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View Full Version : Bad-mouthing a book, harmful or useful?



sunandshadow
08-21-2012, 04:16 AM
Normally if I read a book and think it was awful, I don't publicly go around insulting that book. I might say, "Ew I just read a book that irritated me because it did this and that" but I usually leave names out to protect the guilty. I'm well aware that if I were the writer of that book hearing else call it "An example of how NOT to write [genre X]" would make me hurt and furious. But, what if I actually want to do an educational lecture for aspiring writers about "how not to write [genre X]"? Is that a good enough reason to publicly rip to shreds the worst example(s) of [Genre X] that I can find? I think showing a specific example of fiction gone wrong is more effective than just abstractly saying that it's usually not a bad idea to do Y or Z in one's book. But is that effectiveness worth severely insulting a book and by proxy its author? I don't want to get a reputation as a writer who goes around arrogantly slamming others' books.

Unimportant
08-21-2012, 04:27 AM
Normally if I read a book and think it was awful, I don't publicly go around insulting that book. I might say, "Ew I just read a book that irritated me because it did this and that" but I usually leave names out to protect the guilty. I'm well aware that if I were the writer of that book hearing else call it "An example of how NOT to write [genre X]" would make me hurt and furious. But, what if I actually want to do an educational lecture for aspiring writers about "how not to write [genre X]"? Is that a good enough reason to publicly rip to shreds the worst example(s) of [Genre X] that I can find? I think showing a specific example of fiction gone wrong is more effective than just abstractly saying that it's usually not a bad idea to do Y or Z in one's book. But is that effectiveness worth severely insulting a book and by proxy its author? I don't want to get a reputation as a writer who goes around arrogantly slamming others' books.

This is, I agree, a sensitive area. The approach I've taken in the past is to show examples from fiction and not categorise them as 'good' or 'bad' but, rather, to explain what each example accomplishes.

For example,

If you wish to portray a thoughtful, kind character, you can use the method used by Author A:

Jane helped the old lady across the street, then smiled and waved off the woman's offer of payment.

If you wish to portray an unreliable narrator, you can use the method used by Author B:

Jane was a thoughtful, kind girl. She thought about how popular and likeable she was as she paused at the kerb. Beside her, an old, blind woman tapped her white cane. The traffic light's beeper was broken, and remained silent when the light turned green. Jane dashed across the street, leaving the old woman standing alone and confused. Jane smirked at her. Stupid old blind woman!

If you wish to portray a vain, narcissistic character, you can use the method used by Author C:

Jane paused and looked at her reflection in the store mirror. She finger-combed her shining gold curls away from her cerulean blue eyes. A smile hovered on her kissable lips as she noted her curving bosom, slim waist, and tight ass snugly encased in the new jumpsuit she'd just purchased.

(Adding: in all three cases, the author may have intended to portray a kind, thoughtful character, but that's not what they accomplished.)

Maxinquaye
08-21-2012, 04:29 AM
I don't understand the term “bad mouthing” in this context. If I don't like a book, I'm going to say so. Whether I like the book or not has no bearing on my opinion of the writer.

Unless of course we're saying that expressions of taste and disagreement are disrespectful, and that voicing of disagreement is to disrespect someone that holds an opposing opinion.

I for instance do not like Twilight. I think the characterisations are weak, and the plot is thin. I think the language is inane, and would have given many objections if it was posted to SYW on this site. Also, I think there are some definite problems of content as well, considering that Edward is a stalker-type and that Bella accepts and even approves of his stalkerish behaviour.

Saying that is not disrespectful. It is not bad-mouthing. It is opinion. If expressions of that opinion is considered unprofessional then well I can't do anything about it because the integrity that I hope to live by says that I should be honest and not deceitful, and not play office games by saying one thing in public and another thing behind someone's back in the company of friends.

thebloodfiend
08-21-2012, 04:44 AM
Normally if I read a book and think it was awful, I don't publicly go around insulting that book. I might say, "Ew I just read a book that irritated me because it did this and that" but I usually leave names out to protect the guilty. I'm well aware that if I were the writer of that book hearing else call it "An example of how NOT to write [genre X]" would make me hurt and furious. But, what if I actually want to do an educational lecture for aspiring writers about "how not to write [genre X]"? Is that a good enough reason to publicly rip to shreds the worst example(s) of [Genre X] that I can find? I think showing a specific example of fiction gone wrong is more effective than just abstractly saying that it's usually not a bad idea to do Y or Z in one's book. But is that effectiveness worth severely insulting a book and by proxy its author? I don't want to get a reputation as a writer who goes around arrogantly slamming others' books.

