Written by A Guest Author March 20th, 2019

The Top Ten Complaints from Book Reviewers

By TN Wesley

What ticks off your readers? What would make someone never want to read your work again?  Knowing this information can help you avoid doing anything to antagonize your readers.

To find out what rubs readers the wrong way, I combed through several Amazon.com book reviews and came up with a compilation of 10 common readers’ complaints.

  1. Unreal and underdeveloped characters who feel like stick figures.

To avoid this problem, Writers Digest magazine suggests knowing your character’s history (from birth till, now); developing the character’s attitudes, endearing your character to your readers and digging deeper to cover his or her motivations.

  1. Overly wordy prose laced with grammatical errors and typos.

After investing months or even years writing a novel it is reasonable to expect a writer to take time finding a good editor who will make sure the book is professionally written and ready to see the light of day.

  1. Dull, predictable, repetitive stories written in a confusing style.

One way to avoid this problem is to limit the writing of banal repetitive everyday things and instead focus on original and vivid events that make your character unique and interesting.

  1. Keeping readers waiting for a climax that never comes.

Readers expect a fiction writer to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of story structure. The climax is that part of a story where the protagonist achieves or fails to reach his or her goals. It usually comes towards the end of a story. If a story has no climax readers feel cheated.

  1. Lazy writing, flimsy and unbelievable storyline.

To create a believable story, writer CS Lakin encourages a writer to ask a few questions: “Do my characters behave the way people with their backgrounds would normally behave in this situation? Is this their most logical response to the danger they’re in, to the desire they’re pursuing, or to the actions of the other characters? …Is this what I would do if I were in this situation?”

  1. Writers with no clue of human nature.

Some readers turn to fiction in their quest to understand human nature. They trust the writer to have a good understanding of humanity. According to the writer, Gitabushi, “…a writer must understand human nature, must understand the motivation, must understand how different people think, how they pursue their goals, what their priorities are. From this understanding, good stories arise.”  A writer who does not understand human behavior risks losing readers.

  1. Unrelatable characters who are difficult to care about.

Our job as writers is to create lifelike fictional characters who think, act and feel like humans do. Once we manage to do that, readers can put themselves in our characters shoes and thus relate to them. Amazon.com book reviewers who failed to relate to the characters did not finish reading the  poorly written books.

  1. Crimes stories which are too violent and obscene for readers to stomach.

In real life, as in fiction, ordinary people can only tolerate so much violence and obscenity. When writers take violence and obscenities to extremes, they risk alienating many readers.

  1. Politically biased prose.

When writing fiction for the general public the best policy is to remain objective on political issues.

  1. Poorly researched stories.

On this aspect, the writer Lee Allen Howard’s words clarify the need for fiction writers to do through research. He writes: “Although fiction is a product of the imagination, if it’s set in the real world at least partially, there will be some real-life things you must get right. This means being accurate with your facts.”


Before you submit that article, short story or novel ask yourself, “Is this ready to be presented to my readers?”


TN Wesley is a freelance writer.



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