Dear Madam Shark,
I was taught that there are “amateur mistakes” that will likely knock a writer straight into an agent’s circular file. I’ll leave out the most obvious, such as careless typos. The ones I’m questioning include:
Creative speech tags, instead of the almost invisible “said,” “asked,” etc.
Too many exclamation points.
When I see these in excellent novels, I wonder if, when these writers were newbies, they avoided these habits, but now that they’re well-known, they can do what they like? What are your thoughts?
If I like a book, if it has a fresh, vivid voice, an interesting concept, and the writer isn't a self-aggrandizing professional PITA, do you really think I'm going to let exclamation marks get in the way??
|Hello, I'm an intterobang!|
Of course not.
These are minor things.
That's what editing is all about, although I'm not keen on doing copyediting level work on your ms. That's YOUR job.
Authors are quick to blame almost everything but the real problem: uninteresting writing, stale concepts and inter-personal communications that make me want to smack them upside the head.
If you're reading this blog, most likely you've avoided that third one.
It's much harder to assess your own work for stale concepts and uninteresting writing.
As to seeing those small errors in published books, well sometimes established writers get away with stuff that all y'all debut author cannot.
Established authors can write terrible books and hit the NYT Bestseller list cause they have an thriving fan base. Case in point: the otherwise amazing Robert Parker started phoning in his novels at #13 or #14.
Don't sweat the small stuff as Richard Carlson famously said. (Which is hilariously ironic if you ever had a chance to work with him, as I did back in m publicity days. That guy was as meticulous as they come.)