Do You Annoy Your Readers?

When you write, do you ever think that your work might annoy people? John W. Howell says the inspiration for this post was a series of tweets that people found annoying in books they have read.

Hello SEers, It’s John again. Happy Hump Day. Today I want to talk about things that annoy readers. In doing so, maybe we can all avoid putting things in our books that trouble those who choose to read them. I’m sure you all are readers in addition to being a writer, so I think this post may hit home to you as well. The inspiration for this post was a series of tweets recently where folks could add their gripe about what they find annoying in books they have read. I thought you might be interested in a few of these. So, the question is. “What annoys you when authors do it?”

Here we go.

When authors plant some kind of clue and never follow up.
When a character disappears.
When chapter breaks come at the wrong time and disrupt the flow.
When a lot of time is spent on history (backstory)
When it is clear the author is self-indulgent and continually overly describes a scene or character only to find neither had a lot of relevance to the story.
When the use of brand names reads like a commercial
When the story finishes with a contrived ending that is out of left field.
When dialogue becomes confusing as to who is talking
When characters are killed for no justified reason.
When children and animals are mistreated.
When words have been used that need to be looked up to be understood.
When character traits seem unrealistic, unnatural, or out of synch.
When profanity has no context.
When sex is too graphic for the genre.
When it is obvious the author needs an editor. (Or a better one)
When the story does not fit the stated genre.
When the POV changes with no warning or setup.
When the narrator seems to know more or less than the narrator should.
When there is a quick and unnatural ending that screams “Buy my next book.”
When formatting is not consistent.
I venture to say if we could write a story that had none of these irritations, it would be fine work. I know from my point of view, I have had most of these items in my books at one time or another. Lucky for me, these were caught before the book went public. Such is the value of a good editor

How about you? Have you caught these in your writing, and are there others that you feel would annoy readers? Let’s talk about it in the comment section.

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