Five Ways Characters Frustrate Me

Friday, August 07, 2015

Let's be honest here. Characters can frustrate us a LOT, especially when they're being completely ridiculous. Maybe it's their actions. Maybe it's their personality. Maybe it's the entire character in general.

I have about a million pet peeves when it comes to characters, but today I'll keep the list down to five. I'm sure none of you lovely people out there would bother to read a million reasons anyway. Maybe you can relate, and we can yell at characters together.

Can't defend themselves

Also known as the damsel-in-distress, this character's in the midst of a war and has to always, always stand back and watch the fight, usually with a nice bag of popcorn. Honestly, I don't like reading books when action, war and adventure are the main themes and end up with a character unable to defend themselves from a cockroach. Actually, no. Cockroaches are disgusting.

Sure, I get it if they've never received training. They don't have to be black-belts or seasoned sword masters. But really? Do something. Anything. Don't stand there and scream for your prince(ss), because trust me. That gets real old, real fast.

Prioritizing problems

So, a war's coming up in a story? Two ancient enemies facing each other down with enough firepower to flatten the world? Then it's time to prepare. Train yourself, figure out enemy plans, gear up for battle...

But wait!

Two boys, up ahead! Both smokin' hot, one the brooding angst machine and the other the witty joker. Suddenly, hormones go in overdrive and bam! Priorities rearranged just like that. Now the real problem is: which one to kiss?

I don't know about you, but when this happens I just want to reach into the story and give the hero/ine a nice slap to the head, because, um, hello! War? You know, a big battle where millions could die and potentially destroy the world? Yeah, that war.

Messed-up decision skills

Picture this: a dark alley, a hooded stranger, and instincts screaming for you to run. What do you do?

I don't know about you, but there's no way in hell that I'd stick around for that, "mysterious air around him" be damned. Nu uh. If he wanted to talk to me, he can do it in the sun. In front of the Church. Fifteen feet away.

I know sometimes stupid decisions are needed to move plots forward (like in horror movies. You all know what I'm talking about. Heaven knows the amount of brain cells I've killed facepalming myself because of their decisions.), but don't throw in  idiotic decisions. It makes the character look stupid.

Too good, too fast

I'm not exactly talent-less, but I have my strengths and my weaknesses like we all do. But of course there will be that one character who's surprisingly good at everything without even trying.

I don't know about you, but I can't master everything I try. I don't expect to take down a veteran swordsman after a weeks worth of practice because of "natural talent," nor do I expect to master skills that would typically take years to perfect because I'm just that good. But characters (almost always main) somehow end up accomplishing this, because willpower, yo! 

Whenever authors do this, it alienates me from the character. Where's the struggle? Where's the strengthening of character? Where's the satisfaction of accomplishing the task after days and days of hard work? 

Saying things that we don't really care about 

We see the world through characters' eyes, and we'll have them comment on stuff - the actions of others, the information revealed to them - to give us more insight on the plot. But characters can blab a bit too much on things, adding chunks of paragraphs on things we just don't give a damn about.

Let's use Girl of Fire and Thorns as an example. Elisa's our main character, and she loves food. And I mean loves. Every time she eats, there's a 2 1/2-page monologue about her food. Like, really. I love food as much as the next person, but about half the book would be gone if we took out all the food descriptions. Yeah. That's how unnecessary it is. We don't care about your dinner! Eat it and go; there's more important things to talk about.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with my frustrations? What makes you frustrated about a character?

descriptionABOUT CLAUDIA
A fourteen-year-old girl who loves to read and vastly prefers books over people. I'm big on doodling so if you ever visit my house, chances are you'll find paper everywhereAnd I mean everywhere.

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