I rarely stop reading a book once I’ve started. Once I’ve committed, I hate to think I’ve wasted the time already spent and, anyway, the story surely will improve or it wouldn’t have been published.
There are nine reasons why I do stop, though.
- Characters aren’t likable.
- Plot develops too slowly
- Plot is too complicated. I don’t understand what’s going on. There are too many pieces that don’t seem to be connected well enough. I can’t keep up.
- Plot is unrealistic (and it isn’t a science fiction story. Even those should inspire me to willingly suspend my disbelief)
- No hook. You’ve created a dazzling plot, great believable characters, set in a perfectly-described scene, but forgot the hook. Why does the reader care? Will he learn something? Is this a common problem that a lot of readers can relate to? Whatever the hook, it has to be there and be good.
- Author is preachy. I don’t want the author’s opinions on a subject for more than a paragraph. If I wanted preaching, I’d attend a sermon. Same goes for politics. For many, reading is an escape from politics. Let them escape (unless of course, it’s a political novel like Alan Drury. Then by all means, go get ‘em)
- I can’t see what’s going on. The author hasn’t sufficiently fleshed out the scenery, nor filled my senses with the world inhabited by the story’s characters
- Author didn’t do his/her research. I’ve caught too many errors and no longer trust what the author is telling me. This is especially important in historic fiction–critical, even. A writer can make one mistake, but two is a trend. Three is an end.
- Author made mistakes. A character has red hair one scene and black the next. It was a drizzly day when the chapter opened and the characters dress for summer–for no reason.
One I used to consider deadly was POV switches. I hated when the author jumped in and out of characters heads with abandon. Unfortunately, I see that all too often even in good writers’ books, so I must be more tolerant. That’s a trait that doesn’t come easily to me.
What are your reasons?
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a K-6 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.