Warning: Writing is bad for readers

Aside from cutting my free time short, writing has affected my reading habits in a lot of different ways, and they aren’t all nice.

Back in the day, I’d pick up a book and just read until I reached the other cover – I’d even read the copyright statement, acknowledgement, biography and, if included, the bonus chapter from the next book.

When my time got shorter and books got available with a bigger variety, the only thing that really changed was the fact that I got pickier. Back then, I didn’t mind if there was a typo, a plot hole (small one) or if some paragraph didn’t make much sense. I simply ignored the mistakes – because they happen, we’re human after all – and went on with the story. My rating of that book was the result of my overall enjoyment, meaning, I didn’t try picking the book apart – writing style, plot, character and so on; if I enjoyed the story as a whole, it meant that was a good story and that’s it.

Then I started writing. And so, I began paying attention to other author’s style, the way they described things, the tone of the story… you know, big and small things that appealed to the writer within. Now, everything’s changed.

For one, I’m always on the lookout for mistakes. The grammar, the spelling, the formatting – any typos. That should be a good thing, being able to identify others mistakes. For a writer, that is, and I like that I can tell the difference.

But, for my reader? It kills the reading mood. I still rate a book by my overall enjoyment of the story, but sometimes, if the typos are many, my enjoyment of the story dims, especially if I find a plot hole.

And when I find any typo on a best seller? I’m crazy enough that I do a happy dance.

What about you? Do you rate a book by your overall enjoyment of the story, or do you take note of the typos and then deduce stars from your rating?

Advertisements

73 Replies to “Warning: Writing is bad for readers”

  1. Interesting post, and I agree once you start reading like a writer you sacrifice more than half the fun of reading.
    The way I read a book has changed over years, one big change being reading on kindle which invariably makes you switch books. I have never been bothered about typos or plot holes, or affectations employed by many writers, but I pause a lot. Anything that appeals to me is given space to grow, earlier these thoughts were lost but now my ebooks are full of highlights and notes.
    Having said that, there are still some books I come across that envelop me with a charm and I reach the end with a satisfaction that is accompanied with a feeling that I really learnt nothing new.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I used to pick on spelling and grammar… Now, I never know if I have a finished product. I get so many ARCs that I’m warned are still going through the editing process that I try to ignore that sort of thing (even though it may eat me up in side!)
    When I used to write (I gave up for this next reason), I found that I had the opposite problem. Reading so much had killed my enjoyment of WRITING. I felt that everything I wrote had a touch of someone else’ voice, and I couldn’t seem to find my own voice. I had read so much that everything I put on paper reminded me of something I had read “Once Upon a time.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I guess that’s bound to happen if you read a lot. And unless you’re writing something extra ordinary, I bet you there’s a similar scene or paragraph or voice out there written by someone else. About a decade or so ago, I was offered a ride on a fancy car by a friend of a friend (It’s connected to point, I swear). Every time the guy got near an object, a warning went off inside the car . So I said, “I wish i had one of those to warn me when I’m about to hit a wall, or a door or a tree.” A few years later, i heard that a sensor like that was made in Turkey to be worn on clothes for the blind. That was my idea! But, sadly, it was also something someone else thought about.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I read more blogs than I read books, but noticing mistakes is always distracting. I say to myself, why didn’t they proofread this before publishing, especially when the mistake is blatantly obvious. If I am friendly with the blogger, I will point out the mistake.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This is really interesting. Since I began to write, I tend to read books a bit differently too. I always found the typos, and if there were too many grammar mistakes it would have put it down anyway, but now I find if the writer’s style is similar to mine, I cozy in and find the book is a quicker read. I can be learning mode vs enjoyment mode sometimes, picking up little nuances that help me when writing. But…I also make sure when I have a good novel I read it for pure pleasure. If I’m looking for errors, then I know I’m just really not into the book.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Exactly! Only I’m not looking for errors, they’re the ones waving at me. I try not to notice, but, if there are too many – which is something i wouldn’t have minded before – my pleasure for the book just poofs away.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the idea of a happy dance over a typo. I am not a writer but I do notice things like that in the books I read…mostly because I read mostly arcs…and even though they all state clearly that they are arcs and could have errors…it still annoys me!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I share your observations, Jina. Writing has made me a much more critical reader. That said, I rate books on my overall enjoyment. If I’m absorbed by the story and characters, I tend to overlook small problems. I try to think about how a non-writer would receive the book – someone who’s not hyper-sensitive to every detail. And I also notice errors in best sellers!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. You’re so right, I read a lot less since I started writing; there’s simply not enough time. As for review ratings, I don’t bother about the occasional typo or error, and certainly don’t start deducting points. My rating will only be affected if the grammar etc. is seriously bad, such as repeatedly switching points of view from first to third person part way through a chapter (I have actually seen this).
    My knowledge of grammar theory is actually pretty good due to my university studies – but that in no way at all prevents me from making mistakes, alas!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Good post, Jina. I went through a phase, turning from enthralled reader to devoted critiquer, but I’ve passed through it. True, when I read a book to review, I take notes (using the Kindle note tab) and I often search a name to see what happened Before with him/her but it no longer lessons the enjoyment. I agree about the happy dance–yay! John Sanford has a typo!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The worst part of becoming the critiquer? It’s the part where no matter how critical you get, some of your own mistakes will just pass by unnoticed.
      So you think this will pass?

