Five reasons readers stop reading

book on shelf

There are several reasons I stop reading a novel I’ve picked up and not one of them has to do with being short on time. Stopping to reflect on these reasons can help us avoid these pitfalls in our own writing. The main reasons I stop reading books:

1. Unrelatable characters.  The characters’ lives are just too far off from my own and I also find no redeeming qualities in them. I don’t hate them but I don’t like them either. They are too perfect which is unrealistic, or have no motivation.

2. Characters who change too much. Characters who make decisions that seem out of character are also a turnoff. If a character has acted one way for the first half of a book but then suddenly changes in a way that is completely unexpected I’m not inclined to read anymore.

3. Story moves too slow/drags. If there isn’t any action, some hook, to get me within the first few pages I’m out.  Oftentimes I will give novels the benefit of the doubt and give them at least 30-40 pages, but if the action isn’t there and I don’t care what happens next I will definitely move on to the next book in my To Read list.

4. Plot is unbelievable in a bad way. I’m talking about novels where too many crazy things happen. A shooting, terminal illness, apocalyptic events.  I read somewhere that readers can handle one fantastical event per novel.  I think this is true.

5. Bad and/or lazy writing. Some writing, even published writing, is just bad.  Repetitiveness is my biggest pet peeve. There’s a certain bestselling novel that uses the word “beguile” upwords of fifty times.  Readers pay good money to read your work which means you should do your very best.

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