Yesterday Jennifer wrote about getting her best ideas just as she’s falling asleep. Today I’m looking at the other side of this – the kind of things that cause readers to fall asleep!
1. Too much backstory at the beginning.
2. Too much description of places and/or narrative and/or researched detail which is not necessary to the story.
3. Slow pacing, with nothing much happening for several pages.
4. No emotion, or feelings stated rather than shown.
5. Too much description of characters doing ‘ordinary’ things like cooking or gardening i.e. scenes which don’t advance the plot or give an insight into the character(s)
To this list, I would add the following – which might not send readers to sleep, but which could irritate them and stop them reading, even when they’re not sleepy:
1. Unnatural/stilted dialogue or characters who talk like they’re in a 1940s slushy movie.
2. Too many characters introduced too quickly in the story (especially at the beginning).
3. Hero/heroine not very likeable – selfish, petty, ‘too stupid to live’.
4. Author intrusion – telling us things the characters don’t know or see.
5. Plot holes or loose ends not tied up at the end of the story.
What would you add to these lists?