A week ago, we wanted to know Reading Dealbreakers: What’s Yours?, and while we asked for dealbreakers that were external to the book, some things are so aggravating they have to be shared, so many of our commenters told us what bothered them within the pages.
So we thought we’d list some of those comments here, and ask you: What plot device/writing style/character type/setting is such a non-starter that you won’t even give the book a try? Or will throw it against the wall if you discover it?
Some of our commenters listed these:
I don’t like when older characters from a series dominate the current storylines.
I can’t stand if one partner cheats on the other in a book.
I have a hard time reading any book where the heroine is described as feisty, zany or mad-cap.
Stupid names. I won’t read JR Ward because having to wade through all those phonetically-spelled names would drive me bonkers. Ditto historicals with clearly anachronistic names; if you can’t get the names right you clearly have not done your research.
Stupid or non-coping main characters. If she’s stuck in a huge gloomy underpopulated country house and she honestly believes someone is trying to kill her, I want her to at least try to swipe a steak knife during dinner.
Constant painful suspense for its own sake.
Putting all the revelations and explanations into the last chapter.
I can stand it when a writer bends history or economics or physics, but if they break it, I’m out of there.
If a character says something while falling through the air and lands without serious injury, they get three words absolute max. Four to five words, they’re going to break something unless they’re falling into deep water....Furthermore, even pedants don’t speak in complete sentences when they’re warning someone about a poisonous snake, a falling rock, or an armed assailant who’s come out of nowhere.
I’m generally bothered by bad exposition. Ditto, endless descriptions and reiterations of the characters’ internal emotional states.
Equally bad: books where the omniscient narrator interrupts every conversation between Farley and Genevieve — and they have a lot of conversations — to remind us that Farley is so insecure that he has trouble believing anyone could love him, while Genevieve is laboring under the mistaken belief that Farley is in love with her second cousin Earlene. Since we have been reminded of this repeatedly over the course of the book, and slogged through a half-dozen scenes that exist only to illustrate the point, it seems downright unkind of the author to assume we need to hear it again. If this were a Warner cartoon, one of the characters would by now have produced a gun and shot the narrator, just to shut them up.
Virgin hero in a modern book
The “gay for you” trope
A full figured heroine that only thinks about her weight
Polyamory with brothers (I’ve only read a few that actually didn’t skeeve me out)
LOVE BDSM books but why oh why does everyone have a club?
Cussing in a story for no other reason than to swear.
Ok...if its a YA romance and the characters have come to a point where they decide to sleep together, well, seriously, you don’t have to leave a gap & frustrate the readers. Chances are, if the reader is old enough to read & grasps the emotional concepts that brought the characters to that point, chances are they’ll be okay reading it. However, write it classy, don’t make it nasty, don’t drop those “C” words to describe things. If the author thinks the characters were ready, then they should be able to write it, too.
Predictability. Hate it. I love twists, turns, plays on assumptions.
Telling, not showing. Drives me nuts.
Misogyny/racism/etc., and pretending to be so sympathetic to a cause by including the most obnoxiously tokenized gay and other minority characters.
Forced humor on every line. We get it! You think you’re hilarious! Bah. You’re not. At least not to everyone. Tone it down!
Saying ’I love you’ after three days.
TSTL main characters!
Obvious stuff, like the bad guy is totally bad guy looking
I hate previous marriages for my heroines...
So—what are your dealbreakers?
Thanks to Dolly Sickles, RebeLovesBooks, bungluna, EC Spurlock, tnh, EB_Rai, iluvvv. J_L. mjhammitt, and ephramny for their thoughts!