Saturday, January 18, 2014

Spellchecker is God

Is it? Is it really? No. Far from it. Don't get me wrong, spellchecker is an awesome tool, it has helped me SO much, but it's far from infallible. If you manage to screw up a word bad enough, you have to resort to the dictionary to find the proper spelling. Now isn't that a catch 22 - to find out how to spell a word, you need to know how to spell it to look it up. haha Well, at least the dictionary has more suggestions.

So what is my point here? Well, I just read a really great story. If you know me, it takes quite a bit for me to say a story is really great. In my opinion, all stories are good ideas, it's how the writer handles and develops the story that counts. This story, I just finished involved string theory and time travel. Super simplified, it's the theory that time is not linear but something like a coil. You can't really go forward or backwards in time because time itself is merely a pinprick. What you do is travel the course of time around the loop until you run into what you perceive as your past where you 'jump ship' to do whatever you wanted to go back in time to do. The only thing is, it's not really your past, it's just the next closest thing. Does that make sense? I hope so. Anyway, this book did a lot of hop, skipping, and jumping through time, making the concept quite clear and doing a great job of not losing me along the way. Under other circumstances, this book would have gotten a 4 or 5 star review from me. The only think I didn't like about the story was the main character; she seemed to have a rather unstable personality, going from ice queen killer, to down right jerk, to teary shrinking violet, to something sort of normal.

But now we get to my point. Though there were no outright spelling errors that I noticed, the kindle doesn't do those nifty squiggly red lines, the entire book was full of homonyms, missing words, wrong words (like then instead of the), misplaced words (like when you rearrange a sentence and forget to remove the extras), and above all, oodles of punctuation mistakes. As I understand it, coma placement is something of a personal style. I like to go by desired sound, which means I use more than most, but when the inclusion or lack of one changes the meaning of a sentence, it can be a little annoying. But coma placement, or lack thereof, wasn't the only punctuation issue. There were missing periods, of all things. In fact, I'm really surprised the nifty spellchecker didn't light the document with all kinds of those little green lines that point out grammar errors. They wouldn't catch everything, but they would have caught some of it.

The book was somewhat annoying to read because of this, and because of my dislike of the main character. I nearly put it down in favor of reading another book I've taken on from a friend, but then the time travel part started and it got interesting.

I've got to post a review on Amazon, but I'm really torn as to what to say. I'm not even sure how I'd rate it. If I had more choices, I'd give it a 1 or 2 for all the errors, but the story on it's own deserves a 5, I think. I'll have to think about it.

What would you do? How do you use your spellchecker? Do you?


1 comment:

William Kendall said...

That's a problem. You could emphasize that the narrative itself intrigued you, entertained you, and such, but found punctuation and editing issues distracting at times. Not sure about the star system- personally, I think the review should hinge on what the reviewer says, as opposed to star ratings.