Books are NOT Thesis/Research papers!

I know I haven’t posted in forever.  I’ve been addicted to a few new video games that I bought.  Really.  I go to work come home, play game, microwave food, eat while I play the game, and repeat.  Thank the Heavens for a crock pot because in the morning I just chuck meats and veggies and toss in teaspoons of spices and herbs, turn on and go to work and BAM! 8 hours later when I return, I have food for the next four days.  The best part: it only took 10 minutes max to prepare.  When you are addicted to a game, having repeat dinners is no big deal (but I do refuse to get fast food or prepackaged microwave food – gross).  So I haven’t been reading lately.  Hey I read over 100 books this year.  I think I’m good.  But I felt like I have to do a post of some sort to show some love for the blog, even if my readers don’t really care.  😛

Today I’m going to rant a bit.  Well, maybe a lot.  Well see… it’ll most likely be a lot.  This is want I want to talk about:

I want to talk about the grammar reviewers.  The ones who uselessly fling in the, “There were a few instances where the grammar was wrong.”  Or the, “There were a lot of grammar mistakes.”  Those comments in reviews bug the hell out of me and makes me wish a puppy or kitten was nearby so I can strangle it to death.  Okay not really.  I love puppies too much and kittens are cute (But I hate cats.  I’m a dog person.).  But still it conjures that wrathful demon in me that is evoked when dealing with annoying female characters and instant-love relationships and wanna rip their faces off wanna be bad boys.  Not to that extent of course, but nearly.

Now if you give examples and explain that statement you are forgiven.  But if you don’t and just merely go on a rant about it without ever addressing specifics, can I virtually web punch you in the face?

It’s a stupid and cheap way to give credit to their review.  Every single one of those reviews who does this sound like they have to give an excuse for giving a book a poor grade so they toss in that crap excuse as if that one liner gives them the right to judge a book poorly.  As if the “poor” grammar is the deal breaker for the book.  Not because they didn’t connect with the book, not because some insane stupid protagonist is a complete idiot, not because there’s instant love.  No, they throw in a line that says:  “There were a lot of grammar mistakes in the novel.”  Or the “Who edited this?”

If books were grammatically correct, do people realize how boring that shit would be.  Do you enjoy reading thesis papers?  God, unless you’re the poor sap TA assistant for a professor, no one ever wants to read a damn thesis paper.  Heck, even professors don’t want to read a damn thesis paper, because – duh – they pass it off to their TAs.  At least, the smarts one do.  Or at the very least, the ones with some authority to even get a TA (the very lucky and powerful one gets several).  Some professors are stuck with reading them because the school won’t let them get TAs.  Bless their poor souls.

I’m not saying books with horrible grammars should be loved.  Because there are some horrible written books out there with really bad grammar.  Heck, there are some bad books out there with horrible grammar that ARE loved (I’m not going to name any titles that was a Twilight fan fiction to start).  All I’m saying if you’re going to toss in that excuse, explain.  You know… like in a damn thesis paper.  When you explain your grammar issue, it is no longer just an excuse but a relevant reason and note-worthy.  You give a point and explain the point.  Just don’t throw in the “grammar sucks” or “needs an editor” or “who edited this?” and then move on.  That comes off as a piss poor excuse to be inserted into your review just so you can feel good about yourself  or think yourself important and relevant, when you’re really not.  You may think you’re fooling other review readers into thinking, “She/he has a valid point.  This book is horrible because it has bad grammar.”  But you’re insulting your review readers, those who actually take reviews seriously, and most importantly: yourself.  It’s a dumb move.  An idiotic one.  An ignorant one.  And a very very very [insert your couple choices of swear words here] reasoning.

Well what if the grammar is REALLY bad… then say it and explain. 

Did you know punctuation and sentence structures can create and influence mood and setting in a book?  You may not realize it but they do.  Typically, in action scenes the sentences are short and choppy.  Incomplete sentences are many.  As they should be.  Because when you’re being shot at, or some crazy demented person is coming after you with a weapon, you’re not going to be thinking,” He’s coming at me with a blazing blue sword.  I should run away or else I get hurt. ”  NO!  Your thoughts are: [F{censored}] Run!  Or if your the ballsy type person you react without thinking.  Kick to the face!  Whirlwind kick to the hand.  Sword flies away.  Metal crashes somewhere.  Kick to the groin before douche bag gets up.  A good author knows how to manipulate readers by using “bad” grammar.  Pay attention to what you’re read.  Watch sentence structure.  Notice how when things are slow (those self discovering scenes or discovery about other people or things or ideas…. that moment when the light bulb turns on for the character) the sentences are generally longer.  When there are high tension scenes they are shorter.  There may be more commas, linking fragmented sentences.  Good authors use bad grammar to create mood.  Ever read a story with an action scene that is just as boring as watching the grass grow?  It’s suppose to be an action scene.  Usually these scenes are either filled with too much description and reader directing and/or it explains a character’s thought process too much, which drains the urgency from the scene.  People do not think and analyze their actions when they are in a near death situation.  They react in milliseconds and deal with the consequences later.  Even trained experts do the same thing.

There that was an example you could use by complaining about “bad” grammar.   If the grammar did not invoke this or invoked the given examples in the wrong areas.

Analyze a book you don’t like.  And think beyond the surface.  Why do you hate that book?  What makes it work with you and want doesn’t?  Yes, I know this is all subjective, but when you think of it in that sense, you can give a better excuse of why a book doesn’t fit you because of the type of reader you are.  So the grammar is bad?  What did it do?  Cluttered the pacing of the story?  Bad grammar put too many pauses and breaks into the movement of scene and made the characters like drunkards, stumbling about in the novel?  It rushed the narrative so that moments where characters needed to reflect were non existent?  Bad grammar does all of this.  Explain away.  Just don’t say a novel has bad grammar.  Makes people like me want to inflict harm on something or someone.

