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:
- 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
- Narratives which flip between different time periods.
- Excessive or unnecessary bad language
- pages of unnecessary or excessive descriptions of everything (countryside, characters’ faces, buildings etc,) especially when it seems padding rather than contributing to the narrative
- pretentious ‘literary’ language
- a plot or story line that does not ring true
- repetitive writing – when the same words or phrases turn up throughout the book
- the style of the writing/ poor writing
- books that have not been proof-read very well, if at all (especially bad spelling)
- where every chapter is from a different point of view, and also “slippage” into every character’s head
- formulaic or repetitive unoriginal plots, characters etc
- 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.