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Old 02-27-2013, 08:14 AM   #31
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Your quote is a perfect reason to be a bit snobbish about what one reads. The sheer amount of drivel is overwhelming.



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Originally Posted by JLeighs View Post
One of the reasons I now stick to bargain and free books (unless it's a known author who's work I have previously enjoyed) is that I'm sick of shelling out my hard-earned money for drivel. Getting my first Kindle opened up a whole new world of books for me, and while I was overjoyed to have access to so many more books, I was stunned by how many of them are complete garbage. The good ones were so few and far between that I made a collection titled "Authors to read more". Out of the hundreds of books that I've read in the last 3 years, there are about 50 books in that collection.
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:16 AM   #32
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The ewriting/ebook revolution has just begun.....

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Originally Posted by darryl View Post
Fantastic thread.

Bad writing is, of course, the downside of the e-publishing revolution. The demise of the rejection slip has left the culling process in the hands of the consumers and the largely amateur critics and reviewers. There seems to be no incentive for the new publishers to reject writing, bad or not, on anything but technical grounds which would require intervention and hence expense to get the ebook published. In fact, the incentive seems to be the other way. The more ebooks published the more money to be made by the publishers.

I don't mourn the old system. Over the last few years I have read a lot of indie authors who would never have seen the light of day under that old system. A small minority have been absolutely appalling, a majority mediocre, some quite good, and another small minority first rate. Sometimes I do despair when going from a mediocre indie novel to a first rate established novelist, but I remind myself that there have always been many mediocre novels published, and even the odd terrible one. There are just more of them now.

As readers we must recognise this new environment in which we now read and take what steps we are ourselves comfortable with in deciding what to read. Some may simply choose to stick to traditional publishers and/or established authors. Reliance on reviewers and critics and friends can also be helpful, but one must also remember that one person's great novel is another person's trash. Reading samples can be helpful, but like movie trailers, the selections may well not be random. Perhaps sellers or even authors themselves may start identifying whether they have used editors etc to assist with their work. And perhaps some publishers will emerge who market the fact that they are selective and publish only quality works.

And finally, what discussion of bad writing can be complete without a reference to that immortal poem, "The Tay Bridge Disaster". Enjoy.

http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/...ridge-disaster
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:17 AM   #33
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I was trying to think of something to do for The Ugliest Truth yesterday. I didn't come up with anything.

Bad writing in itself is not a fatal disease if the story is strong enough or the characters are interesting enough or the point is worth making. At least, for Dan Brown levels of badness; I'm guessing there are indies out there that make that look like Steinbeck, and he does, at least, have a copy editor.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:13 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
It reminds me of a quote (I think from Hemingway) about a writer needing a built in **** detector. Books are never written. They are re-written. I've seen some very badly written fanfictions online that had the wrong form of a word (ie. "he lead the group" as opposed to the correct "he led the group" and other such mistakes. Professional newspaper writers aren't above screwing up either. Not that long ago there was a story linked to via another message board I'm on where a woman cut off her husband's gentiles of all things. The writer meant genitles but instead wrote gentiles which is a whole different word entirely. Both are valid words but apparently the writer relied on spell check rather than doing a read through to check that all was ok. I think that spell check just makes us lazy. I mean it does have its uses but all it can tell the writer is if they have spelled the word right, not if it's the right word in the first place. To be fair as far as some of the fan fictions I've read sometimes English isn't the writer's first language so you have to give a little latitude if they don't have a beta who is fluent in the language, but others are sometimes just as bad.
The examples you give are not necessarily bad *writing* so much as bad (or no) *editing* or even proofreading. Rewriting may address some of those problems but you can't expect the author to catch everything. The recent surge in self-publishing means many lightly to not-at-all edited manuscripts are out there, and it shows. I also see this lack in online journalism. An important stage in the publishing process is being cut out and we are, alas, living with the results.

signed, former editor.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:15 AM   #35
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But why should we pay for these poorly edited books?
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:17 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orlok View Post
This is so bad, am confused as to whether it is meant in earnest or is a parody...

Dr. Drib started this thread by giving some examples of bad writing, so here's one from Twilight:

"Aro started to laugh. "Ha, ha, ha," he chuckled."

Talk about redundancy...Meyer has told us three times in one short sentence that Aro was amused. Not a book I'm about to read, but my 12 yo daughter enjoyed the series for a bit, then got bored with it.
Argon is, AFAIK, fantasy fiction written by an earnest teenager who was really startlingly, hilariously bad at writing. It circulates in fandom as possibly the worst written story ever. Most bad writing isn't that entertaining, though.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:19 AM   #37
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Quote:
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But why should we pay for these poorly edited books?
Presumably, if you pay for them, they hold some value *to you* above the perfection of the prose. The problem is, of course, all you get is the 20-or-fewer-page sample to see if it looks like the book is for you.

