1. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Reading famous authors with editing issues...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JetBlackGT, Mar 10, 2014.

    I stopped reading Stephen King's work, in the 80's. The editing had become terrible to the point that I could no longer get into the stories. It was not so much misspellings as words were incorrect (but spelled correctly) and therefore missed by the spell checker.

    I'm reading "Twilight" (don't judge me), which I have read before. However the last time I read this series, I had not written my own work. Now I am finding a tremendous amount of errors!

    I have edited my own writing enough that I've realized something...

    If your reader "gets into" the story, there are any number of mistakes they will miss! We all probably see it in our work. Sixth time reading it through and you are still finding a ton of corrections that need to be made (I write them on my bookmark and end up with 3-4 double-sided post-its worth of wrong-word/grammar corrections!).

    That doesn't mean you don't have to edit but it does mean that a good story will let the reader flow into it. UNLESS! Unless there are so many errors that you are never able to settle into the flow of the story.

    Did anyone else become more attuned to mistakes in other's writing after embarking on their own endeavors? Or am I just suddenly becoming a picky, holier-than-thou snob?
     
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  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have to believe this happens to all of us who go down the road of scribbling verse. I've been a fan of Clive Barker forever, and having read his Imajica diptych not too long ago, I was struck by the insouciance with which the man will dangle a preposition. I know that's not exactly what you meant by 'editing', but things like that are my bugbears as much as spelling errors or a form that should be a from and apparently het is a real word that interlopes where the normally works. Clumsy phrasing, overly long, overly nested sentences. All these things I cannot help but see now. But I guess that's like any line of work, isn't it? I worked as a retail manager for longer than I would care to admit for a number of well known national chains. I can't walk into a Gap or an A&F without filtering what I see through strike points, and bulk outs, noting what merchandise is nearest the jean-wall, etc. I don't see the same store others see.
     
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  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed. Reading the daily newspaper has become an almost painful experience.
     
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  4. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Our local online paper was so bad, almost 100% of the comments were about the lack of editing that went on. Then, rather than address the spelling and grammar issues, KREM2 simply eliminated the ability to comment on news stories. Ugh. Emoticons are not enough to display how much of a frowny-face I have :-(
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    reading is bad enough for me, but as a full time practicing philosopher who has to keep track of what goes on in the world all day, every day, the worst of all language tortures is having to hear news anchors, reporters, and interviewees constantly mangle grammar, use the ludicrously wrong words, and misuse/reword common expressions...
     
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  6. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    I sometimes do this, getting buried in the mechanics of writing or exasperated by the lack of copy-editing. But, I have to remind myself, as you have mentioned, that the words are only a way of communicating a story and are no more right or wrong than the opinions that form them. I have no doubt that Shakespeare would look at English today from our "exceptional" writers with utter dismay. Even writers 100 hundred years ago would think English has gone backwards, but it is in my honest opinion (or IMHO) what is fashionable and what delivers a story effectively for the reader that counts however lazy.
    As someone much cooler than I once told me, writing is not mathematics it is a mode of telling someone: "YOLO".
     
  7. vera2014
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    vera2014 Contributing Member

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    I've been catching more typos since I started reading more about grammar. It makes me feel like a proof reader or editor--this is kind of cool. I also appreciate more the difficulty in writing a story; I try not to get too giddy over finding mistakes.
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    A good friend of mine (who also writes) went as far as saying that writing almost ruined reading for her, because now she is too aware of the craft behind the work and how well it's done (or not) instead of just losing herself in the story. We also had a discussion about whether non-writing readers even notice bad language and poor writing in general or if it is something that comes when you've studied craft. I want to think they do, but now that I've read your post I'm not sure. What do you guys think?
     
  9. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    You are so right and thinking about all the money they're raking in makes me sick.

    /sarcasm
     
  10. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I'm leaning more towards perfectionism than picky or holier-than-thou snob when reading this post. My suggestion, be a bit more realistic in your criticism.
     
  11. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    It is entirely possible. I try not to be a douche about editing but I wonder how much of my joy of reading is getting ruined by my joy for editing... It is difficult to let one go in exchange for the other, in both instances. Suddenly I will find that I have read eighty pages and made no corrections....

    Start over.

    I got all into the book, excited about what was happening and laughing at the jokes when suddenly... I'm not editing anymore. I'm reading :-(

    Then I start reading a book for pleasure and am reaching for my red pen every ten pages... GAH! I'm silently yelling at my brain "PICK ONE!"
     
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  12. eleutheria
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    eleutheria Member

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    The most common editing problem with famous authors (that I see, anyway) is either a) repeating information that doesn't need repeated - very common in long works, David Weber is a good example of this, or b) out of control preachiness. That bothers me more than typos and grammatical errors.
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think we've all seen those little tidbits that circulate via Facebook and other media—those ones that say 'can you read this?' and then hit you with a load of gobbledegook that—stone me and pick me for a raspberry—you CAN actually read!

    Apparently it's got to do with the starting letter and the approximate length of the word. If you read quickly, and if the word starts with the right letter, you don't actually notice the internal spelling errors. Or if you do notice them, you can still make sense of the word they are intending to represent.

    I think that's part of the reason you can read and read and READ to proofread your work and still not catch mistakes. Your brain knows what's supposed to be there, and so your eye gets lazy. Annoying. Funny how quickly these mistakes DO jump out at you the minute you push the 'send' button, though. Or, god forbid, the 'publish' button. Yeeks...

    Probably several pairs of eyes are better than one? o_O
     
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  14. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Realize this: The defendant who represents himself has a fool for a client. It's the same with writers and editors. Hire an editor.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    AGREED! Daily acts of aggravated verbicide.
     
  16. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Real proofreaders read their work backwards, one sentence at time.
     
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  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was reading an article today in the online version of Rolling Stone and came across the phrase, "his death wasn't in vein." There were many other errors in the article, but that one really made me wince.

    You'd think that a big magazine like Rolling Stone could afford decent copyeditors.
     
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  18. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Dickens could have used some editing. But he was getting paid by the word, so I can't really blame him.
     
  19. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    Since I started writing, I'm noticing errors in everyday reading that I used to ignore. Except for there/their/they're and your/you're errors - those always stuck out like a sore thumb.
     
  20. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I don't think so.
     
  21. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe they meant he didn't die of a heroin overdose?
     
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  22. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    He was paid every time he produced 32 pages. Seems like incentive to use more words to me. So technically he wasn't paid by the word, but he was paid by the installment.
     
  23. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I think you misunderstand the business he was in. Each installment sold for a fixed price, as magazines do today, so the revenue per installment was determined by how many customers bought the monthly installments, not by the word count in an installment.

    The length of an installment, 32 pages, was dictated by requirements for printing a periodical. He couldn't exceed that limit even if he wanted to. Elizabeth Gaskell said that when she submitted installments to Dickens for publication (he owned and edited several periodicals), they often had to be cut to fit within the 32-page limit.

    If you find Dickens wordy, that's fine. You're entitled to your opinion. But when you imply that he padded his writing to inflate the word count and earn more money, the facts don't support that claim.
     
  24. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Fair enough.
     
  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, SOMEBODY had to say it...:)
     

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