Friday, February 3, 2012

These "Yank" Moments

Earlier today, someone recommended a book to me and asked if I would buy it. I said no. She was flabbergasted. Why would I not buy the book after her glowing recommendation?

I realized at that point I should have just answered "Maybe I'll buy it" or something like that. I debated my answer to the second question, because when I answer this way (meaning truthfully), people sometimes do not look on me too kindly. I decided to answer truthfully and got called too rigid. Stuff like that. Maybe I AM too rigid, but what some people call too rigid I call having another set of minimum standards. After all, I am a professional editor. It's natural I have different expectations for stories than other people might.

My answer went something like this: "I've read a book by this author. The grammar in it didn't impress me, so I am in no rush to buy another book of hers." I have a huge reading list. If I was not impressed by an author the first time around, I have plenty of other authors to devote attention to. This is my money. I'll spend it the way I like.

Tell y'all something. I wish sometimes that I could easily overlook bad grammar in a story. Many people think that, for some reason, grammar isn't something you should judge a story on. There is a lot of back story to this, but today's example illustrates why sometimes I wish I was not picky about grammar.

This is my attempt to (I hope) explain my side more clearly than I may have in previous encounters. This is what I want from a story: to get lost in another world, to identify with the characters, to be surprised, to be enchanted by the use of language. If the basic building blocks of grammar are not present (for example, if words are pluralized incorrectly), that yanks me right out of the story. I remember I'm reading a story and possibly not such a great one at that.

I reckon that most people have their "yank out of story" peeves. Grammar is one of mine but not the only one. Inaccurate writing about d/Deaf people is another. I have others, too. A nurse who reads about wrong ways of nursing would likely experience a "yank" moment. A German reading a story set in Germany but that gets much wrong about Germany would likely have another "yank" moment too. Grammar's just one of these "yank" moments for me.

Authors are never going to please everyone, but grammar should NEVER be a reason an author did not please someone. Let the reason be a shifty character or a risky ending. Don't ever let the reason be grammar because that's basic. Grammar is the very basic underlying foundation of a story.

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