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What throws you out of a story?

Today I've been working on my next article for The Apex Book Company's blog.  

This month's subject is short stories, and more specifically, some of the less obvious mistakes  writers make which scupper our chances of getting our work accepted at all, or (in the case of more than a few published stories) lose our readers sometime between the first and last lines.  

I have my own opinions, of course (no surprise there), but I'd love to hear what kicks other folks out of a story.  With that in mind, if you've got a minute, I'd appreciate you answering some questions.

Poll #1607218 What throws you out of a story?

From the following list, please select anything which has caused you to give up on a story before the end, or wish you hadn't bothered reading it:

Slow beginning.
41(9.3%)
Overlong (and seemingly unnecessary) descriptions.
54(12.3%)
Boring/unrealistic dialogue.
69(15.7%)
No obvious problem for the main character to overcome.
33(7.5%)
Uninteresting or unrealistic action.
44(10.0%)
The story wasn't what the title led you to believe it would be about.
21(4.8%)
Uninteresting and/or unrealistic characters.
65(14.8%)
A cheat or pointless ending.
56(12.8%)
No proper ending at all.
38(8.7%)
Something else, which I'll explain in the comments.
18(4.1%)
 



Once you've made your selections, if you could explain why those things put you off, that would be even more helpful. 

 

 



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Comments

jongibbs
Aug. 18th, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
I get what you're saying, but just because someone else decided a story was worth publishing doesn't always mean it should have been.

I've given up on a fair few published stories (and books) because of things on the list. I'm willing to bet other folks have to.

Of course, that's not to say I'm guilt free either :)
ladysaotome
Jan. 5th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
but just because someone else decided a story was worth publishing doesn't always mean it should have been.

I remember trying to read a book once that literally had 4 different pov on the first page. The. First. Page.

It was so confusing trying to figure out what was going on when the pov was bouncing around the room with little or no explanation - barely even a paragraph break.

I put the book down once I had figured out why I was having such a hard time following the story and all I could think was "how the heck did this get approved for publishing?!".
jongibbs
Jan. 5th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
Four POVs on page 1? That must be some kind of record :)
ladysaotome
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
Seriously - the commander sat in the chair waiting for the soldier to enter, the soldier entered the room, cowering in fear, the guard watched the soldier enter glad it wasn't him, the 2nd in command debated whether or not to defend said soldier.

It went something along those lines only filling an entire page with thoughts from each of their heads - my head was spinning by the end of it.

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











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