Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Editor Pet Peeves

What things do you absolutely hate to see when you’re editing a story or worse yet, reading it in print?
Does the interrobang make you twitch?
Too many commas? Too few?
Why can’t someone learn to use the semi colon correctly?

Let’s hear them!

Myself I twitch when I see people using conjunctions to start their sentences. Yes this is valid and can be done right, but a lot of the time the author seems to have just made a full stop and then continue on with the sentence they were writing. The conjunctions are there for a reason. By placing a period, you may have technically escaped a run-on sentence but instead have just formed a run-on paragraph.

Ex: “Jim wanted to see Mary. But how would he approach her? And what would he tell her? And what if she didn’t like what he had to say?”

It reads naturally because when you read it, you start to take out the full stops and read it as a run-on sentence. I find a lot of the time, you can just cut the conjunction and save us all the trouble.

“Jim wanted to see Mary, but how would he approach her? What would he tell her? What if she didn’t like what he had to say?”

( Also notice how I used the conjunction as a conjunction. It’s amazing, I know! We can still do that! )

I’m not doing this. No.

Unpronouncable names are probably the worst of my hundreds of pet peeves. If I had my choice between Fronthordlt marching into the Plomkthrn Forest, or Rick marching into the Blood Forest, I’d take the latter 20 out of 10 times.

Regarding puncuation, the fact the authors these days don’t know how to continue speech into extra paragraphs really bothers me. I’m not even that old, and my generation learned that in 2nd grade =/

So many… oh so many >.<

I’ll just throw out a couple for now. Run-on sentences in general. I specifically wrote my 1000+ word flash fiction for “Flash Fiction Jam (Bad Fiction Edition)” as one long, continuous sentence because of this.

Using the excuse of “Artistic Freedom” for breaking fundamental rules in grammar. I had an ex who used to use this excuse whenever he used run-on AND fragment sentences. I wanted to stab him in the eye every single time. While it’s true that the way the voice of the narrator in a first person point of view should be kept clear, it’s NOT a good excuse to be lazy. Breaking the rules can be very distracting to the reader and in some cases can ruin a story for them. There are too many great ways to maintain the voice of the narrator without making readers want to toss your story into a burning fiery furnace. It’s sloppy, it’s lazy, and it makes me want to stab you in the eye. You don’t want a munchkin kitty stabbing you in the eye, trust me.

Stories written in present tense. They always look wrong to me.

Including the action of more than the speaking character in a dialogue paragraph. Just gets confusing for the reader as to who is speaking.

For the former, I only read one story where that actually worked well x.x For the latter, you would think a paragraph break would be natural O.o

I tried that once because I wanted to see if I could pull it off. It felt unnatural. About the only way it works at all is in first person, and it’s a chore to make that work.

Interrobangs irk the hell out of me, as do all caps. Arrrgh.

I’ve become hyper-vigilant towards “as”, “was”, “that”, and “suddenly”. Also using a word multiple times in the same paragraph.

Dialogue where every bit of dialogue is tagged with “said”. No “Blah,” action, “blah” just “Blah,” he said.

Present tense makes me self conscious; I get confused when it’s appropriate to use past tense, so I start second guessing myself as to what’s appropriate. I’ve always RP’d online in present tense so seeing it is less of an issue for me.

My pet peeves tend to be larger structural issues with stories.

Biggest one: stories without conflict. I have read far, far, far too many stories where nothing of consequence happens and I just don’t care about what happens to the characters. A close cousin to this one is faux conflict, where people disagree but there are no stakes to either side, so again I slip into the “nothing of consequence” frame of mind.

Thinking about it, my #1 pet peeve (and something I was guilty of in my early work) is when there’s so much backstory and narration that you don’t get any dialogue, character development, or actual plot until well into the story, by which point you’re bored with it and want to read something else.

I read a story once that the guy was quite proud of, but it had no dialogue whatsoever until about 10 pages in! He spent more time describing the machine that a character was driving than the character or their motivations, and the whole story was a heavy-handed strawman for Laissez-Fair economics. ::slight_smile:

Who would do such a vile thing?

innocent look

Run-on sentences. They’re very common and drive me nuts.

shake fist

Also, you are not part jumping spider. Jumping spiders are the only spiders that can look innocent.

Uh-oh. Not only is the most recent short story I’ve done, “Tow,” in third person present tense, the novel that “Tow” is a prequel to is also written in third person present tense. Turns out this is challenging to pull off (at least it has been for me), but I think it’s appropriate for the story.

Personally, what gets me are people changing tenses randomly during stories. I don’t see this in submissions very often but I see it on FA and other archive site stories a lot.

I wrote a story that switched between third-person past tense for the main narrative and first-person present for flashbacks, and flashbacks happened constantly. (This was Da Capo al Fine in Heat 11.) I know that story hit some people’s pet peeves both for tenses and abuse of flashbacks really hard. ;D

Was just reminded of another one that I absolutely hate.

Stop using swear words in your narritive. If your characters want to say it in dialogue, then that’s fine. If you’re writing in first person, it’s okay but keep it minimal. I want to beat someone when I see the narrator in a third person story substituting respectable words for swear words when they aren’t needed.

Seconded, thirded, a millionthed >.<

Hm. Probably my biggest…

Probably just using words wrong. Not typos, not prose, nothing like that. Just using the wrong version of “it’s,” or charging something with a “power chord,” or being “board to tears.” I’ve made a few of these, but these ones are the ones that I think have the highest chance of jarring the average reader, more so than an interrobang or a misused hyphen (which is probably my second-biggest editor pet peeve, misused or absent hyphens).

Another pet peeve came up today: Editors that force their style onto other writers for no reason other than “because they can”. There are only two circumstances that an editor should fight with the author on a style-based choice (when both styles are technically correct):

  • When editing a multi-author piece and wanting to keep certain style items consistant throughout the manuscript (and be sure to explain that to the author)
  • When editing for a publisher/publication that has the editor follow a specific style guide

If neither of these cases are met, then don’t fight with the author. If I want to change your sentence-ending ellipses (“John went to the beach yesterday… .” to “John went to the beach yesterday…”), and you tell me that you want to keep your ellipses as is, I will let you keep them, again unless one of the two circumstances above are met.

I’ve a few.

-Using too many pronouns in an instance that can pertain to up to at least two different characters in a given scene.
ex// “He said that he’d help him with his homework, but he’s nowhere to be found.”

-General wordiness for straight-forward actions.
ex// “While he was running to the store, he heard his keys jangle in his pocket.” vs. “As he ran to the store, his keys jangled in his pocket.”

-Specific to erotica: looking at somebody’s privates and knowing the measurements immediately, somehow. “It was 9 and 1/2 inches.”