Friday Writing Question

Hello SErs. Harmony here for another Friday Writing Question. After years of reading books and enjoying so many different authors, I then began writing and publishing for myself. At some point, I re-read some of my old favourite books. And therein lies today’s question …

Can you ignore technical issues in a novel if the story is a great one?

For me, it often feels as if becoming a published writer–and going through a huge learning curve in the process–has spoilt me (to a degree) as a reader. These days, I find it incredibly difficult to ignore spelling and grammatical errors, especially if they abound. One or two are fine, of course, but too regular an occurrence, and I usually don’t manage to finish the read. I’ve seen some real gems of a book that have been ruined by a lack of basic proofreading. And that includes traditionally published famous authors. And I write this fully aware that I’m less than perfect myself.

How about you? Can you ignore the technical side of the writing if the story is a rip-roaring good one? Or does poor editing and proofreading stall your reading and enjoyment? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

40 thoughts on “Friday Writing Question

  1. I agree Harmony. I’ve yet to read a book – Indie or trad published where I didn’t stumble across a weird sentence or the odd typo, It happens, but sorely in need of editing books that have me turning back pages to try and figure out what the author is trying to say is a turn off. I usually get a good indication by reading the ‘look inside’, giving me a chance to experience the writing style. πŸ™‚

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  2. I run into the same problem when reading. But, I don’t believe that any work is perfect and hence use a margin for errors which I consider when writing reviews. A few minor errors, for example, will not keep me from giving a five-star review if the work has captured me in a way that I can’t get enough of it. However, if there are enough errors to distract me too much and they start to niggle at me… or worse, the star rating quickly reduces and I may end up putting the book down altogether… end of.

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  3. I notice most errors. And, yes, it does detract from the story. I can handle some, though, but a lot is just… Nothing is perfect but there’s no excuse for errors that could have been fixed by a quick proofing. I mean really basic things. Also, spelling errors, using incorrect words, drives me batty (your/you’re, its/it’s, there/their/they’re). When I see that, it’s tough to finish the book.

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  4. Pingback: Friday Writing Question | Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

  5. I catch every single typo and grammatical error. It drives me nuts, but I don’t let it keep me from enjoying a good book IF it’s just a typo here or there. I know I’ve revised my books after I thought I had caught everything only to find something else. And that was with a professional editor and several beta readers! So, I can look the other way for one or two errors. When it gets to the point that it’s happening in every chapter, it begins to bother me.

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  6. I’ve done both, Harmony. If I have obligated myself to the author to read the book, I push through. BUT, I cannot and will not leave a good review for the story, no matter how good it is. There is no excuse for an author to publish a work that is riddled with errors. There are basic editing processes that even the poorest writer can do such as the free version of Grammarly. So, to me it indicates laziness. I most often put the book down, unless I’ve obligated myself. I have to say this, Harmony. It was your honest review that prompted me to pull my first book, “Flowers and Stone” down five years after it was published and re-edit. Thank you for that!

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    • I’m so pleased that review helped, Jan. Thank you for saying so. I agree with you that there are free basic tools on the web so a really bad book does come down to laziness. If I’ve committed to the author or someone like NetGalley, then I’ll push through, but like you, I give a poor rating. Thanks, Jan πŸ™‚

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  7. I agree, since I have started writing, I am noticing typo’s now. Although I have to admit, I make a lot myself, each time I re-edit my work, I find more that I didn’t find the first time ahhh! that is why I will be taking my manuscript to a professional before it is published.

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  8. I just used the “look inside” feature on Amazon to check out a book that BookBub was promoting. The story sounded exceptional and the author is a NYT bestseller from a writing dynasty. I’ve never read anything by her before, but I have read books by her mother who has a huge legacy and fan base.
    I immediately balked when I looked inside—info dump, horrible telling, and writing that seemed more suited to an aspiring author’s initial attempts. Can’t tell you had shocked I was because this woman has a huge fan base, and I thought the writing was dreadful. I had intended to buy the book, but after using “look inside” I changed my mind.

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  9. I definitely pick up on errors more than I used to, and I’m kind of sorry I do! lol It’s ruined me for reading. I get pulled out of the story thinking, she just said that, or what’s with all the adjectives?
    Another thing that drives me nuts is overlong paragraphs. My eyes want to skim if there isn’t enough white space on the page, and then I end up rereading it incase I’ve missed something important- sigh πŸ™‚

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  10. I can excuse many things if the story is great. There are some pet peeves, however, that will set me off when reading. My two latest are starting sentences with the word ‘so’ and the overuse of the word ‘had’. George R.R. Martin is a significant offender of the second item, but the stories are good enough for me to overlook this practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I tend to read with a critical eye these days. I recently reread a book from a NYT best-selling author. It was published in the 90s. While I didn’t find any spelling errors, I did see several places where a sentence was too long, overuse of adverbs, and much telling instead of showing. However, the story was interesting enough that I kept reading.

    Same thing with new books. If a story is interesting, I keep going but too many spelling/grammatical mistakes is a big turn off. (And I know there are plenty in my books!)

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  12. My response is a bit mixed. Some stories don’t interest me, and written well or not, I don’t finish them. Other stories catch my attention because of interest and because of the author. Even with errors, I will probably finish these books. πŸ™‚

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  13. I read a chick lit book last summer on the beach and was irked to have the author discuss the colour of the dahlias in the spring. They don’t flower in the spring! I darn nearly threw the book in the sea. Of course I didn’t because it was the last of my gloriously trashy books to read, but it did bother me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol. That has me chuckling because I can relate. I had a similiar one when reading that someone took a pill and it affected them within, like, a second … never come across a pill that works that quick after swallowing. As an ex nurse, that drove me nuts. Thanks, howikilledbetty πŸ™‚

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