Let me start by saying this: If you’re a writer, you have my respect. It doesn’t matter what you write – genre fiction, literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction, greeting card homilies, radio jingles, rock lyrics, or anything else. Writing isn’t easy and, as I’ve stated in a previous post, it takes courage for authors to make their work available for public consumption.
Most of the writing I come across on Amazon and other sites ranges from mediocre to good. I’ve also seen some outstanding work, as well as some that is surprisingly awful. The awful writing I’m referring to is horrible by almost any objective standard…grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, construction, plot, character development, and the list goes on.
Let’s face it, we were all bad or at least unpolished writers at some point, weren’t we? Personally, I don’t read anything I wrote five or ten years ago because it makes me cringe. Bad writers will get better with practice. In the meantime, they have a lot to offer.
When I read a poorly written work it doesn’t take me long to lose interest in the story. I’ve gone from an interested reader to a critical reader. This isn’t a bad thing because it sharpens my own editing skills as I note spelling and grammatical errors. It focuses my attention on the importance of plot and narrative if the story is uninteresting, has glaring holes, is written in the wrong voice, or is unevenly paced. I find myself considering my own writing when the characters in the story remain lifeless and flat on the page. Basically, bad writing gives me a checklist and a tangible example of all that I want to avoid in my own work. If I heed this example, if I study it, I’ll become a better author even if my talent remains unchanged. It’s addition by subtraction.
I’m currently reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. The writing is brilliant. The stories are quintessential King. There are days when this level of skill inspires me. There are other days when it makes me feel like a poseur, a charlatan trying to lure the unwary to my meager literary efforts. This is one of those days. Let me know if you’ve read a bad book recently. I’m looking for recommendations.