15 Ways to Make Readers Hate Your Book

9. Head Hopping and/or Unclear POV
Head hopping and/or an unclear POV will leave readers wondering who, what, and why. Head hopping occurs when the viewpoint shifts between characters without proper transitions. Readers won’t know who is doing what, why a character is doing something, and why a character is feeling a certain way. Readers will have no idea if it is Laura or Mark who is late to the meeting nor will they know if Laura is upset with Mark or Mark is upset with Laura. It can make it difficult for readers to determine whose head they are in and whose experiences they are following. This leads to confusion and destroys the emotional connection readers have with characters.

Read about Choosing a POV.

10. Overused Clichés
Clichés lose meaning and impact the more they are used. Clichés are boring and readers get a sense of “blah” when they read a cliché instead of feeling what the author intended to convey. Instead of using a well-known cliché, use your own words to create metaphors that will resonate with readers.

11. Unhappy Non-Ending
Everything doesn’t need to be a perfect happily ever after at the end of the story. The ending can be unexpected, happy for now, or even not so happy, but don’t leave readers without an ending and a sense of closure. This will leave readers feeling disappointed, disgusted, and dejected.

12. Characters Who Break Character
Characters can change throughout the course of the story, but this change should be gradual. Bob can’t be a vindictive, heartless jerk who kicks stray dogs in one chapter and then two chapters later be a kind, caring man who volunteers at the homeless shelter and adopts stray dogs.

A sudden change will leave readers confused, unable to connect with the “changed” character, and with unanswered questions as to the how and why of the character’s change. A character’s change needs to occur over a period of time and something needs to trigger that change. There has to be a period of reflection showing the character recognizes who he was and what he was like compared to the person he is becoming.

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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.