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Old 09-01-2017, 10:21 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Cinisajoy View Post
[...]Let me ask you this.

Would you read a book that had an average of one error per sentence?[...]
Probably not. I wouldn't even get so far as downloading it, since such a volume of errors is generally visible in the blurb. But the distinction between user generated errors and machine generated errors is not what makes the difference to me, it's the volume.

I do agree that machine errors, by their nature, are often less distracting - easier for your brain to autocorrect - but at a rate of one per sentence I would quickly tire of bothering.

The difficulty I have with some of these conversations is how they automatically turn to how bad independent publishing can get - and, yes, I know a lot of it is effectively illiterate. But independently published books run the full gamut from appalling to brilliant (okay, so it is weighted heavily to the former rather than the latter). There are a lot of independently published books where the English is at least basically literate. This doesn't mean they are good, there is a lot else can go wrong, but with these conversations always turn to the blatant error situations we end up overlooking the more subtle problems, and those are the things that interest me more. (Blatant errors are easily found and fixed with an editor or other suitable help.)


On the subject of whether beta readers pick up wrong words: it depends. Probably "waste" vs "waist" would get picked up. But I know from experience that "laugher" vs "laughter" got past everyone. My fingers sometimes miss the "r" on "your" (I blame the keyboard ), and "you" vs "your" is not something everyone sees. I have found it quite astonishing what people will and will not see - myself included - because when you do finally see the errors they seem so glaring that you wonder how they got past the first read-over.
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Old 09-01-2017, 10:53 PM   #17
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I probably would have missed those or on the you/your I would have thought it was a form of speech.
I on occasion miss words completely.

There are some fabulous independent authors. Those are the ones that are invested in their books.
The ones I have a problem with are the ones that oh I have a great story, let me upload it with no other eyes on it.
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Old 09-02-2017, 07:02 AM   #18
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When listening to an audiobook, how can you tell if the word being spoken is "waste" or "waist"?
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Old 09-02-2017, 08:20 AM   #19
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Or if the apostrophes are in the correct position?

Perhaps writers who have trouble with their written English should publish audiobooks instead.
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Old 09-02-2017, 12:37 PM   #20
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I like your ideas both Jon and gmw.

Though in all honesty, the only writers I can't stand are the ones that start explaining to a reader why his book is full of mistakes.
The usual excuses are" I don't have the money for professionals", "no one can touch my book but me" and my all-time favorite "I have an English degree so I know what I am doing."

I will give credit on the last one. The grammar and syntax are usually flawless. Those the story just doesn't work. Yes, even English professors need outside eyes.
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Old 09-02-2017, 03:57 PM   #21
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13 The writer who's description of the book is full of errors.
14. The writer who doesn't know the difference between "who's" and "whose".
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Old 09-03-2017, 09:50 AM   #22
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[...]I will give credit on the last one. The grammar and syntax are usually flawless. Those the story just doesn't work. Yes, even English professors need outside eyes.
I think this is a very important point and it is too often hidden behind discussion of specific errors - and I mean this from both sides of the argument:

Too many writers fail to recognise that a large volume of blatant errors (whose/who's, waste/waist etc.), while individually unimportant, act collectively to obscure the story. A story only works when it flows well, and it cannot flow well if the reader is constantly having difficulty, however slight, understanding what has been written.

So the concern is not, really, about individual technicalities at all. It is about giving your story a chance to be recognised. Errors are a distraction, and we must remove those distractions before the story can be read for what it is.
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Old 09-03-2017, 10:15 AM   #23
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It's a matter of professionalism, gm. I'm a professional writer (not of fiction, but I write for a living) and it's a basic requirement of any professional that they know how to use the tools of their trade correctly. Language is a writer's toolkit, and you have to know how to use it: grammar, syntax and punctuation. Until you can do that, it doesn't matter how good the content of what you're writing is.
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Old 09-03-2017, 10:57 AM   #24
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Harry, I do know what you mean, but the emphasis on the technical side misses the reason why the technical side is important. You don't learn to use this toolkit just for something to do, you learn it in order to communicate effectively.

