The anatomy of a DNF romance read
Not that long ago, we talked about the anatomy of a 5-star romance read. I’ve given out TONS of 5-star ratings on this site. But sadly, there are also many things that’ll make me banish a book from my Kindle forever and slap a DNF (Did Not Finish) rating on it. That list includes (but certainly isn’t limited to):
Characters who speak without ever using contractions and say things no normal human would ever say make me DNF a book at lightning speed. I’m a dialogue connoisseur. I need witty, snappy, smart banter that flows smoothly. If a book’s dialogue is stilted and weird, I’m out.
Instalust isn’t a problem for me, but when characters who just met are declaring their undying love for one another in a book’s opening chapters, I not only DNF the book, but I also roll my eyes. A lot. And rolled eyes where I come from mean that the book is in for a ranty review, and no one wants that.
Overly detailed descriptions of violence
I read for enjoyment. I don’t need to read blow-by-blow details of graphic violence that’ll leave me too scared to sleep at night. I’m especially opposed to violence against children, animals, and women. If there’s so much as a HINT that a gory, detailed description of violence is coming up in a book, I’ll pull a preemptive DNF and get out before I read something I can’t unread. I WILL NOT have a repeat of the Say Goodbye incident of 2008. (*shudders while rocking back and forth and reminding self that it’s just a book...only a book...it can’t hurt me again...it’s only a book*)
Manwhores manwhoring about manwhorishly
Overly detailed descriptions of how many women the hero has banged are an instant turn off for me. It’s especially off-putting when I have to read detailed descriptions of the hero banging random women who aren’t the heroine. It’s OK for a hero to have a past, but I don’t need THAT much detail. I do have an excellent imagination, after all.
Tripping of the bullshit meter
I have a finely honed bullshit meter, and I can tell the difference between a plot point that makes sense and a convenient plot contrivance the author has included as a desperate attempt to throw the hero and heroine together. And once my bullshit meter has been tripped, the only thing left for me to do is DNF.
I have no tolerance for alphaholes. I’m perfectly fine with alpha males—but they can’t bully the heroine. Ever. Not for any reason. Alphaholes are nothing but highschool bullies with abs and I will DNF their asses so fast their little alpha brains will spin.
All dogs in romance novels should be happy, healthy, and live forever. That is all.
Tons of editing errors
Now, I’m no grammar Nazi, and I understand that no author and no editor is perfect—so, I’m willing to let a handful of typos go without comment. But when I see lots of errors in a book, I have to assume the author didn’t take the time to polish their work or hire a good proofreader and/or editor, and that irritates me. In fact, it irritates me to the point that I’ve DNF’d books that were otherwise pretty good solely because of typos. Because if an author doesn’t care enough to publish the best possible version of their work, why should I care enough to finish reading it?
The heroine who runs away from the hired bodyguard who is protecting her because, darn it, no one is going to tell HER what to do...yeah, that chick will make me DNF every time. Every. Time. Too Stupid To Live heroines can all go quietly into that goodnight, thank you very much.
What about y’all? What makes you DNF a book? Let’s discuss!
And since we're already on a roll with our grumpiness...
1/21/2019 11:16:36 am
A really GREAT post! There's volumes out there about how to write a great romance, but scarcely anything about what NOT to do!
2/23/2021 02:21:47 am
The one thing I DNF'ed was when a heroine had not one twisted ankle, but two, that one went in a pile destined for the used book store. Also, another where a hero blames a heroine form not knowing a killer was among them. As if she's supposed to read minds? Enough.
While I don't believe in instalove - and it does make me roll my eyes - I can (and do) still happily read it.
1/23/2019 06:11:32 am
great post and I agree but as a poor struggling author (indie) and I mean poor, i have tried hard to keep error free but the little nasties still got in there and I missed them but not because I didn't care.
1/25/2019 10:39:15 am
Great post and 100% agree! I'd also toss in a solid story line, not just about the relationship!
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