Why I Stop Reading #amreading #amwriting

There are many reasons why I stop reading, and they sort of have a pecking order.

Why I stop reading on the first page:

  1. If the grammar, punctuation, and spelling are poor (unless they’re obviously supposed to be), I stop reading.
  2. If the style is stiff, clunky, cutesy-poo or lackluster, I stop reading.
  3. If the narrative is full of cliches (the character can load ’em on, if that’s the way the character talks), I stop reading.

Why I stop reading later:

  1. If the characters explain too much, especially the same thing multiple times, I stop reading.
  2. If the author shows something happening and tells me, in the narrative, that that thing happened, I’ll let it slide twice but, if it happens three times, I stop reading.
  3. If the dialog is stiff, clunky, cutesy-poo or lackluster, I stop reading.
  4. If the story just goes on and on and on and none of the activity seems to matter, I stop reading.

  5. If I don’t care about the characters, I stop reading.

Why I stop reading at any point:

  1. If there is gratuitous sex or violence, I stop reading. If the book is otherwise good, I skip that bit.
  2. If there is explicit sex or violence, I stop reading. If the book is otherwise good, I skip that bit.
  3. If there is sex or violence of any kind against children or animals, I stop reading. Period.
  4. If there is prejudice/bigotry on the part of the author (a character can be an asshat, if necessary), I stop reading.
  5. If the characters or action are creepin’ me out, I stop reading.

Why I want to stop reading, but don’t if none of my other buttons have been pushed:

  1. If the viewpoint character is described by looking in a mirror or other reflective surface, I want to stop reading, but don’t.
  2. If any character rolls their eyes, I want to stop reading, but don’t. If more than one character does it, I really want to stop reading.
  3. If the story goes a way I don’t want it to (I can’t help it; it’s the writer in me), I want to stop reading, but don’t.
  4. If the characters speak without using contractions (unless there’s a good reason), I want to stop reading, but don’t.

That’s all I can think of right now. It’s surprising how many books I don’t stop reading, actually. But life is too short to read irritating books. Unless there’s something really, really good about them.

What can redeem a book I want to stop reading?

  1. Great characters.
  2. Great dialog.
  3. Great style.
  4. Meaningful theme.
  5. Colorful language.
  6. Unique premise/storyline.
  7. Information (I love Moby Dick – I’ve read it twice – all the bits).

I was recently asked to name three of my favorite books. They were:

  1. Three Men In A Boat, To Say Nothing Of The Dog, by Jerome K. Jerome
  2. Books 1 and 2 of the Gormenghast trilogy, by Mervyn Peake
  3. The Life And Death (but mostly the death) Of Erica Flynn, by Sara Marian

So now you know.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What makes you stop reading? Don’t do those things in your writing.


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I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Why I Stop Reading #amreading #amwriting

  1. Jane

    November 24, 2014 at 8:53am

    You have spelled it out, grrl. Keep on saving us from the bad writing curse.

    I recall a fantasy I glanced at in the bookstore. It began:
    The Great Darkness is Rising again in the East. Parthok the Stinky has wrest the Crown from its rightful holder, Lovebug the Radiant. The sneaky but cool Assassin King Dipthung, the even more Rightful King, but no one knows it, not even he, seeks to gather an Army of Elvenkind to smite the Sea-Farers of the Deep and prevent them from over running the Kingdom of the Shills. Shillotta, their Queen owes a Big One to Dipthung, but hopefully won’t give it to him, since they are brother and sister by different fathers. etc etc.

    Actually, it worse than that. I put it back on the shelf.

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  2. Holly Jahangiri

    November 25, 2014 at 1:03pm

    Hahahahaha!! I think you’ve hit on most of mine. #2 covers “I’m so bored I need to prick myself with a pin to stay awake and turn the page,” right?
    Holly Jahangiri would love to share..The Haunted PhotoMy Profile

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