I’m away on vacation at the beautiful May Reunion Ranch near Challis, Idaho. We’re having a great time fishing, rafting on the Salmon River, panning for gold, and doing all kinds of fun things. Three of our children and their families are here with us and the kids love going down a 200 feet water slide a few dozen times a day. I’ll write more about it and hopefully include pictures when I get back home. In the meantime, here’s another blog written by my daughter, Janice.
It’s no secret that I’m an obsessive reader. I don’t like to stop reading until it’s done. So it takes a lot for me to put a book down and never pick it up again. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. So I’ve put together a list of things for the benefit of authors everywhere that will make me skim, put the book down, or will discourage me from getting the next book in the series.
1- Withhold useful information from your main character. Do you think that Sleeping Beauty would have touched that spindle had someone bothered to warn her about it? I doubt it. Internal dialogue where the character makes an intelligent (or not so intelligent) decision is much more interesting than stumbling into danger because it was fate.
2- Trust the wrong people. Your main character deserves to die or have a miserable life if they always ignore good advice and follow bad advice.
3- Betrayal. Don’t turn a good guy from book 1 into a villain in book 2 because it’s convenient for your plot. You are betraying your readers not your characters.
4- “Will they have sex?” is not a main plot line.
5- Put your supporting characters under a mass mind control spell so everyone will be mean to the main character. Mind control has been thoroughly explored through the Star Trek series. Come up with something new.
6- Make the girl mad at the guy for reasons beyond comprehension. She loves him…they can’t be together…he dedicates his life to keeping her safe…she’s mad at him. Huh?
7- Make the ending a let down. Do not set up a huge fight scene and have them talk things out. I want action, not peaceful resolutions.
8- Characters who insist instead of speak. It’s okay to say he said—even when he’s insisting. There are other words that fall into this category like laughed, exclaimed, and wondered out loud but insist annoys me the most. Said is like a period or a comma. It doesn’t matter how many times you use it.
9- Battle/sex scenes that drag on and on and on and on and on and on (skip a few pages) still going on and on and on. If your reader stops caring before they stop dying—delete. (If the scene takes place behind a closed door, the door is a great place to stop the scene. The reader is smart enough to fill in the gaps.) This is also true of internal dialogue during conversations. Delete some internal dialogue if your reader forgets the question before the character gets around to answering it.
10- If your characters have already kissed/slept together and you create a lame fight/misunderstanding to build sexual tension.
11- Scenes in YA books where the characters get drunk, sleep around, or break the law. Yes we’re aware that some teenagers choose to do these things. But there are reasons why they shouldn’t. They are harmful and can cause permanent damage. Putting stuff like that in a book condones the action and encourages teens to do them. I’d like to see a teenage character remain popular and say no. Allow your characters to make a few good choices.
12- Books that are so similar to everything else out there that I feel like I’ve read it before.