The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Wants to Know: When Do You Drop The DNF Hammer?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. You can find the group on social media with #IWSG.

Every month a group of wonderful co-hosts steers us all towards meaningful discussion. We owe our January thanks to Ronel Janse van Vuuren (Hi Ronel!) J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most?

Image: A rapidly escaping octopus zipping across the ocean floor, while the word NOPE repeats several times in large text over its head.

Being a writer does throw a wrench into my reading process, I admit. Generally I’m wondering at word choices, or thinking of how differently I would approach a plot point. It’s more difficult to disappear into a book when my inner editor is always on. But-conversely-being an author also makes me feel more lenient towards other authors. Y’all this work is a hard, lonely slog through word thickets and the Valley of Marketing Shadows and Review Death. I hardly ever think critically enough of another author’s work to DNF it . . . but it has happened. I will name no names, but I will tell you what writing crimes could be heinous enough for even me to throw in the towel and stop reading.

  • OUCH! Plot Whiplash

I am a character driven reader and the worst thing you can do to me is send random, unconnected, nonsensical Plot ComplicationsTM crashing into my poor characters out of nowhere, whiplashing me right out of the story. Any plot holes gaping wide enough to have me sit back and say ‘wait, what? Why did this happen when it wasn’t an issue before? I thought [this] was supposed to be deadly but now it’s not? Why did they go back in there? What is happening? WHY?!’ is a DNF from me.

  • Angst. Angst. Angst.

 I like pure, unadulterated, escapist fluff, thank you so much, next. The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) is about as dark/traumatic/stressful as I can handle and I wouldn’t have been able to finish the third book if I knew beforehand how truly depressing it was going to get. I’m still actively upset about Finnick, not to forget Castor and Boggs, nearly a decade later. That was uncalled for, Suzanne.

Image: a hazmat suited figure enthusiastically wielding a flamethrower, presumably against a Love Triangle they just found.
  • Love Triangles

This probably ties back into the ‘Angst’ red flag above? I do not like love triangles. Triangles are pointy and all they do is hurt people. The longing glances! The indecision! The inability to pick between equally boring partners! Nope. Nope, nope, nope. I will remind you that poly romance, reverse harem, and ménage are all readily available, and then go read one of those instead. Because why choose?

  • Warning Labels

Trigger warnings are a thing. In my opinion, they are a necessary thing. Mentally prepared I can read and handle a lot, but when one of my triggers leaps out at me unexpectedly the results are not fun. It happened two years ago with a romance novel–which other readers have rated highly and love, for the record. But this particular book contained sexual assault I am sensitive to and I ran smack into unprepared. The book contained zero warnings. Instead, I found that Goodreads reviewers had highlighted the issue and made their own warnings. If I’d read the reviews before the book I would have been forewarned but I hardly ever do that because I want to go in unspoiled. Life lesson for me: go in slightly spoiled if it keeps you mentally healthy.

I’ve also covered DNF red flags which are specific to the romance genre in this post. It contains mentions of tentacles, aliens, amnesia plots, secret Dukes, and lots of fun gifs if you’re interested.

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