Good, Bad and Downright Ugly

I “buy” more than a few free ebooks. Book blurbs, reader reviews, and sample text allow me to filter many unworthy offerings, but some do slip through. And then there are the borderline examples. Well-written, for the most part, interesting stories (again, for the most part) with characters that seem more genuine than not (not that “genuine” is always good, when a young, semi-or-sub-literate writer is genuinely reflecting his/her own cohort *sigh*), etc., but with gaping holes in literacy, research, or understanding of a few basic concepts.

Many of the problems noted here could be easily mended were it not for the frequently overriding problem of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It seems many writers don’t feel a need to have competent, literate line and copy editors (or are too chintzy to pay for such). After all, they have their attendance certificate (diploma) from some college or university, so that MUST mean they are literate and competent, and do not need to seek out someone who is literate and competent to line/copy edit their “masterwork,” right? Wrong. Even the most literate and competent writer can use literate, competent editing by a third party, preferably an adult. No, a real one.

The worst problems aren’t language or character development or plotting. No, the worst problems in a lot of writing in many of these freebies by millennial “grups” lie in their basic world view, their misunderstandings of human nature formed by living in a morass of media fantasy instead of

An example (I’ll name one author who deserves praise and not name another who tried really, really hard [#gagamaggot] to write a decent story but failed, “deserving” only a “participation trophy”): Many of the freebies I read are introductions to series. Good practice. . . if the intro is a good read. Some of them I read specifically to review for recommendation/disapprobation for my Wonder Woman who is always seeking new writers to appeal to her students, especially her 7th/8th grade students. This practice led me to read (for review) a book by Shelley Adina, “Lady of Devices,” a steampunk “romance” (NOT capitalized), where, for the first book at least, “romance” ~ “adventure,” as it once meant. I was so surprised by the quality of the writing (in all aspects–good use of English, good plotting, character development and descriptive narrative, etc., as well as a really sensible Victorian feel to the book that I have since read everything else Adina has written in the series,* and felt privileged to pay to do so.

Another book I just finished attempted to do what Adina accomplished, in the same genre, but the writer was both not competent in those areas where I praise Shelley Adina and apparently did not see the need (or was too cheap to pay) for competent, literate line/copy editing. On top of that, the writer committed the cardinal sin of placing “message” above story and periodically throughout the text ended up pontificating on points of the society she had designed with which she disagreed, instead of letting the story simply speak for itself. Bad writing, that, really bad writing.

And that was on top of presenting some basic concepts of human nature and relationships in what I have come to expect to be typical of jejune, shallow, millennial crybabies.

Sad. There were moments of sound grade “C” writing, with gusts up to “B+” on occasion, but I had to give the book a “One star that should be zero stars” rating and could NOT recommend it for young adolescents, as I resoundingly recommended the Adina books.

Seriously, most of these young writers really, really need to submit their work for correction and critique to literate, competent adults (NOT something they are likely to find among their circles of acquaintances) before releasing it into the wild.

*She’s also written some contemporary “juvies” directed toward (it seems middle school girls. I’ve not read those, but I did suggest that my Wonder Woman look into them for her libraries, given the quality of Adina’s steampunk books.

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