Welcome to another Author Toolbox Blog Hop post!
Confession: I’ve read two books this year. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, reviewed here, and Dear Evan Hansen, review to come. I’ve also DNF’d two books: Uprooted and Vicious.
Bonus confession, I’m still stalled on my WIP. How long is plotting supposed to take, anyway?
Ever since I gave myself permission to not finish books, I’ve read more. But what makes me give up?
Characters I can’t connect with:
I love character focused stories. I like to feel for them, or relate to who they are, the friends they have, or the actions they take. If I don’t care about the characters I often won’t finish a story.
I’m only two chapters into Behind the Throne by K.B Wagers, and I love the main character. She’s hiding from her family and living as a gunrunner, because she’s a princess, but she doesn’t want to be one. She’s a total bad-ass. I connected to her in the first half a chapter and she made me want to read on. (Thanks to Lightning Ellen for this rec, loving it!).
On the flip side, I didn’t like Vicious, by V.E Schwab. Yes, I’m aware this book is super popular, but, like Twilight, I couldn’t get on with the main character. The head hopping in the first chapter nearly made me quit, but I carried on because it’s highly rated. I eventually DNF’ed at page 72.
Characters should be well developed and engaging, but be aware you can’t please everyone. People don’t like every person they meet, so why would they like every main character? Some people love quirky mages, sword-fighters, and dragons. Others hate them. Find your audience, people who love the types of main characters you write, and let them know about your story.
Stories with poor pacing, or where very little happens:
I DNF’ed Uprooted because the main character didn’t make choices, was dragged along by the plot, and even after she was kidnapped and locked in a tower, nothing interesting happened. The pacing was poor, and the plot didn’t build up fast enough to hold my interest.
Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on the other hand had me hooked with the first line: I have just taken an overly large bite of iced bun when Callum slices his finger off. Something happened in every chapter to move the plot along. It was memorable. Fun. It didn’t get bogged down in description. Each chapter left me dying to know what happened next!
Pacing can be down to personal preference, and genre dependant. Some readers love ‘slice of life’ stories, where not much happens but you get an insight into a culture or family. The book I read at Penguin during work experience (200000+ words, not much happened), was published in 2018 and won New York Times Bestseller. The target audience loved it, even if I didn’t!
If fast paced action is expected in your genre, include it, or you may disappoint your readers. If you write slower paced ‘slice of life’ stories, market them to the right audience. Consider your target market and write stories without things that make readers seethe: Like plot holes!
Complicated plots I can’t get my head around, and plot holes:
I like fast paced plots that keep me guessing, but are clear and easy to follow. I like hints to the final solution, and feeling an a-ha moment, like, of course, that was so obvious, why didn’t I see that? I don’t like plot holes, or sudden revelations that weren’t hinted at or made no sense.
I’m still mad at The Flash for writing a time travel plot so complex in season 3 that I spent hours on google trying to make sense of it. I’m still I’m not 100% sure: It feels like the plot was full of holes, and I don’t like being left confused. I haven’t watched or loved the show as much since.
Plot holes can also make me DNF. In Young Sherlock Holmes, Death Cloud, the characters sailed across the English channel in no time. This was jarring: The story’s set in Victorian times, and the journey would’ve taken 20-30 days. (Edit: In my rush to research I picked up on the sail time for the Atlantic Ocean, not the English Channel. I still think the journey was too fast though, and it was followed by ridiculous fight scenes!). It was unrealistic and pulled me from the story. I often DNF books that don’t immerse me, although in this case I finished it as I was 75% done.
Stories should always make sense and keep readers immersed. Don’t make your plot too obvious, but make sure readers can follow what’s happening and are pleasantly surprised, rather than completely flummoxed! Beta readers are great for spotting issues like plot holes.
The main thing to remember is not everyone will like your book, but that’s okay because your book isn’t for everyone. Just make sure the people you expect to like your stories, your intended audience, are thrilled with them, and everything will be okay 🙂
Thanks for reading!
What makes you DNF a book? How many pages do you give a story before you give up? How often do you DNF? (And, for my own sanity, how long does it take you to plot a novel?) Chat in the comments!
Finally, a shout-out to fellow hop friend Jacqui Murray, who released her prehistoric fiction novel on the 7th of March with an epic blog tour! See my post here: Survival of the Fittest Blog Hop or visit Amazon for more details!
This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant. Next month I’ll probably focus on marketing. (I have to write a plan for publishing a novel for university, and it’s all I can think about!). To read more posts in the hop, or join, click here, or on the image below:
The new hop rules make it easier to participate: You can post every other month, and editors, cover artists, illustrators etc can join in.