As I’ve been in a bad mood lately (see last post), this seemed as good a time as any to vent a few of my more mundane frustrations.
Lazy writers. Don’t charge money if you aren’t going to do the work. Edit your shit. Get your character’s names straight, for God’s sake. How can she be Brenda and Brenna in the same paragraph? Stuff like that is crap. Fool me once…
Grammar. It doesn’t have to be perfect, I’ll take ballpark. Seriously. If it’s in the neighborhood, my brain will get me there. But try to observe the basics. If you don’t know the basics, learn them. There are books. Lots and lots of books. Kids start to learn these things in elementary school; they aren’t that hard to master. Don’t make excuses, do the work. You don’t have to be Strunk (or White), but you don’t have to come across like an illiterate moron, either. You’re passing yourself off as a writer, remember?
Punctuation. Where in the hell did it go? Who took the contract out on commas? Why are they suddenly public enemy number one? They’re supposed to be there for a reason, people: they tell your brain when it’s safe to rest. Run-ons are freaking exhausting. If the only way to create tension in your story is to make your reader so breathless they won’t notice the weak writing and thin plot, it’s time to find other work. Good writing is meant to be savored.
Punctuation Part Two—the reverse. Why do editors hate semi-colons? Why, when a nice pause is what’s called for, are we yanked full-stop? Why are periods sprouting up everywhere? Two words, period. Three words, period. Every sentence is staccato, declarative. Where’s the nuance, the subtly? The rhythm?
Editing. If you swear undying gratitude to an editor in your acknowledgements, then pepper your work with broken, choppy, nonsensical sentences (or paragraphs!), you should both be shot. Or boycotted. I’m tired of being asked to make allowances for poor editing just because I read genre fiction.
Value for money happens to be a personal mantra of mine. I’m already paying an immoderate amount of money for lesfic books, because it’s a specialized market, and expensive happens to be the going rate. Fine. No one’s twisting my arm. I buy the books because I crave the stories. But in exchange, I expect quality work. If the last great justification for signing with a traditional publishing house is that your work will receive superior editing, then publishers had better get their acts together if they expect to continue signing new authors. Some of the things I’ve read lately wouldn’t make it past a middle school teacher. Of math.
For now, I suppose, that’s enough. I don’t want to come across as a jerk. (Be a jerk? Too late for that.) It just so happens that reading fulfills a very important role in my life at the moment (escape!!), and I’m tired of being disappointed. Consider this a pep talk. Writers, to your ink wells–and reference books!!