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What makes you give up on a book?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Ghost, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

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    I actually enjoyed The Hunter's Blades trilogy a lot. After the spellplague, though, things got pretty bad. Really all of Transitions was kind of rough. I pretty much agree with you about the Dragonlance novels though, they lost my interest after a while. Still, the original Chronicles were great and I'll read almost anything about the original characters from that trilogy.
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I appreciate what they did with 4e from a design perspective, but ultimately it just wasn't for me. I've been running Castles & Crusades, which i love for its light rules and my ability to pretty easily drop in anything from 1e, 2e, or d20/3.X. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with for D&DNext.
     
  3. Fnord

    Fnord Troubadour

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    Speaking of books I'm ready to give up on: The Infernal City. I probably should have known better than to buy a book based purely on the fact that it is written in a setting that was designed around a video game franchise (The Elder Scrolls, in this instance), but I was pretty hopeful given that the little stories inside the game were interesting and well-written. And I thought the interesting lore and character/racial interplay from the games would certainly be plenty of fodder for a well-written story.

    But alas, I'm halfway through it and it just seems hollow. For one thing, most of the action takes place on a flying city that has no reference in the games or lore whatsoever and the characters just seem cardboard. The Elder Scrolls world is rich with interesting settings, history, and various conflicts--why did the author feel the need to shoehorn a concept (some sort of weird, living floating city of doom) that has no basis in this rich setting into this book? Ugh.
     
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Sorry to hear it. Greg Keyes isn't a bad writer, at least as I recall from some of his earlier, original stuff. I don't know how he's been since he moved over to writing Star Wars and gaming tie-ins.

    A lot of times in these cases, the author is "assigned" the general concept, because the team behind the IP has some plans and wants the world pushed in a certain direction. I don't know that this is the case here, though. It does sound odd. I'd read a novel set in Skyrim if it was well-done, though.
     
  5. Alva

    Alva Scribe

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    To me, tone of voice, imagery and use of language in general matter a great deal. Nearly poetical language and imagery joined with great details will keep me hooked. Full characters, fluent flow of the story/plot and the nice feeling of internal logic supported by fascinating details… I’ll definitely finish the story.

    Action without true emotions, conflicts without grey but only black and white, evil creatures, lack of sensory perceptions (other than mere visual and auditory ones)… no, I’ll quite likely drop the book. Most of the time I also lack the interest for any fiction (except for short stories) that dwell too closely around a single central motivation, moral lesson, magical system or any other idea. And in my case, an epic war between two or three nations doesn’t necessarily convey the feeling of depth or intrigue. I enjoy following up with political schemes but I’m more interested in the internal logic of a few characters practicing (hmm) more sublime forms of power.

    I enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, as well. And Locke Lamoras by Scott Lynch, even though the language shocked me at first.

    Lately I've come to know people who keep urging me to finish a few books I've already in past labeled as a no-no (for me), though. And at times I try out reading generic ("light") fantasy if my mood suits it. (My mood has everything to do with my reading.)

    I don’t feel bad consciousness over leaving a book behind every once in a while. My reading lists will keep growing anyway. And I usually leaf through the first 1-10 pages of every book I consider truly reading, so if I later in life feel like giving it a second try, I have some idea on the language, style etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  6. Arreth

    Arreth Acolyte

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    It's just me, I know, but I need a character I can root for and I need the writing to be at least average and preferably better than average. I tried but I couldn't finish Jordan's Wheel of Time series, not when there are writers like Ursula LeGuin, Mary Stewart and J.R.R. Tolkien in the world.
     
  7. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    I have the concentration span of a tomato I also have a lousy memory. If something bores me or is immediately too over complicated then I tend to give up. I can put up with typos and iffy editing but if the author just waffles on about nothing or the characters don't grab me I probably wont continue. The plus side with having an awful memory is I can read a book multiple times:)
     
  8. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    I have read a few novels based on games I have played. I loved the two older Dragon Age books and have just bought Asunder although I don't like DA2. If a book is good its good. I think you have to allow some license with books set in a game world.

    I liked Skyrim but personally I found some of the plots were a little odd. THe funniest one I found- some priestess wants you to lure some elderly and harmless priest to her lair so her and her friends can eat him. She gets REALLY narky if you pickpocket her however. So you are a murdering cannible but a little light theivery upsets your moral code.
     
  9. Wynnara

    Wynnara Minstrel

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    I'm definitely a "no patience" fantasy reader. If you don't have me in the first chapter, I'm gone. I actually started reading fantasy books I considered to be necessary research through audiobooks just as a way to ensure I was less likely to put them down. Even here though, I couldn't get through more than a book or two of The Wheel of Time series and maybe half of Game of Thrones. For both of them I felt like the level of complexity in the narrative exceeded my desire to care about the characters. I would rather have a simpler narrative and characters that I am really, really keyed into.

    For other books, I'm out within a chapter or two...
    - one whose title I can't remember now left me feeling the writing was just way too cliché and amateurish... and I didn't care about the main character
    - for a couple others it was just way too much sex and violence within just the first pages... and again, I didn't care about the main characters

    I think really I will suffer through just about anything if I like your characters and I'm gone if I don't.
     
  10. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    It depends- I read a historical romance recently which was sorely in need of an editor but I really liked the characters so I continued. If I get bored within the first couple of chapters I may not continue. Often it depends what mood I am in.
     
