Buy By Bye: Who is Saying What? And Why?

I’m reading a somewhat interesting indie book, interesting and deeply flawed. So flawed, that I’m not sure I want to finish it. It’s not just that it is badly in need of a good copy editor — we could all use another pass through with a skilled eye for catching errors — it could also use the services of a serious editor. Why don’t I just give up on it? That’s a good question. Here goes…

The story is told from multiple points of view — a lot of P.O.V.s — and I’m beginning to wonder if some of the word choice mistakes are part of a particular character’s lack of education. “By” appeared for “buy” in a section of the book from the P.O.V. of an English as a second language speaker. But the text, even in the sections written from the P.O.V. of other characters, is so riddled with missing words and confusions that I’m honestly not sure about the intentions of the author.

If the various parts of the book are meant to be casually ungrammatical written diary entries — then I am intrigued. But, if the conclusion I’ve coming to is correct, the language reflects the extreme end of the sloppy editing spectrum and not creative choices in keeping with the various narrators, then I’m getting pissed. I’m pretty tolerant when it comes to typographical editors, but even I have a limit.

The intentions of the author are key here and I’m confused. Let’s make sure that when we write from a character’s P.O.V. and use their language, grammar, slang, colloquial expressions and idiosyncrasies that the reader knows why words are dropped and misused to create authenticity and not because the writer published a first draft.

Is this a rant? Sort of, but I’m taking it to heart and looking at what I’m writing and the words I put in my character’s mouths to make sure they reflect individual P.O.V.s and not my own rush to finish my story. Buy, by and bye…


  1. If I get a book like that Candy I really don’t finish it. Once I reach a certain limit of tolerance it goes and I just regret the time lost.
    Like you I forgive odd typographical errors or maybe even that it’s not the author first language but that’s what editors or proof readers are for.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Candy Korman

      I gave up and gave it a poor review on Amazon. I honestly wondered if the poor word choices were related to the under-educated character’s point-of-view, but similar mistakes turned up in the portions “written” by the other characters. In fact, much worse than the correctable errors, was the realization that ALL the characters sounded the same. Why create a multi-POV story if they all sound exactly alike?

  2. I did my business degree online at a local school. Much of that consisted of time spent on forums and such communicating back and forth between members of the various classes. The interesting thing about online classes is the diversity, you end up in classrooms with people all over the world.

    I got to a point where I could tell the difference between someone with limited vocabulary because they were talking like they were still on the street (chat speak and very familiar wordings) and the people who didn’t speak English as their primary language. There are subtle clues that give them away.

    It was kind of sad that it seemed at the start of every class, the instructor would post a message: These forums are not chatrooms, please maintain business level communication and speak like adults.

    • Candy Korman

      That’s interesting… the word choices, the sentence structures, the favorite phrases and cultural defaults all play into an online persona — just as they play in the creation of a character in a story.

  3. Back in the day, I would finish every book I started, but these days I’m also a lot less forgiving – and not just about grammar or typos. I want to be wowed, and I won’t settle for less. But… I admit I still feel a little guilty about not finishing something I’ve begun. Luckily most of what I read is very very good.

    • Candy Korman

      I used to finish every book and since I am a slow reader this was often torture. I now give up on some, offering second tries as if the author is in the room until I just can’t. A lot of the books I start are not good. Maybe good as object lessons, but…