      Like

    1. I’ve been trying to ignore them too, but they seem to be jumping out and of the page waving for attention. I wish the ones on my book would all jump up and raise their hands as well. Thanks for the visit and good writing!

      Like

  9. Like you, I’ve started reading more as a writer, Jina. If it’s an ARC, I’ll overlook typos, grammar, etc. But if it’s a finished copy? I’ll comment on it if there’s an overabundance. A few are acceptable – nobody’s perfect. And I’ve been known to do those happy dances with best sellers, also!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. What a great title. You’re so right, the more we write, the more we critique the books we’re reading. If I start a book and find more than five typos in the first three chapters. I stop. Nope. If neither the author nor the editor cared to take the time to make the reading easier, then I can’t be bothered. Ouch, I sound so mean. But I know how many times I read my own drafts and find typos/grammatical errors, and how I send it out for others to read before I ever consider having my book published. Yes, perhaps one or two typos still make it through. But no more. Please God. 🙂 On the other hand, I’m much kinder in a review about the story plot and characters. I know how subjective it can be for readers – some like a certain genre, others don’t. Some want violence/sex in a book, others don’t. Some readers want a happy ending, others don’t. So when reviewing the content, I give the author full credit for publishing a book the way she/he wanted it.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Of course! And then there’s the time we get our book out, receive good reviews (for the most part), work on the next book, then get asked to talk to a book club about the first book. Need to re-read it to prepare: the excitement and passion and love are experienced all over again, only even better. Maybe like seeing your child all grown up and a happy adult. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haven’t gotten to a book club yet – none that i know around here, or none in english anyway. And the kids, though no longer babies, still have a long way to go – the youngest is 5. But I do get the point 😉

        Like

  11. I definitely agree that since I began to write, it has changed my reading. It isn’t just about the typos and mistakes (which yes – I definitely notice more and it is way more distracting now) but also the way I read. I still read for enjoyment, but I can never fully get out of the “writer” mind set (What does this writer do different from me? What similarities in style do we have? How was this book marketed?) Those wheels never really shut off anymore, and it can make reading a little more tiring, but thank goodness, I still love it to death! A very good article 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I don’t necessary lower my rating if there are a few typos and mistakes here and there. If the book is riddled with formatting and spelling errors to the point where I get really annoyed, then it might affect the way I rate. For the most part though, it’s definitely about the story and characters (but this is coming from a reader and not a writer)! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Back when, a typo meant a typing mistake, or printing mistake. I never really considered those mistakes as coming from the author – it sounds naive, and I suppose it was, but the stories were so much more enjoyable then. Thanks for the visit!

      Like

  13. I can relate. Typos and grammatical errors have always bothered me since I make my living as a writer/marketer. Since I’ve started writing fiction, I notice and anticipate plot twists, ups and downs, teasers, etc. in books and movies. It can be hard to relax into the story. I’m happy to see another comment here saying that will eventually dissipate.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hope – as a writer – that I can always see the mistakes. But I also hope, for my readers side, that I learn to turn it on and off at will.
      Thanks for the visit and have a wonderful day.

