Sins of the Author

As a Reader, there are certain sins that an Author can commit to ensure that I will stop reading them, and that ensures I will most likely never buy a book from them again, or I will be very skeptical of any future release by them.

The first and ultimate sin that an Author can commit is to bore me.

Boredom – The Ultimate Sin

There is nothing worse than opening a book and you start to read and you have to force yourself to keep going. Nothing engages you. You are not sucked into the story as you should be. You keep reading hoping that something will get better, that maybe you will start caring about what is happening to characters but it never comes. You think to yourself, “I’ll just read another chapter.” Yet you finish that chapter and you still aren’t engaged. The author never managed to hook you into their story. They’ve committed the ultimate sin that any author can commit. Boredom. Now obviously taste varies and what one person finds entertaining, another may find boring, but we can all agree that boredom is a terrible thing in entertainment. After all, isn’t that why we read, to be entertained? So please don’t bore us.

The second sin that an Author can commit is over use of handwavium.

Handwavium or I’ve got to explain how this thingamabob works.

What is handwavium you ask? It is something an author uses to explain something that happens in their story. Perhaps it explains why a device works, or why a character survived a nuclear explosion. It differs with authors, but any author who writes speculative fiction will use some degree of handwavium in their stories. The point is to not use so much that it kicks the Reader out of the story. We all understand that we must suspend our belief when reading speculative fiction, but we don’t want our belief drugged, strapped into a stasis pod and shot into deep space so that you can make something in your story work. Be gentle with the handwavium and it will make it easier on we readers to stay locked into your story.

The last sin that an author can commit usually only happens with indie authors who decide they don’t need an editor to go over their work before they publish it. Please for the love of reading seek an editor before you publish.

Grammar, or does this sentence make sense?

There is nothing worse than reading a story and having to reread a sentence multiple times because the words the author strung together into what one assumes is a sentence makes zero sense. So you have to reread the sentence until you can understand whatever it was that the author was trying to express with that sentence. Next to being bored, poor grammar that kicks me out of the story is a sure way for me to write an author off as someone to spend money and time on. So please, be sure to get an editor to go over your work.

I’m sure there are other things that an Author can do to lose a reader, but these are the three most important in my most humble opinion.

About Joseph Capdepon II

Bearded, opinionated, writer and lover of all things science fiction, horror or fantasy related. Thank you for reading.

7 comments on “Sins of the Author

  1. Can’t disagree with your “Sins of the author” but will add one of my own.

    Do not insult the intelligence of your reader.

    This has several aspects.

    Make sure you have the facts correct. You can “get away” with mistakes in fact when many of your readers don’t know any better than you, but you may get something wrong that the majority of your readers know is wrong. Even if it’s something like using horses like motorcycles, it may “pass over the head of some readers” but other readers will spot the mistakes and will report the errors to potential readers who will pass on your story.

    Another “insult” is in your characters. You may see nothing wrong in how your characters behave/think/etc. but your readers will think “nobody would act that way” especially if you’re dealing with certain types of people and the readers know “that’s not how they would think/behave”. I’ve seen authors make this sort of mistake with religious people and military people.

    Going along with your characters is your plot. Does the plot follow from “what has happened before” or does it “jump in a different direction” just because you want the characters to do “that”. If you establish that your characters are going to “do something” but suddenly without explanations they are doing something else, the readers are going to go “WTF”.

    There can be other aspects of “insulting your readers” but I’ll stop here. [Smile]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Grammar, or does this sentence make sense?”

    This is my major pet peeve in regards to tests. I swear some of the tests the government sends out to user agencies were written by a 13 year old who failed grammar.


  3. All of these are why a good author will have an alpha and beta readers. Who will not pump sunshine up their fourth point of contact.


    • Exactly. It is why I have people who will tell me what is wrong with my writing and won’t blow sunshine up my nether regions to make me feel good about myself.


      • I agree. Boredom is the biggest sin. That’s one reason I don’t care for a whole lot of sex in a story, it bores me. Two slow a pace is boring. And too much padding is boring.


  4. Just because you have to read a sentence more than once to totally “get it” does not make it “bad” writing. I just finished The Sound and the Fury, and there are plenty of sentences that required a second read.


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