Posted by: Sarah | January 27, 2011

Question on the Quality of Writing in General

I’ve come to notice more and more books are being published with more and more errors in spelling and grammar, as well as inconsistencies in the storyline.  I have always noticed these sorts of errors, and in some cases they can cause me to dislike a book or to contribute to no longer reading an author.  Do most people no longer want their books to come as polished as can be?  Or am I just picky?  I hate reading a book that is literally three and four errors per sentence.  I hate reading a book where the language is overly repetitive, and it’s not even being used as a way to emphasize or contribute to the style.  Some of the published works I have read in the past few years would not have made it past my fourth grade teacher.  She would have given them back to the authors and told them to fix their grammar and spelling and then given pointers on what to work on writing style wise.  As a student, I had to make sure my writing was close to error free, especially when polishing pieces for my writing portfolios.  Why is it that published authors are no longer held to this standard?  Is the era of texting and informal internet communications ruining the writing ability of our literary circles, or is it just laziness and the pushing of publishers to generate as many works as possible?

It’s not just the spelling, grammar, punctuation, and repetitive language issues I’m seeing, it’s also badly developed characters in stories, or missing plotlines.  I have read authors on the best seller lists whose last books literally had no overarching plotlines but still had 500 pages of crap – all of it the same scene or set of scenes, written in slightly different ways.  Sometimes it’s not even re-written, but copied and pasted directly from a previously published book!

Other issues I’ve seen are a lack of descriptive prose, where the author uses dialogue to attempt to tell the story.  If you have a person talking to someone in the same room, they shouldn’t have to tell them what they are doing as they are doing it in many different scenarios.  This lack of descriptive prose really hurts world-building in addition to making the listening or non-acting characters look like they need to have everything explained to them as if they were stupid.

When I read a book, I want it to have the best possible writing and development as possible.  If the story is not to my liking, that’s one thing, but if you can’t or didn’t even try to write the book well, that’s another.  If you didn’t get someone else to help you revise and edit your book, that can be yet another can of worms.  As the author, you should know what you mean to say, and your mind might insert things that are missing or change things that are wrong to what is correct – even if you don’t physically change what is written to reflect what is correct.  Questions should end in question marks, dialogue should be between quotation marks, or if you mark your dialogue in another way, it should be consistently marked!  I do not want to be stuck trying to figure out if something is being said or not because you left out quotation marks or left out half of the pair.  If you have more than two people participating in the same dialogue, you should label who says what at least some of the time, because if you don’t, it can be confusing.

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