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Let’s Discuss: What Do You Consider Bad Writing?

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Let’s Discuss: What Do You Consider Bad Writing?

what do you consider bad writing discussion post

What types of things make a book badly written?

We’ve all seen critiques that say go something like this – “The writing was bad.” Which is kind of the worst description because what does it really mean?

For me, if the following has happened, I consider the book to be poorly written:

  • I have rolled my eyes at the dialogue
  • The descriptions are reduced to a long list of adjectives
  • The majority of tension comes from a love triangle
  • Overused phrases that feel basic
  • A general sense of trying too hard

Bad writing can mean so many things to many people. I do find it interesting that there are books that are generally agreed to be poorly written.

I know you know which one I’m talking about. Ok…I’ll say it, Twilight. While many agree it was an engrossing story (I mean, I did read all 4 books), not many say it included the most beautiful prose they’d ever read.

What books do you think are badly written?

According to this Goodreads shelf, other top contenders include: Fifty Shades of Grey, The Da Vinci Code and The Shack – as well as many, many celebrity books.

Books that I genuinely think are bad – and are not really a preference thing – are: Evermore by Alyson Noel, Modelland by Tyra Banks (it’s unreadable) and Lovely Vicious.

Dish: what does bad writing mean to you and what books do you think deserve eternal shame for their badness??

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Greg Mongrain

    As a writer, I am naturally cautious about criticizing other writers. So without mentioning names, I agree with you (Lisa) that a love triangle is not a plot, and poor dialogue can jar a reader out of a story. Sloppy writing from best-selling authors also irks me. I’m sure they laugh all the way to the bank, but I would be loathe to put my name on stories that lack continuity, have cardboard cut-outs for characters, and feature endings with lots of death and explosions. In sports, if you stink, you’re gone, and only the elite players command top salaries. In entertainment, success and quality do not go hand-in-hand, and some of the worst published writers are also the richest.

    • Greg, thank you for your thoughtful comment! I completely agree about success and quality going hand-in-hand and how that often is not the case in publishing.

  • I really dislike purple prose. I like my writing snappy and to the point 🙂

  • Amanda

    I’m so glad you brought up this topic! As a writer/editor, if I ever feel the need to break out a red pen while reading, it’s a big deal. There are so, so many little things that I catch (that I feel other people care less about) but rather than create a full list, I’ll agree with everything you noted and add my other big one: lack of believably. With one book series I had no problem believing in a zombie/vampire apocalypse, but had a major issues with the character development; almost everyone repeated the same lines of thought, and in the real world not everyone thinks the same way. As for 50 Shades, I attempted reading and couldn’t make it past the second chapter, so I listened to the audio while walking. I had to stop when I realized I was sighing, laughing, grunting and, yes, even editing out loud as I listened. I could create an entire blog post on my hatred of THAT novel’s “writing.”

    • It’s so interesting, too, because believability can range so much for readers! It might even be related to how much the reader trusts the author, in a sense. For example, Holly Black could write the weirdest most far-fetched tale, and I think I could be on board regardless.

  • Yes, all of that! Also inconsistencies. I have an eagle eye for inconsistency. If a character sat down and three sentences later they sat down again, for the rest of the book I’m distracted by the fact that the author can’t keep track of what their character is doing, It just gets under my skin…even if it only happens once!

    • Ohhh, this is a great one! I think I could be better about noticing that in books.

    • Katy

      Inconsistencies are the worst! For me that means not only bad writing but poor editing too… And it puts you off reading so quickly.

  • Sugar & Snark

    Bad writing to me means: having to re-read sentences because they make no sense!

  • xocassidi

    Unpopular opinion: I hated the way Throne of Glass was written. The ever cliched love triangle was present, to make things even worse. I read somewhere that the author started the story when she was 16, and I feel like that reflects strongly in the whole story.