How did this get published??

15 Feb

Taking a break from the No Way Out challenge, I thought today I would discuss the inappropriate use of language.

I say discuss, I am guessing this will turn out as a bit of a rant, but I will let you be the judge.

Now I am the first person to readily admit I often get words wrong, sound like a cockney, and I do tend to use 50 words when one will suffice, not to mention the swearing that tumbles out of my mouth as soon as I am out of work and child free.

Does this come across in my writing? Sometimes yes. You can tell when I have rushed my writing, it tends to be full of insignificant details, on this blog WordPress alarms go off left right and centre over my use of the passive voice, and I often miss my point.

However, when I am writing seriously, and I am taking the time to edit I am freaking amazing. It is no coincidence that I walked away with 84% in my dissertation equivalent. Writing is a skill, one we would all love to have, one many of us strive for. Unfortunately very few have a natural ability.

Most of us, and I include myself in this, have to work hard, understand we are not perfect, and respect the opinion of others when it just isn’t right. We must not just learn from the best, we must learn from each other (obviously in this circle we are all the best so its win win ha!).

From this hard work, for a select few, comes publication, a joyous moment in a writing career. That acknowledgement that you have done something, and done it well. Afterall, if you couldn’t fully develop your characters, have a full plot with natural subplots, have a way with words etc your manuscript would have ended up on the slush pile right?


It is absolutely shocking to me, that I know of so many very talented writers that are still unable to get published, when Waterstones (and all major bookstores, not to mention supermarkets) are stocking the most utter dreadful drivel.

Now before anyone gets on their high horse, I am not talking about genres. Each to their own is what I say, I am talking about writing style/ability/talent…

I have just finished reading a book. It was most definitely chick lit, and it was most certainly a light fun read. However I had a major problem. Well several actually.

The plot focused around a famous family with three daughters. We discovered the life of the parents, the careers and loves of the children, plus the two employees, the boyfriends (and girlfriends), the extended friends and family.

So many characters together resulted in a fight for presence on the page. We never truly got to know anyone, we just accepted the telling of the traits. Momentous occasions seemed to be brushed over, and frequently we were built up expecting something major, for it to just fall flat. Quite often all I was thinking was ‘is that it, all that fuss for this?’

I can’t honestly say we had a protagonist. I don’t believe I truly connected with any of it, but it WAS a page turner…to begin.

I think I was about mid way when I was shocked at the sudden use of the word ‘cock’. It wasn’t that the story hadn’t led to it, it just wasn’t required. It felt like it was on the page because hey this is chick lit and we use language like this, but the reality was, it did not suit the style of writing. After this first incident, it became more frequent the turns of phrase were inappropriately used. I felt that I had this confused expression until the end of story, which ultimately was a let down. It was kinda like reading a celeb mag but having no idea who the celeb was you were reading about.

I think my biggest issue is that I want to stamp my feet like a toddler and shout it’s not fair. Because it really isn’t. This book was poorly executed. It must have passed through so many hands before going to print how was it not picked up that this was just not good enough….and I am certain there are many examples out there that are even worse!

For me it makes a mockery of what us non published writers go through. Why bother plotting, planning, considering, researching, editing…just go write like an eight year old that is trying to impress the grown ups, that’ll do.


4 Responses to “How did this get published??”

  1. submeg February 19, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Not good, not good at all. I’ve seen some average movies, read some bland books. Hopefully they will be forgotten about and the artists behind them will go back and rethink before submitting the same ideas.

    • Ellie February 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      We can only hope…

  2. tamararokicki February 16, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    Elena, I enjoyed your blog as it reflected a lot of my same thoughts. As a new writer aspiring to become published one day, I can honestly say that books are a lot like movies. I know many will disagree but it seems that often times published books are not based on true skill and talent. I think of books as I think of upcoming movie reviews. It all depends the audience they’re targeting and how popular the plot is. I have a certain criteria about critics’ input. I ask myself “Who is reviewing this? A middle aged man living in a nice suburban home? Or the hip chick with modern theories on what’s hot in the lit world?” What is their common criteria pulling them together in reviewing a novel based on set parameters? Truth is there is such a fine line between personal preference and true scouting of talent. A movie may receive raving reviewing by many but at the same time it could be blasted for being poor production or low budget. Again, according to who? And why? When does personal preference and integral review draw a line? Books especially are a pathway to someone’s soul. They can strike such a nerve, such an emotion, such a reaction, all in different aspects and modes depending on who is reading them. So it doesn’t seem fair, does it? There is no solution to weed out the unworthy of publishing books; but I believe that with most things in life, there needs to be a little bit of bad along with some good. I have faith in readers out there. I believe that, like you, they can discern what is a genuinely good book from a crappy novel. Sure, they might’ve been published. It doesn’t mean they’ll ever be respected authors. In that thought alone we should push forward carrying on the respect for good, talented writing and know that our time will come.

    • Ellie February 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

      Wow, thank you for taking the time to respond.

      I wrote a piece about reviews, check it out here

      I am not concerened about reviewers, just editors and those that sign off a book, I know I have been part of work that I have not been as proud of as perhaps I should. I guess I just thought with so much choice out there, they would be the ones that were genuinely proud of the work they had ‘discovered’.

      Long term however, I agree with you. It is important to maintain our standards and to have faith that the hard work will pay off – and we are acknowledged for it. I guess though these authors do feel proud, and do feel they have achieved what they set out to. I just guess I would want someone to tell me if I had monumentally messed up somewhere!

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