Style vs. Knowledge

I recently tried to read a new novel where the author had avoided using quotation marks. After reading about half a chapter, I stopped. Trying to figure out what was conversation versus text was giving me a headache and distracting from the story. Possibly, the author didn’t know how to use quotation marks. That would be very sad since he teaches creative writing at a university.

Lack of knowledge would be no excuse anyway in these days of sites like I have noticed, though, that such mistakes in punctuation as well as in grammar are common in newly published books.

Possibly, the author thought that not using quotation marks was “cool” – his own “style.” While having a writing style is certainly a positive attribute for any author, this came across as annoying and isn’t what’s meant by writing style. To some extent, the reader has to be kept in mind. Just as authors of children’s books, YA books, steamy romance, etc., have to keep their readers in mind with their choice of vocabulary and explanation of ideas and concepts, so must someone writing a murder mystery (which this book was) aimed at adults.

Also, I had to wonder what the book editor was thinking. Did he or she suggest this? If so, that’s disappointing. Or on the contrary did the editor try to talk the author into using quotation marks? In which case, the author not listening to this good advice is disappointing.

A lot of this laxness has come about through social media and cell phone texting. Punctuation is haphazard or totally lacking. But frankly, in a short text message or post on sites like MeWe, GETTR, or Clouthub, it makes little difference. In a ninety-thousand-word novel (average length), however, it’s sheer torture. To you authors and editors, I say on behalf of readers, “Have pity!”

Please check out my WIPs. And thanks for reading.


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