Why should I care?

Publishing is a business, same as anything else. Authors and publishers put out a product and customers deem whether or not that product is "good." Do you care about the feelings of the guy who designed your camera? Your house? Your computer? Your carpet? Who grew or cooked your food? What makes an author's feelings more special? A person is behind every single thing you consume. Are negative opinions, as a whole, arrogant and severely insulting?

I'm not going to limit my opinion on a product because it might hurt someone's feelings. I paid for it and if I'm not pleased, I'm going to warn other consumers and other "producers" that the product wasn't up to par.

Seriously, the "arrogantly slamming others' books" thing is so subjective. Simply giving some people a three star rating is like kicking their mother. I don't have the time to coddle precious snowflakes who're upset that I couldn't care less for their writing. If, IMO, they wrote crap, I'm going to say they wrote crap. No passive aggressive tip-toe-ing around the point. If they want to throw a shit fit, let them. If it ruins my reputation, so be it. Let it be said that I never said anything about them, just their crappy book.

I understand not wanting to get on the bad side of your colleagues, or simply not feeling the need to review bad books, but by insulting a book, you aren't insulting the author. Author /=/ book. Book /=/ baby. The more people who understand that, the better.

Filigree
08-21-2012, 04:45 AM
Thank you. What we say about other books is a matter of our own opinion, and we have the right to voice it. Other people have the right to voice their own views - that's called a spirited discussion.

When reasoned opinions are shut down because those expressing them are 'big meanies', it cheapens the books being discussed and makes the objectors look like toddlers having tantrums. It's all very entertaining, to a point, but it's not what *adults* do.

JamesOliv
08-21-2012, 05:13 AM
If you don't like my work, go ahead and tell me. I won't be insulted.

I think a segment you risk insulting (and have not mentioned) are the people you are teaching.

So just imagine, I go in to take a writer's workshop. I'm bright eyed and bushy tailed and can't wait until I can be a famous writer just like "X."

Then I come in and you say "X is an example of how NOT to write for this genre."

But I like "X."

Maybe I have friends who like "X."

Maybe "X" made so much money writing the way you think he ought not that he is swimming through his money bank (a la Scrooge McDuck) laughing at you.

I cannot fathom why one would need to bash an entire book for the purposes of education.

What confuses me most:


Normally if I read a book and think it was awful, I don't publicly go around insulting that book. I might say, "Ew I just read a book that irritated me because it did this and that" but I usually leave names out to protect the guilty.

Vs.


Is that a good enough reason to publicly rip to shreds the worst example(s) of [Genre X] that I can find? I think showing a specific example of fiction gone wrong is more effective than just abstractly saying that it's usually not a bad idea to do Y or Z in one's book.

I think you telling your friends that you read my book and didn't like it is significantly better than you running a "Why James Olivieri's books suck seminar." I would imagine quite a few authors feel the same way.

What confuses me is that in the first statement, you seem to avoid wanting to do that. In the second, you seem to be seeking public permission to claim the authority to determine what is and is not "in" for a genre.

I suppose it depends on your background. I don't know enough about you. If you are (or were) an editor for a publishing house that publishes the genre in question, your view of how one "should not write for X genre" might be useful information for anyone who hopes to publish in that genre.

But if you are an author who wants to stand up in front of a class and express your opinion as an authoritative ruling on what "makes the cut" writing wise, I can't say I agree with that approach.

I think if you want to avoid a reputation of arrogantly slamming other books, you should not go around arrogantly slamming other books.

