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What Makes A Story Bad? (Qualities Of A Bad Story)

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It’s no secret that writing can be difficult, especially if you are lacking creative drive, or have come to a difficult section of your novel. However, as writers, when we are immersed in our own work, it can be difficult to determine whether or not the story we are writing is bad.

While good writing does come with experience, it is important to know the signs of a bad story, in addition to what makes a good story. Knowing what can negatively affect your writing will help you to avoid making these mistakes yourself, and can allow your writing to be more concise and engaging. 

In this article, I will be talking you through what makes a story bad, and the qualities of a bad story. I will also be touching upon why these elements are not a great idea to include, and how they can affect the success of your story.

What Makes A Story Bad?

It is important to note that perfecting your writing takes time and skill. Even the most successful authors make mistakes within their stories. Writing is a process that requires constant learning. 

As a result, if you can spot any of these elements in your current work in progress, do not feel disheartened by this. Instead, use this article as a way of improving your writing skills. 

There are many aspects that can make a story bad, and these aspects can overlap with the qualities of a bad story. 

No Structured Plan Or Planning

One of the main reasons why stories are often bad is due to their being a lack of planning, or no structured plan.

When writing, in the vast majority of cases, it is better to have detailed notes, or a skeleton plan of what you plan to write. This will help you to have a better understanding of what the pacing of the book will be, and how the plot will pan out. 

If you do not have a careful plan or structure, this will show in the content of your work, and can lead to a bad story. 

This is because you may forget to tie up loose ends, and it can cause the story to feel rather disjointed. In addition to this, the plot may not make sense, or the timeline may feel awkward. 

Spelling, Punctuation, And Grammar

Another aspect that can greatly affect a story is spelling, punctuation, and grammar. These three aspects need to be understood and utilized in order for your story to read well. 

If the grammar is incorrect, this does not provide a great reading experience. If the punctuation is limited or used incorrectly, this will affect the flow of the writing. Finally, if there are numerous typos or incorrect words used in your story, this is off-putting to readers, and rather unprofessional. 

These three aspects are fairly easy to correct, and this is why it is so important to ensure that you are editing a story thoroughly before it is finished. 

Qualities Of A Bad Story

The qualities of a bad story are typically issues that readers can have with the plot itself. While you may have carefully planned and structured your story, if the elements within the plot itself don’t work, the reading experience will be affected. 

Unengaging Plot 

If the plot of the story does not captivate or interest your readers, then this is the sign of a bad story. The plot needs to be interesting. This doesn’t mean that the plot needs to be action packed, or that you need to change the themes. It means that you want readers to connect to the story, and you want to give them a reason to keep reading. 


When writing, it is almost impossible to come up with an entirely new plot. However, when it comes to predictability, this can be avoided with good writing. You want to provide your readers with a good amount of information to help them remain engaged with the story, without revealing too much. If your story contains too many typical tropes, this is off-putting for a lot of readers.

Bland Characters

The characters in your story need to be interesting and engaging. If they are bland and unreliable in any way, this can be very off-putting. While the characters don’t need to be likeable, the reader needs to feel invested in them, and care about what they are going to do next. If they don’t, this creates a level of dissonance.

These are just a few elements that can cause a story to read badly. However, they are fairly easy to rectify. 


The qualities discussed in this article can have a severe impact on a story as a whole. However, it is important to remember that these elements can be worked on and improved. The more comfortable and confident you become with your writing skills, the easier the whole writing process will be. 

Now that you are aware of what not to do when writing, it is worth reading my article where I discuss what makes a good story and plot here

Author Community

If you are an author who is looking to receive feedback on their books from readers, Author Community is the perfect service to consider. It is a free to use, text messaging based app, that allows your readers to connect with you. 

Your unique Author Community number can be placed within your book, and your readers can interact with the free automated text messages. From here, you can encourage readers to share their positive thoughts and reviews of the book on Amazon. 

Not only will this allow you to have a better insight into the reader’s thoughts and opinions of your book, but it will help to increase the revenue and sales of your book too. Reviews are an important part of book publications. 

If you are interested in Author Community, you can try it out for yourself here.