How to put off your readers (ii)

I posed a question in a book page I follow on social media – “what put’s you off reading a book?” There were over seventy replies, and many made the same points! It was interesting, but also a good guide for a writer – things to avoid to keep your reader reading!

Here are the final dozen, collated and edited:

  1. Too many characters especially when multiple characters are introduced too quickly at the beginning; pretentious names/names that fit their personality/several characters’ names with the same initial
  2. Narratives which flip between different time periods.
  3. Excessive or unnecessary bad language
  4. pages of unnecessary or excessive descriptions of everything (countryside, characters’ faces, buildings etc,) especially when it seems padding rather than contributing to the narrative
  5. pretentious ‘literary’ language
  6. a plot or story line that does not ring true
  7. repetitive writing – when the same words or phrases turn up throughout the book
  8. the style of the writing/ poor writing
  9. books that have not been proof-read very well, if at all (especially bad spelling)
  10. where every chapter is from a different point of view, and also “slippage” into every character’s head
  11. formulaic or repetitive unoriginal plots, characters etc
  12. inconsistencies, also character changes e.g. name, having previously unmentioned children, a known location with erroneous details e.g. an inland place suddenly acquiring a coast etc.

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