Subjective vs objective: what determines a “good writer?” | Kurt Dillon

It’s not so much a matter of personal taste as some would have you believe.

Image by Adobe Stock

One of the biggest debates among writers, aspiring writers, English teachers, and pretty much the entire publishing industry is the common misconception that what determines a ” good writer” or “good work” is completely subjective.

It’s not, and of course, I’m going to tell you exactly why it’s not, right here in this article.

It’s very true that everyone has their own style of writing, a personal flair for their use of language, and a specific taste for the style and flair of every other writer whose work they ingest. This fundamental truth goes without saying.

It is also just as true that there are grammatical and syntactical rules of written communication in English, just like in any other language. And yes, although English is still a changing language, the rules of use remain largely constant.

I hope we are clear on this — will never be an appropriate sentence in English. As such, you’d be amazed at the number of manuscripts I’m given to edit, review and critique that contain phrases like this and oh so much worse.

Additionally, tools like Grammarly do not fix all that. Right now, if you’re using Grammarly, let’s do a little experiment, shall we?

Copy and paste this paragraph that starts with I hope and ends with in them in one of your editors or Word where you use Grammarly and let Grammarly correct it for you.

You’re not going to see one error, you’re going to see two. Grammarly will correctly advise you to change the singular verb form is in the plural are. However, he will also tell you that my use of verb tense to have is incorrect and should be in past tense possesses. This is a Grammarly grammatical error. Now I’ll show you why.

The correct verb form we use in English is determined by the form of the main noun in the sentence it relates to. In this case, in the sentence – As such, you’d be amazed at the number of manuscripts I’m given to edit, review and critique that contain phrases like this and oh so much worse. the verb form is directly correlated to the noun form ‘manuscripts’.

What I’ve done here is trick the grammar by using a compound sentence, making it think that the final verb form should mess with the verb in past tense ‘surprised’ in the first part of the sentence. However, since the subject of the sentence changed from ‘you‘ for ‘manuscripts’ the final verb form belongs to the second subject instead of the first. And since the second subject noun is plural, the modifying verb form must also be plural. that’s why ‘to have’ is correct and ‘possesses’, what Grammarly tells me the word should be, is not.

So, like I said, Grammarly is a great tool for catching silly mistakes, like ‘my opponents in spelling’ they pointed out above. All typos, not spelling issues. And the reason is funny. I recently purchased a new ergonomic wireless keyboard and mouse for my laptop. I use them because I hate typing on my laptop keyboard and I’m tired of having different files on different computers. So I gave my desktop computer to my wife and now I use my laptop for everything, home or away.

The point I’m trying to make is that Grammarly makes mistakes. If you’re a professional editor like me, you notice a lot more of them than most people, however, it’s not because there’s only a relatively small percentage of people who will see and recognize the mistakes that you make. ‘they are still no errors. As fate would have it for novice writers, the overwhelming majority of those blacksmiths who will notice mistakes, are exactly the same people we have to submit our work to in order to get well-paying writing jobs!

Major damage!

So what does this mean for someone who wants to be a writer but lacks the skills to wow the pros? It means one of two things. First, you can resign yourself to being a “content creator” and posting countless articles on crowd-sourced publishing sites like this for pennies a click. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I tell students every day that not everyone has what it takes to make a living. I’m sorry if this hurts anyone’s feelings, but it’s 100% the truth.

And yes, even if everyone has a story to tell, they are not always best placed to tell it. That’s why presidents, actors, singers, and brilliant military strategists earn billions of dollars every year writing books they’ve never typed a word of.

The second choice is really reserved for fans. People like me, who live, eat, sleep, drink and get flatulence thinking about new things to write. We sleep with a voice recorder by our bed so we can vomit groggy notes at 4am when we wake up in the middle of a dream with an amazing new idea for a book, story, or article!

If you are one of us, there really is no choice…. You must learn.

You have to commit to mastering the English language and then when you’ve done that, you have to start mastering all the ways to break the rules you just learned. Sounds like an oxymoron? It is because it is.

It’s also why people who have earned the right to call themselves professional writers and authors have accomplished something that very few people in the world are equipped to do. And here’s another naughty treat – we never stop learning!

That’s right. Professional writers need to keep up with all the generational nuances of the language if they want their work to stay relevant and engaging, especially for younger audiences.

So yes, there is absolutely such a thing as a “bad writer”. The second we see something like: “She didn’t know why he was doing this” and it’s not an intentionally ebony tool used in direct dialogue with the characters, we immediately know we’re reading a bad book, written by a bad writer.

Moreover, it does not matter if the plot is sensational! The book is still not commercially viable, and any author worth their salt should have paid a publisher to fix such issues before putting the book up for sale in this form on KDP or Ingram Spark. that is, if they were a good writer.

Yes, there are plenty of great writers who can’t spell and can barely tell a verb from a participle. They’re still great writers because they recognize their shortcomings and hire great publishers to fix their sores. tools like Grammar and Hemmingway not gonna do it.

Oh and a quick note on those apps that write entire stories for you… editors spot them from a mile away. This is because none of them understand what is called “conversational nuance”. Each of them tends at some point to speak non-sequentially when fooled like Grammarly fooled earlier.

In conclusion, rest assured, writing really is the oldest profession – yes, it’s even older than that a – at least for the money it is. It has built-in safeguards against people trying to find lazy shortcuts. and all of us who were English teachers in high school or college have seen all the stuff there is.

If you really want to be a professional writer, you probably can, but only if you commit to achieving the goal. It won’t be fast, and it definitely won’t be done by downloading an app. This shit works on sites like this, but never where real money is involved.