I came across a list of reasons people are put off a book, or stop them reading it; there were what you might expect, and seem obvious, ‘unrelatable characters’, clichés. too many names/places/story threads to keep straight., and there were general complaints about poor spelling, writing, editing etc. It occurred to me as I read them, that these are all things a writer should be aware of not only as they write, but more importantly as they edit their work!
Here are another dozen pet peeves, which get people hurling books across the room, or simply abandoning them to gather dust on the open page:
- new characters who appear close to the end of the novel and are suddenly important … I hate that
- when I’m being told a story vs getting to experience it through the characters – show don’t tell!
- when I keep thinking “it’s got to get less depressing soon!” but every turn of the page is just tragedy and sadness, I finally decide enough is enough.
- there are many things, but bad word choice is at the top of the list – at least in fantasy. Mixing of scientific or slang terms with fantasy narration totally kills the mood.
- filler… tell the story, don’t fill in a load of waffle just because you want a certain word count.
- insufferable protagonist; someone who is selfish and careless, yet the author writes about them as if he or she is wonderful.
- anything that takes me out of the story… a whole lot of stupid decisions that have no consequences or if there are really bad grammar/spelling errors everywhere.
- when characters do things out of character for the sake of a twist/complication, especially if they know better than to do it. Irks me!
- I wonder how published writers get away with it.
- characters being purposefully dumb for the sake of forcing plot or scenes to play out in a certain way, this is a major pet peeve.
- too much/not enough information usually does it. (e.g) where the first chapter has new nouns in it and expects you to know what they are
- it’s difficult for me to get past dialogue that uses too many different verbs instead of “said”. Changing it up when appropriate is fine when it flows, but nothing takes me out of a story faster than noticing how many different ways they’ve said “said”
Salutary lessons for the writer!
Here’s a link to my books… I hope you don’t find many peeves!