15 Ways to Make Readers Hate Your Book

3. Unwarranted Romance and/or Gratuitous Sex Scenes
Don’t throw in romance just because. Romance needs to fit with the plot and the characters. If a romance between two characters isn’t necessary to make the plot work or for character development, then don’t add it. Romance thrown in just because will stick out to readers and leave them trying to figure out how the romantic relationship fits with the plot. A romance thrown in just because can also change the way readers look at your characters.

Don’t add sex scenes just for filler or because you think readers want them. If the sex scene isn’t integral to the development of the relationship between two characters, doesn’t move the plot forward, or doesn’t add to the characteristics and development of a character, leave it out. There’s no reason to throw in a random sex scene just because. It leaves readers with the impression that you were looking to provoke a reaction in the reader or attempt to garner interest in your story again.

4. No Hook Within Chapter One
Within the first chapter, preferably the first page, authors should “hook” the reader. The reader should be enticed with an interesting character or premise. Present something that is different, stands out, captures the reader’s attention, and leaves the reader wanting to know more. A hook is an attention-getter that causes readers to keep reading. If a reader’s curiosity hasn’t been piqued, they may choose not to continue reading your book.

Read more about Creating a Hook.

5. Death of Too Many Characters or Death Without Meaning
If it’s a war or big fight scene, it’s okay for multiple unknown characters to die. However, killing off a main character’s entire family and all of his/her friends throughout the story will cause a problem with readers. It feels like a ploy to garner sympathy for the character or turn the character into a victim or “poor me” character who always has something bad happen to him/her and his/her loved ones.

Yes, you can kill off one or a few characters readers might have connected with; however, there must be a meaning or purpose to the death. If there is no meaning to the death, readers will feel the character was killed just for the sake of adding drama/conflict to the story through means of a main character who is now grieving.

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33 comments

Fantastic tips, Kelly. Sharing this on all sorts of social media!

Thank you, Damyanti. I am glad you found the tips helpful and want to share with others.

All good points that authors should consider. You gave a couple of e samples throughout. I would have loved to have seen a few at number 13. Perhaps you have a passive voice section somewhere on your site?

Thank you, Sharon. I limited the examples provided so readers would be able to focus on the main points and could then explore specific topics further if needed. Here are two articles on my site about passive voice you could look at.

Passive Voice: Myths and Facts

Understanding Passive and Active Verbs

Excellent advice as always Kelly. In most cases I’m sure those who read this article will be thinking about revisiting a piece of work, but on this occasion I’ve had a feelgood factor from it for a different reason.
‘Beyond The Law: Formation’ is at two years old, still my best-selling title, but for months I’ve had the urge to go in and apply some of the suggestions I’ve read on your posts.
Five weeks ago I pulled the original manuscript onto my screen and checked word count. It was then 154,400 words, and as I had suspected – too long.
I’ll be writing a blog post about the journey in a couple of days, but to show how effective your advice is, I trimmed 20,000 words. Yes, it is now 134,500 words.
I apologise for the length of this response, but I thought it was pertnent for any other readers to see the effectiveness of application.
Thank you for all you do.

Thank you, Tom. That’s great feedback for me. I’m glad you’ve found my posts to be helpful. 20,000 words cut? Wow! I look forward to your blog post about your journey revisiting Beyond the Law: Formation. I hope you share your thoughts about what you cut, why, and how you feel it affects the story overall.

Excellent tips Kelly 🙂

Sound advice as always, Kelly.

Another one is time-hopping. I just started reading a story today in which the tale is told seemingly in the present (though she uses past tense) but the character seems to know what’s going to happen four months in the future from when the story is taking place. So one minute I’m walking down a trail with her, then I’m catapulted into the future for a sentence, then I’m back on the trail again. It’s dizzying!
Thanks so much for this list! 😀

[…] 15 ways to make readers hate your book. Writing tips to help readers enjoy your book. Character, plot, cliffhangers, awkward phrasing, hooks, POV, and more.  […]

I agree with all the points raised….especially the one about consistency. I have come across a couple of such books and write ups. They are so annoying….