      Like

  14. Great post, Jina! 😀 I agree with you … to a point! Writing and the skills acquired makes you a more conscientious and knowledgable reader – a double-edged sword as sometimes you want to just be swept away by a story but can’t help noticing the gaping plot holes!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. So true.
    I definitely started reading less when I started writing. Especially since I started blogging. It takes a lot of my time. And then I work…
    I actually never seemed to notice any typos or plot holes back in the day. I always thought there were none in the past, and the ones that we see currently happen because of self-publishing. No? Is that a mistaken assumption?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Oh, there were plot holes before self-publishing. A friend recently remarked about a book series that was fixed by TV writers (not Game of Thrones), then I mentioned a series that will come out shortly which is based on a best-selling trilogy that fell apart plot-wise and no doubt will be similarly “adjusted” in order to fix the risible parts.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. A few typos don’t bother me. But I have a short story collection that is riddle with typos and it’s a recent reprint from a university press! The only reason I got it was because it was the only new source for these short stories.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, they happen, and sometimes it’s through no fault of the author’s – I’ve recently read an article where the editor wasn’t thorough with his work and left typos behind. Thanks for the visit and my apologies on the late response it’s been crazy lately!

      Like

  17. It’s really bad when you have Strunk and White downloaded into your brain, and you cringe at all the shrugging of shoulders (what else would we shrug?) and nodding of heads (what else would we nod?). I always check the copyright statement to see when it was originally published to get a feel for when the book was set.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I totally understand where you’re coming from, being another author myself. Typos annoy me if there’s too many and eventually I’ll knock down a rating if there are too many. But I’m pretty forgiving. For the most part, I still stick with how much I enjoyed the book as the main reason for my rating, but I am super picky on what I read and won’t read certain styles nowadays (2nd person just kills me for some reason and I can’t touch it, though I don’t know why).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Unbelievable plots and big holes bother me – and is a reason to put down the story. But life is cliche upon cliche , so I don’t mind them much – as long as they aren’t overdone.
      Thanks for the visit and my apologies for the late response.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. The plot holes bother me. So does writerliness (I cannot think of a better term), which happens when the scaffolding of the writer’s story starts to show through. Re-reading a best-selling trilogy after becoming a writer (as opposed to when I worked editing), I was surprised by the ham-handed advancement of the plot, of items and people showing up just in time to save the heroine, and the way the supposedly strong female character acquiesced to letting a male character take the lead because the author clearly wanted the second book to focus on him.

    Like

  20. I’m reading all the time. And I never analyzing the book (only if I have to).
    I’m simply trying to enjoy the story. So, when I’m reading – I’m the reader 🙂 not the teacher of literature, not the writer…just a human who want to read something new & fun/cool.
    Well, I see typos sometimes, but I don’t care much, I mean if the story is entertaining enough – it’s too small issue. At least in my eyes.

    Like

  21. I write my own stuff but it hasn’t impacted the way I read, but I think that’s because I read differently anyway. I’m dyslexic and I have problems with literal processing, so my enjoyment of books is based on my ability to read them, the characterisation and visualisation. I can’t always pick out the mistakes in a book and definitely can’t pick them out of my own work!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s hard picking the mistakes on your own writing – it took me a while to finally start seeing it, but once I did, I started seeing everyone else’s too. Here’s a tip: put your writing aside for 2 weeks then try to pick out your mistakes. You’ll be surprised.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I rate my enjoyment. Sometimes, if the book isn’t written well or full of mistakes I won’t be able to read it through. Though I’ve found that if I’m reading on a format that isn’t meant to be perfect I can ignore a couple of errors and it won’t ruin it for me unless it’s more than a couple.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sometimes the problem is with the format. With my screen reader, sometimes the letters ‘fi’ won’t read, so the word is cut. like if it’s supposed to say ‘fiction’, it’ll say ction. or ‘fit’ it’ll say t. I ignore those, because i know it’s a technical error. I ignore small mistakes too, small plot holes. Hell, if the story is great, no mistake will prevent me from continuing reading.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.