I'm not saying don't tell people what you think. Go ahead, express an opinion. If you hate the book, tell people and tell them why. But don't try to codify that hatred as writers' law. You have the right to hate it, and other people have the right to love it.

backslashbaby
08-21-2012, 06:59 AM
I try to give my objective views about writing without caring who wrote it. All that tells folks is what my views and tastes are, but it does matter to me that nobody gets special treatment for being my pal or whatever. Also, if I can't stand you, I may have great things to say about your work, so it goes both ways at least :)

When giving a lecture about it, could you pick folks who were dead or something, lol? Or maybe pick folks who do sell enough, so that it's not like there is complete humiliation going on? I would try to be sensitive about the other author's position to a certain extent when choosing lecture material, because that's some heavy focus where you can choose your examples with care, I think.

Kerosene
08-21-2012, 07:21 AM
By "Bad mouthing" I would see someone purposely trying to demean something.

That's their personal opinions, fueled by anger.


Personally, if I didn't enjoy a book, I'd say why in a academic opinion.
"I did not enjoy this book because the characters are not well thought out."

Bad mouthing would be:
"What the hell is with this author? Do they even have a brain? They have character A do this and everything that the character is/are is ruined."


But, it's a very thin line. Our writing is apart of ourselves and we take comments very personally. It would be best to either distance comments as a reader or make some form of pleasantry to soften the blow--but by no means to bash the writer openly.

Like what Filigree said, open bashing is childish. Children do not see the opposite representations of things, and would openly shout their point.


If you have a problem with a book, just write it out in a academic way. Think: You're a scientist, returning with facts and stating your opinion based on your findings.

Polenth
08-21-2012, 09:53 AM
It would be possible to go too far. A 50 post series shredding the book, because you thought the author's sentence structure was a bit awkward sometimes, is overkill. Always using the same book for bad writing examples in a series of writing tips post would look a little targeted.

But your average review and occasional example isn't an issue. Some authors may explode anyway, but not because it was too much.

sunandshadow
08-21-2012, 11:17 AM
Always using the same book for bad writing examples in a series of writing tips post would look a little targeted.
That gets at the question I'm trying to ask, and also the point that is confusing JamesOliv. What specifically happened is that I found one published book, from the outside it looks good enough that someone might buy it, but inside it does about everything possible wrong. It would be extremely efficient, both for me as a teacher and for any students, to use this one book for a series of educational essaies on why A is a bad idea, why B is a bad idea, etc. I don't think I could introduce such a series in any other way than by saying "Ok let me tell you about the biggest disaster of a [Genre X] book ever." Which in any other context than education I would definitely consider to be bad-mouthing a book. Even a professional critic has no business calling any book the worst ever. But on the other hand, an educational lecture is a place where it's good and important to give examples of what not to do and why (along with positive examples).

Mr Flibble
08-21-2012, 11:26 AM
But do you actually have to quote the book to get the point across that 'X is a bad idea'? Or could you use examples that you have created yourself (inspired by said book)? Haven't other books done these things sometimes?


Not that you can't have an opinion, obviously, but it's going to look a little...well, like an agenda if you keep using one book, and also perhaps that if it's only this one book, the problem can;t be too big or lots of people would make the mistake, and if it's just one author, welll...

If I were to do such a series of essays (and I note it is not I who is proposing, but) then I woudl try to use examples from as many different books as possible - for each instance/topic/thing to be done badly, I would try to find two or three examples. Because there's always more than one way to cock a thing up!

For example - if we're talking deua ex machina, I can think of half a dozen examples off the top of my head, and each is subtly different.

If you use more than one source book for the 'errors' you'll be giving a greater breadth/nuance to the study.

