Monday, January 16, 2006

Writing

I guessthis post today (perhaps a rant, but perhaps not as well) is about the lack of proper editing in books today. In the past six months I have read quite a few books and not one of them was free from an editing error. The main error I am talking about is sentences that do not make sense because the writer typed the wrong word (trust me, a very easy mistake to make) because they were typing too fast and their thoughts moved faster than their fingers could keep up. It is a simple mistake and one easily corrected with proper editing. I cannot begin to tell you how many times that I have typed a wrong word - there instead of their, or any other similar words, or completely left out a word or two from a sentence. It is understandable. It is easy to do. The problem seems to be that neither the author nor the editors are catching these errors. Again, I sometimes read through my stuff four or five times and I still miss an error. It happens, but I am not a published writer. I do not pay editors to catch these simple mistakes. I just think that it is sad that books being published today are coming out with such easily correctable errors.

The main problem with such simple errors is that they disrupt the flow of reading. I have to stop, read over the sentence again, and possibly again, before I can continue my journey through the pages of fiction. It is a speed bump in the middle of a great story. It takes away from the story because my brain has been jarred from the fictional world to the real world. The pace is interrupted. The pace should not be interrupted. Reading a book should be like sailing down a smooth river with clearly flowing water and no rapids whatsoever. The reader should not be jarred suddenly. This is what irritates me most.

Now, as to my second problem with writing today and, again, I can sympathize and understand for I have done the same things myself. I just finished reading an excellent book. From the first sentence I was hooked and had a hard time putting the book down. The flow was great from beginning, through the middle and up until I was 2/3 of the way through the book. It was then that I hit a major BUMP. Not a small bump like a misplaced word, but a major BUMP that grounded the boat. I had to stop reading and flip back to the first third of the book and look page after page for one, simple thing: the name of a peripheral character. You see, dear reader, the author - brilliant as she was - committed a horrible writing faux paux: she forgot the name of a character and renamed him in the last third of the book. I'll grant you this, the character was minor and only took up a few paragraphs in the start of the book, but a name had been mentioned. Fast forward to the last third of the book and the character is mentioned again, but this time the first name had changed. To me, this is unacceptable. I almost put the book down. I almost gave up reading this fantastic story because of this mistake on the author's part. It was more than jarring. It completely stopped the flow of reading. In the first third of the book (I'm changing the name, etc.) the boss of a major character was introduced as Jim Stockman (again, name changed). Later on in the book, a secondary character associated with Jim showed up, but his boss was referred to as Mike Stockman. The characters were one in the same - Jim/Mike was still the major character's boss, but he had somehow undergone a name change. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Was any explanation given? In order of appearance the answers are: I don't know, I don't know, and hell no.

I have changed the name of charcters midstream when working on a manuscript. I have made it through the third draft sometimes before I realized I had not corrected the name in certain sections. It happens, but it is correctable. That's why I re-read my writing time and again to find all the mistakes, though I know I will miss one or two. But when the day comes that my work is published and I'm paying someone, or however the heck that works, than I hope that no errors are in the book when it hits the shelves of the local bookstore.

Okay, my rant for the moment is done. To some, it might seem insignificant, but to me, it is of the utmost importance.

Scott

1 comments:

Thyme said...

I wish I could take your words and send it to my school. You articulated so well how I feel about the text book. I know that they rushed it to have it in time for our class, BUT it is so disruptive to see SO many typos. And there are duplicate sections and obvious cut and paste errors. Your frustration, or may I say outrage, is EXACTLY how I feel. The content is outstanding. I LOVE this course. But I find it unprofessional, even unforgiveable, that this flawed textbook was sent out to the students. May I even say that I feel embarrassed.