Author Topic: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?  (Read 4045 times)  

Offline SerenityEditing

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #50 on: March 03, 2017, 02:14:04 AM »
My contention was that if the computer wasn't smart enough to catch that little mistake and figure out what I meant what was the point of it!  The problem was the computer and I just found it's weakness.

...

I did find one cute idea on Wikipedia's discussion of comma splices, that whether they're incorrect depends on your fame.

"Lynne Truss observes: "so many highly respected writers observe the splice comma that a rather unfair rule emerges on this one: only do it if you're famous." She cites Samuel Beckett, E. M. Forster, and Somerset Maugham. "Done knowingly by an established writer, the comma splice is effective, poetic, dashing. Done equally knowingly by people who are not published writers, it can look weak or presumptuous. Done ignorantly by ignorant people, it is awful.""

Barry

I do like your reasoning about the computer - and it's kind of unnerving how close we are to that now. When I'm typing something into my phone to look up info, I've recently noticed that if I misspell the word as I'm typing it (happens about 80% of the time - large fingers, small keys) I don't even have to correct the misspelled word - I can just tap on it and it automatically changes to the correct spelling. Google's had the "Did you mean...?" feature for a long time, and of course we're all familiar with the amusement autocorrect sometimes provides, but to make that simple connection - if (1) a word is misspelled and if (2) the user touches the misspelled word, then correct the spelling - brings it really close to mind-reading AFAIAC.




About being famous and permitted to use comma splices - one of my favorite authors has, in his last three books, been using them regularly. His earlier books were more strictly punctuated, though he uses semicolons, dashes, and parentheses quite heavily, but it seems like as his renown grows, his publishers are letting him just write what he likes and punctuate it as he likes. It pulls me up short now and then, but his style seems particularly well suited to it, where with other authors, I think it would be jarring.


I follow him on Twitter, by the way, and last week he made a joke and I replied to him with a playful correction - something along the lines of:
Quote
Him: I would like a drink of water
Me: You spelled 'beer' wrong


He replied back, saying, "Everyone's an editor!"
My friends are already fed up with the "Hey, did you know I'm Famous Author's editor now? He said so! Right on Twitter!" jokes I've been making ever since. (c:
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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #51 on: March 03, 2017, 09:00:46 AM »
Apparently the Amazon outage last week was due, at bottom, to a typo! :o

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/2/14792442/amazon-s3-outage-cause-typo-internet-server

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Offline coreyrecko

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #52 on: March 04, 2017, 07:55:49 AM »
Oh I agree.

Authors should never be the only ones to edit their own work (it's easy to see what you intended to write, instead of what you actually wrote).

Offline 5ngela

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #53 on: March 05, 2017, 04:52:47 AM »
Nope unless I cannot understand what the author mean.

Offline raygardener

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #54 on: March 05, 2017, 01:29:28 PM »
Anything that pulls me out of the story is -- let's face it -- not good. Writers have an obligation to make the reader's task easy and to make the words fade into the background. I'm still amazed how easy it is to miss errors, so I've accepted that editing and proofreading have to be done well and repeatedly. It's astonishing how the mind plays tricks and lets one skip over goofs only to see them later leaving one wondering "How on Earth did I miss that?"

I haven't found a huge error rate when reading other people's work, maybe several typos per novel. But each one pulls me out, especially if the story is good and otherwise flows really well. It's a paradox of sorts: the closer you get to perfection, the closer you need to be.


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Offline lmroth12

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #55 on: March 28, 2017, 02:20:54 AM »
I find consistent grammar and punctuation errors annoying because it indicates that the author didn't take the time to learn their craft before rushing to publication. I don't expect perfection, as I have found mistakes in even classic literature; but errors of this nature perpetuate the notion that self-published books are substandard. I have read some great books by indie authors and usually find a few mistakes in each book and overlook them in favor of a good story. That said, authors who can't edit their own work should hire someone to do it for them. Otherwise the finished product looks like they were careless or too ignorant to notice their errors.

