Thursday, January 19, 2017

Punctuation Woes (As in, Don't Do This if You Can Help It)

Two weekends ago, a post popped up on a Facebook group page I'm a part of. It said, "I just upload my first book on amazon." Not trying to be harsh, but the lack of correct grammar did have me hesitate. So I clicked on the link and went on over to Amazon, where I found the book and the description. It looked a little like this (but not exactly, as I don't really want you to find it):
Six young children get abducted by men.
Follow their journey.
Are they escape or not?
Yeah, more worry.

And then, I did the unthinkable. No, I didn't buy the book. I simply looked inside the book with Amazon's handy little feature. I cringed at the first sentence, which seemed amateur, at best, but then, I made my way to the dialogue.
"Do you have to do your makeup right now?," I asked. She stopped applying foundation on her face as she gave me a hatred look. "What?," I asked.
Gasp. Sputter. What?

I started to write a simple post on my Facebook timeline, something akin to: That very awkward moment where a person you don't know tells a group you're involved in that they've decided to self-publish and you go and check the book out and realize within the first three paragraphs that they have no idea how to use punctuation correctly and you wonder, "Do I tell this person or not?"

But I didn't want to call attention to myself or have people ask me what the name of the book was. I also didn't want anyone to think that I thought myself better than this person, because I do not. (I can say that I use punctuation properly and can craft sentences at a deeper level than what is shown in this book, but I will not say I am a better story writer, for I do not know if that is true. And, as we all know, writing is so stinking subjective!) Furthermore, if you're not quite sure what's wrong with the punctuation, I'll show you. The sentence should look like this: "Do you have to do your makeup right now?" I asked. (I'll ignore the incorrect use of the word hatred for now.)

So I canned the remark, and was left wondering: Do I contact this person? It is very clear to me that the author is young (I figured this out from the FB profile) and inexperienced (I figured this out from the writing). And while I have nothing against self-publishing, and may follow that road myself someday, this type of writing--the kind that never sees an editor--is the reason why self-publishing gets a bad name.

And so I asked myself: Would I want someone to tell me? The answer, of course, is yes, but the correspondence would need to be worded very carefully, so as not to cause any issues. Which means that I will not be sending any quick email to this author. My guess is that the readers, who we all know can be ruthless, will let this author know exactly what isn't so kosher with this book.

In the meantime, I'm going to head back to my most polished work-in-progress and get on some revisions, as well as check to make sure that my punctuation is practically perfect...


No comments: