Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There Are Opinions, and Then There Are…

Regarding book reviews, I keep hearing: “Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion…” and “All opinions are valid, because you can’t argue with subjectivity.”

No, not everyone is entitled, and no, not all opinions are valid.

Everyone is allowed his or her feelings and beliefs. Opinions, on the other hand, need to be informed, well reasoned, and stated intelligently. If they are not, they are less than useless, they are harmful, and shouldn’t even be given a forum in which to be expressed, much less listened to and taken to heart.

Or this, posted on Twitter:

“I hate when people give your book a 3-star review because they don’t like the digital formatting. Was it a good book or not?”

Hey, Buddy! If you expect us to care about your words, you have to care about our total reading experience, and that includes the formatting!

The strongest and most lasting appeal of any story arises directly from only one source: the unified effect of the totality of the words. Distractions from that story, however, can come from several individual but interrelated sources, that also, interestingly enough, have to do with the words:

• bad spelling
• bad grammar
• incorrect punctuation
• inappropriate word usage
• incorrect information
• anachronisms
• bad storytelling involving
     - character development
     - setting
     - plot

Any of these can jolt the reader out of the story and into the “here and now” and, as a writer, that’s the very last thing that you want to happen. My teen-aged daughter, Hope Edwards (author of The Adventures of Dough Girl), will even stop reading a book in disgust if there are too many misspelled words.

If you—as the producer of the words, as the creator of the story—if you do not understand that fact, if you think that we who speak of the importance of spelling and punctuation and grammar are “nit picking” or are being “too fussy,” in short, if you just “don’t get it”… then no, you are not a good writer and, no, yours was not a good book.


  1. It's hard to get all those typos and brain-fart sentences when you're an indie (I always have some that slip through, even though I've hired an editor and had betas read it beforehand), but it's definitely worth it to try your best! :)

    How is your daughter's story doing? It looks fun!

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  3. Your point here is so true. Thanks for the edit on Hawke & Johnson, C.N.M. You have saved future readers from that particular jolt. :)