The authors of these books really have no right having been published, but somehow their work makes it to bookstore and library shelves. People read these books, and then these authors develop fanbases. They even become so prolific and established within their chosen genre that they might be hired by popular franchises to help build their worlds and enhance brand strength.
It amazes me that no one ever says to these authors “hey, dude, you kind of suck at this.” And even if they have, people still publish and buy their books. With this in mind, I think I have a pretty good shot at being published myself.
After all, if they can do it, so can I. I know my writing is better than theirs.
The Worst Offenders
- Richard A. Knaak. Once upon a time, I liked Knaak. When I was in high school, his The Legend of Huma introduced me to the world of Krynn and the other Dragonlance franchise novels. Then, years later, after I had the misfortune of picking up a World of Warcraft novel (The Well of Eternity) and realizing that—in the words of my best friend—Knaak was the adjective valedictorian. I was greeted with the following introduction:
The tall, forbidding palace perched atop the very edge of the mountainous cliff, overlooking so precariously the vast, black body of water below that it appeared almost ready to plummet into the latter’s dark depths. When first the vast, walled edifice had been constructed, using magic that melded both stone and forest into a single, cohesive form, it had been a wonder to touch the heart of any who saw it.
And that is about all that I’ve ever read from the book. Since my tastes have changed a great deal since I first picked up the book, I thought I would give Knaak another shot since I actually enjoyed Huma in high school. I downloaded the sample of World of Warcraft: Stormrage for my Kindle and found that his writing is just something I cannot deal with. Throw in his purposefully archaic syntax, and Richard A. Knaak proves that making a career out of writing fiction is not out of the question for those who can’t quite grasp “show, don’t tell.”
- Stephenie Meyer. Her tombstone will read: She never met a synonym she didn’t like. Synonyms are best used by writers who understand that the variety they provide keeps their writing fresh and readable, avoiding the choppiness and awkwardness and granting additional layers of meaning to the prose. I think Meyer misunderstood the memo. Behold, Exhibit A:
“Are you still faint from the run? Or was it my kissing expertise?” How lighthearted, how human he seemed as he laughed now, his seraphic face untroubled. He was a different Edward than the one I had known. And I felt all the more besotted by him. It would cause me physical pain to be separated from him now.
The above passage is the actual part of the book where I rolled my eyes and stopped giving it a fair shot. It lost me somewhere between Edward’s “kissing expertise” and how “seraphic” his face looked. And “besotted”? Really? Could she not just say “drunk” or “intoxicated”? Not to mention it causing her “physical pain” to be away from him. Does it? Does it, really? Because I think she means “emotional” unless there’s something going on between Bella and Edward I wasn’t aware of as I read. I doubt there will be the twisting and rending of flesh if the two were separated.
Despite my almost petty disdain for Twilight as a phenomenon, I have to admit that Stephenie Meyer’s stories aren’t that bad. I know I pick on the series quite a bit, but in terms of plot alone, the Twilight series is no worse than anything else on the market.
What gets me are the themes (teaching young girls and boys that it’s okay to be abused/abusive if you’re with “the one”) and the writing style. These days, as much as I hate to think about young girls being influenced by the novels, the fact that Meyer does not understand how to string together a readable sentence is what really gets to me.
And there are others I could list, too. Troy Denning is an example in the Star Wars expanded universe. His installments of The New Jedi Order were nearly unreadable. His boring, uninspired prose in Star by Star is one of the many reasons I never finished the NJO.
If They Can Do It, So Can I
The fact still stands that these people are making a living by writing. A good living. Someone out there thought their writing was good enough to pay for many times over. That means, that with a little polish and revision, I see no reason that I won’t be able to sell my manuscript (or some manuscript even if it’s not the one I am currently working on).
Don’t get me wrong: I understand and appreciate the amount of time and number of rejections I’m sure to have between now and then, but when writers like Richard A. Knaak are able to carve out their niche of the publishing world with obviously very little talent for wordcraft, I see no reason I won’t be able to do the same.
Are there any authors you can think of whose bad writing style outshines any good in their stories?