Meerkat agreed to do a follow up post about stuff we writer types can do to avoid getting a less than stellar review from a reviewer.
Here are some of the top pet peeves. (Emphasis added by me)
There are lots of reasons why I love a book and I usually see something great in all books even if they’re not my favourite genres, but there are definite reasons why I don’t like a book and if these crop up, it feels as if the book still needs editing – and it’s hard for me to give it 5 stars.
1 – Spelling errors, grammar errors, typos, etc.
I know these are perhaps the least important for some people to check and I don’t mind the very odd typo (I’m guilty of them myself) but if every page of a book has typos and all sorts of errors like that it just starts to annoy me and makes the book less fun to read. It actually appears lazy on the authors part. Although I try to avoid mentioning it, other reviewers are more than happy to point out publicly every error that exists so proofread to death!
2 – Too many “he said/she said” moments.
Not only is the word “said” a little boring if overused but to have an indication of who’s speaking with each sentence makes any conversation read very slowly. On the flip side of course I’ve come across books where there’s no indication of who’s speaking for half a page which just makes it confusing and annoying if I have to start again at the top to figure out who was saying what.
3 – Overuse of a name.
Some books will have a chapter focused on one character and will use a name with every action. A couple of great fantasy and science fiction books I read were let down with every sentence beginning with the same character’s name, no ‘he/she/it’ or a different way of writing it just ‘Alan went..Alan said…Alan walked…Alan did…etc.’
4 – Characters are all the same.
Some books don’t delve deeply into characters and that’s okay, especially if they are more action-based stories. However, some books throw in a bunch of identical characters and expect you to tell them apart. In one science fiction book I’ve read there were no differences in the characters apart from a brief description at the start noting their looks and former jobs. The rest of the story never referred to any physical features or mannerisms and the main characters could have been swapped around and I wouldn’t have noticed.
5 – Too many characters.
This can confuse a plot especially if they’re all introduced in the first chapter. One fantasy romance had so many family members of the main characters that it took a lot of time to remember everyone and several of them could have been edited out as they didn’t add anything to the main plot.
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6 -Main characters forgotten about.
This sounds a bit weird but I’ve come across more than one book where a lot of characters were introduced into the plot, we followed their lives, got to know them and then…Well I don’t know as the author decided to wrap up the story focusing on only two of them. Several of these characters in one science fiction book had reached a cliff hanger moment in previous chapters only to never have their stories resolved. Having a story resolved doesn’t mean a clean end to their story, but in this book they were never mentioned again as if they didn’t exist!
7 – Similar names.
Okay so similar names doesn’t happen often but I’ve come across books with names like Jake and Blake etc., completely different characters but with names that are so similar, it’s easy to confuse them.
8 – No challenge.
Some books have action scenes where everything feels like it comes too easily to the characters. In books, like in films, it’s exciting when things don’t always go right for characters and if they have to learn a new power or open a locked door, it’s fun if they have trouble doing so and somehow makes the plot more believable.
it’s exciting when things don’t always go right for characters
9 -Too many adverbs.
Okay so adverbs are important but using them with every single action just sounds slow to me. This is a bit of a tricky point though as many people may want to use lots of adverbs and it is a way that people used to write but these days if you’re writing a fast paced story, having your characters every move noted with an adverb sounds slow and not so exciting to me. He walked or he crept is sometimes enough, rather than he walked slowly, slealthily, silently, etc.
I’m very open to many different writing styles and I even enjoy reading classics as different as some of that writing is so it takes a lot for me to dislike a book. But it is usually obvious when you read a book that looks like it needs editing. A lot of reviewers including amazon’s top will list editing problems they find with a book, though I try not to.
So if you can avoid the obvious issues I’ve mentioned, you’ll make at least one reviewer much happier!
Great stuff, Meerkat! And helpful for writers to know. Thanks for sharing!
Folks, these mistakes are easily avoidable if you let the MS rest after you write it, use beta readers, and start with interesting characters that are in a compelling story.
You can do that.
What are YOUR pet peeves when you are reading a book?
What causes you to put a book down?
Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!