12 Reasons Why I Didn't Finish Your Book

One of the bonus’s of being a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited is that I can read a huge number of books for free. This means that I don’t suffer through bad writing. If I don’t like something, I delete it unfinished, without remorse. Sometimes, I only get through a few pages before hitting the kill switch. Maybe I’m picky. But life’s too short and there are too many good books out there for me to waste time on bad ones. So here’s my letter to all the authors whose books I’ve deleted unread.

Dear Author, 
Here are the reasons I didn’t finish your book:

1.    After reading 25 pages, where the character is jumping at shadows and dealing with an impending doom, I still have no clue what that doom is. I’ve decided that I don’t care enough about her angst to stick around.

 2.    Five pages in, your main character has done nothing but quip jokes that fall flat. I love a good snarky attitude, but with sarcasm, like with heavy perfume, less is more.

 3.    On page three, right before your main character has sex with a man she just met, she says “I don’t usually do this.” Enough said.

 4.    I read almost half of your book, but the main character keeps making life-choices that put him in the “Too Stupid to Live” category. I realize that you need to move your plot forward, and I commend you for making your character active in that plot instead of reactive. However, in fiction, just like in real life, I don’t suffer fools gladly.

5.    Your story began with a dream sequence full of extraordinary imagery that I’m sure is relevant to your main character, but means nothing to me. Have her wake up already.

6.    I’m on page 5, and your main character hasn’t been out of his own head yet. Please make him do something!

 7.    I’m on page thirty and your main character has already battled an army of demons, cried over the body of his father/brother/mother and overcome six other obstacles. And I know nothing about him. Please give me some reason to care about this character. (This grievance is the flip-side to #6)

8.    By page 2, I’ve already found 6 typos and 4 grammar errors. 

9.    I’d like to know about this fantastic world you’ve built, but not on page one. Please let me get to know your world through the eyes of your main character. Don’t dump it on me like a page from an encyclopedia.

10.    I can actually hear your villain laughing “Mwahaha!” and rubbing his hands together in evil glee. Please give me a three-dimensional bad guy, someone I love to hate.

11.    By page 3 your main character has killed someone with a photonader, fixed the wiston-phallax drive on his class 5 starship with a new fangled birka, then asked his computer to generate some sups-feed for lunch. Wait? What? I’m exhausted trying to keep up with all your fun gadgets and lingo.

12.    “Good morning, son. I made you oatmeal for breakfast,” said Dad. “Dad, I know Mom had an early meeting with the mayor to go over the proposal for a new park, but she always makes me pancakes for breakfast,” whined Billy. Stop. Right. There. People don’t talk like this.

Some of these examples are exaggerated to make a point, but not by much. What are your thoughts? Do you have pet-peeves for book openings? Do you finish a book you don’t like, just to find out the ending? I’d love to hear your perspective. Leave your comments below.


Kim McDougall is the author of the Hidden Coven series and Revise to Write, Edit Your Novel, Get Published and Become a Better Writer.  She is also a publishing coach and book designer at Castelane, For the Prose. 

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