So, here's the thing! I had a review the other week that suggested one of my books was "bad writing"! Now, I don't mind people having a different opinion from a significant majority of other people, but the person failed to expand on what she/he considered to be bad writing, and it got me thinking - well, it does, doesn't it!
What is bad writing? What is good writing? "Ah, my boy," is the common response. "You'll know it when you see it!" Well, that's not very helpful, is it? That's my response to the common response.
So anyway, having done a bit on statistics - not much, just a bit - I was reminded of the normal distribution (Gaussian distribution, bell curve). And for those who have no idea what it is - and I don't mean to teach people how to suck eggs - it's simply a visual representation of occurrences in a population (and the purists need not send a postcard explaining how my definition differs from the longwinded mathematical one).
Let's take writers as a relevant example. If we get all the writers in the English-speaking world (we don't want any translators, editors, or publishers mixed in with our writers, do we?) and we grade them along a continuum with '0' in the middle and a positive score going left, and a negative score going right as follows:
Now, let's apply this methodology to our group of writers - we've put them all in Greenland for the time being because there's some space available there and Greenland likes writers!
So, we can now see that in the population of writers per se, there are very few good or bad writers, and even fewer 'very good or very bad writers'. The majority of writers group around the middle (mean) of the population - what was termed in the days of 'pre-ereader' publishing as a "mid-list author". Now, we should turn our thoughts to defining - if we can - what is a "good writer", and one assumes a "bad writer" will be at the other extreme of a range of continua.
If we look at what makes a good writer we find that: It depends on the audience who is going to read your drivel! Mmmm, that's not very helpful. Or is it? Maybe, the only measure of a good writer is for a reader to determine. How do readers identify a good writer?
Sometimes, we're told who are good (or great) writers, such as: Stephen King, JK Rowling, Leo Tolstoy, JD Salinger, Ray Bradbury, JRR Tolkien, Mark Twain, but even great writers are not necessarily good writers all the time. For instance (and this isn't my list), Ulysses - James Joyce; Sons & Lovers - DH Lawrence; The Old Man and the Sea - Earnest Hemingway; Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy; Moby Dick - Melville . . . the list goes on.
So, we are still left with "What is a good or bad writer?" I leave it up to the reader. If the bulk of my reviews were 1* or 2* I might think that I was a bad writer, but they're not. A few people obviously think I am a bad writer, but then I'm comforted by the fact that some people think JK Rowling, Steig Larsson, William Shakespear, and many others
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.