Hey, Edit This Book

After reading the AAR thread in question and many of the blogs that gave their own opinions notably Dear Author and Cranky Reader, I must add mine (groans heard across the Internet) about poorly edited text. I know some authors (Hello Anne Rice) feel they don’t need an editor but trust me – you all do. As many as you can get.

I know writers have their own style or voice and that means violating many of the grammatical rules of writing. I can accept this. What I can’t accept is poor word choice, weird word choice, wrong word choices, inappropriate comma usage, heavy exclamation use and bad spelling. If that’s your writing style – I just won’t be reading your book. However I can even deal with fragments and run on sentences. Those two seem to be the staple of writing these days.

What I am not looking for and couldn’t identify if I could: dangling participles, prepositions at the end of sentences (I try to avoid them but usually can’t), improper use of adverbs, adjectives and hyperbole’s. This is not college composition. As readers we know when a book is poorly put together because it interrupts the flow.

In conclusion, the author does have his/her own style/voice and that I can appreciate. All we want when we plunk down our $8.00 is a book that we can read and enjoy. Not headache and confusion. It’s annoying to have to mentally correct/change words and it really irks me to have to reread a sentence because it’s badly written or awkward. Please don’t give us yet another excuse to not buy your books with the ever increasing costs – there are no excuses for badly written text. None.

It does seem as if the editing side of things have began to slip and for many readers it’s been slipping for years. If your publisher is cutting costs and such, tell them that this is not the area to cut, ok?


About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
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5 Responses to Hey, Edit This Book

  1. Robin says:

    What I am not looking for and couldn’t identify if I could: dangling participles, prepositions at the end of sentences (I try to avoid them but usually can’t), improper use of adverbs, adjectives and hyperbole’s.

    You shouldn’t have to look for these OR identify them, Keishon, because an editor should have taken care of them long before they reached publication stage.

    The whole point of grammatical rules is coherence in writing. Grammar provides a universal structure and a set of cues to the reader — when to pause (comma), when to know the wrter is changing point (period), when to know the writer is changing topic (paragraph). Participles, prepositions and the rest seem, I know, like much ado about nothing, but when you’ve got a series of sentences containing phrases that sound “off,” it’s often because an editor hasn’t applied a particular grammatical principle that is intended to aid the flow and logical ordering of a sentence. Neither the author nor the reader is well-served, IMO, when an editor does no more than give the MS a slight dusting off (unless it’s virtually pristine to begin with).

    As for stylistic elements that break the grammatical rules, I think it’s like everything else. You can only really break the rules effectively once you’ve mastered them. There’s a huge difference, IMO, between intentionally and effectively breaking rules and breaking them either because you don’t know better or because you don’t care about them.

  2. Bev (BB) says:

    I think the thing that’s glaring to me lately is that I’ve been noticing a lot of plain old editing mistakes. Not author ones, i.e. purely grammatical, storytelling related things that I might not even notice in the first place. I mean pure editing problems like typos and misspelling, with some punctuation gaffes thrown in for good measure, that there’s no way even a reader like me with thirty something years of reading under her belt can miss.

    Romance has always gotten a bad rap but this was never a noticeable problem until the last year or so, so something is going on.

  3. Keishon says:

    OK, that makes sense Robin. I appreciate your input on this.

  4. CindyS says:

    In all honesty, I’m afraid to admit that I wouldn’t know a dangling participle if it stood up and yelled ‘hey, over here!’ There are people who have studied grammar and the english language and I don’t blame them for knowing way more about grammar than I could ever hope to know – in fact, I envy their knowledge. I just don’t like to see a dead horse get reshot for no other reason than to hear their own voice.

    I remember someone dismissing an entire book because the author had potatoes in England before they were ever discovered. Okay, it could just be me, but, let it go! If that is the only thing that is wrong then get over yourself. Wait, I guess if the person was a gourmet chef and knew everything about food then I shouldn’t be such a judgey wudgey.

    Crap, am I on topic?


  5. Keishon says:

    Crap, am I on topic?

    You made me laugh this morning. Anyway, I completely understand the grammar teachers and historical teachers of the world. They know about their subject that me and you and other readers. But we always have to keep in mind that this is well, fiction. The author can have creative license with the historical aspects, many authors do say in the footnote or in a author’s note what the true facts of the story was and that in order for the sake of plot they played around with the facts. Many authors do it. I just think that some readers feel that authors don’t do their research and make this blunders while some authors can get away with it because they acknowledge up front that they know what the facts are but just used their creative license to make it work for the story. Oh, crap, I think I’m off topic and babbling, too.

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