Here are four of mine, in no particular order.
1. Arrogant writers
Readers can tell when a writer is talking down to them. And most find it offensive. Write to entertain. If you’re so desperate to show off, take it to facebook, where I’m sure everyone will be highly impressed by your large vocabulary.
2. Writing in the second person point of view
Nothing says “English Composition 101” more than this. In fact, you should never ever ever ever do this when writing fiction. (“You step out of the car, taking one long look at the lonely road behind you. A smile pushes itself through the tears. You can’t believe you left him.”) I can’t believe I typed that…
3. Having the teenage narrator refer to his parents by their first names
It’s been done to death and it is neither trendy nor original. Add to that that it risks confusing the reader. (Who the hell are Bob and Sally, and where did Joey’s parents go?)
4. Long, drawn out sex scenes
Seriously. You’re not doing anything cutting-edge by taking porn from the screen to the print. I understand that this fits (is required?) in certain genres, but it certainly has no place in sci-fi and fantasy, when simply saying “they did it” should suffice.
Now that you’ve seen my list, I want you to know that I didn’t write this post simply to complain. I believe that if these things annoy me, chances are they annoy other people. Those “other people” may or may not be agents and editors, so it’s best to error on the side of safety and completely avoid doing any of the four things I listed above in your own fiction.
And that’s what annoys me in fiction. So what annoys you?