I aten’t dead. I’m just rather busy.

Books don’t write themselves. It’s not all sitting around in floppy shirts, chugging madeira and attempting to invoke the muse, whereever she may be. Actually it’s pretty much none of that and more of a sort of continual fight against the clogged contents of your head, the passive voice and dangling participles.

I find it’s best not to read much while I’m in the tooth-pulling stage of an edit, because I’ll pick up books and read lines like this –

She blew glossy black bangs off her forehead with a sharp puff of breath and slanted him a look with her eyes, which were dark and frozen emerald green.  

I mean, seriously. Look at it. Look at it with your eyes. (As opposed to your left ear, big toe or right kidney.)

Are editors all on strike or something? How the fuck does this keep happening?

I found this example of horrible in the sample of a Kindle featured author. I will not be buying the book. In fact I downloaded the sample wondering if the whole book was horrible enough for me to enjoy (Yes, I know. I have a problem.) but with that kind of command of the English language? You can bend over and whistle out of your bum for your money, my dear.

It’s shocking, not to mention strangely disappointing. The actual book looked quite interestingly awful, as books by Anglophile Americans tend to be. They often take part in a strange, synthetic-Victorian themepark called ‘England’ and you can tell who is terribly posh by their failure to use contractions and the fact that they’re called Rupert Fuckington-Smythe. It’s usually a safe bet that Rupert sounds a lot like Alan Rickman in the author’s head.

I was amused by the blurb because it talked about the ‘primeval forests of Southern England’, which is extremely funny if you’ve ever been to the New Forest. The New Forest probably wasn’t even that primeval back when William Rufus was murdered, mostly because his awful father (He was a right bastard, was William Sr.) had already annexed it as his own personal royal deer park. These days the New Forest is surprisingly short on trees and big on wild ponies and serious cash. Every other thatched, chocolate-box, half-timbered village in theNew Forest appears to have its own Maserati dealership.

Anyway, I only downloaded the book sample because I have limited patience for anyone who thinks you can make characters sound English by tacking ‘-worth’ or ‘-ton’ onto their last names and giving them first names like Sebastian and Leander and Grayson.

This doesn’t happen. In fact, it’s the opposite of English. If you’re so perilously posh that you have a whole stack of stupid names the usual practise is to shorten it rather than crow about it. Just look at that nice Mrs. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Or the not-so-nice Chancellor of the Exchequer, who prefers the simple, earthy ‘George’ to his real fancy handle of ‘Gideon’. Not sure how he’s going to manage sounding simple and earthy when Daddy kicks off and he inherits the baronetcy, but then we’re not entirely sure how Gideon handles anything, to be honest. Basic motor functions remain a mystery.

Speaking of Kindle samples, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is now occupying all four top places on the UK Kindle bestseller charts. Four, you say? In a trilogy? Doesn’t that mean three? How is this possible?

Very easily. Put your socks back on, Gideon – you won’t even need to count to twenty to figure this out.

They released a three book edition! Ta da! The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy, under one cover, soon to be titled Fifty Shades of Gullible – The Ha Ha Got Your Money Saw You Coming Sucker Edition.

It’s fuckery, but some people have it coming. Next time you have a weekend to waste, look through all of the one star reviews of the first book. There are way too many reviews by out-of-pocket people who are angry that THEY BOUGHT THE WHOLE SERIES BUT THE FIRST BOOK IS ABSOLUTE RUBBISH!

Who does that?

Why would you buy all of something if you didn’t even know you liked it? More to the point, why didn’t you just download the free sample, idiot? I can more or less tell if I’m going to like a book on the first page. Admittedly I have the preternatural first page sense that comes with crafting submissions (This is a skill all writers should develop, regardless of how they intend to publish.), but you don’t need to be a member of the literary cognoscenti to identify crap within the space of a chapter.

You can’t read the sample of Fifty Shades of Grey, then download the book and say “I had no idea the writing was this poor.” It’s impossible. The terrible prose smacks you in the face from the off, like a slap with a large, slightly putrid halibut.

It’s awful. It’s obvious. If you then pay money for the book while thinking “It might get better or have a good story,” then I have no sympathy. I mean, I’m an optimist myself but that’s just ridiculous.


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