A number of writing traits are irritating and distracting to a reader; however, the content of some stories does offset these sins and some authors are good enough writers that these problems are less noticeable. Even so, it is advisable to avoid these issues.

1. Preaching and Sermonizing.

It is understandable that a writer have a theme or moral to a story, as it would not be worth reading or hearing otherwise. It is not understandable for a writer to get up on the pulpit or soapbox and beat the reader about the head and shoulders in lengthy, out of place (misplaced), or repeated moralizing; especially when not saying anything new.

For example:

Among a number of stories, that I dearly love, regardless of the sin of excessive sermonizing, are Jean Johnson’s The Sons of Destiny series and Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series. When the reader skips several pages, because he or she read it earlier in the same book, it is not a good sign. Jean only does a few sentences (finding several ways to say the same thing), while Terry does paragraphs to pages of sermonizing at least once in every book. I forgive them both, because the storyline is interesting, inspiring, and innovative; in each case.


2. Spelling and grammar errors.

The trend of self-publishing produces many books that are not properly edited. Such professional editing prior to publishing is likely more expensive than the average person can afford; however, after a publication has reached a certain level of success, there is no real excuse for not getting the story properly edited and republished. Of course, even a well-edited story ends up with a few errors.

For example:

Whispering is a very quietly spoken comment or conversation.

Wispering is not a word, but could evoke the imagery of a conjuror creating or summoning a wisp.

 3. The word or phrase of the week.

Occasionally an author fixates on a word or phrase and uses it repeatedly, without consideration for finding other methods of getting the point across, such as using a thesaurus to find other words that have the same or a similar meaning. This is especially noticeable and horrific, when the word is misspelled. The mind expects to see a higher percentage of certain words, such as of, the, and, while, and said. Special circumstances increase the probability of other types of words, such as when traveling an increase in the navigation terms over, under, through, around, between, near, and far. Start repeating an uncommon term an undue number of times in a story and the word begins to lose its punch and flavor.

For example:

Supposing, spelled incorrectly as supossing is very conspicuous. Repeat this word 50 times in a novel and the reader will notice it and could get annoyed. Misspell this repeated word that many times and the reader could throw the book down in disgust, even if it is the only mistake in the book.

 4. Circling the Drain or Hanging out on the Event Horizon of a Black Hole.

Circling the drain is where the author seems to have mislaid or forgotten how the story was supposed to end. Alternatively, it is a failure to get to the point before losing the reader’s interest or annoying the reader beyond redemption. It is rather comparable to watching a TV show, where you reach the climax of the story and it cuts to commercial for the next five hours.

For example:

Dragonball Z takes several episodes to complete a single fight scene (each fighter might make a challenging statement and make one or two attacks along with much posing and muscle flexing. Bleach takes numerous side-trips that add to the story (eventually), but take the audience away from the story, just as it seems to be getting to a climax. There are more appropriate and less annoying moments to take side-jaunts that build up the story and stretch it out.