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Offline worktolive

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #56 on: April 03, 2017, 08:21:03 AM »
I'm not a trained editor, but I'm one of those people who can read a wall of text and automatically pick out the grammar and spelling errors. I can't stop myself from doing so. My brain is just wired that way. Because of the prevalence of errors these days in publications of all types, I've learned to ignore the occasional one, but if there are too many in the first few pages, that's it, I'm done.

For authors that are new to me, I have a two step process to weed out the ones that have grammar/spelling problems. First, I read a few of the 1 and 2 star reviews. If any of them mention editing issues, I move on. Second, I download a sample. If there are more than a couple of errors of any kind in a 20 page sample, that's enough for me to delete it. I'm not asking for perfection, but I do feel that if an author is asking people to pay money for their product, they should make some effort to adhere to standard English grammar conventions. Stylistic choices like occasional sentence fragments or comma usage don't bother me that much, but things like switching between past and present tense in same paragraph, incorrect word usage, or incorrect capitalization drive me crazy.

Offline KyleConnor

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #57 on: April 05, 2017, 04:44:46 AM »
Yes! Definitely. Bad grammar is such a turn off while reading something interesting.It breaks your flow.

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #58 on: April 06, 2017, 10:01:00 AM »
Anything that pulls me out of the story is -- let's face it -- not good. Writers have an obligation to make the reader's task easy and to make the words fade into the background. I'm still amazed how easy it is to miss errors, so I've accepted that editing and proofreading have to be done well and repeatedly. It's astonishing how the mind plays tricks and lets one skip over goofs only to see them later leaving one wondering "How on Earth did I miss that?"

I haven't found a huge error rate when reading other people's work, maybe several typos per novel. But each one pulls me out, especially if the story is good and otherwise flows really well. It's a paradox of sorts: the closer you get to perfection, the closer you need to be.

It does break the flow of the story.  My mom (former teacher and librarian) has zero tolerance! LOL 

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Offline Erin Zarro

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #59 on: May 16, 2017, 04:30:05 PM »
I don't mind the occasional typo or misused word. But if it's a lot, it drives me batty. I'm a writer/freelance editor and I find myself editing the book in my head instead of enjoying the story.

I always check the reviews. If there's even one mentioning typos/grammar/etc, I won't touch it, no matter how good it sounds.

Offline Denae C

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #60 on: June 12, 2017, 01:48:19 PM »
Is there a way to add a poll to this?  I'd like to see the results all in one place.

Sounds like most here aren't turned off by a typo or two but cannot turn off their internal editor when a book has too many usage issues.

For reading, "your welcome" might be my current pet peeve, but I don't usually see that one in novels.  Run-on sentences that join independent clauses with mere commas is another peeve of mine (like "She ran, then she walked, then she stopped.")

For writing, I seriously can catch most of my own typos (English degrees have to be good for something, right?).  When I don't, at least I have beta readers, grammarly, prowritingaid, and editors.
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Offline M R Mortimer

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #61 on: June 12, 2017, 03:30:59 PM »
Whatever you do, should you choose to complain about it, make sure you KNOW what you're talking about! I'm with the rest, I will read samples and am a harsh critic. I am as harsh as I expect from my editor and I see few books of any type that suck me in enough to stop seeing the issues. That's with ALL books, not just indie.

However, when I received a ranty email from a self professed editor offering to take over editing on my books? Because she couldn't understand how any editor could allow me to publish all those possessive apostrophes for single characters before the s instead of after, insisting that there is no difference between individual and plural possessives. Well, I binned that editor's request immediately and scrapped every opinion they had, because they clearly were clueless. (Sorry, in their world it should read binned that editors' request, but I can't bring myself to write it like that.)

How many grammar issues mentioned in reviews are issues with the reviewer, not the book? I'm not going to read them all to find out!
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Offline Valerie A.

