And was sorely disappointed.
Not because the premise wasn't what it was cracked up to be. It was. Not because the story itself wasn't intriguing. It was. Not because the research wasn't sound. I'm sure it was.
I was disappointed because the writing let me down.
Now, plot development and characterization aside, I feel there is a distinct importance to the way a story is technically told. In the case of the above book, the problem lay in overt cliche and bland phrasing and word choice, but on a much more bare-bones front, grammar, spelling, and punctuation are also incredibly important. I fear this necessity is being overlooked more and more these days, especially in this age of immediate internet publication (i.e., start a blog/website, post, and tada! Written work!) And I have no problem with netspeak or e.e.cummingsing it up because I will be the first to agree: it's easier. Faster. Takes less effort and still usually gets the basic point across. When I'm texting on my phone, for instance, I don't usually stop to capitalize or punctuate everything, and I use numbers in place of letters with the best of them. I cut corners.
Let there be a caveat, however: How much would you, a reader, trust an author if he or she couldn't properly spell as many as three words in a thousand-word article?
Let's take the unofficially published stuff out of the equation for a moment. I have been in the middle of a fantastic hardback novel only to be confronted by spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, repetitive wording, incorrect punctuation or the ever-popular mistaken homonym (their/there/they're, etc, thanks a lot, spell-check). And there is no faster way to make me immediately start questioning the author's expertise and dedication, and therefore, the reasons why I should even be reading said book.
I have a life, time I'd like to use wisely and profitably. Things to do and lots of books on my to-read list. So maybe this nitpicky-ness makes me a snob, but then again, why should it? I feel the phrase actually being sought here is "having certain standards".
Becaaaauuuuuse... let's take that caveat and change it from "article" to "medical article". Starts putting things into perspective, doesn't it? I certainly would wonder about a doctor who can't even be bothered to put his or her work through a proper edit, and the reason is this: you can have the most interesting subject, the soundest research, the best story in the world, but if you cannot convey it comprehensively to a reader, that gem will be lost. Maybe not entirely, but in some way, some part of it will disappear.
There are amazing stories out there. Amazing. Not just published, but written all over the web, in fanfic, in blogs, in journals, in parody, on news sites... Everywhere. So many of them suffer, however, from the author's inability, or (and much worse) unwillingness to convey the essence of what he or she is writing.
The internet gives us an incredible connection to people of different countries, languages and backgrounds. It's an aspect I treasure, and I understand that there will be differences and mistakes and misunderstandings, that not all people write in the same language or style and that this is the reason for most of the miscommunication on this front. I'm not asking for some universal language requirement, and I'm certainly not asking people to tailor their writing for an 'English speaking world' or whatever the heck. I just want to stress the importance of knowing how to convey a story technically as well as artfully, especially if you want to publish it for the world at large, because it is a damn shame when something so beautiful loses its potency because of spelling errors and inattention to detail.