I've said it here before, so stop me if you've heard it: writing has made me into a very picky reader. Once upon a time I could enjoy a mediocre book: let myself slide into disbelief, allow a few terrible sentences to pass, ignore a character who has no flesh whatsoever. But now that I'm tuned in to the "how" of writing, I'm offended by writers who slack off, the way good doctors and good lawyers must be embarrassed and insulted by the Medicare-cheaters and ambulance-chasers in their professions.

The saddest part is that so many readers don't care. Editors who can sell a zillion copies certainly don't care. And agents who get the significant-deal commissions don't care. There's no Supreme Court of Writing where the case can be argued ("But Your Honor, LOOK at this paragraph, State's evidence 3B!") and sloppiness fined or even given jail time. ("Mr. Author, you are hereby sentenced to solitary confinement until you demonstrate the ability to show a clear antecedent to all pronouns in a paragraph.")

My only recourse is to refuse to finish those books that I used to devour in a day on the beach or during a dim, snow-stormy day off from school. Bad writing is like H1N1, better to avoid exposure, lest I catch it.

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Comment by B.R.Stateham on October 15, 2009 at 2:39am
I wouldn't walk away from a good story simple because there are a few mechanical flaws (hell, I have those!) And that's the point---so far damn few have written a story strong enough to captivate me.
Comment by Peg Herring on October 15, 2009 at 2:16am
That's the good side, that we write better because we don't want to be like "those guys." One has to hope that Pogo's "We have met the enemy and he is us" never applies!
Comment by B.R.Stateham on October 15, 2009 at 12:55am
I couldn't agree with you more, Peg. I too find it very hard to find something good to read. And I think, because of that, I'm writing more. I'm writing what I want to read from others. Make sense?

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