Why Almost All New Writers Suck
WriterBeware is one of my favorite blogs because owner Victoria Straus gives something of value to writers and authors in the majority of her posts. Today, she outdid herself, offering extreme value to writers, authors, and our industry as it is evolving. Her guest post is about how writers and authors are trashing our own habitat by publishing as quickly and easily as we can without regard for knowledge, quality, or experience.
I edit work for many, many writers. I ghost book, and I review books, mostly galleys, for lots of publishers. I served as a judge in an ebook competition this year — that means I read an extreme number of new books, both fiction and non-fiction. I’ll tell you this: About 80% of what I read, eight out of ten books or better, are crap.
They are poorly written, structured so badly you can’t get through them. They make no sense and have no story arc. Their characters are flat or the information they contain is untried, unproven, and indigestible. Grammar and syntax? Pah! Subjects don’t agree with predicates, adjectives and adverbs are weak and sprinkled through every sentence like cheap cinnamon.
Consider the thought that must have gone into this gem — “Get over they’re by that wall and don’t move,” hissed the thug.
Hissing requires sibilance. Hissing, like the sound a snake makes, is characterized by the letter s. Show me the s in the sentence hissed by the thug. Even if I can accept non-sibilant hissing, I can’t live with they’re for there, or the juvenile placement of the attribution — said the thug instead of the thug said.
Those sorts of things are every-day, in fact, every –sentence occurrences in writings flooding our marketplaces. I see more of it in the digital world, and way more in self-published work, but reading pre-press novels and non-fiction from the biggest NY publishers has the same sort of distasteful air, though to a lesser degree. Books are losing their magic. You have to dig deep and search long for a gem of a book, one that steals your heart or captures your imagination, or makes you want more. Now, readers skim quickly through as many books as they can cram on to their Kindles and Nooks and move on, hoping the next might not suck.
How to Fix Everybody
And what the heck do we do about this, if anything? Since the phenom is making a few lucky noobs rich when they stumble on to a tribe willing to buy into marketing hype, it’ll be tough to convince newer writers and authors to learn their craft and look into themselves before they slap pixels into software and push the publish button. But read what Ms. Strauss’ blog by Marcia Yudkin has to say and consider which way you’d like your books to go. In Praise of Ripening