What are your “red flags” in books?


Barring the blurb/synopsis, what’s something in any book - WP or trad. published - that makes you think, “Oh, boy, I’m probably not gonna enjoy this story”?

example: if it’s chapter 1 and I support the enemy of the character rather than the MC themselves


What’s wrong with supporting the enemy than the main? Hell, I’ve continued many books just for the side characters/antagonists.

Red Flag: Bad grammar, over cliché plots, shitty purple prose that’s just so over the top and annoying, present tense (depends on what book it is–and having it written in third is even more terrible).


I’d love it if the enemy or antagonist is sympathetic, but yeah if you dislike the MC from chapter 1 it miiight not turn out so well. Tho Theon Greyjoy is one of my favorite characters but in the beginning of Game of Thrones he’s kinda blurgh

I don’t like it when there’s this theme of evil dark forces and the chosen one who is destined to stop it, cause like, the world doesn’t work like that, there are no pure evil monstrous demon people trying to destroy the world, and there isn’t just one person and their hearty band of heroes that can stop it. I just, that trope is so overused I’m really sick of it by now


I’d say nothing’s wrong with it, but if it’s chapter 1 that suggests there’s something off. Cause you usually support the enemy once you learn about their personality and backstory.


Overemphasis on the characters’ attractiveness is usually a bad sign that it’s going to be more of a wish fulfillment project for the author than a book.
Using violence and cheesy “badass” dialogue to establish who the “strong” characters are.
Punishing the characters we are meant to dislike without really giving us a reason to dislike them, other than them being mean to the main character.
So many red flags, really.


Primarily meant as an example to give some people a starting point for their answers. Bear in mind, “red flags” may be very subjective and vary by person. But I mainly read teen fic where the “enemy” is usually the “jealous girlfriend” or “popular girl” and MC is the sassy plain Jane. So yeah, lol


When there isn’t punctuation. At all. Missing periods, commas or other forms of punctuation is a major turn away for me. It’s so distracting.


Okay then. I just think you got to have good talent to make people like the person they’re supposed to hate. Creates conflict with the readers.


Oh I don’t read that shit because that’s just plain lazy or that it’s not developed in a way that is intriguing.


Third person is a red flag? That’s pretty much all books pre-2005


Yeah! I think what the OP is trying to get at is that if by chapter 1 you already hate the mc so much that the enemy is comparison seems like an angel then it’s a red flag XD I think it does take a lot to make the reader like the person they’re supposed to dislike. That’s why I also don’t like the enemy being hated just for being the enemy. Like Dissonancedance said.


No. Present-tense third person is terrible to me.


Oh okay. I seen plenty of those on here, but they’re the popular things people like reading.


Oh. That makes more sense.


I will give most books a chance. However, a clearly unedited, poorly punctuated, under (or over) structured story is a turn off right away. It’s lazy and shows a lack of maturity. A good writer is willing to edit out what isn’t serving a purpose.


Also, a prologue that is just a cliche quote. I’m never a huge fan of quotes in blurbs or prologues or anywhere else in your story, but please don’t make a prologue just because you wanted to post a quote.


I don’t have “red flags” at least not anymore. When I was a much younger reader I did, and then I made it my personal mission to locate and burn them all one by one. Now thankfully, I have no literary prejudices. It’s easier that way.


Authors notes where the author talks with their characters. It is not cute. Of course, this one might be tainted by the fact that my first run-in with this phenomenon was with an author who wrote herself engaging in flirtatious banter with her teenaged characters.


I’m guessing you’re not a fan of postmodern fiction in general or Kurt Vonnegut specifically. He did that [interacted with his characters] a lot particularly in Breakfast of Champions.


I could have done without a lot of what was in his novels. The focus on penis size was a little much, for instance.