…But It Doesn’t Really Bother Me:
“The story was predictable.”
Predictable doesn’t automatically translate to bad storytelling. After all, when it comes to writing/reading a story, the journey counts just as much as the destination. As a writer, and as a reader, I do prefer at least a couple of twists — but I really want them to be well-thought-out twists, not thrown in just for the sake of dramatic effect. Plus, if you get the ending you anticipated was coming, and if you love the characters and really wanted them to have that ending, then what’s the problem?
“This book wasn’t diverse enough.”
I recently wrote a whole post about “Diversity in Fiction” (see the search bar), and whether it actually works. When it’s just a natural part of the story, it works very well. But you also need to look at each story in context. What’s the setting, the time period, the point of the novel? If it’s a historical fiction set in a country/culture with only one ethnic group (for example, Africa before European explorers, or the Celts prior to the Romans), then how is that wrong?
“There was insta-love.”
On the whole, I don’t think the theory of “true love at first sight” (such as in many fairytales, and a lot of Shakespeare) stands up to reality. However, there can be exceptions that work well in modern fiction. Is the author trying to establish a difference between insta-love and insta-attraction — and how many people (think teenagers) easily confuse the two? Is there a point to be made by the characters professing insta-love? Could that provide opportunities for growth?
“There was a love triangle.”
To be fair, a love triangle just for the sake of 3 tortured souls is one of my pet peeves. For a while, it was a trend in especially YA fiction — and I will be among the first to say, if it’s only “because everybody else is doing it,” knock it off, you silly sardines. But if there’s a concrete reason for a love triangle — necessary conflict to the particular plot, the characters involved won’t become who they need to be without it — then just having one doesn’t bug me.
“This idea wasn’t original enough.”
Sorry, folks, but so many of our pretty original ideas are still influenced by something else. We shouldn’t knock on an author for using a familiar theme — as long as they throw some original twists in. And, no, I’m actually not contradicting what I said earlier about predictability. Think of it like this: Cowboys, pirates, and Scots-Irish immigrants to America are not new themes in themselves. But let’s say one author decides to take Scots-Irish immigrants who head to the Wild West and fail at being cowboys, so they decide to become pirates off the coast of Spanish California instead. Now, there’s something we haven’t seen a dozen times already.