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #62 on: June 13, 2017, 10:56:05 PM »
Because she couldn't understand how any editor could allow me to publish all those possessive apostrophes for single characters before the s instead of after, insisting that there is no difference between individual and plural possessives.
Sounds like a teenager who's discovered the beauty of grammar and wants to open everyone's eyes to it.  They'll probably also correct "For you and me" to "For you and I"  (and that one's a huge turn-off for me;))

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Offline SerenityEditing

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #63 on: June 14, 2017, 04:26:41 PM »
... she couldn't understand how any editor could allow me to publish all those possessive apostrophes for single characters before the s instead of after, insisting that there is no difference between individual and plural possessives. Well, I binned that editor's request immediately and scrapped every opinion they had, because they clearly were clueless. (Sorry, in their world it should read binned that editors' request, but I can't bring myself to write it like that.)

There are some... unusual opinions out there.
One of my clients and I agreed that his MS would be best served by having a different set of eyes on it for the post-edit proofreading pass. He has a friend who's a grade school teacher (in the 8-12 age range), and she happily accepted his offer. When she got done with it, he sent it to me to look over her changes. It was well over 100K words, and she had changed the punctuation in almost every line of dialogue so that instead of reading
"Hello," he said.
they read
"Hello." He said.
AND lines such as
"Let's go." She turned and left.
were changed to
"Let's go," she turned and left.

Blew my tiny little mind.

I've recently had another client mention that her former editor instructed her that any "well-known" brand names or proper nouns should be italicized. So, for instance,
He finished the Coke he was drinking and glanced at his Rolex. He was going to be late for his meeting at the Eiffel Tower.

I have actually noticed that a lot of my British clients tend to italicize proper nouns and item names (for instance, "a potion made of willow bark should cure your headache"). I feel like there has to be a reason, some valid grammatical rule or guideline that got misinterpreted or corrupted, but I can't think what it would be.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 04:28:59 PM by SerenityEditing »
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Offline ThomasDiehl

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #64 on: June 15, 2017, 12:56:22 AM »
I've recently had another client mention that her former editor instructed her that any "well-known" brand names or proper nouns should be italicized. So, for instance,
He finished the Coke he was drinking and glanced at his Rolex. He was going to be late for his meeting at the Eiffel Tower.

I have actually noticed that a lot of my British clients tend to italicize proper nouns and item names (for instance, "a potion made of willow bark should cure your headache"). I feel like there has to be a reason, some valid grammatical rule or guideline that got misinterpreted or corrupted, but I can't think what it would be.
The willow bark makes me think it's from biology - binominal names ("Latin" names of species) get italicized in science documents. It's not a grammar rule, but part of the official system for naming in biology.

The brand name ones I sometimes see marked as quotes ("I'll have a 'Coke'" or, worse, "I'll have a "Coke"") instead of italics. Though Eiffel Tower is just plain weird.
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Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #65 on: July 08, 2017, 06:49:05 PM »
I tend to look past a few typos and read the story for pleasure. If there are a lot of typos, misused words, or just blatant errors, I'll probably abandon the story and go on to the next one on my TBR stack.

Offline Jennifer R P

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #66 on: July 09, 2017, 07:54:35 AM »
There is likely to be a typo or two in a book no matter what (I've found some major published books worse than small press/indy) so that doesn't bother me.

It bothers me if it looks like the author didn't care/didn't proof.

Also, if there is a little box in your book, THAT will really get to me (caused by Word special characters sneaking into your ebook or print files). Turn autocorrect as you type in Word off. Just turn that thing off. Trust me.

Offline Jordan Radan

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #67 on: July 09, 2017, 08:29:21 AM »
Thank goodness for editors...although, after reading some of the horror stories, I'll amend that to thank goodness for the editors who have, you know, cracked open a grammar book.

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Offline WHDean

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #68 on: July 21, 2017, 12:31:59 PM »

I've recently had another client mention that her former editor instructed her that any "well-known" brand names or proper nouns should be italicized. So, for instance,
He finished the Coke he was drinking and glanced at his Rolex. He was going to be late for his meeting at the Eiffel Tower.

