Least Favourite Plots

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Penguinball

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Least Favourite Plots
« on: May 16, 2018, 12:03:45 PM »
Alternate Alliteration Title - Personal Plot Pet Peeves.

I just replied to the favourite plots thread and that got me thinking of all the things I really don't like seeing. For me, if a story is all political plotting and intrigue and double crossing I get bored. I also get bored of stories where it is possible it is all just a dream, where the protag is unsure of the reality of the situation and just makes DUMB choices. Bonus points for when they are in this amazing world and all they want is to go back to their boring life. And if it DOES turn out to only be a dream, that book is flying across the room. 

What kind of plot makes you walk away from a book?

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mathgnome

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Re: Least Favourite Plots
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2018, 01:12:20 PM »
For me, if a story is all political plotting and intrigue and double crossing I get bored.

As I write a story involving copious amounts of political scheming and intrigue...

I mean, if that's all there is, yeah. But if there's some action mixed in, or an interesting world and character building, I'll stick around.
I don't mind plots where reality is in question, but consistent dumb choices drive me up the wall. Like, if it's in-character to do the dumb thing, then fine, but characters making dumb choices for the sake of plot is unbearable. Also, characters who don't learn make me so frustrated. I am known to scream out loud at annoying characters.

On the subject of characters not learning - love triangles or "failure to communicate" romantic subplots annoy me so much. A well-done love triangle, sure. (Mistborn: The Well of Ascension). But ones where the conflict is basically "do I like X or Y more" and there's no meaning to the choice beyond that, eh. It's been overdone. And frequently done poorly. Same with the subplots where the romantic leads are having all sorts of misunderstandings and not getting together and avoiding communication for whatever reason. Makes me want to jump inside the book and drag them into the same room to talk. Like with love-triangles, it's overdone, frequently poorly done, and drawn out for far too long. Misunderstandings happen... but from my (admittedly limited) relationship experience, not the way it happens in books.

Also, if the plot is literally composed of every cliche known to man and populated by cardboard tropes - yeah, no, I'm out
For glory lit and life alive,
For goals unreached and dreams to strive:
All men must try, the wind did see,
It is the test, it is the dream.

-Wit, from Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

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Penguinball

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Re: Least Favourite Plots
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2018, 02:27:44 PM »
Quote
On the subject of characters not learning - love triangles or "failure to communicate" romantic subplots annoy me so much.   ...   Same with the subplots where the romantic leads are having all sorts of misunderstandings and not getting together and avoiding communication for whatever reason. Makes me want to jump inside the book and drag them into the same room to talk. Like with love-triangles, it's overdone, frequently poorly done, and drawn out for far too long. Misunderstandings happen... but from my (admittedly limited) relationship experience, not the way it happens in books.

YES this, lack of communication is becoming a huge issue for me. If the plot could be solved in five minutes if everyone would just take 5 seconds to talk to each other I get so frustrated. It is a lazy way of maintaining conflict and driving the plot forward. I was just watching a show on Netflix (Mako Mermaids, because it is MerMay) and had to stop after a few episodes for this exact reason. Naturally lack of communication will occur from time to time, but it only works if it is justified by personality of the characters, trauma, that sort of thing. If the plot falls apart because people they just can't be bothered to talk...total deal breaker.

Love triangles are complicated, I love them when done right but so often the author telegraphs who they prefer so it doesn't really feel like a choice, it feels more like a road bump in the relationship of the preferred pair. Also tricky to balance, all sides of the triangle should be fully fleshed out characters, but that can lead to disappointment when your favourite pair doesn't work out. There are two books I read recently where this happened, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier where the MC Sorcha seems to have some chemistry with one guy, but that guy gets written out of the plot for most of the book and she ends up with someone else, so frustrating. I've forgotten the name of the other book, but the two love interests are 'boring mortal' and 'tragic backstory guy who waited centuries for her' and she choses boring mortal because she fell for him first. On a side note, while looking for the name of the second book I came across pages and PAGES of books of paranormal romance where a woman falls in love with a dragon that can turn into a man. HUNDREDS of them. I had no idea it was so popular, practically its own subgenre.

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Amblygon

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Re: Least Favourite Plots
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2018, 02:34:18 PM »
I  thought about this and struggled to think of good examples. For me it's more about how it's done. I can stomach a lot of cliches if they're done really well, and there usually isn't anything I won't at least try to read.

One example that I came up with is quite similar to one of mathgnome's examples: characters who hate each other and then fall in love. The author better have some good reasons for why two characters who have been built up to hate each other's guts suddenly fall in love, and usually I don't see any good reasons and usually this plot point isn't done well.