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Every Work Published Sets an Example for Future Writers

Updated on June 19, 2013

Writers are readers first, and what they read influences how they write just as much as formal schooling does. They pick apart and take what they like from each lesson or example, deciding which rules to follow and which they can consider merely optional. Hopefully this process will become more refined with age and these would-be writers make wiser decisions for themselves in regard to their own writing. In the meantime, however, it is left up to individual teachers and publishers to influence them one way or another. That all depends on which is the stronger influence, but anything goes in the publishing world, be it of quality material or not.

Each published work that makes it to print (hardcover, paperback, or digital copy) sets an example for the writers of tomorrow. Most authors do not think of themselves as setting an example with their writing and focus only on the story they are trying to tell. In reality, however, readers pick up on certain aspects of their style and assume it must be acceptable despite what their English teachers think because it was good enough for the publishing companies to give it the go-ahead. Creative writing is very different from composition writing to start with, but even then not all authors whose works are published adhere to these rules at all times. For instance, I've read at least one book in which a line of dialog was not given its own space but incorporated as another sentence within a paragraph. Considering that the content of the paragraph was related to what was being said in the dialog, it made enough sense to me that I've incorporated it into my writing when appropriate as well. My teachers didn't see it that way. According to them, a sentence is not a paragraph unless it is a line of dialog. However, in the books I've read on my own and in school, lines of dialog can stretch on for several paragraphs in some cases and single-sentence paragraphs are used for emphasis. Well, it seems they had an answer for that, too: that exception doesn't apply to you.

Strictly speaking, some authors can get away with certain stylistic choices that others can't, especially students and new writers. Someone took a chance on the now-established authors, but no one else can expect to follow in their footsteps. On the other hand, just because something makes it to print doesn't mean it's any good. This is notoriously true of comics that are reviewed on an Internet show called Atop the Fourth Wall - "where bad comics burn." How so many of these were allowed to see the light of day while quality works struggle to get out of slush piles everywhere I'll never know. Commercially licensed books aimed at children are often the worst offenders because the people who work on them at every point of production just do not care. I've seen some of these things that are riddled with mistakes and yet they somehow got past every editor and quality control person associated with them. A book like this sets a poor example for anyone who reads it and is foolhardy enough to try it out themselves. Heaven forbid someone not bother to proofread their work just because someone else got away with it due to some publishing division not having standards. Fortunately, just because the people who approved of crap didn't care to check it closely enough doesn't mean that the readers won't, as has been made apparent by the aforementioned web show.


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