5 Ways to Frustrate Readers

1. Kill characters because you find it fun

Come on! You’re a writer and you enjoy this. In fact, you offer a comprehensive package: last words, cause of death, mourning, gravedigging, funeral services, and more mourning. You probably even bring the rain. This is your element but its benefits are twofold if you kill beloved characters for no plot-furthering reason. It will frustrate readers.

2. Add commentary in the author’s voice

There is no better way to make your story unbelievable than to draw readers out of the flow with your observations. If you struggle to create content for this purpose, think about writing moral lessons. Analyze your characters and comment on their decisions and attitudes. And if you really want to frustrate your readers, spiderweb away from the topic at hand. Readers hate tangents.

3. Don’t let the obvious happen

Set up a guy and a girl who are just perfect for each other. Then make one of them say “this just won’t work” and walk away. Have a cool detective investigate a murder. There is a suspect and all the evidence points to him but right in the climax reveal the detective as the murderer. Plot twists like these will ensure your content is original and will keep your readers on the edges of their seats (doing their best not to jump up and kill you).

4. Make mortals immortal but still mortals

Let me break this down. Make your regular human characters seemingly immortal but never offer an explanation for why they seem immortal, so your readers assume they are still mortal but can’t die. It works. I never find myself relating to the guy who defeats alien hordes with a spoon but never has to see the doctor. Make sure your readers don’t believe your character can die and if you can’t frustrate them, you’ll at least bore them.

5. Avoid any and all closure

This is a must have if you want readers to read to the end and be frustrated. It is even more effective when paired with #3. Do your best to raise questions, suggest future answers, and then write “the end” before you can resolve anything. This is extra frustrating when done across a series. You might not succeed in your goal with the first book, but after properly avoiding closure on the fourth or fifth book, readers will be frustrated. They will probably be suspicious of your intentions and wonder if you really have notes for the final book. In short, leave them with the same question you raised at the very beginning of the story and


26 thoughts on “5 Ways to Frustrate Readers

  1. Yes! I don’t like books that kill off main characters for no reason, nor do I like unresolved stories! Even if you have a series, at least wrap up the plot of that book!
    Can I add #6? Be sure you write in a monotone. In other words never show anything always tell it. I don’t mind some telling, but I tried reading a book that was mostly telling. Ugh! They would show just enough to get you interested and then go back to telling. Not fun!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think #4 bugs me the most. I’m all for strong men who ignore bullet wounds or broken legs to help someone else, but at times it gets a bit unrealistic…


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha!! I was smiling reading through all these. All five are my biggest pet peeves and probably most readers too. The funny thing is, that somehow authors keep doing them! I think with number four female authors make the hero immortal because they have a perfect image of what they want in a guy. Basically nothing bad happens to them and they always do the right thing 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad it made you smile! Yes, good point. I think authors have a tendency to romanticize but it always makes it less believable for me. Which makes it not a very good book in my opinion. 🙂


  4. Oh my word… This post killed me. =D It’s so true! And #3…. that sounds really interesting. You have written a book where the detective is pointed as the culprit, right? Because you need to. ASAP. 😛
    #5 is just poor writing…. writer’s overlook the basic, realistic fact that your character is (most likely) human- and humans have limitations. If your character is being overworked and drastically on the run- they’re going to be bone tired at some point! Anyway… yeah. #5 is annoying.
    #6. You. YOU. YOU

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are merciful and kind. ;D Yes, #5 happens so much in movies… There’s a point of being interested in what happens next, and a realistic point of drop-off and cliff hanger… and then, there’s just poor laziness. Where the ending isn’t an ending and there are too many things left undone to be acceptable. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I have to confess, I’m actually struggling with this in my book. My point of view characters are in a completely different geographical area than everyone else when the story ends so I’m trying to figure out how to wrap up other people’s story lines… 🙂 I’d be fine leaving them swinging in the wind, but that’s ’cause I know what happens to them after the ending. It’s hard to determine just how much closure is necessary.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I see what you’re saying! It is tricky to have different POVs from different areas… is there a character in the end that somehow brings them all together, maybe? I’ve seen that done. Or perhaps they each had a role in the plot/story, even if they never met. If it was like that, you could maybe just smooth the edges over with what you do know. 🙂 I like books that leave you still thinking about them, and maybe even thinking about the character’s futures yourself… so it’s really up to you what fits for your characters, I think. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  5. These are great! I am killing off one of my(and hopefully the reader’s) favorite character….no I just need to find a unique way for him to die. tears As for author commentaries…I’m the worst. I torture my poor readers….and characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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