The Top 5 Reasons People Stopped Reading Your Fanfic
It's hard enough to attract readers, but keeping them is a whole new challenge. Here are the five big reasons most readers give up on a story.
Nothing alienates a reader faster than something confusing to read. The readers we asked said they will actively turn away from a book that switches between first-person ("I turned around and opened the door...") to third-person ("...then she stepped outside"). The reason? It's just too hard to follow what's going on.
Major Dialogue Fails
Writers use dialogue tags to let you know that something is being said out loud. That means using quotation marks, punctuation, and words like 'he said'. There are a lot of mistakes to be made when it comes to dialogue, but there are two easy ways to get readers to abandon a book: 1. Leave out quotation marks entirely or 2. Don't say who's talking. If readers can't tell when someone is talking or who is speaking, they'll walk away.
Most people reading fanfiction are reading on their phones, so large blocks of text are overwhelming and hard to follow. Shorten your paragraphs into easy-to-read chunks and use new paragraphs for each new person speaking. Aim for under 100 words per paragraph when writing for screen readers.
Taking Too Long to Get to the Good Stuff
There's a saying in journalism: "Don't bury the lede." It's a short way of saying "start with the good stuff." The same is true for fanfiction writing. Readers make split-second decisions about what they want to keep reading, so you have to start with an interesting part of the story and reel them in right away. Don't start with the boring day leading up to the life-changing event, start with the drama! Readers don't want to read filler (and they don't want to read prologues, either—sorry!), they want you to get to the good stuff. If you bore the reader before that, it doesn't matter how interesting it gets, they won't stick around to find out.
Way Too Much Information
Maybe the story starts by introducing 12 characters. Or it has a big, complicated fantasy world with complex place names. Whatever the details may be, there are too many and they're coming too fast. If a reader has a serious case of TMI and can't keep track of who's who or what's going on, that story will end up in the DNF pile.
What makes you put down a story? Let us know in the comments...