What Turns Readers Off

A couple of weeks ago I read a review of a book on someone’s blog and I was intrigued by the plot of the featured book. Thankfully I have forgotten the name of that book so I don’t need to worry about accidentally giving away the name or shaming the author, which I would never purposely do.

But as I read the synopsis of the book, I was seriously going to download the book and went to the link on amazon to do just that. I did what I usually do before downloading an e-book and clicked on the book cover’s “Look Inside” feature.

I read two pages and knew that I would not be able to stomach reading this book, no matter how good the plot was or how wonderful the story might be.

What turned me off in those first two pages?

It was the “ing” words. I can’t give specific examples from the book, and to be honest, I don’t really want to do that, but you’ll get the picture if I give you some generic examples. (To be fair, the dialogue was more interesting than what I will give here, but my examples are merely to make the point about the tiresome overuse of “ing” words.)

“What do you think?” she asked, twirling a lock of her hair in between her fingers.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said, grinning at her. “Why don’t you tell me what you think first?” he asked, looking at her slyly.

Getting up and walking around the room, she pondered her response. “It was good, don’t you think?” she asked, giving him a hopeful smile.

Jumping up to hug her, he said, “You’ve guessed right.”

*****

I just couldn’t handle a whole book of that, so I didn’t download that novel that was probably a great story, but written with a major weakness in writing style.

A good copy-editor could have saved the author from him/herself.

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12 thoughts on “What Turns Readers Off

  1. Pingback: Herring, and Egg on Your Face | wordsfromanneli

    • Dialogue need not be like that though. It can be a good tool for moving the plot along if it is done right, and annoying or tedious if it isn’t done right. Thanks for chiming in, Stuart. Happy writing.

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    • Well, in the book I mentioned, I found several in the first two pages already. They are especially annoying when attached to dialogue. It’s like anything – moderation is the key. Don’t worry. I’ll alert you to them if I see too many. I think if you have two on one page it’s already too many, but every reader has a different tolerance level. Having said that, I want to do more than “tolerate” a book I read.

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  2. Aw…. I’m sorry I made work for you. But if you get rid of a lot of those “ing” words you’ll find yourself using better words and better sentence construction as a result. You’ll feel good about your final draft, and your readers will thank you.

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  3. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten excited to read a book due to a review, then clicked inside and found the writing lacking. So disappointing. My pet peeve has nothing to do with problem writing, but I cannot stand present tense writing for an entire novel. Another disappointment after a good review. But that’s just me.

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  4. I am always cutting -ing words out of my writing. There’s one right there :). Just one of the many “tics” of my writING that I keep tryING to improve. LOL
    You know what I’ve noticed? A lot of people write super plots. They are really good at it. Nevertheless, they don’t want to take the time or have the patience to really hone their craft and work on the “details.” They publish a book before they are ready. It’s not really fair to the readers.

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    • I agree with you completely, Luanne. I once did a free edit for a beginning writer. She thought she could write a fantastic fantasy novel. Turns out the only fantasy was in her own mind, about her ability to write. I was willing to help her fix some of her bad writing habits, but she said, she didn’t care about that; didn’t want to spend the time; she just wanted to “get published.” I thought that was the stupidest thing she could ever do. She would be forever remembered for her bad writing if she rushed it just to “get published.” Really sad.

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