Saturday, March 30, 2019

Pet Hates and Other Bugs.

We all have our pet hates, things that bug us for no real reason except they're wrong. As a trained and experienced English teacher, many would expect spelling, punctuation and grammar to be one of mine. I might occasionally shake my head at a job application with spelling errors and misuse of capitals, but for the most part they don't bug me too much. Even when students write entire essays using 'dose' instead of 'does', 'defiantly' instead of 'definitely', or even mispell their own name. Yeah, that happens more than you could imagine.

I notice them in books, typos or sloppy editing, but unless they continually occur, or make me laugh, then I don't even bother mentioning them.

This blog is pretty much my happy place. I try not to write about the things I don't like. I think there's enough negativity and anger on the internet. The last time I did, however, I received a message from a friend that they quite liked the curmudgeonly Steve.

So, in order to please a friend, here's a personal list of things writers do that bug me:

  • Ask me to buy their book on their birthday as a present to them. Seriously. We're not close enough that we usually buy each other presents. And anyway, are you going to buy my stories on my birthday in return?
  • Tell me how awful your writing is, and how bad this WIP is. Why would you keep suggesting publicly your work isn't worth reading? And if it's a false modesty, then I don't enjoy that either.
  • Self publish and then announce it was rejected everywhere.  Yeah, maybe that's a clue it's not worth reading.
  • Pretend that there's something mystical or magical about being a writer, or the source of your inspiration.  It's an idea you get. You put words in the right order. Some people are better at it than many others.
  • Continually moan publically about how little money you earn from writing. As soon as you start selling work seriously, it's a business like any other. You're not a salaried employee. You're selling a product. Some sell lots, most sell little.
  • Continually moan about the "business" side of writing when you're trying to sell stories. Yeah, see above.
  • Acting like you're zany or crazy or out-there when you're just like everyone else. No, please don't tell me how you live in a swamp with pet alligators who have wings - unless you really do. I actually prefer normal, informative bios.
  • Comparing your work to.... No, it's generally not like Philip K Dick, Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. Even if it's good.  Let others make the comparisons.
  • Non-stop name dropping of friends who are famous. Interesting when aspiring writers only share pictures of themselves with big names. We see what you're doing.
  • Running workshops and giving writing classes when you've had one or two very minor sales. (or even worse, never published.) Truly, I've seen this. I want to learn from people with track records.
  • Announcing your story is featured in a publication when you mean included. Unless your name is one of two or three on the cover you're not featured.
I think that's enough for now. Yeah, this is a year or more worth of pet peeves, but they're just my opinion. You can do whatever you want.

Bah Humbug!

And as for my one grammar pet hate, please learn the difference between initialisms and acronyms. CD, BBC and CIA are not acronyms. WTF?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Trash and Treasure.

Another disappointment story.

A few months ago I bought a book I had heard great things about. It seemed like the kind of thing I would like, the author seems like a cool person I would love to hang out with and chat, the publisher is a name publisher, and the reviews were glowing. Almost universally so.

I threw it straight to the top of my 'to be read' stack, and dived straight in.

Here, a few months later, I find myself thinking about it again. I'm not sure why but it was on my mind when I woke this morning. But not for any good reasons.

It was dull, slow and plodding. Crises points were manufactured to the point of ridiculous levels, dialogue was clunky and unnatural, and some of the scenes and events were plain hokey and would have seemed out-of-place in a 1930s novel.

I really wanted to love it. I really did. Instead I merely tolerated it.

I haven't checked, but it's probably won some awards and been nominated for 'best of' lists. So what is it I'm missing that apparently others are getting?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know taste comes into things. I know people enjoy different reads. I know we all see different things, but this isn't about taste. It's about quality of writing, being able to create snappy dialogue and events that flow naturally.

Is it simply horses for courses?

On the other hand, I've just picked up another book from another name author and this one ticks all the boxes. I'm 30 pages in and hooked. Yes, I've enjoyed this authors other works, and reading this one I can see the reasons why. And I'm learning things from this work.

Oh well. One person's trash is another person's treasure. It's just a shame the above-mentioned novel wasn't one of my treasures.