on topic now. I’ve skipped so many of those cut and paste scenes. Also…every sex scene should add to the characters emotional arc. Every. Single. One. In my opinion, that’s why sex scenes fail. I struggled to do that in all my books, and probably not always hit the mark. But just cutting and pasting scenes shows for exactly the reason you pointed out: Tab A fits into Tab B and it’s the emotional component that makes it interesting to the reader.

    Hmm, I got back on topic but climbed up on my soap box, LOL! But it’s a good gripe and I’m here for it!

    Happy Wednesday!

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