Things That Turn Me Off

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

....when it comes to books that is. Now there are several reasons why we fall in love with a certain book; the one that hooks you right in and never lets you go. The one that you think about days after you finished devouring it. That one book that you wish never ended, and the one you truly connect to. Unfortunately, as much as we wish every story we pick up has all these wonderful aspects and more, at times, it even turns out to be otherwise. Here are just some of the things that are big no-no's for me when it comes to books. As usual, these are all just what I personally think. Feel free to agree.. or perhaps, disagree.

1. Cliche Writing
- Not only do I find myself rolling my eyes as I read another cliche story, but I also literally cringe as well. To me, cliche means something that is overdone. It has been used over and over and over and over and again and again... well, you get the point.
Stereotypical characters. Formulaic. Overdone dialogue. Corny lines. Overdone adj, adv, prep phrase, trans. words/phrases. Abrupt endings where suddenly, everything is clear and simple. Everything is alright. Everything is perfect. Cliche is when it's predictable. If it has been used multiple times, it is indeed a cliche if the writer doesn't add his/her own twist or make it his/her own.
Perfect Example: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

2. Telling Instead of Showing
- I honestly don't need to know every single detail of the way he looks while he flexes his arm. I don't need to know the complete details of him getting into his car. "In the car. Starting the car. Sit in the car. Wait for the car to warm up. Put my hand on the steering wheel. Put it on drive. Drive." It's like Twitter x100000. Spare me the details, please. Let me see for myself.
Perfect Example: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

3. Bad dialogue
- Dialogues can either appear real or fake. For me, for them to sound real and believable, they need to flow well. It has to sound natural; almost effortless. Not at all contrived. There's nothing worse than reading about a promising character that delivers nothing but a voice that doesn't even sound like his/hers.

4. Boring!
- What makes a book boring to me? If it is tedious, monotonous, and does not seem to be going anywhere. When it's all promise but no delivery. All questions but no answers. So many mysteries, no revelations. I'd probably have to give up sooner or later.

5. Not believable
- This is crucial, at least to me. Do I believe in the story itself? Do I root for these characters? Do I believe in their motives, goals, and actions? Do I actually think they really are happy, heartbroken, angry, or in love? If I don't see it or believe it, I probably wouldn't even buy the entire story.

6. Unlikable characters
- What's worse than cliche story lines, bad dialogues, and unbelievable plot lines? Bad characters. To me, it doesn't matter if the rest of the story's aspects are close to perfection. If there are awful characters, I will not like the book. Period.

7. No plot and/or character development
- I want to see growth in the story. I don't want to be reading something that is completely the same from Chapter 1 to its very last. Change? Change is good sometimes.

8. Bad Endings
- The ending appears to be rushed, abrupt, and all of a sudden. It doesn't all tie up. It doesn't make sense. Too unexpected. Now don't get me wrong, unexpected is good and can be effective. However, when it goes to the point when it does not even fit or when it doesn't even go with the plot, then what is the point? Was it written for the sole purpose of having a conclusion to the story? I swear, I will throw the book and wouldn't even bother picking it up. I'd go to the next one, crossing my fingers it won't turn out as much of a disappointment as the first one.
Perfect Example: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, Coma by Robin Cook


These are usually the main things that turns me off when it comes to books. Fortunately, I have not read any that has all eight reasons. Now that would be horrible. Now I'd like to know what you think. Agree? Disagree? Are there any other things that turn you off aside from these reasons? Are there any books in particular that come to mind when you read these? I'm curious.


  1. I can't stop nodding my head to all of these points. Definitely agreed; these are all surefire turn-offs for me, and I'd drop a book for sure if these elements were too prominent!

  2. I pretty much agree with you on every single point you described. The worst for me is a cliche book from the start, or a great book that gets ruined by a bad ending. These two are the worst for me.
    I am also tired of stories where a person is introverted and along comes a happy, crazy person that absolutely has to change the introverted one because it's so much more cool to be a happy, crazy person and do crazy, spontaneous things ALL THE TIME. *sigh* Such plots irritate me.

  3. I pretty much agree with everything you said! And I agree with Breaking Dawn being an example for bad endings!

  4. I'm with you on all of these except Unlikeable Characters. I think some of the best novels - and most inventive, at that - are the ones that keep you interested and intrigued despite the fact that you can't stand the characters. The very fact that you DON'T like them is what keeps you reading, 'cause you want something bad to happen to them. But we could debate this aspect of fiction ad infinitum....

  5. @Linna: Definitely. At least I couldn't come up with one book that has all of these.

    @Irena: Haha, yes cliche characters are annoying. What about the bad boy falling in love with Ms. GoodyGoody? Unless the author gives it a fresh new take, I'm going to end up rolling my eyes! Haha.

    @Jamie: Yeah, Breaking Dawn was definitely not a good ending. I am not a big fan of the Twilight series to begin with, but before Breaking Dawn, I didn't really hate it either. Because of how Meyer ended it though, I kind of despise it.

    @Greg: I do get what you mean, and you do have a point. What's a good story without characters we just hate, anyway, right? Like you mentioned, bad characters are the ones that keep me intrigued. However, I think for my point, I didn't mean Unlikable=bad. I meant Unlikable = characters that I don't feel are effective with their given roles. Whether they are the antagonist or the protagonist, if they aren't so effective with what they're given, then I'll consider them unlikable.

  6. Totally agree! Nice blog you have here!

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  7. Took the words right out off my mouth. Nice post.