I prefer edited books also. I do try, when reviewing, to note whether I think the problem lies with a writer or with the editor who either failed them or should have been hired.
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:33 AM   #38
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Robert Stanek - Keeper Martin's Tale

few sample paragraphs from the book:
Quote:
“Always more reminders of the things she should or should not do—her proper place, always her proper place. She knew all about the proper things, the proper mannerisms, the proper greetings, her proper duties, her proper place. She had even been taught, though only recently, the proper things to do to invite a man’s attention. She was to begin courting. But why? “

Quote:
“Seth returned to the room they shared then and did a thing he claimed not to understand. Galan was sitting on the edge of her bed, running a comb through her long hair. He sat beside her and the next thing he knew his lips were pressed against hers.
Immediately afterward, Seth fled the room and in his confused state of mind, said he knew of only one person he could turn to. Brother Liyan had been meditating in his private chambers and, without announcement, Seth burst into the room and in one great rush of thoughts explained all that had happened since he left the hall.”

I actually came across this article on this guy. He is a real sleazebag too according to the evidence provided by this site
http://bestfantasybooks.com/blog/rob...-in-the-world/

I was so amused that I downloaded the sample just to see if this is true. It cracked me up so much
So there is a positive consequence of bad writing, not all of it ofc, but sometimes you come across one of these "gems".

His covers are equally horrid as his writing.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:06 AM   #39
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That's properly bad writing, although it verges on the hilarious in its ineptness, sort of like being forced to watch Criswell's opening narration in the Ed Wood 'film,' Plan 9 From Outer Space.



Don

Last edited by Dr. Drib; 02-27-2013 at 10:08 AM. Reason: title corrected
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:30 AM   #40
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When ebooks are made available in all the Kindle stores, it would sometimes be a good idea to have specific editions for different countries. If I get a book from a US indie then I'm fine with reading "color" instead of "colour" but some things really don't cross the pond well... Like a description during the siege of Leningrad where a soldier was wearing "patched pants and suspenders"
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:30 AM   #41
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Joykins got there first but I was going to comment that I find it interesting that whenever this topic comes up a lot of people are quick to mention editing problems - spelling, grammar, typos etc - but I'll put up with quite a lot of those mistakes if the story is good and the characters compelling. Badly edited or unedited work can be rescued a lot of bad writing simply can't.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:37 AM   #42
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Perhaps part of the problem is the fact that an entire generation (or two) has managed to get through high and school and college without having to read extensively or write extended essays, term papers, theses, etc. For the most part, students read less and less; unless they are literature majors, they are unlikely to read classic or modern literature of any kind. Here in New York State, high school juniors or seniors take a statewide exam in English to measure proficiency in comprehension and writing. Back in the dim past (early 1970s and before), the big essay question on that exam had to be written on a play by Shakespeare or some such. Today, it can be written about a movie or tv show. Mind you, I'm not suggesting we return to the "canon" of the 1950s - there's fine literature to be found in every genre to interest everyone of any background.

Yes, this is a generalization (and an American one, at that), and yes, there are exceptions, but I don't think I exaggerate in regards to the mainstream. My stepson went to an extremely competitve Catholic school in the late 80s which prides itself on its high standards and traditional curriculum and had to write but one extended paper. My stepgrandchildren live in a very affluent suburb in N.J. with the best possible public school system and don't come close to the reading and writing that my generation did, both in quantity and quality.

I suppose this is an extremely long-winded way of asking how can we expect writers to maintain baseline standards given the general lack of exposure to good writing? Mind you, I'm not talking about content (as in all those dark and stormy nights), but simple grammar and spelling. Ever notice those typos and misused words on tv news zippers, newspapers, and magazines that now appear with frequency?

Sorry for the rant, but like many grouchy old ladies, I wonder where this is all heading. Is it language evolution, devolution, or just too much noise to signal? Oh, and feel free to correct any typos or other errors in the above.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:47 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geralt View Post
Robert Stanek - Keeper Martin's Tale

few sample paragraphs from the book:

Quote:
“Always more reminders of the things she should or should not do—her proper place, always her proper place. She knew all about the proper things, the proper mannerisms, the proper greetings, her proper duties, her proper place. She had even been taught, though only recently, the proper things to do to invite a man’s attention. She was to begin courting. But why? “
Perhaps I'm missing something, and I am tired, but I don't see anything especially bad about that paragraph.

Seems to convey a "Marsha Marsha Marsha!" state of mind reasonably well.
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:23 AM   #44
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There seems to be a fine line between awful and admired prose.

I'm thinking of Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian." That book was filled with excessive phrasing that evokes emotions. I suspect most of us forgive Cormac because it is so clearly intended. But I'm sure there are readers among us who will just shake their head at his prose and mutter "drivel."
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:25 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joykins View Post
The examples you give are not necessarily bad *writing* so much as bad (or no) *editing* or even proofreading. Rewriting may address some of those problems but you can't expect the author to catch everything. The recent surge in self-publishing means many lightly to not-at-all edited manuscripts are out there, and it shows. I also see this lack in online journalism. An important stage in the publishing process is being cut out and we are, alas, living with the results.

signed, former editor.
Doesn't it come to the same thing though at least when the author self-edits their own work? Granted it is possible to miss some things as everyone is human but especially now that people can self-publish through places like Smashwords and Amazon doesn't bad editing = bad writing in some cases?
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