Friday, April 17, 2015

Negative Positivity or Positive Negativity

However you say it, sometimes you have to ask a question that sounds negative but actually helps positively.

Confused? Let me go ahead and ask the question.

What do you hate, hate, hate in a book? 

See. Sounds awful. Normally, we ask readers, what do you love seeing in a book? But that doesn't help an author figure out, what is STILL readers' hot button? In this case, hot as in under the collar, make you mad type hot.  Not the good, squirming in your seat, flushed face with pleasure hot.

But I want to hear what will make you throw a book against the wall and refuse to read further? Maybe even quit reading the author entirely. This should have nothing to do with the author herself/himself but the book, the storyline, plot or whatever to do with our reading life.

By hearing your answers, an author may avoid the same mistake.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

My daughter quit reading one of her favorite author's books because the hero had sex with the heroine's sister. Paid over $7 for the paperback, but she willingly handed it off to a friend. That's at the least one hate. Two hates would be throwing it away. Three hates would equal a ritual burning.

I know I've trudged through a book or two or hundred that I hated because of the expense. I've torn one in two and threw away when the heroine died at the end. Stupid book.

For myself, I quit reading one of my all-time favorite authors (totally, not just the book) because of the same thing, must run in the family. . . the dislike of hero/heroine having sex with another person in the hero/heroine's family.

So tell me. What pushes your loathing button?

Carla Swafford loves romance novels, action/adventure movies and men, and her books reflect that. She has three romantic suspense novels with Avon Red and recently sold a hot motorcycle club series to Loveswept. She's married to her high school sweetheart and lives in Alabama.

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Heather said...

This post got me thinking. I'll stop reading a book if the plot isn't plausible or characters aren't engaging, but those aren't really hot buttons. For movies/tv, my big hot button is the main character being mean/making fun of people. I have a hard time with the Sacha Baron Cohen movies because he makes a joke out of the people around him. That is mean spirited, and I just don't like it. Won't watch it.

But as far as books go, it is a harder call because depending on the genre and plot, something that would bother me in one story won't in another. This post was great b/c now I am going to be looking for my hot buttons with books.

Suzanne Johnson said...

I can't separate my editor from my reader, so I totally prejudge books by their blurbs. Grammatical errors? Out. Punctuation flaws? Gone. Once they pass that hurdle, they get fifty pages, even if they press a hot button--"waking up with a power one never knew one had and suddenly the world's survival depends on you" being one, making me read ten pages before I can possibly figure out what's going on being another (sometimes it's okay to tell...just a little). After fifty pages, if it's still annoying me It's a DNF. Life's too short.

As an author, I press people's buttons without having a clue. Until I had a mild love triangle in my first book, I didn't know how many people HATED love triangles. They don't bother me. But it took me two more books to undo the triangle (and some accused me of a quadrangle!). Top of the list when I've asked my blog readers this question: TSTL heroines! Only thing is, I suspect one person's "too stupid to live" move might not be the same as another's.

Ali Hubbard said...

Great post! One of the reasons I love romance is because my hot buttons rarely get pushed. Not so in other genres. Don't kill the heroine, like you say. I felt sooooo mad and cheated when a heroine died in a popular series end. I recently read 2 romances where the heroine died in 1 and one of the heroes died in the other (hey, don't kill one of the guys just because it's a menage a she has some spares). Not happy.

I don't like when they cheat but I've finished some books where it was done well. I even stuck through a series.

I don't like when a girl wakes up with a strange guy in her bed. I'd be screaming!

Carla Swafford said...

Heather, I so dislike the Sacha movies. He's gross.

I know what you mean when you say "bother me in one story won't in another." In a BDSM book, the bossiness and roughness of the alpha male would have me slicing off the family jewels, if he was acting like that in a romantic suspense. Though he could probably get away with the same attitude in an historical romance.

Some readers dislike for the hero to have sex with anyone but the heroine once they meet. But that doesn't bother me, unless he's already made love with the heroine. No mixing of the...well, you understand.

Funny, how one point can make a difference.

Carla Swafford said...

Suzanne, OMG! I'm so right there with you.

In fact my first editor asked for a love triangle in my series (DECEPTION). I love her and would've done anything for her, even that. But I knew I couldn't do it fully. So I brushed against it in the first couple chapters and then the readers quickly sees that the hero could only concentrate on the heroine. He made it clear to the other woman. She didn't like it and gave the heroine hell. Made her kind of comedy relief. :-)

And so much right about TSTL. I swear when I hear a noise outside, I go and check. LOL!

Carla Swafford said...

Ali, LOL!! I know I would be freaking out too. :-D

Aidee Ladnier said...

Actually, I was talking to a friend about this very subject today. She hates weak women who can't do anything until an alpha male saves her. Me, personally, I totally stopped reading an author when she wrote a marriage of convenience that looked like it might end in a love match but ended with the bride's brother killing her at the alter. Never, ever reading her books again.

Carla Swafford said...

Aidee, that's so not a romance for sure. They would love it in Japan. They eat up stories where the lovers or one of the lovers die in the end. I'm with you. Only the villain can die as far as I'm concern.

Martha Lawson said...

First off, let me say I'm not a prude by any means, I don't mind cussing, sex words, etc.! I've started a couple of books lately where the hero and heroine had sex in the first 3 pages! Totally put them down, at least get to know them a little bit first before going at it like rabbits. I like the romance not just sex for sex sakes!

Carla Swafford said...

Yes, Martha. I prefer the H/H to wait until a little deeper the book before making love. Otherwise, it is just sex. Of course, unless they (H/H or author) can give a good reason for it to happen so soon ...

Cari Hislop said...

I too hate the heroine that is "too stupid to live". I've screamed in rage when authors shove characters stupidly into danger (over and over) to move the plot. Ugh! Or when the heroine just has to knowingly rush into a situation that endangers numerous people including herself just because "She can't live if she doesn't whatever" blood pressure is rising just thinking about a certain book. So irritating!

I hate it when the genre, title or synopsis leads me to expect something, but it's not delivered. This to me is unforgivable. I read a book the other day with "Complete Novel" on the cover so I bought it thinking it was a complete story, but it ended on a mega cliff hanger (with the author promising more story). I was feeling poorly so I didn't want to spend days wondering...what happened then? That irritated me. Even more irritating was buying a book in a series that the synopsis assured me was about this particular couple...only it turned out half the book was given to this other couple I did not buy the book for nor did I find them remotely interesting and it really made me mad. I'll never buy that author again! I didn't mind that there were two romances in the book, it was that I felt short changed because the author never even properly developed the romance advertised (because she was so taken with the second couple not mentioned anywhere in the synopsis).