Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Earned and unearned

I put down Sarah Hoyt's Ill Met by Moonlight last week after reading a chapter and a half. It was not entirely Hoyt's fault. It may not have been mostly Hoyt's fault. Here's the thing: William Shakespeare was a major character. Not just anybody gets to have Shakespeare as a character and keep my eyes nailed to the page. You have to earn it. Like, say, with three or four other books I've loved, or a close friendship., that's pretty much it.

Everybody has hot buttons as a reader. Everybody has things they don't want to read about unless there's a really good reason; everybody has squids (stuff they definitely want to read about with the slightest excuse). A bad enough writer can ruin your squids, and a good enough writer can earn the hot buttons. Still: oof.

Here are some things a writer must earn the right to use and still have me read the story:
Shakespeare as a character
John Dee same
Tesla same
King Arthur
superstring theory in any form
parallel universes interacting in the story
anything that resembles a hobbit (especially if it's not called a "hobbit")
any being with pointed ears
any alien with apostrophes in its name
any human with apostrophes in its name (yes, I know, I go by M'ris; the apostrophe is entirely optional, and anyway I also have a bio of Tesla on my shelves; real life is different)
song lyrics written by the author
an entire story structured around song lyrics written by someone else (different from "inspired by a lyric")
anything related to the US Civil War, up to and including Great-Granddad's rifle
a main character who is a writer
a main character who "wishes" he/she was "still" a writer but who has been blocked
teenagers whose clothes are as cool as the author desperately wished her (or his, but let's be real here: her) clothes were in high school
teenagers who use improbable dialect
anyone with a stutter, drawl, or brogue spelled phonetically, particularly if it's done wrong: I have had friends with each of same, and they do not actually sound like that
excessive similes

Oh, lordy, that one jolts me right out of the list, because Ill Met by Moonlight had William Shakespeare, his plays as an aspect of reality, and the similes, heaven help me, the similes. They were so carefully period. "His thoughts tumbled through his mind like the extremely period fool he'd seen at the extremely period village fair in Well-Researched Local Town." Yeah, and her thoughts flew like a book flying through the air into the trash can.

So anyway, what are some of your hot buttons? What elements does a writer have to earn? What has to be incredibly well-handled to get over your automatic dislike?
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