Visitors to The Parsons Rant are probably well aware that in addition to expounding upon technology and whatever else comes to mind, I also review Young Adult Fiction. Lots of Young Adult Fiction. Much of this is done as research for a project I’m working on but, over all, I really enjoy the genre . . . most of the time.

Most of these works are in the form of e-books since there is absolutely no room left here at The Parsonage for printed books. I can say that most of what I am about to relate to you has been observed in e-books and I cannot speak for the printed versions but over all, what I have seen in e-books produced by a publishing company as well as those that are self-published is frightening.

The multitude of sins include:

  • Wretched grammar
  • Impossibly bad sentence structure
  • Misspelled words
  • Dropped words
  • Incorrect choices of words
  • Abandonment of punctuation
  • I could rant on and on.
I cannot claim to be a grammarian, I am not much of a writer and my English teachers are probably spinning in their graves – rapidly – over the stuff I write for this site. Nonetheless, if someone like me is appalled by what they see, imagine what a real stickler is going to find. Yet, there are a multitude of e-books out there – and printed books as well – whose authors give kudos to so-and-so for proof-reading their manuscript. I hope that none of the so-called proof-readers were paid as it would have been a total waste of money otherwise.
So why is all this important with regard to Young Adult Fiction? The name says it all; Young Adult. This genre of fiction is aimed at young people in middle and high school. Please take note of the words “in” and “school”. For all  their short lives, their teachers have been trying to pound the rules of correct English usage – with varying degrees of success – into these young people. They have tried – oftentimes in vain – to inculcate a love of reading and when parents can finally persuade them to put down the Play Station or X-Box and pick up a book, electronic or otherwise, the kids are presented with poor spelling, poor grammar, etc. and etc. Since most writers of Young Adult Fiction are adults, they are undoing the thankless work of English teachers everywhere. They are sending out a loud and clear message that grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure aren’t really important after all. They are adults and they are making money without a care for all these essentials.
One of the many purposes of education is to prepare kids for participation in the adult world; For that magical time when they have a diploma in hand and find an actual job. That job – or at least the one they want – may very well not happen with sub-par skills in English usage. For example, see this post on the Harvard Business Review’s blog-site: I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.
No doubt, there have been some instances when the author used the pre-proofed copy of the manuscript to create the e-book. Mistakes like that can happen but I find it hard to believe that it happens to authors almost like clock-work. A few  typos can creep in unnoticed. That sort of thing happens to the best of us.However, when egregious amounts of typographical errors show up in a novel, something is very wrong somewhere. Some authors use dictation software like Dragon Naturally Speaking. It’s a great product and I will probably use it for my never-to-be-published novel because of my hunt-and-peck fumble-fingered typing but such tools should only be used to get the thoughts into the document; Not for the finished product. In between the dictation and the e-book creation should come copious amounts of reading, re-reading and proofing by a reliable, knowledgeable person other than the author. Apparently, those intermediate steps just aren’t happening with a lot of authors.
Authors of Young Adult Fiction have a responsibility to their primary audience in the same way that authors of textbooks have; The writing should be clear, straight-forward and employ proper English usage. To do anything less is to do a disservice to our Young Adults.

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