Have you ever come a crossed a book review where the person harped on how bad the grammar and punctuation was yet didn’t give an example of what they were talking about?
(With not a peep said about the story being any good.)
Having written a few books I can tell you as an author that these types of reviews can be a bit frustrating for both an author and their proofreaders. English is not the most benevolent of languages as it is riddled with exceptions as well as teachers contradicting each other.
For example: I learned as a child that lists such as – green, yellow and blue – required no comma between ‘yellow’ and the word ‘and’ yet I know several people who insist on doing so.
I also learned that the words ‘and’ as well as ‘but’ should never be used at the start of a sentence.
Of course writing dialect is (to my knowledge) the exception to this rule because no person talks in proper written English. (Writing phonetically is a chore and a reader can go cross eyed if it’s overdone.)
Are these things really mistakes at all or are they considered style?
If a person in a story talks about the person living in apartment F4 as being 4F, is this a mistake in writing or is the character making a joke using a military term?
So here is my suggestion to all the members of the Grammar Police Force, if you are going to point out the so called mistakes of the written word, please put examples of what you are talking about in your reviews so that we can all learn from our mistakes. Better yet, use the e-mail addresses usually found in the back of every book these days and contact the author and\or publisher so that they know what to look for.
Granted, while paperback books may not be fixable, many E-Books can be. However if the error isn’t identified, there is no way that it can be fixed.