What makes a bad novel?

tridetect

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Bad grammar and plot makes me drop a story. I won't even go past chapter 1.
 
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Deleted member 45782

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We all already know what makes a good novel. But have you ever wondered what makes a bad novel?
Is it the story, grammar? Or the way the plot is managed?!
- Bad grammar.
- Clichés and cookie-cutter stories that don't strive to be really any different from one another...
- Plot development doesn't make sense or isn't really "believable"...

Grammar - We all are not perfect in grammar, but even sometimes reading comments and stories where the grammar doesn't really flow...makes us do a double take to read it again and it can sound kind of cringey.

Clichés - like same story tropes over and over again because while I get a lot claim the "there aren't original stories anymore," can you at least try to be a bit more original and make unique twists to the story? As in not subtle slight difference ones either. Some clichés are overused and aren't really believable as well. A lot of people mention tropes they see in some eastern fantasy novels here, but I wanna mention ones that popular trends on Wattpad under romance (lot stories romance, but there are some interesting pockets for poetry sci-fi, etc. too):
(Not best resource cause I don't really read much on Wattpad and don't go out of my way to read a lot of these..)

- Bad boy - realistically speaking, probably more likely to crush your hearts than turn all 180 and become the best person ever...
- Werewolf Alpha - either by hormones or destined "mate." kidnap may be used as "kidnap by alpha story type". made alpha ml to be all badass
- Mafia leader - always made to be badass and still saves girl. realistically probably one of the worst people to run into, not to mention survival
- the CEO - apparently transcends in many places. as you can see it in wattpad and novelupdate...
- the Ex-husband. Sometimes dumped and they were pregnant. Said person than finds out and oh...in the end its all misunderstanding.

Some of these involve the guy kidnapping or treating the female lead horrible at first (some may still be ....) but oh the eventually-he-changes-and-she-falls-in-love-with-him-in-the-end (this is the excuse that is probably what keeps these tropes up). And there's probably few of these stories (seen at least one) on Wattpad the male lead was kinda of creepy too so...Most of these tropes...unrealistic and cookie-cutter, because major plot archetype and characters are pretty there to serve same fucntion...

Unrealistic Plot - Plot development may not have to be realistic as some would say its just a story and set in a fantasy land...but at least have it be believable! Some stories the character or plot development jumps from one thing to suddenly another - it feels like where is the connection? Sometimes its not realistic enough and often times, that's where people question where the brain cells went...
 

Templary

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I am new to this but for me it is a novel it is bad when you notice that the authors use the magic power of the script and they make a character do something stupid or illogical, all because the author needs certain things to happen the way he wants, even if it doesn't make any sense.
 
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Deleted member 45782

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I am new to this but for me it is a novel it is bad when you notice that the authors use the magic power of the script and they make a character do something stupid or illogical, all because the author needs certain things to happen the way he wants, even if it doesn't make any sense.
this (y)
yup
 

StarEis

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characters with -100 IQ

mc: exists
random cuck rapist fat corrupt noble: you looked at me funny lmao, guards kill him *die*
then repeat hundred times till web novel reader give you enough money. also, add a harem with forgettable girls that are all tsundere and get kidnaped every ten chapters.

there has to be interesting world-building too, mostly the simple magic world thing is pretty fun if the main character is unique but some people just get a sword hero + op from start + harem and call it a novel.
 

Wolfbane

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I think we have to define what a "Bad" novel is first. The term bad is a subjective term but to me, it's a novel that one drops early in the reading proces because the standard wasn't up to par or the novel didn’t fulfill ones expectations. This can happen for a multitude of different reasons varying from person to person. There are exceptions to this though, which is when one losses interest in a novel because it doesn’t interest them or wasn’t what it promised to be. This is not necessarily a sign of a bad novel but more of a narrative difference between author and reader.

Now I do have some points I would like the raise, that personally ruins a story to me.

