What makes you stop reading a book

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?

  1. Sentences that don’t make any sense.
  2. Purple prose, useless description to hit word count, flowery language, a prologue.
  3. Bad dialogue.
  4. Blatant sexism, racism, homophobia, etc
  5. 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.
  6. Poorly written sentences.
  7. If it drags. Too slow or tame. Not enough action or suspense
  8. if the characters are in no way likeable or relatable; characters I don’t care a whit about.
  9. if something is way too tropey and lacks a unique twist to compensate.
  10. Boredom, usually. Also if it’s overwritten. I don’t need a full page description of someone’s pants.
  11. Losing faith in the protagonist
  12. Author telling me what to think or feel about a scene
  13. Unoriginal use of cliches, Clunky, clumsy dialogue.
  14. Characters that are judgemental about things the author is against
  15. Repeating the same words over and over. Also, weird as eff names
  16. Sloppy and egregious typos.
  17. When the author kills off a favourite/compelling/sympathetic character.
  18. Gimmicky writing or overly intrusive writing style; “clever” writing.
  19. When characters start speaking in a way people never would. You can hear the author’s voice in their mouths.
  20. 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!



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