The next couple of weeks are going to be filled with book reviews so that I can “catch-up” on posting reviews. Once I’m all caught up, I’ll go back to my posting 3 times a week.
As I’ve been reading these books, I’ve learned a few things about what I don’t like. Things that turn me off to the book, make me roll my eyes, or make me want to put it down altogether.
If I am writing for myself, or other readers like me, it’s a starting place for me to consider what not to have in my own work.
- Sad Ending. The book better not have one. If it doesn’t have a happy ending, I won’t like it. As a matter of fact, I will probably actively dislike it. I see enough sadness in the real world. I want my escape to be a place where happy endings are guaranteed.
- Unearned Ending. The ending still needs to be earned. I feel ripped off when a happy ending just sort of lands in characters’ laps.
- Rape. Sex that isn’t consensual is rape and it’s not okay. I wish it didn’t happen in real life and I have no desire to read about it.
- Stupid Characters. I don’t like them. More than that, I actively dislike them. No matter how lovable or endearing an author tries to make them.
- Characters that make bad decisions. I can’t feel much for them. I get that we all make mistakes. A character trying to climb back from a bad choice in their past I can cheer for all day long. A character that keeps making bad decisions so there’s a plot? I stop caring about them quickly. Sort of a “what did you expect”? For example, it’s easy to feel sorry for Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle when they buy droids that end up leading to their deaths. They didn’t know the droids were wanted by the Empire. But if they had bought them knowing that the droids were being actively sought by Darth Vader, you get a whole different feeling for them and the beginning of Luke’s epic journey.
- Characters who don’t talk to each other. I hate plots that could be resolved with a 5 minute conversation. I hate misunderstandings because two adults can’t act like adults.
- Plots that aren’t. Have one. Make sure it’s clear what it is. Make sure it’s an actual problem.
- Unfulfilled romances. If you’re going to put a romance in your story, point #1 above applies to the romance. I am beginning to find I can’t tolerate a series of stories about the same character. Why? Because the author can’t let them settle down with their love interest. After four or five books, to keep the lovers apart, they have to bring in a rival. And then another. And, of course, the rivals have to be amazing. If you’ve read the Laurie Hamilton series about vampires and werewolves you’ll get what I mean. Regular girl suddenly has every studly vampire, shape-shifter, and serial killer in love with her. If that’s your cup of tea, this is a good series for you. But it’s not for me. Probably related to my love of romance novels. I want the couple to get together as part of my happy ending.
- Uncertain humor. I guess I don’t have a mainstream sense of humor. I probably knew this already as I don’t find sitcoms or romcoms funny. Never have. I also don’t find the following funny:
- Financial troubles, especially after 2009.
- Inappropriate use of firearms funny.
- Pregnancy scares.
- High school rivals coming back to haunt a grown adult
- Transvestites funny.
The list goes on and on. Do I have a sense of humor? Certainly. I couldn’t stop laughing at Lewis Black’s commentary on candy corn. A little smile tugs my lips thinking about it even now. When an author can make me laugh, they have me hooked. When an author tries to make me laugh and fails, they get an eye roll at best.