  • Layout and grammar – a novel is ruined for me when I can’t understand what is being told or who is doing what on first read through. When its not clear what a person is saying or who is saying it because of misspelling or layout issues, then it takes the reader out of the moment. What I mean by grammar is obvious but what do I mean by layout issues? Layout issues is when it’s unclear who is talking/doing something because the story either doesn’t mention it or the point of view changes without mentioning it. With that said, you don’t need perfect grammar or layout for at story to be readable or good, just make sure that the reader can read it in one go with stopping or doing a retake on the action. A proofreader should be able to make sure this is not an issue.
  • Bad/uninteresting characters – a bad Main character(s) to me is one who is 2 dimensional. A character who’s attribute and personality can be described in 3 or fewer words is often not interesting in the long run. If you want to write a revenge story, then make sure you have more to the character than just “mad at world and sadist”. A throwaway side character who isn’t often involved doesn’t need much to be useful narratively but shines the most when you make them interact with other characters since you don’t want to spend much time introducing them to the audience.
  • Plot – Having good characters makes for a good slice of life story, having a good plot makes for a great story. When I say this it’s not to bash the slice of life genre. It’s more to say that genres have different narrative needs, and some have it easier than others. The plot of the story is important to making a good story because it’s what makes a reader want to read the next chapter. A good strong plot is important to a story, especially to the format of SH and light novels. With a daily/weekly/monthly update schedule it can be hard for a reader to remember plot points or story details from previous chapters. This can be solved either by having a clear plot or reminding the reader of what the current plot/goal is. A great example of having clear overall plots is Naruto and One Piece. I don’t even need to tell you guys what the goal of our MC is in those stories you know. Though this doesn’t mean you have to be like Naruto and shout the MC’s goal at every opportunity just remember that plots are important to keeping a reader engaged and interested. When we read the synopsis it’s the plot that catches our attention and is what is meant to keep us there along with the characters.
 

AKnightWithaKnife

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The worst thing in my opinion is trying to write a smut novel but having shitty grammar or telling not showing. This can totally ruin the mood of a story and makes it fell like just a person being horny on page. Also this might get me some flame but harem shouldnt be used as a power source. Harem is made for slice of life stories where the harem members can be fleshed out. Many others ive seen just Introduce girls and never characterize them out side the size of their boussum. Then the worst type of story is a wish fullment type story. Although ive read many good ones I’ve had my share of pure crap. Most of these stories have poor characterization and the story isn’t concrete. When you want to make a novel a good rule of thumb is to try to explain it in under a sentence. If you can you got a concert story but if you can’t go back to the drawing board
 

Reisinling

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No, the Japanese are bunch herbivore pu$$ie$ accepting of indirectness, ambivalence, and characters who display a level density that no human can suspend disbelief of. Heck, i don't even mind if the character isn't the strongest, just so long as he has sense in his head...Japanese gotta write to their virgin audiences who actually pay money for them dam figurines.
I don't think that's actually true. Please don't take me wrong, I'm sure there a lot of wimps in Japan, as everywhere, but I suspect it has more to do with the structure of most Japanese novels/comics.

Notice, in pretty much every manga with tons of girls, nobody cares about the MC at the beginning. All the art, care, and characterization is there to make the actual main cast (wrongly called here supporting cast) interesting, with interesting strife, and backstories, multiple different types, so that everyone can find someone they like.

Suddenly, 30 chapters author realizes he has a problem!, all those characters are awesome... why the hell would they hang out with our MC? We didn't talk about him at all, as to not make ppl jealous for their waifus but now... Also, we are still not sure where the novel will go in 30chapters, we can't really commit to anything... Shit, I don't know, and deadline is upon us, let's say he was always kind to them behind the scenes! GREAT!

Finally, people are willing to read novel with MEH MC, if they like the rest of the stuff, but they will drop it if they don't like him. So the end result is ton of meh MCs
 
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Sylverius

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These are the main reasons for me:
1.) The author has no motivation to make the story logical. Even if you put magic in there, at least make sure it has sense as to what it's strong to or weak to as well as why it's better than the other element at certain situations.
2.) World building sucks. The world building is very important. If you're going for like an ancient setting or a medieval, stick to it. Unlike Naruto where they use a huge amount of chakra to send a message, then in the next few scenes, they use radios.
3.) Unrealistic Characters. Your characters should have flaws, they shouldn't be perfect. They should also be interesting and, in my opinion, human-like. What I like to do is I pretend to be that character. If I was him/her in this situation, what would they do? Something like that.
4.) Bad Grammar. I for one, am not too bothered by grammar, but if it's the Grammar inquisition, they'll gun you down. Word of warning.
5.) No Direction. Make sure that the story actually has a main goal, and make sure it's actually good. For example, Attack on titan. I won't spoil though, just saying.
6.) No/messed up power system. When making a character or a monster, make sure they have a power system. An example of a bad power system is seven deadly sins. Mc's weak, he gets powered up, he beats the enemy up EZ Peezy. That's bad. An example of a good power system is HunterxHunter.
7.) No stakes. This is connected to number 6, there needs to be a sacrifice or something. It can't be called a good battle if the good guys one-sidedly win. Well, I'm not saying death is good, but like in number 1, be logical.
8.) The author has no motivation at all to listen to the things I've given.

