Friday, October 25, 2013

Crappy Editing Solves/Ruins/Creates Mysteries


If your bookshelves are anything like mine, almost all of your books come from one of five large publishing companies.  However, there are thousands of publishing companies out there.  I wanted to know what kinds of books the smaller companies are publishing.  I bought a book published by a small company.  It was horrible.  It was possibly the most disappointing book I’ve ever read.  I know that small publishers are capable of producing quality books, but this book was just bad.  It made me feel sad for the author because it’s the publishing company’s job to not publish something until it’s ready.  This book was not ready.
 
Here’s what happens in the book:
A wealthy business owner’s son goes missing and is assumed to have been kidnapped.  Two detectives are hired by two different people to find the son.  The detectives don’t know that they’ve been hired to work on the same case until they meet in a bar and start talking about their cases.  One of the detectives says something like, “I know what happened right before the business owner’s son died.”  The other detective doesn’t react to the news that they guy who they’re both looking for is dead.  They just end their conversation, go their separate ways, and continue looking for the missing son.  Nothing else is said about the son being dead.
I spent about two-thirds of the book being massively confused and rereading to figure out why I was massively confused.  Why were the detectives still treating this case like a missing person case if they knew that the son was dead?
Then, at the end of the book, the detectives find the son’s body and don’t seem surprised that he’s dead, but the way that the dead-body-discovery scene is written feels as if the death is meant to surprise the reader.  It wasn’t a surprise to me because the detective said that the son was dead two-hundred pages ago.
I’m still confused.  I have a feeling that the author changed some scenes, and the dialogue about the son’s death wasn’t supposed to be in the published version of the book.  I can’t come up with another reason why the detectives would continue looking for someone who they knew was dead.  It would also explain why one detective didn’t react when the other detective said that the son was dead.  The mistake led to me being confused for the majority of the book.  If I didn’t have a compulsive need to finish every book that I start reading, I would have put this one down and not picked it up again.
This is why good editing is so important.  One misplaced line ruined an entire book.  (Well, one misplaced line and about eighty distracting typos ruined an entire book).  So, edit carefully. 




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