Top Ten Tuesday: Petty Reasons You’ve DNF’d a Book Or Reduced Its Rating

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

The phrase Game Over is written in bright neon lights.

I will not be sharing the names of any authors or titles in this post as I don’t want to make anyone feel bad.

1. They didn’t know the difference between hay and straw. 

Straw is used for animal bedding while hay is used for animal feed. If an author tries to feed nothing but straw to their cows, the poor creatures will not receive the nutrients they need to survive and I will not continue reading that tale!


2. They introduced way too many characters in the first chapter. 

I get overwhelmed by these things. By all means have dozens of characters if needed, but give me some time to take note of who they are before bringing more folks into the fold.


3. There is a terribly judgemental protagonist.

Realistically flawed main characters are so much more interesting to read about than perfect ones, but I quickly lose interest in protagonists in most cases if their main flaw is harshly judging other people. This is true even if I happen to agree that X is generally a good thing to do or that Y is generally not a good thing to do.

I’d rather have more love and acceptance in the world and in fiction.


4. The plot includes a love triangle.

I’m completely burnt out on this trope.


5. Character names are difficult to pronounce due to inconsistent spelling or pronunciation rules

If their names have been spelled or pronounced in ways that do not make sense or vary a lot from one name to the next, that is not the book for me unless the author is doing it on purpose and clearly explains why there are no consistent rules about such things in that universe. This is something that happens most often in the fantasy genre in my experience. I wish it didn’t happen so often.


6. Driving or walking distances are wildly unrealistic

If your character plans to drive from one side of Toronto to the other in a couple of hours, especially during rush hour or a blizzard when traffic is painfully slow and driving time can be much, much longer than that, I will shake my head and decline to read any further. There is no world in which this happens unless you’re writing a Star Trek novel and there’s a transporter involved.

Toronto is huge and full of congestion and construction projects for most of the year. The rest of time, it is almost always snowing, sleeting, or raining heavily. Characters who wish to speedily reach their destination through my city should either travel at two in the morning in January when there is zero precipitation or avoid this part of the world altogether.


7.  Anyone other than an antagonist is rude to someone to the service industry.

There are plenty of other ways to show a character is having a bad day and not being themselves when necessary. Rudeness, especially to folks who are often treated unkindly in real life and who make far too little money for all of their hard work, is not something I want to read about.


8. The pet dies.

Fictional pets should be immortal if you ask me!


9. Too many sex scenes.

It’s totally fine to include them if they’re an integral part of the storyline.

I’d prefer to replace the rest of them with scenes that are funny, dramatic, or propel the plot forward. Alternatively, the book could also be just a little shorter and that would be perfectly okay.


10. Text talk.

Unless there’s an excellent reason for a character to write or speak this way, I’d prefer them to communicate in full sentences or something close to that. They can use as much slang as the author wishes (although that can make a book feel dated pretty fast if you’re not careful), I just want them to speak or write in a way that doesn’t substitute numbers for letters or shorten words for no logical reason.



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52 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: Petty Reasons You’ve DNF’d a Book Or Reduced Its Rating

  1. Joanne

    Good reasons! I like your one about Toronto. I’m like that when reading about Edinburgh. That’s not how to spell that street, nobody calls it that, you can’t go that way 😄

  2. I love point 1! I know nothing about hay/straw, but that sort of error is so applicable across the board. I can ignore little inaccuracies, but if its something important to the story or the character(‘s life), and -I- know better than the author, that’s a problem.

  3. Pets dying and name issues are on my list as well!

  4. There’s actually a Star Trek episode set in Toronto, in Strange New Worlds’ season 2!

    I don’t think I fully appreciated the distinction between straw and hay, but in my defense I live in the deep south where wheat isn’t really grown. We’re more into cotton, beans, cows, etc.

  5. Great list! If there’s a love triangle I’m immediately out of there (although I like to double-check if there’s one or not beforehand so I don’t bother picking it up in the first place)! 😂 I also agree about the judgemental protagonist. That’s big nope for me!

  6. I completely understand #2 right now because I’m attempting to read Russian classics this year. For some reason, they all have a billion characters!

    • I’ve heard that about them! Someday I’d like to read some Russian classics, but I need to figure out a way to keep the characters straight first.

