Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The 10 problems that will make me giveup reading a book

Poorly written stories make for a blurry book, lacking color
Lately, due to my lighter teaching schedule, I have been reading a book a week, minimum. (Last year, a book every two months was my average.) Usually I will read a book to the end, waiting for it to redeem itself if it is less than engaging. "Maybe the writer needed more practice and the end will show improvement," I tell myself.

Often even a book that starts off rough will, over time, gain its feet. The adage the act of writing improves writing and every writer gets better as they continue to produce often applies. But some problems will bother me so much that I will have to remind myself that redemption might yet flower if I keep reading. But I have given up on a few books.

These are the top ten which will, if enough appear, convince me to give up on a book.

  1. Unnecessary sex - though it isn't presented this way, it will have the effect of a quickie with a prostitute. I can ignore it once. But if it repeats, I will probably drop reading the book.
  2. Unnecessary swearing - and even worse, if the swearing is the same word and everybody who swears in the book uses it and only that one word.  I recently read a really great book that had this one flaw. It was as if the characters kept saying "um" or "like" every few words. Made me cringe every time, but it did not make me stop reading because it was an excellent story and thankfully, the swearing was not a constant, just consistently repetitive and frequently unnecessary.
  3. Introductions that tell how bad things are now without providing any real imagery, characterization or depth of story. Sort of a "by the way, first you have to know this." Now you can read my story.
  4. Too many characters with different color eyes and hair or stripes or accents, and that's all I get to tell them apart. Everyone sounds the same.
  5. One woman and every guy wants her or vice versa. And I don't even like the character, so how am I going to be convinced every Tom, Dick and Harry will?
  6. The story plods along, I realize I have been reading for half the book and nothing has happened, and I still don't know the characters well enough to want to continue the journey with them.
  7. The characters are really tense, but there was nothing to make them tense. Everybody is grumping along or sparks are flying every time they touch, but nothing led up to it.
  8. Really poor punctuation and sentence structure. I can deal with an occasional missing word, an unnecessary fragment, etc. A good story is a good story. And many a time I and others will trip over our words while we tell about something interesting. We don't lose our listeners and the writer won't lose this reader for an occasional writing issue. The story is everything. But really bad grammar and punctuation skills can kill even the best story.
  9. I put the book down (voluntarily) to go have lunch or chat with a friend and I can't remember what I was reading. That is a really bad sign. I am about twenty pages into a book right now and have put it down twice. Both times I had to think a bit about what was happening before I opened it up to read more. Nothing is happening yet that is keeping my interest which is funny as the White House has just blown up, people are fleeing and a crazy man is on the loose. No real tension. The main characters are just walking away from the burning building.
  10. Using known characters and relying on the reader's knowledge of them to carry the characterization. That is not the way to create memorable characters the reader is going to care about.

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