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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

mary_j_59
Aug. 18th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
I am really frustrated by stories which are (1) just plain badly written - in careless, sloppy English. (2) Have characters I don't care about, or (3) where the author violates the rules he or she has set up within the story.

I have to admit, these days, I may stop reading a story if I think I've read it a dozen times before, unless there is an unusual character or setting or beautiful language to engage me. I also get turned off by violence or gross-outs for their own sake. There's all too much of that around, I think.

My two cents! I guess it comes down to violence and gross stuff, sloppy writing, and nasty characters.
jongibbs
Aug. 18th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
Violence is okay for me, but I need to be invested in the story first.
mary_j_59
Aug. 18th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
Well, but the question is, Jon, is the violence even necessary to the story? For example, I find Michelle Paver difficult to read at times, but the violence in that series is necessary and presented honestly. Not so (imho) in Pullman's series. And that's why I've reread Paver's books but won't reread his. There are also writers who just delight in violence and grossing people out, and there are readers who delight in that kind of thing. I'm not one of them. I can tolerate a certain level of violence if I can see that it's integral to the story, and not just there for shock value. If you see what I mean.
jongibbs
Aug. 18th, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
'There are also writers who just delight in violence and grossing people out.

That's no good for me, but some stories involve violence (as opposed to ones which just happen to have violence in them), in which case, I think it's okay

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















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


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