frimble3
08-21-2012, 12:00 PM
That gets at the question I'm trying to ask, and also the point that is confusing JamesOliv. What specifically happened is that I found one published book, from the outside it looks good enough that someone might buy it, but inside it does about everything possible wrong. It would be extremely efficient, both for me as a teacher and for any students, to use this one book for a series of educational essaies on why A is a bad idea, why B is a bad idea, etc. I don't think I could introduce such a series in any other way than by saying "Ok let me tell you about the biggest disaster of a [Genre X] book ever." Which in any other context than education I would definitely consider to be bad-mouthing a book. Even a professional critic has no business calling any book the worst ever. But on the other hand, an educational lecture is a place where it's good and important to give examples of what not to do and why (along with positive examples).
But, this book, that you consider "the worst ever" and "the biggest disaster of a [Genre X] book ever" was published, and apparently was publicised enough for you to find and read it. Therefore, whatever you consider 'the worst ever' must have some minimal merit, in somebody's eyes.
As for 'extremely efficient' - that's only a factor if you expect your students to purchase a copy of every book you use as an example. Or you want to simplify your indexing.
It's probably more useful to use a variety of texts as examples, because your students can see how a variety of writers handled these problems. Or, that one writer has problems in this area, but is really good at this other thing. Which is probably a more likely scenario for most students. As it is, the real message seems to be 'don't write like X and you'll be fine'.
What do you do about the student who says "Okay, I'll follow the example of Z (another writer, whom you didn't mention, who makes slight variations of the same mistakes)
Better to teach the general principals, than the specific examples.

Filigree
08-21-2012, 12:54 PM
During my 30 years of keeping track in sf&f, every single time I think a publisher has scraped the bottom of the sludgiest barrel around, they prove me wrong by promoting an even worse book. And this has happened with every major publisher and many smaller indie presses.

So I can't rationally call any particular book 'the worst ever'. I can call something 'the worst that Publisher X has offered up to now.' I try to keep my critiques rational and specific, though, because anything else is just a rant. That might be fun, but it doesn't provide guidance.

I've actually burned out trying to sugarcoat bad reviews. I'd rather just not review a stinkerstory anymore.

seun
08-21-2012, 12:54 PM
There's a world of difference between giving an intelligent, informed opinion on a book you've read and simply bad-mouthing it.

I'm all for being polite and not being a dick just for the sake of it but at the same time, I'm all for honesty. If I don't like a book and someone asks me what I thought of it it, I'll tell them exactly as I would if I loved it.

Mac H.
08-21-2012, 01:04 PM
Is that a good enough reason to publicly rip to shreds the worst example(s) of [Genre X] that I can find? I think showing a specific example of fiction gone wrong is more effective than just abstractly saying that it's usually not a bad idea to do Y or Z in one's book. Forget the question about insulting people .. the real question is "Is this an effective way of teaching?"

I don't think it is. Almost by definition 'The WORST' examples always have multiple issues. So- if you are talking about POV, wouldn't it be better to have an example of writing that works well in most ways .. but by can be tweaked by changing how POV is handled?

If the example is crap for several reasons the POV improvement wouldn't make much difference ... it would just be putting lipstick on the dead pig.

If you are running a cooking class and trying to teach how a little pepper can be used to improve many dishes .. starting with vomit wouldn't be a good idea. But if you had a good dish that just needs a bit of pepper to make it great? That'd be a grand example.

The 'vomit' example would also give students a false sense of value - they'd see that they write better than the worst example and so think they are competent.

Screen-casts like this are great for teaching: http://johnaugust.com/2009/scene-description

Is there something similar for prose writing? Maybe there should be - Uncle Jim could do great ones.

Mac

meowzbark
08-21-2012, 01:10 PM
There are some pretty horrific self-published novels on Amazon. I wish Amazon had some sort of editing requirements.

Personally, I don't think it's offensive if you used examples from many different authors. I think that it's nothing more than bashing if you use only the mistakes of one author as your examples.

shaldna
08-21-2012, 01:12 PM
I've seen people do it to attract more attention to themselves - you know, really rip into another author or book - especially one in the same genre as you - and publically harp on about how awful it is, usually in a national newspaper and around the time that they have a new book out themselves.

But it doesn't make me want to read their new book, mostly it makes me want to steer clear of them

WeaselFire
08-21-2012, 04:04 PM
I've written reviews that say, in no uncertain terms, that the author can't write. But it's true. And from the various reviews I've seen of the 50 Shades books, other, much more notable reviewers, say the same thing when it's true.

Jeff

Captcha
08-21-2012, 04:26 PM
...

If you use more than one source book for the 'errors' you'll be giving a greater breadth/nuance to the study.

