Minutiae and Being Nibbled to Death

I’ve been thinking lately (yes, I know this is Wrong and Trouble and just generally Not a Good Idea).

I’ve worked with various editors over the years, and of course know lots of authors, some of whom have been in critique groups with me. And frankly, a few of them (not all, just a few) are so anal and set in their ways and opinions that nothing, even a Voice Coming Down from Heaven, could sway their views on what is Proper Writing.

So here’s my question, Dear Readers. How much does Something You Don’t Like affect your ability to enjoy and continue reading a story? If it’s well crafted, can you suppress the fact that the author has not excised every single “that” from it (regardless of how it’s used), or that it includes dialogue tags and attributes instead of just beats, or heaven forbid, there is some telling instead of all showing, or perhaps the author uses the time-honored but now outmoded omniscient third person instead of sticking with the POV of one character in each scene – or even, heaven forbid! – doesn’t use a deep POV? How about finding a typo, or the wrong word used (thinking of at least two revered, award-winning SF writers here that I regard as my heroes), or too many or not enough commas, or the use of ellipses, or the use or lack of use of semicolons? Or [fill in the blank with whatever your pet peeve is]?

I honestly want to know, because at times I feel I am being nibbled to death by…what are those earth creatures called: feathers, long bill, webbed feet, go “quack”? Ah, cats! I am being nibbled to death by cats!



2 thoughts on “Minutiae and Being Nibbled to Death

  1. I’ve complained about most of these things from time-to-time but to be honest, if the story’s compelling, I’m willing to forgive almost anything. (Except Present Tense, which is of the devil. HUNGER GAMES, I’m lookin’ at you.)


  2. It’s very strange. I note misspelled words and incorrectly used words in my own manuscript even on fifth reading, and personally I’m mortified whenever that happens. Missing words, sometimes, that’s a real sign I’m too in-the-flow.

    But worse, and astonishing to me- I re-read classics from the past and now, at my age, I notice mistakes even in THEM! I must have read the Amber series by Zelazny at least twice before this; but only this time through, at least THREE times in book 1, there are wrong words and/or missing words. Big publisher! Professional editing! What the actual? I already enjoyed the heck out of these books, so it’s not a question of ruining my experience. But… how did I miss this? Have I become pickier since I’ve aged?


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