Of the qualities that writers often seems to be lacking, the most common and most surprising is alway basic reading comprehension. I understand why a simple sentence like “Her daughters ignored Stephanie” might seem to require creative imbellishment, but a significant proportion of writers, in their imbellishing, manage to alter the actual meaning of what they’re trying to say without apparently noticing it or bothering to correct it.

The sentence “Her daughters ignored Stephanie”, appeared in a book I was reading as “Her daughters tried their best to ignore Stephanie”. What’s wrong with this? Well, everything. In isolation like this, it looks like Stephanie has some quality that makes her hard to ignore. In the book, she doesn’t. So that’s wrong. It also implies that the daughters weren’t quite succeeding — if I wrote “I tried my best to plug the leaking tap with tissue paper”, it goes without saying that I didn’t succeed completely, and some of the leak managed to get through. So the daughters are trying and failing to ignore Stephanie, which is wrong, because there is no reason they couldn’t just ignore Stephanie entirely. The daughters aren’t trying their best to ignore Stephanie, they’re just doing it.

Writer of book, you have failed as a writer of book. You don’t actually have a bloody clue what you’re writing. Good day.

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