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For Readers: DNF

Did Not Finish


Today’s reader topic comes from QSFer Denise Dechene:

“What makes you DNF a book?”

For those not familiar with the term, it’s “Did not finish.”

Writers: This is a reader chat – you are welcome to join it, but please do not reference your own works directly. Thanks!

Join the chat


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5 thoughts on “For Readers: DNF”

  1. Grammar, epithet abuse, and just not being able to get into it. I figure life is too short and my TBR too long to persist with something that I don’t actively look forward to reading.

  2. Badly written, needless sex scenes, constant overly sugary sentiments, unengaging characters/story lines and probably the biggest thing – my mood.

    I like Leta’s thought – Life is short, TBR too long…. Moving on!

  3. I can usually tell from my reaction to the first few paragraphs of a book wheter I want to read it or not. I don’t put much store in blurbs or reader reviews. If the story doesn’t ‘hook’ me right away it will go to the DNF file – which is why I tend to read mostly library loans. There have, however, been notable exceptions – books I loved from jump street and hated by the time I got to main street. I find this is usually caused either by inconsistancy in craft from a writer I’ve previously loved ( I have a love/hate DNF relationship with Isabelle Allende for this reason) or by irritating attitudes of the writer reflected in his/her characters. I recently began a book by an action/adventure writer whose books I’d enjoyed previously. He’s a great plotter, great with pacing and atmosphere. But what made the book a DNF was one phrase. He ( the writer speaking as the MC) referred to the female contingent of the adventuers as ‘the girls’. That just ground my gears. The story was clever and engaging but I just refused to read a story set in contemporary times were women are called ‘girls’ . Of course, one might argue that this is the character’s issue – not the writer – but without a clear reference to this character as a misogynist/old fashioned, etc., one can’t help but assume this is the writer talking.

  4. It takes a damned lot for me to DNF a book, as I read for my own education in writing, and one can learn an awful (!) lot by reviewing bad writing.

    On occasion, however, a book is SO bad that I don’t want to let it through my filters for even a minute, lest it contaminate my “purity.”

    Some of the worst offenders are those who have internal inconsistencies, who don’t follow their own chosen logic in developing their plot points. They go obliviously on without me, in that case.

    Others pursue the same tired strategies of plot development beyond all bounds, as “The Fifth Man” does. This Mars book continually creates strained situations in which one is “led” to suspect that a fifth man is creating havoc, on a four-man Mars mission. The point gets extremely tiresome, even though it “holds” a reader like me until the last point falls through.

    BUT I will never read another book by the same author. Such reader-abuse does get my attention, and my reaction to such abuse lasts.


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