Monday, February 13, 2012


So, on my own blog this weekend I ranted and raved about not going postal, but going COCKADOODIE a la Kathy Bates in Misery over all the mistakes found in novels. I whined and moaned, basically because I’d spent good money on a good author for a good read, but was sorely disappointed. Okay, so I pitched a junior high style fit!

Now, however, I’d like to play the Devil’s Advocate (it’s just an expression, folks) and take the other side.

A writer writes, reads, rewrites, rereads, and submits. Not all that quickly, however. And somewhere around the tenth read, it becomes impossible to remember if the guy died in the bedroom, hung in the closet or in the kitchen, sprawled over the counter. Maybe he fell over dead as he stepped from the shower. Was it the right side of the shower that was switched to the left, or nearest the commode to suddenly nearest the bathroom scales? Yup! That would be where they found me. Stood on the scales, read the numbers, and keeled over dead as the bathroom door knob!

How about those wonderful critique partners? Thank you, Lord, for wonderful crit partners without whom writing would be impossible. They catch so much! However, I can’t tell you how many times we find mistakes in novels just before submission; we scratch our collective heads and say “How did we miss that after four, five, six, or ten dozen reads?” No one can find all the problems.

Then the publisher has the opportunity to miss things—oops, I meant, to find things. A first reader, an editor or two, a final reader, and lastly the final edits by way of the editor and author. More mistakes? Really? Let’s face it, Jane Smith’s book is not the only one that editor is working on. Are publishers today overwhelmed with the submissions, particularly with all the cutbacks in staff? You bet they are. And I have no doubt overworked as well at this point.

And lastly, the reader. By now, it’s all too late to worry about. If it’s in there, it’s in there. As the author, you can only hope the story itself is strong enough that the mistakes here and there don’t affect the reader’s opinion all that much. Besides, most readers aren’t quite as picky as the rest of us writers, BUT! And this is a biggie, if you have something that was missed that makes the outcome of your story impossible to have happened, you’re going to hear from some of us. I recently read a complaint by a secular reader that Christian reviews aren’t solid. “They give 5 stars to everything” from here to kingdom come. And I have read some of those reviews. When an outcome was blatantly physically impossible to have happened. And yet, all 5-star reviews.

As Christians it IS important to be kind, supportive, and caring, but you also have to be honest to potential buyers. If you can’t honestly give a book a 5 and you don’t want to hurt the author, don’t give any review at all. But don’t automatically stamp a book a 5 when there are enough mistakes in it that they jump off the page in bold face. DO, however, remember the sweat and tears that went into the writing. The story might be so good, you can kindly point out that in spite of this or that error, the storyline was truly good and worth the read. But be honest.

Okay, between the two blogs, I’ve tried to see mistakes in novels from two different points of view. In the end, it’s you, the reader who decides which books will be long remembered in your hearts, and which will simply leave you scratching your head going, “HUH?”
Happy reading…


Karen said...

LOL, Linda, thanks for the smile this a.m.

Have to comment that the little 3/4 line blurb that shows in my digest list of blog posts to read caught my attention. You used the classic hook and reeled me in! I'm glad I got caught. By the way, I keep a running plot line with settings and a character page where I continuously update to try to avoid the mistakes you've just pointed out. Helps this aging brain.

Davalyn Spencer said...

I too keep a running trot line - excuse me, plot line - for my manuscripts. Sometimes it's an excel spread sheet and sometimes it's just a piece of binder paper. But it definitely helps. I've also found myself excusing errors, especially in e-books, because I know format can be a bear. It's like you say, Linda, if the story holds me, I can overlook those errors. But reading one that makes me wonder how it got into print is frustrating. It's good to see the "advocate's" perspective here. Especially after having just noticed the mote (not in my brother's eye, but in my manuscript) that should have been moat. Cringe.

Timothy Fish said...

Yeah...I'm not too big on that "kind, supportive, and caring" thing. But as a general rule, I try not to review books that I'm not willing to endorse. Unfortunately, some of the books grit my gourd and draw me out.

A lesser irritation, in a book I read recently, the main character got locked in a room on three or four different occasions. While I don’t suppose it is impossible that a villain would lock a woman in on four different occasions, but it does get repetitious.

Diana said...

That would get me too Tim :-) An editor def. should have caught that one. It is like when in a movie, the character comes up out of the water and is wet then the next view of him or her,perfectly dry. I realize they must have had to re-shoot the scene, but didn't anyone remember she was supposed to be wet?
Since becoming an agent, I have become more forgiving of simple typos. I see how they can and do slip by us. But repetitive phrases and scenes cause me to lay a book down.

Linda Glaz said...

Yeah, so many things in novels irritate me, but Tim, you shocked me more than any mistake in a novel.

Yeah...I'm not too big on that "kind, supportive, and caring" thing.

Really? Oh c'mon! hehehehe
Hope you're a good sport, I just couldn't resist, tough guy!