This is a revamped post from a while back, but since I had two books back to back this weekend that I couldn’t finish, I thought it was a good time to freshen up this post since my reading habits are constantly evolving.
Up until a few years ago, I had this problem when I started reading a book. Once I peeled back the cover of one, I was compelled to finish it. No matter if I was fully enjoying the book or not. It felt like starting a book was like signing some contract. I bought this book. I’ve chosen to read it. And now I must read it all. I was the Chronic Finisher.
But then a lot changed in my life. I got published (yay!) and started writing 2-3 books a year on tight deadlines. Everything got infinitely busier. And my reading time shrunk to this minuscule sliver of time. So I found myself putting down books that didn’t capture my interest. And then I wouldn’t get any reading done because I felt like if I was going to read, I needed to finish whatever book I had started. But I wasn’t into that book so didn’t pick it up at all.
Well, finally, I came to the conclusion that I had to put the Chronic Finisher in rehab. I was missing out on good books by forcing myself to read ones I didn’t love. My reading time is too short and my TBR pile too big to be doing that. So if a book hasn’t grabbed me by page 50 or so, I’m probably putting it aside. And sometimes even sooner if it’s clear a book isn’t working for me.
And each time I put down a book in the DNF (did not finish) pile, first–I am sad. I want to like every book I pick up. But I know that’s impossible. But second, the writer in me wants to evaluate WHY I didn’t feel compelled to finish it. What put me off? (And how can I avoid making those mistakes in my own books.)
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
What Makes the Chronic Finisher Put Down a Book:
1. Didn’t connect with the characters
If I can’t relate to the hero or heroine at all, if I don’t like them, or if they’re not interesting enough, I find it next to impossible to get into the book. I must be emotionally connected by chapter 3 at the very latest. And it’s fine to have a not so likable character as long as they are compelling and interesting enough to take a journey with. But this is probably the most common reason I put a book down.
2. There was no chemistry or not enough build-up between the hero and heroine in a romance.
Obviously, I write sexy romance and enjoy reading it. But nothing will bore me quicker than throwing two people together when there hasn’t been any tension or chemistry set up beforehand. This doesn’t mean you can’t have the characters get together quickly, but the author better have done a fabulous job building up that tension.