WNW: My Latest Peeves
Yeah. Last week my eye was a-twitchin' something fierce.
The novel I was reading got off to a great start, and I expected great things from it. Then the story sort of died off, the characters no longer acted like real people would, and I stopped believing it.
Which is sad, because I can see what the author was trying to do. And that thing was way cool. But they missed the target by a wide margin.
Plot and character issues aside, the grammar and editing led to serious twitchiness.
There were proofing mistakes, like accidentally calling people by the wrong name or having quotation marks missing and the like. And of course (as is to be expected in so many books), frequent (but not consistent) errors with lie/lay.
Plus, by the end, I was ready to smack someone if a character couldn't just SAY something. They all had to "inquire" or "comment" or "defend" or use some other synonym for "said."
And POV? Holy head-hopping, Batman. One page could have three points of view easily. I got dizzy.
The last half of the book felt far rougher than the first half, which is typical of a newer writer who polishes and works like crazy on those first chapters and then runs out of steam for the rest. (Makes me wonder where their editor was. Should have been pulling out the whip to make the author revise.)
But there was more! Here are a few twitchy gems, because I'm just this obnoxious and opinionated and have to write it out or scream.
(Plus, I think hubby's tired of my ranting to him about it. Poor man has put up with my editor brain for nigh unto fifteen years. Today I'll do it here instead. But now he's one of my official followers. He'll get it anyway. Sorry, hon.)
Simple lesson, folks: the plain past tense of the word sink is sank, not sunk.
Use SUNK if it's past participle , such as if there's "had" before it.
Simple Past: ate
Past Participle: eaten
Simple Past: sang
Past Participle: sung
Get it? So it should be:
Did you see the rock sink?
The rock sank.
The rock had sunk before I got there.
You would not believe how often I see SUNK as the past tense of SINK. Not just in this book, but of course, in this one, too.
SANK, people! SANK!
Drives. Me. Nuts.
(Note to any who will argue with me on this. Yes, I'm aware that some dictionaries list "sunk" as an alternate simple past in addition to being past participle. But that's because people are stupid and are using it wrong, so the dictionary then reports that usage. I'm a purist on this one, refusing to let language evolve. Go ahead; call me a hypocrite.)
TO TRY AND
ARGH! I hate, hate, hate this one. 99% of the time, it should be "to try TO," not "to try AND."
AND is supposed to connect thoughts and actions, like I'm eating AND listening to my iPod. Or, I'm sitting AND blogging.
But no one means that they're actually trying AND doing something else. They mean that they're TRYING TO DO something else. So why the stupid AND attached?
Worse, in almost every case, you could just take out TRY altogether and keep only the other verb. Much cleaner, people!
This book had "to try and" all over. It was pretty typical to have it once or twice per page.
That's way too much repetition of any construction, let alone an annoying one that doesn't make sense.
Twitchy: I think I'll try and call her today.
- I think I'll try to call her today.
- BEST: I think I'll call her today.
Twitchy: He wants to try and go to the store.Non-twitchy:
- He wants to try to go to the store.
- BEST: He wants to go to the store.
Twitchy: She wants to try and scream whenever people use this construction.Non-twitchy:
- She want to try screaming whenever people use this construction.
- BEST: She wants to scream whenever people use this construction.
Mark Twain once said that the difference between using almost the right word and using the actual right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. (Or something like that; I'm too lazy to look it up right now.) He was right.
If you're not 100% certain what a word means, don't use it in your book without looking it up. Learn what it means and how to use it. Otherwise, you'll come across as exactly the opposite of what you're hoping to.
Two of the many twitchy vocabulary whoopsies from this novel:
LULL does NOT mean "to hang loosely." That would be LOLL.
BEGUILE means, "to engage by deception."
It does NOT mean, "to obscure" or "to create a physical obstacle." I'm not sure what word the writer was going for, but whatever it was, that's what they thought "beguile" meant.
Maybe my readers can figure out which word they really meant.