I agree with this (the whole post). Ripping apart a single book that you didn't care for is only effective for teaching students one single set of the mistakes they shouldn't make. Better to teach them from a wider base, and include significant examples of the same issues done well.

This doesn't directly answer your question, since I think you were assuming that tearing a book apart would be an effective teaching method and just wanted to know if it was tasteful/allowed. But I think it's important to consider whether the method would be useful in order to determine if it's appropriate. Being harsh with a single book for the greater good is different than being harsh with a single book for no particular reason.

I don't think the author of the book would have any grounds to complain about you trashing the book. But as an audience member, I would feel like you had a grudge, and that would lessen your credibility.

Also, are you assuming that everyone in your audience has read the book in question? If they haven't, I don't really see any value in taking all your examples from the book, and if they have, it'd weaken your point about the book being the worst thing ever published...

shadowwalker
08-21-2012, 05:05 PM
From a teaching perspective, I can't see the value of telling students "this is the worst example". Instead, I would tell them what the guidelines are for various things, and then have samples of many books - some that you feel do "it" well, some that don't - and then let the students figure it out in discussion. Because really, nothing makes a teacher/lecturer look more foolish or arrogant than picking to pieces something that was successful (in this case, published). And the students will learn a valuable lesson is analyzing writing.

mccardey
08-21-2012, 05:18 PM
OP: If you're talking about classroom teaching, it might be more fun to have the class dissect what does work and why with published examples of good writing - and then have them write their own intentionally "bad writing" and dissect that.

I could see that being a lot of fun - and not creating too much defensiveness.

Stacia Kane
08-21-2012, 05:40 PM
I agree with JamesOliv. It's not the writers you have to worry about insulting; the most we can do is not want to blurb you or invite you to a get-together or host you on our blogs. It's the readers, who will either be insulted by you insulting a book/author they love, think you're unprofessional, or think you're just full of sour grapes.

Not all of them, no. But many of them.

fireluxlou
08-21-2012, 07:25 PM
Well if you constantly use the same book to make the same points just because you dislike the book so much. People are eventually going to think that you have a vendetta or agenda of sorts.

James D. Macdonald
08-21-2012, 08:01 PM
When Roger Ebert said (of Gone in Sixty Seconds) "This is the kind of movie that ends up playing on the TV set over the bar in a better movie," was that bad-mouthing?

Did Dominic Sena or Nicholas Cage have a hissy-fit and set up an anonymous web page giving Ebert's home address and where he liked to go to dinner, while saying that someone should stop this meanie-pants bully?

By all means, if you find a passage in one of my books that's an example of What Not To Do when writing, use it. Wave a copy of the book in the air. Rant. It's cool with me.

It's cool with any real professional.

Just spell my name correctly.


It would be possible to go too far. A 50 post series shredding the book, because you thought the author's sentence structure was a bit awkward sometimes, is overkill.

I dunno about that. I once read a long series of posts from a Christian evangelical shredding LaHaye and Jenkins' Left Behind series, practically page by page. It was detailed, it was hilarious, and it went into everything from sentence structure, through characterization, to the basic heresies underlying the books' worldview.

Overkill? Maybe. Important for showing that all Christians don't think that way? Yes.

BTW, if anyone wants to get all possible errors in a single book, Atlanta Nights (http://www.lulu.com/shop/travis-tea/atlanta-nights/paperback/product-117402.html) is for sale.

Al Stevens
08-21-2012, 08:04 PM
Use real examples of both how to handle the idiom and how not to. You don't have to identify the works or the authors if that makes you uncomfortable, but your contrived examples come across as just that, contrived. And your students won't believe them and won't learn from them. Your first responsibility as a teacher is to your students.

mccardey
08-21-2012, 08:06 PM
Use real examples of both how to handle the idiom and how not to. You don't have to identify the works or the authors if that makes you uncomfortable, but your contrived examples come across as just that, contrived. And your students won't believe them and won't learn from them. Your first responsibility as a teacher is to your students.

Do you mean that having the students write "bad examples" themselves would be contrived? Because I don't agree - I think it's valuable and particularly because it gives them agency.

