50 Shades of Editing FAIL

Warnings: The Fifty Shades series is extremely sexually explicit and involves BDSM. Because of that, and because they are not exactly well-researched or high-quality literature, I will mention things such as abuse, rape, rape culture, male dominance, sexism, relationship violence, and consensual BDSM. Also, the books began as Twilight fanfic, so I will be mentioning Twilight (which is a major squick for a lot of people just by itself).

I’m not sure if my eye has just been skipping over all the mistakes or if they’re actually increasing in frequency, but there are an alarming number of things wrong in this chapter (and this section in particular).  I’ve loosened up quite a bit as a Grammar Nerd in the last ten months or so.  I started doing some work as a beta reader, and I’ve learned that there are far worse things than misplaced commas.  A bad plot, flat characters, and too much exposition rather than action definitely trump poor grammar.  Unfortunately, Fifty Shades has all of those problems.  I am still at a loss to explain how this steaming pile of manure ended up becoming a bestseller.

Today’s section contains the following examples of How to Write a Terrible Story:

  • Use of the phrase “Laters, baby” or any combination of those two words in a given section of dialogue.  I get it that Christian and Elliot are brothers and might have some similar speech patterns–if this were real life.  But it’s not, so give them their own damn personalities.
  • Describing what characters are like, instead of showing us.  Elliot is warm and affectionate, Kate is talkative.  Great–now let’s see that.
  • Constant disapproval between Ana and Kate.  They’re always criticizing each other.  That would be fine, if they weren’t supposed to be best friends. Other than Ana continually stating such, I see no evidence of it.
  • Bizarre conversational switches.  I love this charming bit of Kate’s dialogue.  Christian has sent them champagne, and Ana has confessed that Christian stalks her.  Kate says helpfully,

    Somehow I’m not surprised. He worries me, Ana. At least it’s good champagne and it’s chilled.


  • Misplaced commas, ellipses, and em dashes.  I know, I know.  With all the other things wrong with this book, this should not be an issue.  It is, though, because the errors are so obvious that any good editor would have caught them.
  • Random things that make no sense. Ana is on her way to get felt up examined by Christian’s doctor.  On the drive, she comments that she can drive her new Audi in high heels.  What. The. Hell.
  • Oddly ascribed intent.  Ana and Christian have a reasonably pleasant email exchange.  Ana’s reaction?  To roll her eyes at Christian’s “bossiness.”  The problem is that for once, he wasn’t being controlling with her.
  • Weird times to be sexually aroused.  Ana is on her way to a gynecological exam.  Not sexy, people–as any woman old enough to have had an exam can tell you.
  • So much creepy awkwardness.  Ana somehow has forgotten that she’s there to see the doctor; Christian says he would pay to watch her exam.  Yeah, that’s not disturbing in the least.  (I wouldn’t include this in the bad writing, except I think the creepiness is unintentional–which makes it bad writing, not bad plotting.)

I’m thankful this chapter is finally over.  I don’t know how much more I could have taken.  You’ll all just have to wait until next week to find out how the visit with the OB/GYN turned out.


4 thoughts on “50 Shades of Editing FAIL

  1. It’s the worst possible book anyone can ever read. My brain cannot register why this book is even on the bestsellers list! I am so glad you pointed the errors out. Although, they are only SOME of the many bad errors.

    • Ha! Yes. The book is full of them. It wouldn’t be a big deal if the thing had just stayed where it belonged among the fan fiction, which is notorious for lousy writing. For it to become a published bestseller, though, is strange indeed.

  2. I’m with you – I have no idea how this abhorrent writing got past an editor’s desk, much less became an international best seller. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times in the publishing industry: anything goes, so long as it brings in millions. What angers me is there are so many promising authors who have *original* stories to tell (non trumped-up fan fic), and who can actually write WELL. I tried to give this book a go, but couldn’t take it after the umpteenth “oh, my,” blushing, flushing, and references to “down there.” I wish I could get my $10 back. It’s money that would have been better spent on cat food.

    • Full disclosure: I borrowed this horrible book, so I’m not out any money. I wasn’t going to spend money on it anyway; I’d have taken it out of the library–but this way, I get to hang onto it until I’m done. I have the other 2 as well, but I don’t think I’ll read them. This one is enough.

      I’m with you on publishing. There’s a lot of complaints lately about how people can now self-publish but that too much garbage gets through. I don’t even understand that, since 50 Shades was traditionally published and is worse than anything self-published I’ve ever read. Self-published trash isn’t a threat to anyone else’s art; traditionally published trash IS. For every 50 Shades, someone’s really great book isn’t being published or marketed.

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