  7. Oh yes judgemental protaganists are the worst.

  8. love triangles should stay in the 2010s

  9. The hay/straw issue is so annoying! It and other similar little things just make it seem like the author didn’t do any research, regardless of how much time they actually spent researching.

    #3 and 7 are also big issues. If you want me to enjoy reading your book, you have to give me a main character I can root for, and both of those items will make me stop rooting for the MC.

    Here’s my TTT this week:

    • Yes, exactly!

      If you’re writing characters who are NOT supposed to know that stuff, it’s completely understandable. But it’s hard to suspend disbelief for characters who should know.

  10. This post made me laugh – sometimes the little things just stick out to us so much we can’t overlook them!

  11. RS

    These are all so good and interesting! Fully embraced the spirit of today’s topic. The first one has to be my favorite, though, because it’s a pet peeve of mine as well. Dating back to when I was roughly 8 years old and hoovering up Animal Facts, especially about horse care.

  12. I like your last addition. I feel like we’ve kind of lost the “art” of conversation and being able to have a conversation with people, so while I didn’t think of it, I would agree that I’d like books to have more meaningful ways of speaking. I also agree about sex. Applying to almost anything, I think if something is in excess, it really takes away from the impact of what a scene may otherwise mean if it wasn’t overused. Thanks so much for visiting my website today!

  13. All fictional pets should be immortal!!!

  14. As a Torontonian, I agree with your #6!! 😂 What kind of magic creates no traffic during rush hour and how can we implement it? 😛But seriously, great list!

  15. Love #6, just included a meme about #10 in today’s Link Log (should go live tomorrow), and wish pop culture paid more attention to the ways people *politely* snub rude service people.

    My two primary pet peeves are waiters who interrupt conversations and cashiers who try to start the chatter-cheat game (noises come out of them between the first punch or scan and thanking the customer, and if their little fee-wings don’t FEEL gratitude for customers they should probably be job-hunting every day until their little fee-wings straighten out). If service people were better trained about these things I’m sure they’d attract less rudeness every day. But unfortunately, in some chains they’re positively trained to do these obnoxious things that must be cut off…and we could all use more awareness of the more kind ways people can cut off bad behavior.

  16. Too many characters are hard for me as well. I also hate love triangles and tend to avoid them if I can. I prefer not to read sex scenes, I’m more like leave it to the imagination. I don’t need all that.

  17. A great list.

    I’m not good with any sort of death, and as for sex scenes, they are so boring and put me off. Luckily ACOTAR is so good that I overlook some parts 🤣

    Have a great week!

  18. Fabulous list, Lydia. Number 2 is right on the money–have a ton of characters, but don’t throw them at me in the first chapter. I’m with you on fictional pets living forever. Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog.

  19. You are so right about straw/hay! They clearly don’t know what they are talking about and so no need to keep going! haha. Great post!

  20. I HATE it when there are too many characters in a book, especially when they don’t have distinct personalities. They get all mixed up in my head. Plus, it seems like when the author is juggling so many different characters none of them have enough depth to feel real.

    Happy TTT!


  21. I love all your reasons! But the most important has got to be that fictional pets should be immortal. I cannot bear it if the pet dies!

  22. I agree with all of them, but when I read #2 it reminded me of this show I was watching where a bunch of characters were meeting each other for the first time. It was kind of a fantasy military academy-type setting so characters kept walking into the barracks and meeting the people they would be living with. Each time someone new walked in everyone introduced themselves including first and last names and rank within this fantasy world. After a few minutes of watching that I just decided I didn’t have the patience to continue so I turned it off.

    Also I agree with the sex scenes. I tend to skim through them just because sometimes they end before a chapter or scene break and there is an important detail I don’t want to miss. I’m just not into that type of thing.

  23. Berthold Gambrel

    Your first reason made me laugh because it reminded me of a local “controversy” from years ago. The local newspaper incorrectly captioned a photo from a farm as showing “hay” when it was actually straw.

    Our community is fairly rural, with many farmers. And so there were letters to the editor for weeks afterwards from irate farmers wanting to correct the record! 😀

  24. If I never pick up a book again with a love triangle, I will be happy.

  25. Great list, Lydia. I can easily see myself DNFing a book for most of these reasons. Too many unlikable traits in a character make me want to stop reading, and I don’t mind a book with a large cast of characters, as long as they’re introduced slowly enough to give me time to get to know them.

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