We Can’t All Write Like J.K. Rowling
Have you ever had to put down a book because the grammar or style of it was so irritating? I hate it when that happens because a small part of me knows that it could have been so much better. I’ve read a lot of bad writing, from fanfictions that are longer that their source materials or books that have been self-published on Amazon. Some have even been published from fairly popular publishing houses. Listed below are some of my largest annoyances with badly written fiction.
- Written-out accents: I get it, that character has a thick Russian accent. But you don’t need to edit every single word. It’s overkill to turn almost every no into nyet and yes into da. I’ve seen this in a lot of fanfiction but it’s also prevalent in published works. Varied accents are fine up to a point. When it makes the dialogue undecipherable, it’s best for the reader to walk out right then and there.
- Past, present, or confusion?: This is more common in fanfiction and other writings that don’t have a proper editor. I’ve seen some stories where a sentence started in past tense, switched to present, and ended in back in past. It makes me want to grab the author by the shoulders and shake some sense into them. It has become a pet peeve of mine. It may have been because I’ve had to annotate some sub-par stories in a workshop, but I want to write “PICK A TENSE AND STICK WITH IT!!!” in a bold red Sharpie every single time.
- Oh god, the purple prose: Purple prose, as described by TV Tropes, is when an author uses far too many words. With purple prose, eyes become “orbs” and blood becomes “life-giving red fluid.” It makes everything complicated and in the worst possible scenario, unreadable. A famous example is the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. It . Reading purple prose, in my opinion, is like trying to talk with peanut butter stuck on the roof of your mouth.
Non sequi–wait, where are we?: So he’s moving over there by the lamp. Wait, when did she put down the coffee mug? Not giving any description as to where a character is in their surrounding is confusing; putting random items in the scenes is even more so. Authors sometimes forget what their characters are doing and don’t remember until the reader has almost forgotten about the action. It gets tiring to flip back a few pages to make sure that llama had even been in the scene in the first place.