The question being asked this month is: Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?
Six Reasons That Will Make Me Stop Reading Your Book
1) Punctuation and Grammar errors – I can live with a few errors here or there, but to have errors on every page? No.
2) Shallow characters – I don’t want to experience characters as if I’m watching them on stage and I’m in the back row seats, watching from a distance. I want to experience the characters as if I’m in their skin, feeling what they’re feeling. Characters with depth have wounds, secrets, and don’t talk on the nose. I love characters who banter and use subtext, meaning they may be talking about eating a hot fudge sundae, but what they’re really talking about is their relationship… or lack of one.
3) Plot holes – I can suspend my disbelief easily enough to go along with the character’s world, but I don’t like being yanked out of the reading and the story several times especially in the beginning because of the lack of inconsistencies or feasibilities given the world that was created.
4) Backstory – There’s nothing worse than having to slog through pages and pages of backstory before the action starts. I want a story that starts at the moment when the main character’s world changed. I want backstory that’s provided in small crumb-like reveals sprinkled here and there either through dialogue or a sentence or two of introspection that explains a character’s motivation.
5) Lack of research – I’m one of those readers who knows a little about a lot. If something doesn’t sound right, I’ll research it. For example, one author was using a zippered valise twenty years before zippers were invented. Another author had a character shooting a certain brand of rifle several years before its existence.
6) Telling – I’m one of those readers who wants action and dialogue. I enjoy fast reads because they keep me hooked, turning the pages, and not wanting to put the book down until I’m finished. If I’m able to put down the book because I’m bored, there’s a good chance I won’t be picking it up again. Showing is about eliminating wordiness, strings of little words, adverbs and adjectives, and using great verbs, instead.
Every now and then, I’ll find a great book that tells more than it provides action and has huge chunks of backstory, but those books are rare and they’re often award-winning books. Recently, such a book for me was Achille’s Song. Its characters made up for the huge chunks of backstory, and the story’s subject matter–Troy, mythology, and an untypical love affair—kept me hooked, along with the writer’s voice, which was lyrical and beautiful.
Give me a well-proofed, well-researched book with lots of action, no plot holes, characters that makes me want to know them better and experience their stories alongside them, great dialogue, and scenes that makes me laugh aloud, cry, sigh, or give me goosebumps, and I’ll finish your book. In fact, I could become your fan forever.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!