Publish Your First Draft?

I recently read an article on The Passive Voice (great blog if you’re interested!) which led me to this original article by Bill Peschel. I’d like to think he wrote this article in the spirit of satire. I believe that’s partially true, and partially not.

Basically, Bill exclaims that people ought to just publish their first drafts because there are so many readers out there who care more about the story than its grammar. He gives examples of writers who don’t even bother spellchecking, or any editing, for that matter, and yet still get 4+ star ratings on their books. And book reviewers (are they being paid??) openly say to ignore the awful grammar and enjoy the great story.

Well, with the number of best sellers out there (I won’t name names) whose poor use of grammar should be used as teaching aides as to how not to write, I think Bill is right. There are readers out there who don’t care about grammar. Heck if they even know good grammar from bad (le gasp! Yes, I said it).

But that doesn’t mean I agree with him.

Lately, I keep seeing this meme floating around:


And call me pretentious, but I’m just like:


Make it a little more of a grimace, Greg. Because–! If you don’t know me by now, bad writing (i.e. naughty grammar) drives me up the wall.

Way up there.

So call me old-fashioned, traditional, a grammar-nazi, or whatever else you wish, but if a story is poorly written no matter how many stars it has, I can’t read it. I get too frustrated and angry. I want to read without editing, I want to feel the flow of the words, see the art of language. Because writing is just another form of art. Yes, even textbook writing is an art form.

Hemingway’s run-ons don’t compare to what’s published today, traditional or indie. I die a little inside when I see people advertising their books… and I see two misspells in their blurb! Or comma errors. Heaven only knows what the text inside the front cover looks like.

Now I’m not taking away from a good story. Personally, I just can’t handle it if it’s poorly written. I’ll read the synopsis and someone’s review with spoilers instead.

So do you, or would you, read a good story with unbeautiful* writing?

*That was intentional. Because calling it “ugly” doesn’t sound proper. 🙂


16 responses to “Publish Your First Draft?

  1. This is the second post of yours in a row that I agree with you, Jessica. 😉 The quality of an author’s writing is HUGE for me. Yes, the story should be good – but if it’s poorly written, I can’t overlook that. Part of it might be because my day job is technical writing / editing, so my brain is trained to pick up on punctuation errors, grammar, etc. But if I’m reading a book and find an alarming number of errors, or if aspects of the writer’s style irk me (I can’t stand frequent fragments, for example), that can make or break my enjoyment of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s just amazing to me how many people don’t consider grammar as being integral to writing. And forget about it if a bestselling author gets a massive fanbase! Their writing goes downhill very fast. Did they forget about the editor in lieu of the deadline, maybe? My favorite books are classics, so I wonder sometimes if it’s just that my eye is used to seeing language written beautifully.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Who knows? The only thing we can do as writers is continue to hang onto the standards we set for ourselves. I think that’s one of the reasons why I admire Patrick Rothfuss’s work so much. He’s only written two books and one novella in the several years he’s been published – but those two books are AMAZING. Especially from the “quality of writing” standpoint.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I feel like I’ve been waiting /years/ for book #3 to come out! I’m starting to get worried. When I first checked in, it was supposed to come out the end of last year… but that never happened. I follow Rothfuss on Twitter and Goodreads, and still no news. He really is an amazing writer. Never a dull moment in his stories!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree! I’m an editor, so every time I see tons of typos in someone’s self-published book that they put up for sale on Amazon or Smashwords, it just kills me. I personally would never publish a first draft.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m ashamed to say that years ago, I did self-publish a first draft… at the time, I thought second draft = line edits! Doh! I’ve since taken that “book” off of Smashwords/Amazon and I am so embarrassed by such an immature move. But I suppose we all have to live and learn somehow.

      But it really is amazing how much “bad writing” is out there, especially with the advent of self-publishing. Indie publishing is indeed a double-edged sword. It skips the trend, but it’s also opened up the door to a slew of unedited writing. I know there are amazing self-published stories out there, but it’s intimidating to dig through the sea of books out there! But it’s also safe to say that there is a lot of popular traditionally-published books out there, too. As I mentioned in a previous comment, once a signed author becomes a bestseller, it’s as if they skip the editor so they can get the book out on the market faster.

      I’ll choose quality over speed any day!


  3. No, I cannot. It drives me up the wall. Totally yanks my brain out of the spell of the new world I’ve entered. Now saying that I know I am absolutely terrible with grammar and spelling. However, I am connected to the internet. I google it! ^^ I just googled ‘spell grammar’ because of the ‘a’.
    As a reader, I love to find new words. I am learning how to write through reading books. I do not want to read a terrible punctuation story regardless of how awesome that story is. Learn the rules before you throw them out the window.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! I couldn’t agree with you more about knowing the rules before breaking them. Everyone needs to know this. Rules can only be broken after you know them. People say that there is no such thing as a writing rule, but I have to politely disagree.

      Much of my writing has been learned from reading, too. Your writing is perfectly fine, as is your poetry! There is a plethora of “scary” writing online. I hate to sound pretentious, but just looking at them hurts my eyes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I physically cannot read bad writing. If the author cannot be bothered to proofread it, well I can’t be bothered to read it. I go mental if any of my friends send me a text without punctuation.
        My struggle is which English to write, UK English, USA English or Irish English. They are all slightly different to each other, but enough to drive my brain around the twist. Haha.


  4. I have self-published a first draft. Luckily, it was in a small market so no one read it, but it had tons of errors in it.

    I disagree with the idea that you can publish something with tons of grammar errors. If you have a story that has tons of errors, then each error will take the person out of your story. If a person can’t get into the story then what’s the point in writing. Even scriptwriters have to follow this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, a few friends of mine read my atrocious self-published first draft, and I am still mortified of it even though they tell me it was great…! I know they’re just being nice! Grammatical errors definitely take me out of the story, too, I know I’ve put down more than a few stories with a potentially good story that just had one too many errors in it. If it’s a really good story, I’ll just skim it because, well, it’s a good story!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have always thought – being brought up on reasonably edited traditionally-published books (there were few others) – that correct grammar and spelling were basic requirements for writers. Period. Prerequisites.

    Apparently this is not so.

    I can’t read books with misspellings, and grammar mistakes wear me down fairly quickly. There’s no point in continuing if the beginning of a book already has errors – one would think the author would at least make sure the book’s information and the sample are error-free.

    The harder-to-determine plot errors mean I won’t read the next book; a style that makes it too hard for the intended audience is also a ‘no more of this author’ flag.

    There are PLENTY of good books, well-written books, well-plotted books out there – why bother with authors who don’t care about the reader experience?

    But then I’m a book snob.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t agree with you more! I was always under the impression that a book should be error-free, superficially at the least. Thankfully, I’ve only spotted minor errors in the books I read, but they tend to be the 600+ page books and so I give the publisher a pass on that. Though this makes me wonder how these errors are corrected — do readers write the publisher about them? Or do publishers have something of a quality-control team that periodically go through their books on the shelves to look for spelling errors and such?

      But as a self-publisher, I believe there should be at least some degree of self-respect in what’s being put out there. It’s hard enough for some authors to get the confidence to put their work out there for all to see and judge… but a totally different story when the writer could care less about the quality of their work! It boggles my mind.

      I suppose I’m something of a book snob, too, because I’ll go for quality over quantity any day!


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