I deliberately phrased my previous post so as to make the point from the perspective of a fiction writer. We bend a lot of technicalities (though we hope to have learned what we can bend, and when, so we can do it deliberately rather than accidentally), and the fact that this happens leads many would-be writers to believe the rules don't matter at all. They're wrong, of course.

If there is any hope of convincing would-be writers of fiction of the importance of the rules, it is making them understand that it's not actually about the rules. It's about communication. It is about telling your story so the reader will receive it unimpeded by the distraction of errors.

I would also disagree when you say "Until you can do that, it doesn't matter how good the content of what you're writing is." Apparently Jane Austen suffered problems with her spelling and grammar. This didn't stop her writing great stories - it just meant that she needed help to make them presentable.

And that's really the point: Blatant errors are easily fixed - just get the right sort of help. It's all the other stuff about writing a good story that is difficult, and - from my perspective - more interesting to ponder.
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Old 09-03-2017, 11:11 AM   #25
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Harry, I do know what you mean, but the emphasis on the technical side misses the reason why the technical side is important. You don't learn to use this toolkit just for something to do, you learn it in order to communicate effectively.
I entirely agree with you. Learning how to use language correctly doesn't make someone a good writer: that comes with years of practice, and perhaps a tiny bit of innate talent, too. It is, however, a required step along the road to becoming a good writer.
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Old 09-03-2017, 12:06 PM   #26
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I guess the main thing for a writer to do is know their target audience.
Fifty Shades of Grey was read by millions. The literary folks had a field day with it. They complained of bad grammar etc. The problem was not with the grammar. Every sentence was flawless. The problem was the writing was very simplistic. It was very easy reading and the story itself flowed very well. It was read by millions and made into a movie.

Full disclosure: I haven't read all of it because of the nature of the book.
The author really needed to do a lot more research.

Editing to put the title in. Though Jon's guess could fit too.

Last edited by Cinisajoy; 09-04-2017 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 09-03-2017, 12:14 PM   #27
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Depends why you're writing. You may be writing with the aim of producing great literature: an admirable goal, to be sure, but one that's unlikely to make you much money. If you're writing to make money, popular trash is what sells. There's absolutely nothing wrong with crass commercialism!
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Old 09-03-2017, 12:32 PM   #28
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Depends why you're writing. You may be writing with the aim of producing great literature: an admirable goal, to be sure, but one that's unlikely to make you much money. If you're writing to make money, popular trash is what sells. There's absolutely nothing wrong with crass commercialism!
Like I said target audience. If you want to make money: write for the masses.
Now on my previous post, I guess I should have added, if you are an author trying to break into the best seller charts, do not be dissing publicly the authors that made the list legitimately. It just makes you look petty and might turn off some readers.

Now HarryT, I have a question. Can you define great literature?

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Old 09-03-2017, 12:39 PM   #29
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Well, you can do it one of two ways, I think. You can write popular entertainment for the masses, as Dickens and Shakespeare did, and be lucky enough to have future generations judge your work to be great literature. Or perhaps you're someone like Virginia Woolf, who regarded writing as "Art-with-a-capital-A" and certainly didn't care whether or not the unwashed masses ever read it.

Either way, the future will judge whether or not your work is great literature.
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Old 09-03-2017, 01:39 PM   #30
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Well, you can do it one of two ways, I think. You can write popular entertainment for the masses, as Dickens and Shakespeare did, and be lucky enough to have future generations judge your work to be great literature. Or perhaps you're someone like Virginia Woolf, who regarded writing as "Art-with-a-capital-A" and certainly didn't care whether or not the unwashed masses ever read it.

Either way, the future will judge whether or not your work is great literature.
This. Marketing and Target Audiences mean nothing as far as the importance, quality, or impact of the work. As far as I'm concerned the most important thing is for the writer (fiction/poetry/etc, not non-fiction) to be in touch with themselves, their demons, their muse and why they are writing. Art and Meaning, not Entertainment and Sales.

(The important points are much different for non-fiction or targeted commercial works - particularly for the mass market)
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