Bufty
08-21-2012, 08:13 PM
I just read a five-star review on a book in Amazon and when I tracked down the reviewer I found on her website that books should be sent to her for review.

Although she selected the books she would review, the site included a prominently posted promise that the reviewer would never jeopardise a new author's career by posting a bad review.

Sheesh! As a potential purchaser -that's reassuring - thanks for nothing.

JamesOliv
08-21-2012, 08:57 PM
By all means, if you find a passage in one of my books that's an example of What Not To Do when writing, use it. Wave a copy of the book in the air. Rant. It's cool with me.

It's cool with any real professional.

Just spell my name correctly.



I suppose if someone wants to wave my book in the air and rant, I wouldn't mind. I certainly wouldn't make a website about how you were mean to me or post nasty amazon comment replies about it.

But then again, the author being a real sport about it doesn't mean you won't look like an idiot waving a book and ranting.

If I take a class called "How to make a souffle" I am going because I want to learn how to make a souffle.

If the first half of the class is dedicated to studying failed souffles, I am not really getting everything I expected out of the class.

I want to learn how to build before I study how to tear asunder.

If you want to wave books and rant and rave, go for it. There are plenty of bad books out there (some of them commercially successful). But before you tire out your arms, consider "What value am I adding to the literary world by making a public spectacle of myself?" or "how is tearing apart this book going to actually help anyone?"

Focusing a teaching effort on "what not to do" at the wrong stage of a writer's career is far more likely to cause them to stop writing altogether rather than write better. If that's your goal, I suppose it is mildly more humane than clubbing baby seals, but I think you should reconsider.

Al Stevens
08-21-2012, 09:07 PM
Do you mean that having the students write "bad examples" themselves would be contrived? Because I don't agree - I think it's valuable and particularly because it gives them agency.
No. That the bad examples provided by the teacher are obviously contrived as opposed to real examples.

I don't agree that you should have students write intentionally bad idioms. Show them bad practice and teach them to avoid it.

mccardey
08-21-2012, 09:19 PM
I don't agree that you should have students write intentionally bad idioms. Show them bad practice and teach them to avoid it.

Having them write examples of The Bad works well though - they can discuss problems in their own writing quite safely by giving exaggerated examples. Showing bad examples and telling them to avoid them (which I know isn't what you said ;) ) wasn't as effective as having them demonstrate bad examples and asking them to explain why they should be avoided - along with showing them examples of excellence and having them discuss why they worked.

Worked for me ;) But practices vary...

Medievalist
08-21-2012, 10:47 PM
I'm not really a fan of having students write "bad" prose on purpose. I'd much rather have them learn to revise. I'm not much on showing "bad" examples either, except in the context of teaching revision.

One reason for my pedagogical stance is that before I started teaching comp classes, I never ever ever confused it's and its, or two too and to, or there their and they're.

After I started teaching heavy course loads of pre-basic comp, and basic comp and was reading and commenting 100 or so student papers a week, I started seeing them used incorrectly more than I saw them used correctly, and apparently absorbed the errors into my brain.

Now, I have to watch all the damn time for errors that I used to never make.

Polenth
08-21-2012, 11:10 PM
Well if you constantly use the same book to make the same points just because you dislike the book so much. People are eventually going to think that you have a vendetta or agenda of sorts.

That was the point I was trying to get at. The students will learn more with a variety of examples from many books, so there isn't a good reason to always use the same book. It does look personal.

I think it's better to be open about your dislike and leave a negative review, than to slip in constant digs at a certain book into your lesson plans. Having an opinion isn't a problem, but the way you express that opinion can certainly be shady.

Medievalist
08-21-2012, 11:21 PM
I think showing a specific example of fiction gone wrong is more effective than just abstractly saying that it's usually not a bad idea to do Y or Z in one's book. But is that effectiveness worth severely insulting a book and by proxy its author? I don't want to get a reputation as a writer who goes around arrogantly slamming others' books.

I'd use a parody for that. It makes it simple for students to see the conventions writ large, for one thing.

Quite often when I'd participate in writing workshops on campus, I'd see teachers give lots of "rules" like "never open with someone waking up" but I can think of three or four examples, off the top of my head, when it works for a particular author and a particular book.