  11. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    You got further than me on this one. I picked it up at work, read about five pages then happily discarded it.
     
  12. J.P. Reedman

    J.P. Reedman Scribe

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    Repetitiveness is a big killer for me. I'm reading a book right now in which the author has been repeating the same thing for three pages. It could have been a moody, creepy, dark scene but was wrecked by the authotr telling us over and over again what was happening. If you are writing a huge book, sure, refer back to past events when necessary, but try to detail them in different ways, otherwise it comes off as if you think your readers are dumb and have to be hit over the head with your statements.
    Other annoyances-- poor editing. Use of the same word multiple times in a few paragraphs. The book I am struggling to read right now have the world 'pathetic' used three times within a few paragraphs, and the word 'celts' about 6 times in 2 pages!
    Weak word choice.'The man had big muscles.' This was a line in a Goodkind book. Sounds like it was written by a three year old.
    Strange word order-- 'the elf's eyebrows winged up to the top of his forehead.' Yes, this was in a book and made me laugh at the image it inadvertently created.
    Cardboard stock characters with 'stock footage' actions--you'll know these, the burly innkeeper, grumpy cook etc. Also fairly regular characters who have some kind of a quirk that the author repeatedly mentions-- 'she tugged her braid.' 9R Jordan please stand up.)
     
  13. JadedSidhe

    JadedSidhe Minstrel

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    Oh, what does it for me? It depends, really.

    An overly predictable plot, or pages and pages where the author's beating the proverbial dead horse.

    Ok, I get it, the character is worried about <insert cause of angst> I got it 3 pages ago. Enough already.

    It could be stupid, simpering, sugary sweet and overly helpless whiny characters.

    I slogged through a 1/3 of a book and scene after scene of the protagonist doing something incredibly stupid, the last being stunned that the curses she was learning and finally got around to using was indeed, a curse, not a charm. (Its a curse, no no, its a charm, its a curse, no no, its a charm. Oh... it *is* a curse)

    Another thing that will make me put a book down is idiotic or overly melodramatic writing.

    'His eyes met Sizuka's, drawn into the depths as he peered through the windows of her soul.' Um... yeah

    Or even worse

    Page 23

    '...and emerald eyes that glimmered like precious gems. Right now she hid her orbs behind a pair of wire-rimmed glasses...'

    Windows of her soul? Glittered like precious gems? Orbs? ... Aim... pitch... trashcan.
     
  14. J.P. Reedman

    J.P. Reedman Scribe

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    Orbs? Orbs! A true sign of the second rate! Anyone ever read Ursula Le Guin's LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT ? Ultimate guide for fantasy writers which specifically tells you what NOT to do. Orbs wasn't one of her pet hates (though she'd probably add it) but she mentioned the equally fatal 'ichor', 'smaragds, 'eldritch' etc.
     
  15. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I happen to like 'eldritch', though I use it only VERY sparingly. I haven't used ichor, though. And what in the world are 'smaragds'?
     
  16. I used "orbs" and "eldritch" exactly once each in THE QUEEN OF MAGES. I think it's okay. :)
     
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Any of those words are fair game, Ursula K. Le Guin notwithstanding. You just have to use them well. If the writing in your story is top-notch, it won't suffer from having one of those words in it. If you over-use the words and/or use them poorly, the reader is right to throw your book at the wall.*

    *In the age of Kindles, I don't recommend this.
     
  18. JadedSidhe

    JadedSidhe Minstrel

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    I agree that orbs can be used if the writing is good. I still get a case of 'teeth clench syndrome', but I don't chuck the book if the writing is good. Clive Cussler is a good example. He doesn't over do it and he doesn't wax overly poetic about it either. I read a book that he used 'orbs'. I think it was only in that one place.
     
  19. Neurosis

    Neurosis Minstrel

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    I used to be extremely permissive and I would read (and probably grow to enjoy) every book I bought. However as I grow older I find I am getting more and more picky. I probably only finish 1/5 books I attempt to read, just because I can't stand reading a book that I feel: is recycling themes or characters from something I've already read; has sub-par prose; is too flowery; isn't flowery enough; is too boring; is too exciting; is written by Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind.
     
  20. Alice

    Alice Dreamer

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    Oh dear... Where I do begin?

    1. Characters. I swear this is one of the, if not the first, things that will have me looking into a story first. Regardless of gender (although I do admit to be a little more critical on female characters), if they're not interesting to me... I can't invest myself into the story. Lord help me if they end up being big Mary Sues in their roles, canon, personalities, looks, etc. I'll start dissecting them in criticism like whoa.

    2. The story itself. I'm not too picky in plot and I actually find most cliches okay, but if I'm able to see how the story's going to progress and end (aka if it becomes too predictable), then you lost me. And like characters, I will criticize.

    3. The writing. Glaringly obvious grammatical errors, redundancy, too flowery/purple prose, not flowery enough, dry/boring, unnecessary dribble, etc. Although I admit my writing is not perfect, I know mistakes when I see them. I'll be extremely mad IF the mistakes are ones that are easy to make and should be less avoidable (stuff like two/too/to, they're/their/there, you're/your, etc.). I tend to avoid books in first person most of the time too for fear that the character will be pretentious/obnoxious/whiny/etc. in their narrations.
     
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