I love books. I love good books even more. If an author has made me care about a character to the point that I can do nothing more until I see what happens next, bravo. But when authors cheat? When they build me up for expectations and then short cut through the problems that have been carefully laid out for almost 500 pages?

Yeah, I’m irritated. I expect an emotional payoff that is comparable to what the author led me to believe. I read a book last year in Iraq that left me so betrayed, I vowed never to read that author again. Turned out, there was a sequel, but even then, the author cheated in that book. Some of the issues that were laid out and were important to the over all story development were completely ignored or swept aside in the second book, leaving me as a reader with more questions than answers.

There isn’t another book after that one, so the questions remain. And so does my irritation. I just finished a book yesterday that has me irritated. It took a looong time for the story to get going (just a hint, if you’re writing romance, it should not take until page 120 to get the hero and the heroine together. I’m just saying. Urban Fantasy, no problem, take your time. Romance? Not so much). Anyway…The book took a long time to get me into the story. I couldn’t figure out who the main characters were or why they were important and I had a hard time giving a damn about wide variety of people I was introduced to in the first 100 pages. But I pressed on b/c this author is huge and, well, I wanted to give her a chance.

I probably won’t do it again. I’ve now read 3 of her books but have only finished 2. I just can’t care about so many characters. The rule for me is, write the book that features this books characters. I’m all for a good secondary romance or a secondary plot, but it has to be integral to the main one. Obvious sequel bait is irritating. And I LOVED the premise of this book but really? It just completely missed the mark for me.

So authors, don’t cheat. But also, don’t listen to your readers. Write the book that needs to be written and focus on the characters. Make me care. Make me feel their pain, their joy. Don’t bury them in pages of preparation, then leave it flat at the end.

What kind of author cheating drives you nuts?