Useful information – that so many writers do not seem to grasp. Well done for pointing it out

Consistency is a big one. It’s frustrating when a character’s name changes halfway through the book.

Great Tips, very useful information

I enjoyed writing since before and im planning to write a book. I’m looking for some advice on how to start it and make sure that readers will love it. Thankful that I saw your post. This is going to be helpful.
Thank you

Thank you for visiting Lhourdes. Can you share anything about the book you are planning to write? Best of luck to you in your writing endeavors.

What I hated in book is makes reader confused about the story These are great list for book writer beginner. This is such a helpful post.

Thank you for visiting, Dana. I agree. Authors shouldn’t confuse their readers. It makes it hard to enjoy the story.

I love these tips. I have to say I am completely thrown off by mistakes. Typos are frustrating to me. I understand and even expect that some will be missed, but if I pick up a book that has many typos, I won’t finish it.

Most readers agree with you, Renee. I think every reader has a limit to how many typos they will tolerate in a book before they stop reading it. Do you find some mistakes to be more distracting than others?

Going to bookmark this post and keep it to refer to. I saw a link to it at: http://www.homeandlovingit.com/2017/01/06/letter-husband-3rd-anniversary/#comment-2016 where you commented on Renee’s post. Since you’re a grandmother, I want to invite you to a grandmother only blog party if you’re interested in linking up with other grandmothers – because grandmothers need to stick together: http://grammysgrid.com/blogging-grandmothers-link-party-8/

Thank you for visiting, Grammy, and letting me know where you found me. 🙂 I appreciate the invite to your blog party and will bookmark the link.

Thank you for the info. I already sent me manuscript to an agent. I hope I followed your list. If he doesn’t like the book, I will come back to your list. I’m sure it will help lots of writers.

You’re welcome, Jean, and thank you for visiting. Congratulations and good luck with your manuscript.

Excellent advice and reminder – anything worth doing, is worth doing right.

I agree and I hope more authors read this

Excellent article, but I think you should add a #16 for verisimilitude. Most stories require their readers to suspend disbelief during the course of the story. This only works when the author has included the appearance or semblance of truth in every element of the story from setting to characters to scene props. The hero of a story set in 2030 doesn’t use an M1A1 Carbine. A character, shot in the arm with a .45 or sliced with a sword is not going to be wrestling the villain (and winning) the next day. There are exceptions, of course, for fantasy and magic… but, for the most part, this sense of realism is (for me) a ‘must have.’

I’m glad you note there are exceptions. Most of these will be in the science fiction and fantasy genres, but even then, I believe authors have a responsibility to provide a degree of credibility. Anything that might be hard to believe or doesn’t fit with the rest of the story should have an explanation. Using your example of an M1A1 carbine, if the story is set in the future, the author needs to explain why such a weapon is being used by the hero.

Nice to meet you – I guess you might have been in my Inbox before but I am only now ‘wading’ through the backlog.
I very much appreciated your list. I was a little pleased that I ‘passed’ on most of the points. LOL
However, I very much needed to hear about ‘Awkward phrasing.’ Since my book series is set in the 1st century AD, I did have a tendency to make sentences ‘wordy’ – as a style checker informed me. Not every time, but I can see very clearly that it is something I need to pay attention to.
Fortunately, in book four where there is a death of a loved character, it fitted your comments.
I very much appreciate your comments.
Btw – my editor suggested I add the ‘romance’ category to the third and fourth books. I did not take her advice, because ‘romance’ was vastly different back then and I did not want to ‘fool’ readers.
Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

Creating a hook is one the hardest things to do as an author. I know a few of my earlier works suffer from a great hook.

I also have a billion (okay maybe exaggerating a little) books on my kindle where I made it to only 3% before myond wandered off. That’s only a few pages.

And that was meant to say my mind. Not myond. I swear I haven’t invented words.