Like I said, “bad” grammar can be used to do good things.  Authors just have to know how to use them and yes, many debut authors and self published authors have valid bad complain worthy grammar but give a explanation why the grammar was bad or else your review totally becomes an eye rolling, “what a crock of crap” type review.  And I don’t have a pot for that.  Yes, I tried to make a horrible pun/joke (see first paragraph) and it didn’t make any sense but oh wells.

I’m not saying we should ignore bad grammar.  If the author mixes “to” with “too” or “two” or “their” with “there” or “they’re,” then yes we have a large issue here.  These are completely different words and mean different things.  It’s like talking about puppies and using the word kitten or ogres.  They are not the same thing.  But explain this error.  Don’t just say the grammar is bad.  Wrong tenses is also one of those unforgiving mistakes.  Again say it that there were a lot of wrong tenses and then give an example.  Unintended mispelings (< like the missing l here is also not kosher for a novel) or using the wrong word like definitely and defiantly.   These are not okay.  These should be touched upon and mentioned in reviews, but address specifically.

When someone simply says there is bad grammar and they go on a rant about how the book got published and who the editor is and how they got the job title of editor and not once go into detail what the errors are, I question the person’s knowledge of grammar.  Many English speakers don’t even know their own grammar rules.  Many misusing grammar and actually criticizing others, who actually use the grammar in question correctly, happens a lot.  Even so called English “majors.”  Just because you majored in it does not make you an expert.  Like my English thesis professor says, “Learning and completely understanding a language and its grammatical usage and spoken words takes a lifetime and the rules are always changing.  If someone says they are an expert and their reason for being right is simply saying they have a degree in the subject, they are full of shit.  D’s and C’s can get you a degree.”  (I paraphrased this of course.)

With all that said, there are probably a billion grammar issues in this post.  And… I don’t care.  Because this also isn’t a thesis paper or research paper.  This is my sentiment on grammar on the internet on non-professional sites and online places:


Yep.

There.  I am done for now.  I will try and add more reviews, but it seems unlikely to be honest.  I’m addicted to gaming right now and even now my body is heading in the direction of my game consoles.  Must play game.  Kill more elves.  Kill more aliens.  Kill more dragons.  Kill more stuff.

I will eventually update soon.  Since I have publisher ARCs to respond to.  Also I’m also working on my read alike book list.  It’s taking a lot of my time.  You guys should check it out.  Just click on my “Read A-likes book list).  It’s a genre guide.  I find that other guides are stupid or they are just plain wrong categorizing certain books together when they shouldn’t.  Like Hunger Games being post-apocalyptic when it’s really not.  Nothing happened to kill off the people in on the planet.  It was due to a corrupt government which falls under dystopian society.  Or having mermaid novels put into Greek myths because a certain character is a descendent of some god, but it’s only mentioned like once.  WTF.  I mean that’s really misleading… it’s not a book about the Greek pantheon.  It fully a mermaid book that is heavy on romance, duh.  Anyway… yeah must go play game.

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2 responses to “Books are NOT Thesis/Research papers!

  1. I’ve actually never considered that when people complain about bad grammar they might be talking about more artistic decisions like starting a sentence with “but” or using fragments–probably because, like you, I don’t automatically consider such things “wrong” in creative writing.

    I can only recall mentioning poor grammar once in a review, and I meant typos like “cold” instead of “could.” I also mentioned it mainly on the off chance the author would come across my review and help herself out by finding a copy editor. The book is self-published and therefore facing enough challenges in the market; a lack of proofreading shouldn’t have to be one of them.

    I think book reviewers should also keep in mind that bad grammar and typos shouldn’t really be brought up in reviews based on ARCs, since the book technically isn’t finished. (Although I admit I am tempted to mention terrible wording in an ARC I just finished, simply because it was so frequent and confusing that I was surprised it did, in fact, make it all the way to the ARC stage.)

    Interesting post!

  2. Self-Published or not, word confusion and misspellings are very important. I would much rather reviewers say there were several misspellings and wrong word usage such as {give example}. I’m fine with that and appreciate it actually. But these are simple matters… that isn’t so grey. Because of creative freedom it gets hard to tell if bad grammar is truly bad grammar or opinion. Nowadays there are more and more reviews popping up throwing in the “there’s bad grammar” and going off on the grammar and how horrible it was. This post was fueled by a review I came across of this short story… The story was told from the perspective of an immigrant Chinese lady and the relationship with her first generation born American daughter… the reviewer blasted the poor grammar in the story. There was a lot. A LOT. But I felt the wrong pronoun usage, the clipped sentences, gave the story this truth of voice to this immigrant woman. It made the story all more interesting and the relationship between mother and daughter more real. I understood what the reviewer was saying, but not once did she/he say that the ill-grammar usage was disruptive for her because of it’s frequency and for regular English speakers like us, it’ll take some time to get use to (if one can open themselves up and pull that stick out of their butts) and that it broke the flow of the story for her and the rhythm was too erratic for her/him (because that’s what happened, the author chose to give a true voice to his character for the sacrifice of a clean smooth pacing) – she/he just went on and on about how the grammar sucks and then proceeded to give examples of sucky grammar and how people should not speak and/or write like that, etc. etc… *rolls eyes* I’m trying to remember this short story and I can’t for the life of me remember the title…. I want to say it’s author was Ha Jin or Junot Diaz or something like that…

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