Reasons I Will Not Read Your Novel


It’s about childhood.

It’s written in the present tense.

Characters named “Ma” and “Da” appear.

It’s set on a farm.

It’s written in the second person.

The words “wizard” or “dragon” appear.

It’s written in a phonetically rendered local dialect.

There is a section break before two characters fuck and the next section begins with the word “Afterwards…”

It begins with a prologue.

It begins with a prologue in italics.

It retells the life of Jesus.

It retells the life of any other mythological figure.

It’s about the wacky adventures of a charming alcoholic.

It features characters who create imaginary worlds in order to escape from their real-world pain.

The moral of the story is that racism is bad.

It’s about a young girl or boy coming of age.

The main character looks in a mirror and thinks about his/her appearance (“She noted approvingly her strong cheekbones and rich brown hair”).

It’s about a family torn apart by the Great War.

The smell of chips or of a chip shop is described.

It tells the tragic stories of characters who never escaped from the stifling confines of their family or small town.

The main characters all live on the same street.

The main character’s dreams are described at length.

Swimming is used as a metaphor for something.

The main character is a painter or owns an art gallery.

The main character is a priest.

The main character is a precocious child.

It’s over 600 pages long.

It’s about people coming to terms with things.

The first sentence mentions the weather or what season it is.

You do not know the difference between “which” and “that.”

One character offers to make a cup of tea for another.

Pluperfect contractions (“he’d,” “she’d”) are regularly used.

The main character listens to his/her favourite album.

Memories of a wise grandparent feature heavily.

The grandparent’s hands are described as “papery.”

Ancillary characters respond to trauma in quirky ways.

The narrator is a paranormal creature (vampire, werewolf, witch, shapeshifter) who fights crime.

Cultish nonsense is endorsed (homeopathy, theosophy, Christianity, wicca, reincarnation, tarot, astrology).

Characters say or do things “quietly.”

A city is personified (“The city had taken everything from him”).

The central symbol is an animal, esp. a horse.

The central symbol is a tree.

It’s narrated by a ghost.

You are Colum McCann.

(Any one of the above will result in me not reading your novel. See also this.)


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