Don’t Phone It In – Quality Counts!
Over the weekend I finished reading a book by a well-known author. It wasn’t his best effort, and I had the big plot twist figured out a quarter of the way in. At the end of the book the author notes, among other things, that the entire work was truly fiction because he couldn’t be bothered to do any research to make it authentic. I have to be honest. That struck me as arrogant. He pretty much admitted that he just sort of phoned the whole thing in.
It wasn’t long before my brain circled around to other well-known authors who laugh in the face of the writing rules those of us at the bottom of the food chain take great pains to embrace. Just in the last few months I’ve read books by bestselling authors and have seen an abundance of:
- Overuse of adverbs.
- Head-hopping POV.
- Unnecessary prologues.
- Passive voice.
- Telling rather than showing.
I totally “get it” that successful authors can get away with pretty much anything as long as their books sell and the publisher is making money. Perhaps they’ve earned the right, by virtue of their success, to break any writing rules they choose. Still, it rankles. Quality counts when an author is struggling to break in. Shouldn’t quality be just as important, maybe more so, after the seal is broken?
Do you see the same sorts of writing goofs in best-selling novels? If so, what are the ones that most irritate you? And if you have an opinion as to why so many successful books and authors get away with sloppiness, I’d love to hear it.
On the subject of writing rules, here’s a link you might want to bookmark: The New York Times series, “Draft,” which “features essays by grammarians, historians, linguists, journalists, novelists and others on the art of writing — from the comma to the tweet to the novel — and why a well-crafted sentence matters more than ever in the digital age.” Amen to that!
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Have a great week!