DL Fowler's Blog

SYWS – You Have the Right …

Posted in Inside a Writer's Head, SYWS, Writing by DLFowler on November 27, 2011

In America we have rights. We have the right to express ourselves freely. And we have the right to remain silent. I guess there’s a time and place for everything, because rights have consequences. So, if you can’t bear the consequences, don’t exercise the right.

I just read a great story in a lousy book. The story kept me wanting to know what happens next. The writing screamed, I don’t care if you can’t decipher the story. Okay, but if that’s the way you feel, then I have the right to think you should tell your stories around a campfire, but not in a book. In fact, I look forward to an invite to your next camp out. I just don’t want to buy your next book – unless you give it to a competent editor first.

With the flood of poorly edited books these days, maybe every book should include the editor’s name and email address. That would be an appropriate exercise of free speech.

Do you have thoughts on rights and responsibilities? Chime in with a comment.


11 Responses

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  1. Bean said, on December 2, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    I completely agree with this. Sometimes I am torn about how to rate a book I review for this very reason. Do I slam the book? Do I praise it? Do I email the author and plead with him/her to get a new editor and republish? Is the writing just too painful to recommend to my readers, or will they also be able to overlook it?


    • DLFowler said, on December 2, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      I chose not to review it and haven’t emailed the author. I don’t want to risk him getting angry and retaliating. And ironically, the next book I read was a similar kind of thing. A compelling story with amateurish writing. It didn’t stop me from reading, nor did it slow me down.


  2. Bean said, on December 2, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    BTW, I found you on Book Blogs. Welcome to the group! I like your blog a lot


  3. Stan Morris said, on December 2, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Your observation is true. In the defense of the author, I would reply that reviews which point these mistakes are often very helpful to the author, and they help the author further his craft. If you read Surviving the Fog, you will find numerous mistakes. The comments from people who liked the book, but who also took the time to educate me as to how punctuation is used, taught me a lot. There are fewer mistakes in Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure and (hopefully) there will be fewer mistakes in each succeeding book.


    • DLFowler said, on December 2, 2011 at 5:06 PM

      You’re a true professional. I look forward to checking out your writing.


  4. Jackie Paulson (Author) said, on December 2, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    It is a pleasure to be your follower (487) in 2011! 🙂


  5. freeliteraturestuff said, on December 2, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    New follower via book blogs, thought I would say hi! Trev @ trevsliteraryreview.blogspot.com


  6. Iain Mavro Coggins said, on January 27, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    What are your thoughts on a technical edit vs. a copy edited manuscript? Does a writer, esp. a new writer dare to put out a book that has been edited for mechanics only and not for mechanics and style both?


    • DLFowler said, on January 27, 2012 at 10:28 PM

      Thanks for asking. I strongly recommend both. Your book needs through editing before it hits the market. Spelling and grammar errors can pull readers out of your story – too many and they’ll put your book down. And all writers make choices when it comes to style that grate on some readers – a professional editor can help you avoid the ones that would be distracting to most readers.

      Story structure and character arcs are crucial and a good editor will help you keep your story on track. They point out inconsistencies, poor pacing, and transitions that don’t make sense. When it comes to language, they catch misplaced metaphors, sentences that aren’t weighted for maximum impact – and my worst offense, over use of figurative language.

      All that said, even great editors aren’t perfect, and some reviewer out there will catch a mistake and complain that your book would have been a lot better if you’d bothered to engage an editor. Not only that, editors don’t all agree on every point of grammar, and they don’t share the same opinions when it comes to issues of style. Same goes for readers. Taste is subjective. For instance one of my favorite writers is Victor Hugo. He could fill 1,400 pages saying the same thing three different ways in the same interminable paragraph. I wish there were more like him today. I can get lost in his web figurative language and enjoy every syllable of the journey. Trouble is he probably couldn’t get a book out of editorial review today. And if he did, he’d get bludgeoned by a host of reviewers.

      So even though editing isn’t a perfect science, you owe it to your readers to be sure it’s done well. I also recommend critique group reviews before you send the manuscript off to your editor. But that’s a different subject.


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