You know what really grinds my gears? A lot of things, if this post is anything to go by. But I don’t trust people who don’t get annoyed by small things. Surely the true sign of being human is being able to rant for ten minutes about, say, people who say “supposably”?

On that note, let’s delve into content habits that fill me with discontent.

Because there’s nothing worse than:




  1. Book Covers Emblazoned with the Movie Poster
    Look, I have as much of a man crush on Brad Pitt as the next guy. But I don’t want to see his abs glistening on my copy of Fight Club. Let me picture the characters my own way.

    Unfortunately film-poster book covers are also usually cheaper than their original brethren, forcing me to choose between my pretentious hipster aesthetic and low finances.

    But idly googling “movie book covers” for this story did at least feed my to-read pile. Who knew the first Rambo movie was based on a book? David Morrell’s First Blood opens thusly: “His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid for all anybody knew, standing by the pump of a gas station at the outskirts of Madison, Kentucky.” Of course, now we can’t read that sentence without picturing Sly Stallone’s muscular mug.

  2. Trailers that Give the Plot Away
    Perhaps the worst offender is Cast Away, where (SPOILER ALERT), it’s revealed that Tom Hanks does indeed make it off the island. Thanks for decimating the tension, trailer editors. As I saw someone on the internet once grumble: “May all the chocolate chips in your cookies turn out to be raisins.”
  3. Articles that Tell You How Long They Take to Read
    This increasingly popular blight on publishing cheapens the act of reading, treating it like a chore to be timed.

    Why not just go the whole hog and say, “This will only take seven minutes of your life and then you can go back to Instagramming your duckface”?


  1. Authors Who Avoid Quotation Marks for Dialogue
    I’m looking at you, Cormac McCarthy. Am I the only one who finds this habit pretentious and tiresome enough to dump a book immediately?

    As Dorothy Parker once quipped, “This is not a book to be put aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” Note the quotation marks that show she is speaking.




  1. Run-on Sentences
    Good prose should be like good music — offering up different rhythms that hook the ear. Interplaying short sentences with longer ones. Willing you, just about, to murmur the phrases out loud.

    Bad prose simply death-marches one word after the other until your eyes feel like they’re running a marathon and then you get tired but the sentence keeps going and you’re like please, please, please put me out of my misery. Right?

    Also note how I didn’t use quote marks for “Please please put me out of my misery.” Wasn’t that annoying? Still, if you’re a masochist, you might enjoy this selection of 7 of the Most Memorable Long Sentences in Lit.

  2. Movie Poster Clichés
    Why is there a meme called Matthew McConaughey Can’t Stand Up By Himself?


Because if you google the posters for How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Ghosts of Girlfriend Past and EDtv, Matt is slumped against his leading lady, like a drunkard canoodling a lamppost, in every single one.

7. Crummy Movie Poster Taglines
Just as bad as visual clichés are the movie posters that flaunt an eye-wateringly bad tagline. My favourite is from the 1973 blockbuster The Day of the Dolphin. “Unwittingly,” it says, with bone-dry seriousness, “he trained a dolphin to kill the president of the United States”.

There are worse out there, though. The internet seems to agree that the lousiest tagline of all time is from Clash of the Titans (“Titans will clash”). What’s next? King Kong — “Kong will King”?

8. Authors in Love with their Invented Language
I’m looking at you, the entire fantasy genre.

I’m fine with creating a vibrant fictional world and with it, a fictional language. But can we agree that more than one made-up word in a sentence is just a cluster migraine waiting to happen.

GOOD: “In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.” JRR Tolkien nails his opening sentence with earthy simplicity.
BAD: “Astride his trusty steed, a winged floxtraiq, Commander Uls-n-or of the Xy’qurpp tribe quaffed a flagon of smuotee as he read a scroll from the High Flürgh of Dürgh.”

The exception to the invented language rule is JK Rowling, who can do no wrong. Her names, foods and spells simply sing off the page. I can’t even type the word ‘butterbeer’ without dribbling. And if you disagree, you’re a silly Muggle who deserves a Quaffle in the face.


8 Content Sins that Make Me Gag

BY Daniel Seifert

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