Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Makes You Not Finish a Book?

I’m a writer, so I totally get the months and even years of absolute WORK that goes into making a novel. All the plotting, revising, shaping, and polishing. Not to mention the arduous process of becoming published. Therefore, I try to give books a chance…to read through the sometimes slower parts, to forgive inconsistencies and shrug off odd plot tangents.

I read for pleasure as well as for research in my genre. Yet my time is finite. As benevolent and lenient as I try to be, there are still some books that I find myself giving up on. I relegate them to the “DNF” (did not finish) realms. Why do people give up on books?

1. Slow-paced, uninteresting. This is certainly in the eye of the beholder, as what is fascinating to one person may be highly entertaining to another. But some novels are more inherently gripping than others, with more tension, conflict, and quicker pacing.
2. Violence. I recently read half of an adult novel before giving up on it for its constant and graphic violence. It’s just not my thing. I’m (old and) impressionable, and images stick with me forever. I don’t really want to get desensitized, either.
3. Sex or extreme sensuality. Not my thing, either. I prefer fade to black, where the action and details occur off-scene. That’s partly why I read mostly YA rather than adult novels.
4. Character actions/motivations. If the main character is constantly doing stupid things, it gets old fast. Sure, he or she can make mistakes, but I want the character to learn from those mistakes and not do them over and over. I also don’t want the whole plot to be able to be cleared up by one conversation or act, but the MC won’t do it for flimsy reasons.
5. Love triangles. Some people hate these to the point of loathing. I don’t mind so much if the characters aren’t shallow, and if they are attracted to each other more than by appearance (the “oh-he’s-so-HOT” syndrome).
6. Cliché plots, no surprises. I don’t want to feel I’ve read something before. Like it’s the same plot as another book or movie, except with interchangeable characters. And who doesn’t like a good twist, where you think, “Whoa! I never saw that coming.”
7. Too much description. Some people adore description, particularly lovers of high fantasy. For me, I want a quick snapshot, a pertinent paragraph at most of something to set a scene or mood. My mind wanders otherwise, or else I start skimming.

Have you ever NOT finished a book? 
Which of these things above made you not finish a book? Were there other reasons?


  1. Hey...haven't seen you posting in a while...or maybe I forget.

    I would say number 1 more than anything, and I've been deleting A LOT of books after a couple chapters lately. Just deleted a SF last night that was describing the young man's learning curve in the galley for a second chapter. That was the conflict...whether the captain would like his coffee or not. Sigh.

    One day I'll finish one so that I can write a positive review. I'm dying to write a review.

  2. I'm similar in tending to abandon books that have too much graphic material. I've gritted my teeth through some potty-mouth character books (more than one F-bomb per page) because they had a LOT of other redeeming qualities. Those who just cram manuscripts full of swearing to be "gritty" simply need to build a bigger vocabulary IMO.

    I rarely make it past the first chapter if the writing is really stilted, such that it seems the author is so scared of making a "mistake" that the storytelling vanishes. I also get bored pretty quickly by underwritten stories, ones that need to be fleshed out so the setting and characters don't seem like stick figure drawings on a flannelgraph (remember those??).

  3. 1 and 7 are the big ones for me. Some books have too little description that I can't picture anything and too much description that the story is bogged down. I also can't stand it when too many characters are introduced in the beginning and I get confused.

  4. I have not finished a lot of books. I never used to but my time is more limited and I want to not put bad writing into my mind. That's usually the main reason I stop. It is a boring plot or the writing is very awkward. I feel badly when I do it as I know what it takes but I also know not every book is for every one.

  5. I'm okay with sex and violence, LOL... as long as it's done well. If it's bad, that's another story. Pacing is probably the biggest thing for me. I like faster paced books, and if it's dragging I'm going to lose interest even if the writing is good. Characters that do dumb things, or that I can't connect to is another. And yes, too much description is annoying, though I like a fair amount. Not enough bugs me, too.

  6. Most story-things wouldn't deter me from finishing a story, if only for the learning experience I get from reading them.

    What gets to me is bad editing.


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