I came across a question on social media aimed at readers, people who love reading, and it was about what keeps them hooked to a book – although the question posed was presented in an opposite way,
What’s one thing that makes you stop reading a book?
It’s an interesting question and some of the answers were what you might expect, it’s boring, it’s dull, there’s too much/not enough conversation, there’s too much/not enough description, it doesn’t make sense, it’s too complicated/simplistic, it’s badly written/edited… and so on
If I had to say one thing which made me stop reading a book – apart from all of the above – and I can put up with a lot, it’s losing faith in it. That can be because of the above, or I can feel the author isn’t engaged with the reader – some writers have a sort of arrogance, writing in a complicated way and seeming to sneer at anyone who isn’t intellectual enough to follow them (I’m sure not all of them do really, but that’s how a book sometimes reads) – or it’s the other side of the same coin, writers who disrespect their readers by writing in a slapdash way – any old thing will do because my loyal fans will buy my garbage… That’s a bit strong, but some writers do seem very arrogant.
Thinking about this question, I became aware that it could be looked at from the other side – what should a writer be aware of in order no to have the readers hurling their book out of the window? I read through the list – about 150 answers and I became very self-conscious… heck… do I do that? Oh dear, do I write like that? Oh no… I’m sure I do that very thing!
I read through the comments again and began to see a pattern – some of the things were obvious, but some, I confess, as a writer I had never thought of when considering about my audience.
Here is a selection of things that made more than 150 people stop reading a book?
- Sentences that don’t make any sense.
- Purple prose, useless description to hit word count, flowery language, a prologue.
- Bad dialogue.
- Blatant sexism, racism, homophobia, etc
- Too much description always turns me off as a reader. I’m definitely a proponent of the “show don’t tell” method of telling a story.
- Poorly written sentences.
- If it drags. Too slow or tame. Not enough action or suspense
- if the characters are in no way likeable or relatable; characters I don’t care a whit about.
- if something is way too tropey and lacks a unique twist to compensate.
- Boredom, usually. Also if it’s overwritten. I don’t need a full page description of someone’s pants.
- Losing faith in the protagonist
- Author telling me what to think or feel about a scene
- Unoriginal use of cliches, Clunky, clumsy dialogue.
- Characters that are judgemental about things the author is against
- Repeating the same words over and over. Also, weird as eff names
- Sloppy and egregious typos.
- When the author kills off a favourite/compelling/sympathetic character.
- Gimmicky writing or overly intrusive writing style; “clever” writing.
- When characters start speaking in a way people never would. You can hear the author’s voice in their mouths.
- When I can’t figure out what the plot is and/or I don’t care about any of the characters
I was left feeling a little alarmed… and feeling very much as these two people put it:
I’m scrolling through and mentally flipping through my book 😂
Having read all the comments on this thread …. I’m now about to throw my laptop in to the deepest lake I can find! Then I’m going to pretend that I don’t even know what writing is. 😂
Here’s a link to my books… I hope there isn’t any off-putting for you!