I have actually noticed that a lot of my British clients tend to italicize proper nouns and item names (for instance, "a potion made of willow bark should cure your headache"). I feel like there has to be a reason, some valid grammatical rule or guideline that got misinterpreted or corrupted, but I can't think what it would be.

Some popular book, blog, or celebrity did this, and people picked it up. You'll see it a lot with words. Some older word gets picked up or adopted for some reason and you begin seeing it everywhere. "Bespoke" in the sense of "tailored" has been making the rounds.




Offline Bodie Dykstra

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #69 on: July 21, 2017, 01:54:07 PM »
...which consisted of a ratio of roughly 3 or 4 sentence fragments for every actual sentence.

Sentence fragments are the worst! There's no better way to break up the flow of prose by introducing a bunch of jarring fragments. I get that authors try to use them for emphasis, but that's why we invented the em dash.
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Offline EDDIEO

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #70 on: August 03, 2017, 05:39:42 AM »
No,?"

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Offline KathyWren

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #71 on: August 04, 2017, 01:36:14 PM »
I have mixed feelings on this one.  I read somewhat obsessively - around ten books a day, usually - and I recently had to take a year off work, dropping our household income by more than half.  I've found that having a limited budget has really changed my perspective on grammar and punctuation problems. I used to drop books if I found too many issues, even if I'd been enjoying them up until that point, but now that I don't have a substantial book budget that's not really an option anymore. 

Surprisingly, what I've discovered is that if I push through that initial point of irritation the mistakes just start to disappear from my perception, in the same way as other authorial quirks do. In many cases, I enjoy reading the book much more than I ever thought I would.  (This also applies to books with terrible first chapters.  I used to give up, and now I've realized there are way too many fabulous authors out there who just don't know how to start stories. Or write blurbs.)

I think I'll keep pushing through error-riddled books even when I go back to work.  Not only does it save me money, but I've found some new favorite authors this way.  :)

Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #72 on: August 07, 2017, 02:20:43 PM »
I've been finding so many excellent indie books, that I am being turned off by the big publishers who charge so much. I don't think I've ever read an indie book that has errors on every page, but perhaps I am just careful in selection. I do find the occasion fragment and typo; often the fragment is deliberate, an artistic choice. (I tend not to like such choices, but I live with them.)

The one thing that drives me nuts because it is so prevalent is the incorrect form of the past tense for the word sneak. Sneak is a regular verb and so needs only the ed to make it past tense. Snuck makes me barf. To my ear it sounds wholly ignorant. I'm reading an author now who tells me he prefers that form (alas, alas) but his books are so good, I shudder and keep reading. I stopped reading a series because between the lexicon being too simple the spurious word snuck used constantly, I just couldn't stomach any more of it.

If you would not say brang or brung for brought, why would you use snuck for sneaked.? The English language has a beautiful music, snuck ruins that music.

I also notice that almost everyone misuses nauseous for nauseated. Nauseated means you are sick to your stomach. Nauseous means you are sick making; that is, you make other people sick.

Then there are the than/as constructions which are habitually used incorrectly, giving a meaning that is wrong for the intended meaning. He likes her better than me is a usual construction when the meaning wanted is actually He likes her better than I do. In the first one, the sentence means he prefers one woman over another. I call it the Jealous Woman Mistake. He is taller than me should be He is taller than I am. I enjoy more the books by authors who understand these differences in meaning created by the grammar. I will read most anything they write.

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Offline Bodie Dykstra

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Re: Anyone else get turned off by grammar/punctuation issues?
« Reply #73 on: August 10, 2017, 11:49:19 PM »
My editor brain has compelled me to put down more than one book because of grammar and punctuation issues. I can't stand overuse of sentence fragments. I tossed Neuromancer after about 1/3 because every second sentence was a fragment. It's just lazy writing in my opinion.
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