So I’ve read a lot. Maybe not as much as other people, but at least this year so far I’ve read one book every three weeks on average. I’m expecting to read three more books this year than I’ve set for my reading goals!
That being said, there is good, bad and ugly in books. Today we’re covering the ugly. The worst things I’ve read in books ever. Ones that turned 4 star reads to 1 or 2 star reads. And I’ve got five of them.
The Pointless Journey
We all know about the Macguffin quest. The quest to obtain a certain object that will grant the wielder a valuable power in completing their goals. Most of the plot of the book revolves around finding this item, and by the time they get it we have the climax.
But what if there was no object?
I read a book in which the plotline was about winding up in a magical realm while in their home realm a war occurred which the main characters had to return to to stop. It would’ve been fine if it developed into a Macguffin quest, in which their hardships earned them an item in the magical world key to stopping the war, but they got nothing out of it. Basically my time was thoroughly wasted.
More so, the novel got 4 stars on Goodreads when I only gave it one star. How the hell did people still like such a pointless journey?
The One-Chapter climax
A novel is typically made or broken during its climax. This is where everything comes together in a long, heartfelt quest or battle to right the wrongs and conquer all there is to conquer. It’s edge-of-your-seat territory.
I read a book where the climax was over in one chapter about ten pages long. Hardly a twentieth of the novel.
I was really disappointed by this because I loved the book so much! It didn’t quite make the victory feel earned as barely any struggle could be made in such a short amount of time and page numbers! A climax should make you question things and doubt things.
All I asked was “surely there’s more to this…”
If you don’t know what is wrong with the villain monologue trope, allow me to explain.
You meet the Big Bad Evil Guy, right? His threatening presence is only shown by how much he talks. It’s so frightening and powerful that when it comes to actually fighting him, it becomes an easy defeat.
Now let’s subvert that trope and have the heroes do it to the all powerful, genuinely threatening villain.
Spoiler alert: it’s a bad case of subversion. It almost felt comedic when the literal heroes of this one book defeated the villain by talking to him. I think some under nine-year-old targeted kids movie called saying they want their defining trope back.
Communication is hardly a struggle in a fantasy setting and fight. At least save a monologue for after the villain has been defeated and they are truly at their lowest point, for the love of all things holy!
The Backstory Chapter
Chapter two of a book that I was reading literally had this happen in it; a woman sends off her animal companions to track someone. No, I’m serious. That was it.
Because the rest of the chapter was devoted to explaining how these companions meant so much to her, the meaning of her piercings and tattoos on her body and the way her house looked. It was a chapter 95% full of irrelevant backstory and 5% plot progression.
The number one rule of writing a novel is that a significant progression in the story must be made every chapter. And chapters like these made up half of the actual chapters I read before I erased the title and author of that book from my memory.
And somehow that isn’t the biggest book sin I’ve seen.
I’ve seen this happen in to books I’ve read. Not one, but two! One I DNF’ed, the other I gave a two star rating to.
If all I can say about your main character to describe them is their looks and hobbies they undertake, ya done goofed. I know more people without hobbies yet with a vibrant personality than I do people with hobbies and no personality. Hint: I know zero people like the latter.
What peeves me even more is that this is always done to female main characters. I’ve seen both male and female authors do this to their characters too. Why is the only gender bias towards the gender being written?
And look, I know the Everyman trope exists – a person with a personality that is easy to relate to – but even they can be described by adjectives instead of hobbies.
So please don’t make these mistakes too guys.
Yours in writing