Cavejug, unlike Switch, I have received those "Dear John" letters for readers. The kind that always start "I really liked your story, but ...".
To be honest, while I doubt many authors would respond to it, I found them to be incredibly insightful and I conversed with the letter writers (two of them) fairly extensively.
Normally, if readers abandon a story, the author never hears why. Beta readers are fine, but they can't identify every potential issue with a story. Sometimes, it's necessary to get the answer directly from the horse's mouth (pardon the crude analogy).
However, I've discovered it's important to talk directly with the letter writer (generally via email) because the reason why stopped rarely is because of the quoted reason. I usually detect an unstated undercurrent in the letters, and when I get them to open up, I generally reveal the deeper underlying issue the reader might not even be aware of. (I'm not saying that's the case with you, cavejug, just that you've got to be careful and dig deeper than the initial response.)
However, I've never heard from anyone else who took my approach to the problem, and there aren't many who'd write that kind of response in the first place.
Argon, I also include the "Maybe you'll like my next story better", where I outline why the next story is different, so they're forewarned. No sense losing a loyal reader who's willing to speak their mind just because of a difference of opinion.
switched to lecturing on eg their cod economic theories.
Awnlee, I'm always interested in Cod economic theories. I never even knew they have a currency system! 'D
The only time I ever wrote another author about why I was abandoning their story is when, after a few chapters, the author started adding explicit MM sex scenes between the main characters without tagging MM or gay. The author took offense, ranted at me, and 1-bombed my stories.
Wheezer, I'm sorry, but 1-bombing an author for having an opinion about gay sex is as bad as 1-bombing an author for writing gay stories. They're both equally as insensitive to other opinions. I hate to say it, but hopefully that author no longer resides here.
The stubbornness wasn't an issue at all, that's a character trait - the last couple of paragraphs is "Dad asked me to go to England! Let's go to England!" ... okay, so he got a great relationship with his father, but there was no discussion or addressing of the point he was stubborn and adamant he wouldn't ever go to England, and the next we hear of it he's inviting his girlfriend to England.
funkso, that may not be a lack of development, but a lack of editing. Many authors write and post their stories a chapter at a time, thus they don't anticipate how the characters change over time, or what needs foreshadowing and what doesn't. Many of us write out the entire first draft just so we can revise the entire story to improve the story's consistency and remove the faults we inadvertently leave behind. Sadly, this isn't very common on SOL.
Fair enough, for me it set an expectation, it was a Checkov's Gun in the story.
For every Checkov's Gun in a story, there are Red Herrings as well. The key is recognizing which is which (again, that depends on the author setting the stage, which requires him knowing in advance where the story is going).
I too have quit stories. They start great, then, kind of fall apart, oh well.
Sarcastic Cynic, that's not so much a weak story as an author's weakness. Some authors just aren't good at dialogue, others sex scenes, while some (including many famous ones) simply have no feel for endings. About all you can do is recognize it as a flaw in their stories and keep in mind when you read another (if you ever do).