I’m joining up with The Broke and the Bookish for this one, and hopefully for many more posts! This week we’re talking about our book turn-offs: things that happen in a book that make us put it down or make it very difficult to enjoy the story.
1) OTP sarcasm/”attitude” – I like someone with strength of character as well as the next person and I don’t want them to be a doormat, but too much sass or snarky comments and I lose all sympathy and sense of relating to a character.
2) Too many flashbacks – I like being in the middle of the action, but if you need a significant amount of backstory than maybe you should just plain back up the story.
3) Piled-on tragedies – I see this mostly when I’m reading the work of early writers, but I don’t think anybody is immune to it. It can seem like an easy way to ratchet up the emotion or drama, but for me (you can call me a Pollyanna if you want, my mother does) I start losing belief in the story when every single possible thing that can go wrong does, oh and by the way there’s a famine, and the family has disowned them, and then their dog died.
4) Along with that, “tunnel vision” – It’s not a great description, but I’m thinking of all the characters who just can’t seem to get over themselves and their circumstances. I’ve seen this the most in YA under the guise of “teenagers really only care about themselves, they can’t help it” but the many great YA writers can move their characters beyond that, so let’s ALL agree that someone who goes on and on about their own circumstances and who doesn’t have any concerns about anyone else is both unrealistic and unlikeable. Less whining, more doing.
5) Opposites attract – They do, but come on: am I the only one who’s had enough rich man/woman falls for poor man/woman, or popular guy/girl falls for nerdy guy/girl…or similarly matched up pairs? My book-loving heart would explode if I found a stunning romance between two nerds, or the story of a terrifically poor couple starting out. Something like “The Fault in Our Stars”. GIVE ME MORE OF THIS.
6) Gratuitous sex, drugs/alcohol, language – That’s just me. Call me a prude or whatever, but I would feel the same about gratuitous preaching or fancy-schmancy language. I just see less of that. Swear if you must, depict intimacy if needed, but it should fit the characters and the story or I’m going to ask why it’s there. I just am.
7) Insufficient world-building – I want to be enthralled, not confused. I adore huge, sweeping sagas, crazy customs, and amazing legends, but I want to understand them and feel the story flow, not stagger.
8) Name dropping – I don’t really care what specific type of car they drive, and if you tell me the specific restaurant they ate at I’ll be thinking about food from there myself. Instead of meshing me into the story, for me as a reader, too many specific and readily identifiable details do more to pull me out of a story and bring me in.
9) A rushed ending – This I loathe! I just read a book that was wonderful and full and developed, until the end. Then things just sort of magically came together and worked out comfortable, and I felt like all the energy that had been built up just dispelled into the air. Depressing and disappointing, though understandable since it’s one of my worst writing flaws.
10) Waiting for sequels! – Not unavoidable, but definitely misery.
Agree or disagree with any of these? Be sure to check out The Broke and The Bookish to see other posts!