Monday, January 18, 2016

How to Not Write Good, Vol 1: The Lazy Hippie

[dramatic announcer voice]:  Last week, I told you how to write good.  This week, I tell you...[thundering drum] how to not write so good.  [hold for applause]

And hey, if anyone's an expert on that it's me, right?  Many agent and publisher interns would agree.

This first case comes from this guy at writers.net.  He created a website and wanted people to post stories on it.  Stories about?  Whatever, man.  How long?  Whatever, man.  Is there any unifying concept or anything?  Whatever, man.

I decided to go take a look and noticed right off the bat his story was missing an apostrophe in the title.  So I mention that and he starts in on all this hippie bullshit on how he can't, like, change the story, man.  That'd, like, change its essence, you know?  He didn't say it exactly like that but that was the vibe.

You've never watched The Simpsons, but in one episode Homer (the father) finds out his estranged mom was a hippie and decides to emulate her. This extends to not washing his feet so they're jet black.  When he puts these near his daughter Lisa's potato, she tells him to move his feet and he says, "You can't, like, own a potato, man."  That's the vibe this guy gave me.

I tried to explain to him that not even doing basic proofreading was just being lazy.  Whatever, man.  OK, really, I've said that I don't like rewriting.  I don't do a lot of it, but I do at least go through my books to eliminate typos.  Why?  Because typos make me look bad as the author.  More than that, it makes the whole self-publishing industry look bad.

Self-publishers have to deal with sneering traditional authors all the time.  Those authors say self-published books are just poorly-written crap that are riddled with typos.  So if I don't even spellcheck my book before I toss it out there, I'm proving those jerks right and I fucking hate that.

As well, one example I used trying to reason with Lazy Hippie is that not even proofreading is like when you go to a fast food restaurant and they give you cold fries and a chicken sandwich with dried-up meat that has been sitting there since they opened.  And that is frankly quite disgusting.  Not only because cold fries are nasty and it's ripping you off, but also because the employees couldn't be bothered to expend the bare minimum amount of effort on their jobs.  As the author, you could argue that the bare minimum is writing the first draft.  As the publisher, the bare minimum is to fucking spellcheck it.  Seriously, there is no reputable publisher who wouldn't at least spellcheck a book they were putting out.  Why?  Because it makes them look bad to have a slew of typos.  Even barely-literate people (ie, most people) get turned off if they start to see misspellings every sentence.

I'm not trying to be an anal prick here.  I'm just asking Lazy Hippie to do the bare minimum amount of fucking work.  That's all.  And no, correcting a typo does not change the essence of the story or any fucking bullshit like that.  You can make up all the bullshit "reasons" you want, but at the end of the day it's simply that you're too fucking lazy to spend a few minutes to check your work.  It's disrespectful to the audience and it's disrespectful to yourself as the author.  Have some goddamned pride!

I know, Whatever, man.

Needless to say I will not be reading his book of...whatever.

2 comments:

  1. The book of what "whatever" is definitely something to stay away from. I'm probably going to have to hire an editor if I ever release another book. I have horrible time catching my own typos. I go to all kinds of lengths to find them (even listening to it on the Kindle) and still miss some.

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  2. I always re-read my comic scripts but every now and then a few typos go unnoticed... luckily for me, whenever the artist sends me the lettered pages, I immediately notice my mistake and I can correct it. I think it's always good to read things at least twice (if possible) before getting them published.

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