I'd rather look at things that work and show how they work, and why.

James D. Macdonald
08-22-2012, 12:38 AM
Ask the students to write the best paragraphs they can.

They'll still be bad.

Any fool can trip and fall. It takes a highly trained stunt performer to trip and fall deliberately, on cue, and make it look real.

Writing badly on purpose is a high-level skill.

Medievalist
08-22-2012, 12:39 AM
Writing badly on purpose is a high-level skill.

It really is. Sometimes I swear I feel my brains leaking out my ears when I have to create paragraphs and sentences for textbooks.

And never mind trying to emulate the genius of Travis Tea.

Lady Ice
08-22-2012, 12:57 AM
There is a difference between having negative criticism for a book and "badmouthing". "Badmouthing" would be telling everybody that a book is terrible in an attempt to stop people from reading/buying it. A smear campaign, basically.

itsmary
08-22-2012, 04:06 AM
If you're not in the public eye, I think it's fine. But if you're well known, as an author or anyone else, I think it's inappropriate to single out the books you don't like and talk about how bad they are. The exception would be reviewers or others who make a living and/or name for themselves sharing their opinions.

Atlantis
08-24-2012, 09:59 AM
There's nothing wrong with bad mouthing a book. Ideally, a fair review would be best, that lists the good and the bad points. I did that with Fifty Shades of Grey on my blog. I don't have a problem with people using books as teaching tools either for ex: "This book is sooo bad. Don't do what this author did!" We are all entitled to our own opinions.

What I think is crossing the line is taking a dislike of a book so far that it becomes a big online shit throwing contest. I'm talking about harrassment, stalking, phone calls, trolling, angry emails and comments on facebook pages, web boards, etc.

shadowwalker
08-24-2012, 05:25 PM
I don't have a problem with people using books as teaching tools either for ex: "This book is sooo bad. Don't do what this author did!" We are all entitled to our own opinions.

My problem with book-bashing as a teaching tool is that I think teachers need to be more objective. Personally, teachers I've had who sneer at things in their teaching (ie show their biases) never really had my respect. If a teacher is bashing a book the student liked, it sets up an almost automatic animosity between them. Likewise, if they're bashing a book which has been successful, it puts into question the teacher's credibility. Neither is good for a teaching atmosphere. Better for the teacher to show 'good practices' and then let the student analyze the book for themselves and discuss the positives and negatives.

ex_machina
08-25-2012, 12:08 AM
I think it's important to know what you like and dislike in your media, and to make sure you don't shove that down other people's throats.

D:

This business is so subjective, and there are many, many people who do enough vitriol-laced hate for all of us.

If you're an author, badmouthing books your readers like publicly is a great way to lose potential readers of your own works.

HapiSofi
08-26-2012, 10:56 AM
If you've got something interesting and enlightening to say about a bad book, I see no reason not to say it. Few bad books are that interesting, though.

Marian Perera
08-26-2012, 02:21 PM
I once read a long series of posts from a Christian evangelical shredding LaHaye and Jenkins' Left Behind series, practically page by page. It was detailed, it was hilarious, and it went into everything from sentence structure, through characterization, to the basic heresies underlying the books' worldview.

Slacktivist? If he had had those posts printed, I would have bought the book.

Jennn
08-28-2012, 04:56 AM
It can be a double edged sword. Sometimes just mentioning a book makes people want to read it, even if you're talking about it in a negative way. If you're being snarky about something most people will want to be in on the joke. So, for that reason, it's probably better to spend 99% of your book reviewing time talking about books you liked rather than books you didn't like. Also, I believe that most serious fledgling writers, like myself, should be reading upwards of a hundred recent debuts/recent releases a year in our intended genre. That said, we can find our own terrible examples of writing.

This year alone, I found: (all published, all major houses, most successful)
--a book where 1/4 of the story, including the climax, was in flashback
--two books that had no ending NONE!!!
--a book that was complete fan fiction with the names and places changed
--several books where all the action was condensed into the last 50 pages.
--several books where the characters went nowhere for about 200 pages
--about 12 Mary Sues.