What are big beginning turn-offs to you, as readers?

So I am having trouble starting my book which I’ve been working on for a little bit short of a year. I couldn’t figure out a way to start it and keep the same intensity and suspense that carries on throughout the book, so I took a friend’s advice. She told me to start in the middle and work forward, or start at the end and work backwards. So I did the former option and started in the middle. I started at the inciting incident, what sparks the main character’s troubles: an attack. But now I want to start the beginning that way I can start posting it online.

So, as a reader, what are you all most sick of seeing in books?

In your opinion, when reading the very beginning of a book, what do you hate, and what do you love?

How far into a book do you form the opinion that the book is good or bad?

I’ll try to help with what I can… My big thing with beginnings is super slow beginnings. Something needs to keep me intrigued. If your story is about the MC learning to live in a new fantasy world, don’t take 15 chapters for them to arrive in said world. That’s boring. I came for the fantasy and half the book isn’t that.

You don’t need action-packed but you do need things to keep readers hooked. Have things make some sense but also keep readers guessing what is happening. I normally outline and plan my stories because I do suck at beginnings but think… What helps you get to the middle of the story? Is it something a character has to do, a journey they must take? Think of how these dots connect and what actions or words must be dealt with before you get there.

I usually decide if the book is worth it based on the first chapter or 2. I don’t need straight-up action but I need to know that the story is giving me what the blurb offered and that I can’t predict it. Some people enjoy predicting stories. I don’t. I like to be taken for a thrilling ride with twists here and there.

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I don’t really like when the beginning moves too quickly. Like, of course you don’t want to keep the reader waiting, but when a single chapter moves too quickly from one scene to the other, that tends to turn me off. But then again, I’m one of those writers that appreciates a good, slow warm-up to the main part of the story so this might just be me. :sweat_smile:

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I agree, I tend to get easily bored if the first half of the book is all about world-building. It’s like the saying “show, don’t tell”-- I don’t want to read about it from a third-hand passing, I want to be emersed in the world myself and experience it. My current issue with the book I have is pacing: right now, the main character is going through a HUGE adjustment, and she’s trying to cope with everything that has happened while everyone around her basically hates her. So the chapters are building up to a point where she will either snap or overcome it, and then something happens.

My middle of the story is a bit of a battle for me. Not literally, there is not battle in the middle (just yet), but it’s more of inner turmoil, which the MC experiences a lot of do to her surroundings, the environment she’s in, and the people she’s surrounding herself with. She’s also expected to act a certain part that she isn’t sure she wants. The middle of the story begins with someone discovering who she is, even though she doesn’t even know for herself.

I don’t like predicting stories either, which makes me think now that my blurb for the book might be giving too much away…

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I definitely understand that, thank you so much!

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One thing I absolutely hate are TIME JUMPS. I don’t like them overall personally, but if you’re going to include a time jump, I’ve seen some fairly good ones in the middle of the story. Key word MIDDLE. I’ve come across stories where their first couple chapters are time jumps (not a prologue, time jumps) and it is BEYOND a turn off. It’s too messy and so confusing when you reach present time.

However one thing I really like is getting straight to the point. When done correctly, there are literally no downsides. It’s easy to hook the readers, shows character right off the bat, and even makes writing a hell of a lot easier as you can feel the story moving along.

these are my personal opinions but I know many others share these with me as well :slight_smile: In the end, good writing is all that matters, and with some of that, you’re bound to attract readers <3

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Sex scene within the first few chapters! I don’t mind sex scenes, but a good build up is key.

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Haha, you hate them in the first chapter, or you love them?

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I guess opinions on what counts as a great opener differs. In order for me to continue reading, it is essential i like an opening sentence or paragraph.

Not really hate (a lot of romance short stories have it pretty early) just not a huge fan.

I agree that it’s important not to take too long to build up to the action/main conflict of the story but in another vein, I personally dislike when books seem to have non-stop action. Like every chapter is one intense cliff hanger after another. I think it’s nice to have some relaxed chapters that focus more on characters and their relationships and interactions than serious plot - sometimes these are the moments that readers will appreciate the most. Just a thought!

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Info dumps, particularly in lore-heavy genres like fantasy. No one needs to know what battle took place and how the gods created the world right off the bat. Sprinkle that stuff in as you go along, not shove it in your readers’ faces.

Also: when too many characters are introduced in the same chapter - or worse, in the same scene. This isn’t an AA meeting. We can’t keep up with all these new faces so quickly.

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Time jumps get on my nerves when they come at random times, but if they are done the right way and explain the “thing” that the novel has been building up, then I agree that they can be great. Thank you for your thoughts! I’m still wrestling with what I want to write. I finally figured out how to start it, thankfully, but now I have to decide which direction to go.

That’s great, I wish you luck! :slight_smile:

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Personally, I love it when the characters talk about their relationships and what they are feeling, as long as it’s not simple conversation like “Are you okay?” “I think so” “Want to talk about it?” “Not really.” I think conversation like that can just be redacted entirely. Cliffhangers are nice, though, but I understand what you mean about constant action. At some point, holding your breath for the characters gets exhausting.

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That’s so weird, I’ve just had feedback on my first chapter saying that there’s too much telling and not enough showing as it’s in first person (originally was third but might switch back now). I had to ask what they meant at first :sweat_smile: it’s hard to get the right balance of everything in the first chapter - I hate mine and tempted to rewrite it ci completely (I did write it years before the rest of the chapters haha)

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:joy: I agree with you on the info dump. I just read a book that couldn’t stop explaining all about the world and the gods and it gave me a headache because then the author went into the laws of their world, and it pissed me off. I like to know the boundaries of the world and what kind of world it is, but it was just too much and it came at the most random of times.

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Agreed. No matter how unique and fascinating the world-building is, it’ll be all for naught if the plot becomes a textbook instead. I’d rather all that stuff only be explained when it’s actually relevant to the story.

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Too much description can put the readers to sleep. I myself want to be emersed in the world without having to know the requirements of how to get there, you know?

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When it comes to a beginning I’ll echo a lot of the sentiment already posted above: I want to know what kind of story to expect and what kind of world this is. Set the mood and aesthetic, add a little mystery, and communicate what you, the author, love about this book.

Opening turn-offs to me include starting in the middle of a battle scene (I don’t know the characters, so there’s no reason to care what’s happening to them!) and starting with mundane small talk (“Good morning!” “Good morning, how are you?” “Not bad!”).

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