Are you ready to DNF It??
Most no doubt know what ‘F it’ means and you may use it often. DNF is a reader’s term and it means ‘did not finish’. Like the martial arts lessons I love bringing ‘off the mats’, lessons learned ‘on the page’ can be applied in real life too. So, let’s chat about DNF’ing it with the same attitude we say ‘F it’! 😎
If you’re a regular follower, you may have read my monthly Book Chats (start HERE if you’re interested in reading or writing in fantasy novels). Reading is both a pleasure and a job for me as a writer. I had to try an organized approach about it this year and it’s been so much fun. I still try to sneak in extra reading with every intention of adding them to the Book Chat. The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox was such a read that was bumped up to the top of my TBR.
I did my usual research – well known author, well known series, frequently recommended in FB reading groups, has 1,481 Amazon reviews with 4.2 avg and 9,609 Goodreads ratings with a 3.65 avg.
Why haven’t I included it as a Book Chat then?
I DNF’d it.
The cover and blurb worked for me so I was excited to dive right in. I gave it 3 chapters before I stopped reading. I checked the reviews and found some who shared my opinion (the humor was nonstop and just not quite right for me – it felt more like a stand-up comic than a strong snarky heroine). Clearly though, the majority of readers enjoyed this book and went on to enjoy the series. I’m very glad for all who did as we all deserve to enjoy what we read.
However, I think there’s a wonderful lesson/ reminder to share here. No book is for everyone.
As a reader, we should expect to dislike some books. There shouldn’t be an issue with readers disagreeing on books (as long as no one makes it personal). We should feel free to DNF books we aren’t enjoying and move on to others we are. We all have an opinion and that should be fine.
Unfortunately, readers will be shamed for books they’ve chosen to read, books they don’t like, and books they don’t want to read.
As readers, we should be able to decide our own honor code for reading. Some people don’t leave negative reviews, some do. Some DNF books, some don’t. Some re-read favorites frequently, some never re-read books. Some adore the ‘classics’, others reject them. Some will try indie authors, some scorn self-published works.
We should be able to decide for ourselves what we read.
I will be honest – I felt guilty not finishing the book. I felt guilty not falling in love with it as others had. This isn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last. I actually encountered something similar when I finally read the UF classic Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs. You can find that Book Chat here. I enjoyed Moon Called, but I didn’t fall in love with Mercy as so many others had. And again, I felt guilty about it and expected pushback when I revealed my thoughts in my review.
[I must add that after I shared my thoughts on Moon Called in my Facebook group Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Readers Group, we had a wonderful discussion with various opinions. I was absolutely giddy that it turned out well…but let’s get back to DNF’ing it as that part of this post is coming up anyway.]
I shouldn’t feel guilty. This means you shouldn’t feel guilty either.
I do think we should all be more open to discussing different opinions on books.
Has anyone else NOT shared an opinion about a topic because you didn’t want to disagree with a popular opinion? Therein often lies trolling and harassment and perhaps even guilt and shame.
I do understand and appreciate the passion – if seeing someone reading your favorite book recommends that person as a new friend, it’s hard not to believe the opposite. Someone hating your favorites inspires images of enemies seeking to destroy all you love.
No book is for everyone.
If we do want the freedom to read what we want then we have to allow others the same. Did you know I’ve heard of people not liking chocolate?? [insert horrified gasp here] I could decide to judge them or I could be grateful that means more chocolate for me.
No book is for everyone.
Be brave and say DNF it if you need/ want to do so!
Read and let read.
If you are familiar with my Book Chats then you know we have to look at the other side of the coin too…we have to look at DNF’ing it as writers.
Let’s keep this going from the author’s perspective – write and let write.
This lesson truly is important for writers too!
As a writer, we should expect some readers to dislike our books. Yes, our books are our babies, but we need to expect some people to hate our babies. All readers have an opinion, and they have the right to disagree with our writing plan and/ or style.
Fellow writers, I don’t want you to lose heart because a reader hates your book. Don’t set it aside. Don’t give up. Find your favorite book and check the reviews – there will be readers who don’t like a book you consider brilliant. There will be readers who hate an author you stalk as your inspiration.
There will be readers who don’t like your books.
Yes, there are reader expectations and genre standards. There are rules as in every civilized society and we should learn them as we work to improve our writing craft. And some rules really were made to be broken. There is a fine line here though.
Some criticisms are meant to make your writing better. Some criticisms, even if mean spirited, may show you a new side to your writing and help you become better. The thing is, it is YOUR writing. Only you can decide where that line is and whether you make changes to accommodate readers or you stick to your guns. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any crystal ball that will show us what the right path is. I am aware of the struggle as a writer when readers don’t see the same thing in your ideas as you do.
Maybe we need to communicate better…maybe that reader isn’t our audience.
Angie Fox clearly has an audience and won’t miss me as a reader. Maybe she did come across a reader like me early on though. A reader who couldn’t even finish her story or gave her harsh and discouraging feedback. Maybe she made changes…maybe she didn’t. If she had quit writing there would have been many people to miss out on a wonderful reading experience.
Maybe you should make changes…maybe you shouldn’t. Whatever your choice, please don’t give up.
I don’t have the answers for myself and certainly not for anyone else.
I did want to provide this reminder to any fellow author struggling with their writing. It is YOUR book and only you can make you give up or change it. Whichever path you take, make sure it is your path. Learn, change, grow, try again. It’s the circle of life in author format: write, read, edit, research, write more, edit again, read more.
Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield. Some days you’re the reader, some days you’re the writer. Some days the book works for you, some days it doesn’t.
Take good with the bad and keep going.
Love what you write! Love what you read!
No book is for everyone. Read and let read. Write and let write.
I wish all happy reading and writing whatever books you’ve chosen! And because I want you to make up your own mind, below is a link for the book discussed above that I DNF’d! If you decide to read it, I hope you love it.
If you would like to lead a Book Chat, please use my website to contact me and we’ll chat about it – I would love to have more authors and readers sharing their thoughts on my blog so don’t be shy!
Whatever you decide to read or write, enjoy it! Until next time, my friends!