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Elements of a bad Gothic
#1
After having read some "duds" as I call them, I thought it might be good for others to know why I rate some books poorly.  I'm sure everyone has their own ideas about what makes for a good book vs a bad one, so I would also appreciate feedback from others.  This helps me to understand why some readers like one book and give it a thumbs up while others may give it a thumbs down.

Here are my elements of a bad Gothic:
1. third-grade reading level
2. 2-D characters
3. heroine falls in love with hero within the first 10 pages
4. loose ends not tied up
5. melodrama
6. poor dialogue
7. inconsistencies - the author forgot events in their own book
8. no suspense, no sense of danger
9. no logic

There may be more and I will have to add to this list as they come up.
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#2
(12-29-2017, 10:43 PM)paigenumber Wrote: After having read some "duds" as I call them, I thought it might be good for others to know why I rate some books poorly.  I'm sure everyone has their own ideas about what makes for a good book vs a bad one, so I would also appreciate feedback from others.  This helps me to understand why some readers like one book and give it a thumbs up while others may give it a thumbs down.

Here are my elements of a bad Gothic:
1. third-grade reading level
2. 2-D characters
3. heroine falls in love with hero within the first 10 pages
4. loose ends not tied up
5. melodrama
6. poor dialogue
7. inconsistencies - the author forgot events in their own book
8. no suspense, no sense of danger
9. no logic

There may be more and I will have to add to this list as they come up.

This might be covered under (2) and (9) already, but I detest a "TSTL" (Too Stupid To Live) heroine.  "What's that noise down in the cellar? I think I'll go investigate by myself, in the middle of the night, alone, without telling anyone where I am.  Oh, no! The trap door has been slammed shut, locking me in! Whatever shall I do?"

Another pet peeve: Deus ex machina.  The heroine is cornered by the villain, and is saved not by her own wits or strengths but by the hero/police/fortune accident at the last moment.  This device is especially infuriating if the heroine faints/swoons and is brought around with brandy/smelling salts/forehead cloth.
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#3
For #9, I was referring to undeveloped logic. For example, in the book "Murder at Maison Benedict", there were events that took place that I can't understand why? Why should the good doctor hold all the answers when it was not hinted at that he was especially close to the family for any particular reason. Beside the fact that after having three strokes, he should not have made an "excellent" recovery, why does he go on to call the family to let them know ahead of the heroine about his knowledge?

As for the TSTL heroine, it does peeve me, but sometimes, the heroine has no one else to turn to (but she should take some precautions such as a weapon or even a flashlight). On the other hand, there have been heroines who do let someone know what they are doing, but they're telling the wrong one! Now, if it was well written, the heroine wouldn't know who the villain was so she makes those dumb mistakes. What makes her too dumb is if she keeps trusting the wrong person. I've read some novels where the heroine suspects a specific person of doing harm to her, yet she trusts that person to give her drugs (usually for a headache). Which brings me to another point. Is it just my modern mind having read too many of these stories or does it seem like people in the middle of the 20th century were addicted to aspirins and sleeping pills? "Oh, I couldn't sleep last night." "Take these pills. They work really well." One restless night and they just couldn't deal. Now, in "The Witching Hour", our heroine gets drugged but she was not aware of it and it affected her thinking. That's the difference between telling a story well and just making things up as you go along.

And I hate heroines who are constantly fainting. I have yet to post reviews on the two novels I read which I debated finishing but in one of them, the heroine was so childish I wanted to strangle her myself.
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#4
(12-31-2017, 12:11 AM)paigenumber Wrote: For #9, I was referring to undeveloped logic.  For example, in the book "Murder at Maison Benedict", there were events that took place that I can't understand why?  Why should the good doctor hold all the answers when it was not hinted at that he was especially close to the family for any particular reason.  Beside the fact that after having three strokes, he should not have made an "excellent" recovery, why does he go on to call the family to let them know ahead of the heroine about his knowledge?

As for the TSTL heroine, it does peeve me, but sometimes, the heroine has no one else to turn to (but she should take some precautions such as a weapon or even a flashlight). On the other hand, there have been heroines who do let someone know what they are doing, but they're telling the wrong one!  Now, if it was well written, the heroine wouldn't know who the villain was so she makes those dumb mistakes.  What makes her too dumb is if she keeps trusting the wrong person.  I've read some novels where the heroine suspects a specific person of doing harm to her, yet she trusts that person to give her drugs (usually for a headache).  Which brings me to another point.  Is it just my modern mind having read too many of these stories or does it seem like people in the middle of the 20th century were addicted to aspirins and sleeping pills?  "Oh, I couldn't sleep last night." "Take these pills. They work really well."  One restless night and they just couldn't deal.  Now, in "The Witching Hour", our heroine gets drugged but she was not aware of it and it affected her thinking.  That's the difference between telling a story well and just making things up as you go along.

And I hate heroines who are constantly fainting.  I have yet to post reviews on the two novels I read which I debated finishing but in one of them, the heroine was so childish I wanted to strangle her myself.

I have noticed that pill-popping in novels of that era.  Once or twice I've thought to myself, "I wonder why they don't have drugs this effective nowadays."

I read one book by Virginia Coffman in which (if I remember correctly) hypnotic drugs were pumped through the ventilation system in the form of vapours, keeping the heroine in a constant altered state.  Not really believable but the novel was still fun to read.

The fainting business -- ugh! That was already a cliché at the time of Jane Austen and I can't imagine it's ever endeared a heroine to readers.
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#5
What I don't get sometimes is, if you were up half the night, scared out of your wits and you want to stay vigilant, why would you take a sleeping pill to sleep through everything?

#10: too stupid to live heroine
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#6
(12-31-2017, 04:22 PM)Penfeather Wrote: I read one book by Virginia Coffman in which (if I remember correctly) hypnotic drugs were pumped through the ventilation system in the form of vapours, keeping the heroine in a constant altered state.  Not really believable but the novel was still fun to read.

Which one is that?
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#7
(01-04-2018, 09:13 AM)Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
(12-31-2017, 04:22 PM)Penfeather Wrote: I read one book by Virginia Coffman in which (if I remember correctly) hypnotic drugs were pumped through the ventilation system in the form of vapours, keeping the heroine in a constant altered state.  Not really believable but the novel was still fun to read.

Which one is that?

The Devil's Mistress (Lucifer Cove series, book one).
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#8
(01-05-2018, 04:18 AM)Penfeather Wrote:
(01-04-2018, 09:13 AM)Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
(12-31-2017, 04:22 PM)Penfeather Wrote: I read one book by Virginia Coffman in which (if I remember correctly) hypnotic drugs were pumped through the ventilation system in the form of vapours, keeping the heroine in a constant altered state.  Not really believable but the novel was still fun to read.

Which one is that?

The Devil's Mistress (Lucifer Cove series, book one).

Thanks! I have the ebook.
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