Today’s Writing Tip

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What is the worst book you ever read? Did you finish it or give up part way through? Why was it horrible? Take a few moments to learn from it, even if it’s something uncomfortable about yourself or your own work.

One book I read was so bad on so many levels, I’m surprised I bothered to shove myself through to the end, hoping it would get better–it didn’t. Sadly, the premise was a good one and certain parts, at least of the plot, were well-done. However, it was riddled with my pet peeves, including, first and foremost, violation of the laws of physics and/or aerodynamic flight. That offended my inner scientist.

As I remember in addition, the author misused just about every homonym in the English language. Okay, we’ve all goofed up from time to time with your, you’re, and maybe even yore or there, their, and they’re, but this included so many it became laughable and definitely offended my inner grammarian.

But you know what the irony is? That for all the well-written and nicely edited stories I’ve read, which are many, I’ve forgotten the title of most of them while this one will probably live on, forever tattooed on my memory.

I guess the question is whether that is how you’d like to be remembered?

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6 thoughts on “Today’s Writing Tip

    • It’s pretty funny how so many people don’t like the classics. It always does my heart good to see people give them one and two star reviews. I suspect that much of it is generational, that what these old books were addressing is simply off our radar these days.

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  1. I shall not mention the title or author, BUT it was on the NYT top 10 list at the time (years ago)… It was a futuristic that ignored basic physics as our world endured an ice age…. Don’t know what you know about weather, but the colder it gets, the drier snow gets and it is impossible for snow to form below -20 degrees, yet this author had fat, wet flakes of snow in a blizzard when it was -60…. That is the physics violation I recall most, but there were others. Thus, well before I finished, the book went into the trash…. It is one of the very rare times when I’ve thrown away a book instead of pass it along, but I could not in good conscious share such stupidity.

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    • Obviously editors aren’t scientists and it’s not just indie authors who have this problem. Scientific accuracy is definitely one of my pet peeves. Actually, now that I think about it, another “worst book” I recall was supposed to be about astrology but the author went off on a political rant that really rubbed me the wrong way. I threw that one out, too.

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      • I can totally understand why you tossed that book! My books aren’t supposed to be scientific, but I do try to sneak bits into the story, as long as they are a natural fit. Example: faraday cages mentioned during a storm. Thus, when I’m in editing/polishing phase, I make sure that a I ask a wide variety of people to help me proofread. Less than half are actual author/editors. In fact, many are actual kids (I write YA books, so want to make sure the stories interest them and they don’t have problems understanding.) Others are science majors. The only thing all have in common is that I chose them because I expect them to tell me exactly what they thought and correct what they think I got wrong.
        I suspect many authors want proof readers that tell them their book is perfect, whether the readers think so or not….. IMHO, that’s not the way to get rid of nits.

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