I saw this as I was looking for new blog posts to read – Dawn Field’s How To Confound And Frustrate Readers – BookBaby: https://blog.bookbaby.com/2019/05/how-to-confound-and-frustrate-readers/.
Dawn has a list of 39 ways to confound and frustrate readers. I won’t go through the whole list, but will highlight some that I have experienced. In case it’s not obvious, Dawn was not being serious with her 39 tips although you have probably read many authors who violate many of the things on her list.
There are rules and expectations that form a bond between writer and reader. But that’s so traditional. If you want to make it your mission to confound and frustrate readers and stop them cold in their tracks, these 39 tips will help.
There is a social contract in place about what readers expect from authors, built on the promise that only meaningful things will be put into the spotlight and that, generally, all parts of the story will hold meaning — like brush strokes that work together to develop the larger portrait.
Tips – I am working on my own post on this topic from the aspect of “Are There Rules for Writing Books?” Hint: yes, there are rules. One of the most common comments I see in numerous Facebook writing groups goes something like this: There are no rules for writing books! If you go the traditional publishing route, you will find out there are indeed rules your traditional publisher will expect you to follow. If you try any of the 39 tips on her list, don’t be surprised if you don’t get picked up by a traditional publisher, much less a literary agent.
On the flip side, if you go with self-publishing, your readers will expect you to follow certain rules as well. These rules will vary somewhat by genre. Violate these rules at your peril. I am going to paraphrase some of Dawn’s tips, but all of the tips are worth reading and understanding why they are bad if you plan on becoming an author.
- Typos – enough said; spelling matters. This is #1 on her list, and in my opinion, it should be #1 on things not to do if you want to be an author.
- Wait until you are halfway through the story to introduce your main character – #6
- Dry writing – as in Sahara Desert dry – #13; had a post-Civil War wild west writer do this and I had to speed-read the book to maintain interest.
- Confuse the reader so they are clueless as to which character is talking – #21.
- Have the reader figure out the ending on the first page – #25. I had this happen in a movie where in less than five minutes I determined person A was going to kill person B and frame person C. This was back before I could use IMDB or the Internet to see if I was right.
I occasionally run across writer wannabes who say something like I’m doing it my way and if you don’t like it, then you are obviously a biased person that must accept whatever way I write the story. Not only that, but you must buy my story to prove you are not biased against them.