Browsing through some of the online fiction and fanfiction archives we noticed there are five things writers (generally young writers) do that really put us off from reading their story. So, this blog entry will be listing the five things we believe will, for sure, turn away most potential readers.
1. SMS/Text language
Nothing will make people turn away from your story faster than one written in SMS/text language. Text language is very subjective. How you abbreviate a word may not be the way someone abbreviates it, making it difficult to understand and enjoy the story. No one wants to sit in front of their screens trying to decipher your text language. Writing in such an abbreviated form can suggest to readers that you can’t be bothered and aren’t serious about writing a good piece of fiction: if you were, you’d take the time to use correct grammar and spelling.
2. Multiple point of views in one scene
Although multiple point of views can be used in a story or within a chapter, it’s not okay to do so within one scene. It is very disruptive to the flow of the story and confuses the reader. Readers don’t want to have to stop contantly to adjust their minds to the new viewpoint and figure out what’s going on and how they relate to the scene again and again to get your story. Stick to one viewpoint per scene, or better yet, per chapter.
3. Mostly dialogue
The thing with stories with mostly dialogue is that it only ever focuses on information that comes out of the characters’ mouths. This means missing out on other important information which can affect a reader’s understanding and experience of your story. Things like scene and mood setting, character thoughts, body language, and tone of voice create a fuller picture of your story; and for readers who are looking for this, they may find dialogue-only or mostly dialogue stories to take a too narrow a view and exit out.
What’s worse is if your characters are spitting out boring, irrelevant babble that drag the story along. Not only does the story not have descriptions to help readers visualise the world it is set in, now they have boring, uninteresting, characters to read about. If you do choose to write mostly dialogue, make sure your characters are interesting. Give them a unique voice, use their words to reveal information that moves the story forward. If readers don’t have interesting characters to read about, what else is there to keep them reading?
4. Low word count per chapter
There isn’t an actual rule to how many words you should have per chapter (at least not one we know of): you write, develop a sort of rhythm, and you cut where you feel it a natural point to end the chapter. However, we do believe 300 – 400 words per chapter isn’t enough to build on a story and develop much of a scene let alone a full chapter. Short chapters most likely will give your readers the impression that your chapters are going to be underdeveloped, cut prematurely, pointless, and probably only out to get that feedback/review counter ticking over. Try to have at least a few scenes in the story—have events/problems for the characters to go through before ending the chapter.
5. “I suck at summaries” summaries
What’s worse than not bothering to write a summary at all is when there is one, but it has been half-heartedly attempted with an “I suck at summaries. Please read” at the end of it. The only thing that comes to mind when we see these kind of ‘summaries’ is that the writer doesn’t really have a clear idea of the direction of their story. Even if that isn’t the case, that will be the perception. So try. If you have the energy to write a multi-chapter story, it shouldn’t take too much to write two or three sentences about your story.