Well, these are just my opinions, but it's your story, it's your choice.
 

IDreamNovels

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You should read How not to write a novel by Howard Mittlemark.
Novel here refers to the traditional published novels, though. So some of the it may not apply to web-novels. But I still think it's closest to what you are looking for.
 

WasatchWind

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We all already know what makes a good novel. But have you ever wondered what makes a bad novel?
Is it the story, grammar? Or the way the plot is managed?!
I'd say it's a billion things. There are few main roads to having a good novel - they usually rely on the three pillars, setting, characters, and plot, but a bad story can fall prey to way more than just those. It can be really bad tropes. Poor out of character choices that are obviously meant to serve the plot.

It can be a problem of tone. It can be that the plot doesn't really go anywhere, gets extremely episodic, and just kind of dawdles about until a conclusion is reached.

Following trends I think is another big thing that turns me off to books. It is one thing if you have a similar story element, but when I look at divergent and maze runner, it is obvious that they are copying a bunch from hunger games, while even thought the book Steelheart is technically in the same genre, and has similar elements, it feels like its own unique thing.

With those books specifically, a dividing factor is worldbuilding. If you have poor justification for why the plot needs to happen, the reader is going to be asking why all this is happening the whole time. If you do too much worldbuilding, you're making a fictional encyclopedia, not a novel.

So, if I could get down to it, I think it comes to knowing how to balance things, and then, recognizing when something is really stupid.
 

Spica66

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Personally, as a reader, I dislike:
- Fast pacing, I mean too fast.
- Story that its purpose is to sell a gimmick.
- Cliches without something new.
- Flat characters.

I didn't mean to offend anyone. I know writing isn't easy.
 
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Kilolo

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for my version, what makes a bad novels in short sentence is : a novel that doesn't makes me want to read the next paragraph.

yes, what makes you want to read the next chapter of a novel is awfully subjective, but that's how people define a bad novel : by subjective opinion

bad grammar? sure, i would be annoyed if the author wrote the sentence confusingly due to bad grammar, but i read lots of japanese webnovels at syosetsu using machine translation but i could still bring myself to read the whole stuff until finish.

bad character design/build? yeah, those are bad to the point that i don't care about whatever those novel characters anymore, but sometimes i would still keep reading the novels because there's another things that intrigue me (be it the plot, the world building, or maybe even the novel actually giving me lots of useful reference that i could use in real live)

bad plot/execution/world building/consistencies/or whatever my earlier post mentioned : yes, it could be annoying if maybe one or even all the parts that mentioned are horribly bad to the point that nothing is even make sense anymore. but if there's a reason that makes me curious about what happened in the next sentence/chapter. i would still reading it and won't say it a bad novel (shitty novel might be, but not bad novel)

my point is : i never read any novel that so perfect to the point that i can't even point any flaw in it (if you have. then good for you). but having many bad flaws while having some intriguing feature that makes me curious to read the continuation of the novel ; is actually far better than a novel that mediocre at everything. those mediocre thing are the stuff i would called bad novels because if i wouldn't bothers to read even 5 paragraph, how can i even read a hundred chapter of it?
you guys sure know Scherazade from One Thousand and One Nights right? she could postpone her execution each night for about 2 years in a row by using cliffhanger, that's what make her a good storyteller.

one of my most favorite novel is a novel with bad grammar, a totally mundane and cliché plot, the world building is only following our current 21st century, the whole novel are written like a diary, the punctuation is totally messed up here and there it can't even be called a proper paragraph, and even most character are feels like following a certain template. but i still love that novel regardless all of those.
why? Because each chapter are feels so refreshing and fun that i can't get enough of it. that's all.

just my 2 cents
 

LotsChrono

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We all already know what makes a good novel. But have you ever wondered what makes a bad novel?
Is it the story, grammar? Or the way the plot is managed?!
A novel is bad if the reader dislikes it.
A novel is good if the reader likes it.
Just goes to show you can’t please everyone, and that there’s always an audience for your writing.

That’s all subjectively speaking, though.
 

NotYourTypicalMan

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Every novel is a good novel. So fucking write more chappies to satisfy readers's hunger you bunch of lazy authors.
 
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