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Badly Written English ~ Mistakes in Popular Literature

John is a freelance writer, ghost-writer, storyteller, and poet. He always tries to include a message or social commentary in his writing

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

The dirty secret of art is you don't have to show people your bad writing. That's what we have the delete key for.

— Robert McKee

Typos, Spelling Mistakes, and Other Grammatical Tragedies

As every writer will know it is all too easy to make typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors in our work, whether it be a novel, short story, poem, article, blog, advert, essay, whatever. Just one slip of the finger on the keyboard can change the whole meaning of a sentence or stanza. I have made numerous corrections as I typed this first paragraph.

Spell checkers and programs like Grammarly have helped to a certain degree but with the number of words that are pronounced the same but with different spelling (especially in English) mistakes in literature is still a common problem. Writers today are fortunate to have these aids at our disposal but spare a thought for the authors of earlier times (before computer technology) who had no such things.

We are always hopeful that proofreading our first draft will pick up most errors, and then if we can afford an editor they will find any that we have missed. However, now, with many authors self-publishing there seem to be more literary mistakes than ever before. However, the status or success of a writer does not make them immune to mistakes either, as the following examples show.

Image by Colleen ODell from Pixabay

Image by Colleen ODell from Pixabay

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.

— Mark Twain

20 Examples of (W)rotten English Literature

These excerpts from popular literature and authors are not listed in any particular order. Some are typos, some spelling errors, and some are just plain examples of bad writing.

  • Slowly, almost one by one, Ordway's eyes followed the new steps in the snow. ~Hammond Innes, The White Tower
  • Catherine had always been lucky. Even the sun was shining when she first saw it. ~ Martin Hummerstone, Distant Horizons
  • After having given vent to this beautiful reflection, Mr Pickwick proceeded to put himself into his clothes; and his clothes into his portmanteau. ~ Charles Dickins, Pickwick Papers
  • She was a very neurotic woman with one leg in this world and the other in a world of her own. "Between these two she doesn't know quite where she is," said her solicitor. ~ Arthur Steward, The Circle of Mystery
  • He had been aware from the first that she was unusually attractive. Now, in her dark green dress with the low-cut, rounded neckline, he saw that she had lovely legs. ~ G H Coxe, The Jade Venus
  • They had hardly got into the skipper's cabin when a tremendous pitch on the steamer sent Leila rolling the floor. Before she could be got under control again she had shipped hundreds of tons of water. Then her nose went down and her tail went up and for a moment it was a question if she would right herself. A wiggle and a roll and she saved herself. ~ Albert Wetjen, Afloat
  • For a moment he stood there looking into her eyes. Between them was a bowl of Hyacinths. ~ Elizabeth Robins, Under the Southern Cross
  • Once again for an instant she raised those wonderful eyes to his. He studied the thickness of the lashes as they fell once more to her lap. ~ Barbara Cartland, Love Will Triumph
  • It was one of those perfect June nights that so seldom occur except in August. ~ Frankford Moore, Reggie's Rival
  • She had huddled in a chair, covering her ears with crossed legs. ~ Edgar Jepson, The Moment of Truth
Image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay

Image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay

  • I am certain of one thing. Whatever may come between us - and wherever he may be on earth - Arthur will always remember that I love ham. ~ Milicent Hemming, The Parting
  • The door opened and a girl came in - a slip of a girl with a firm little chin and a pair of lively grey ewes which gave Bernard a searching glance. ~ Thomas Prescott, The Guardian
  • He glanced at May. She wasn't knitting, but sat there, looking down at the floor, with knitted brows. ~ W Somerset Maugham, The Hour Before the Dawn
  • She had dark red hair and a fair skin which she told me came out in a mass of freckles at the first hint of sin. ~ Paul Mason, City Without Justice
  • "Today," she said, and he held up a thumb and grinned at her. If only this could be forever, the two of them alone. But the sea lifted the boat like a sullen cork and he stopped thinking about anything but handling her. ~ Richard Miles, Exiled to the Pacific
  • Riley sat at the back, with Miss Blandish lying on his feet, biting his nails. ~ James Hadley Chase, No Orchids For Miss Blandish
  • In one corner of the room, square tins of every shape were piled. ~ Edgar Wallace, The Talkative Burglar
  • He leaned his head against her hair. A wasp strayed across his face. He kissed it. ~ Alison Bold, Moments to Cherish
  • She picked up a snapshot of a dear friend who had recently died on her bedroom mantlepiece. ~ Kate Field, A Woman's World
  • The Nolotic race is remarkable for the disproportionately long legs of their women. They extend on the eastern side of the Nile right down into the Uganda Protectorate. ~ Max Pemberton, Strange Travels in Strange Places
Image by Colleen ODell from Pixabay

Image by Colleen ODell from Pixabay

Good writers hate bad writing but hating bad writing doesn't make you good. Writing badly does.

— Dan Harmon

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 John Hansen

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