7 Sins to Avoid: Or, why I abandon books

Have you ever started out loving an author and their books, and ended up despising the books and the writing?

It’s a funny thing that I think about sometimes, being a writer myself. I try to be very forgiving of authors, because goodness knows we aren’t perfect. And I don’t expect an author to be perfect, but there are some things that drive me to close the book and walk away. And usually, I need more than one of these reasons before I finally give up. I don’t want to be “that” kind of writer, and indeed, I doubt any author does. So here it is, my list of 7 reasons I’ve abandoned an author and their work (and which hopefully we can all avoid in the future!)

  1. Sloppy writing. This isn’t always the author’s fault, certainly, but they didn’t improve matters did they? I can live with a few typos, but  POV and tense shifts, unclear POV changes, these make me grit my teeth. This is especially frustrating when earlier books were fabulous … and later ones aren’t.
  2. Large sections of characters telling stories or histories that have no bearing on the current plot whatsoever. This is boring.
  3. No character growth arch. Especially in a series with one primary character, it becomes very frustrating when the character makes the same foolish mistakes again and again, and doesn’t seem changed by any of the events in any of the books. Characters are supposed to be people (or people-like), which means like people, they need to grow and change.
  4. Killing beloved characters off for good. Certainly there are fantastic writers out there who disagree with me, and I have read the lists of reasons why it’s good to kill off characters (Yes, Mr. Whedon, we know you love to kill off the nice ones.) As a reader, after investing time and caring about the character only to have them die feels like a cheat. There are always exceptions, and it’s especially annoying when there’s no good reason for the death.
  5. Returning characters who bear no resemblance to who and what they were in previous books. Especially when a series is written over a long period of time, I know myself how difficult it is to maintain those characters, but the inconsistencies “steal” the character we fell in love with in earlier books.
  6. Unclear logic patterns, and poor management of plot and story elements. It frustrates me as a reader when I can’t follow the twists and turns of a plot. Twists seemed to come out of the blue and don’t fit with anything the author has shown me about the world, the characters, or the story. Sprinkle a few breadcrumbs, and I’ll follow, I swear! All writers are different, and we all handle the elements differently – as we should. However, sometimes this makes the story hard to follow, creates inconsistencies, or can detract from the story as a whole. When you start wondering if there was a climax in a book that seemed to be heading for one, it’s kind of annoying.
  7. Lecturing and soapbox oration in fiction. Please leave the soapbox at home. I’ve come for a good story, not a lecture or a political argument. While these can certainly be woven into the story, the story must come first.

Anyway, those are a few of my pet peeves, and why I’ve abandoned authors and series.

Now I turn it over to you: why will you abandon a book, a series, or perhaps the author entirely? What are some of your pet peeves as a reader? Share, so we writers can try to avoid them! 🙂

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a great week. Oh, and hey, like the post? Why not follow the blog? Have a good one.