I have recently become an audio book narrator on ACX.com. It’s a great place; you can find great books to narrate, and there are wonderful authors to meet and get to know. I love narrating good stories. I love it even more when the writing is high quality. I don’t just mean having an interesting plot, although that certainly helps. I’m talking about a much more basic necessity: grammar, closely followed by punctuation.
These might seem trivial, but I am constantly surprised (and irked) when I read yet another sentence in which the writer confuses “their/there/they’re, here/hear, your/you’re,” etc. Maybe it’s a typo, I think, but then I see another, and another, and then I think “the editor really should have caught these, at least some of them!” Additionally, I have seen indirect object pronouns used as the subject of a sentence. This is incorrect: “Her and Shane went to the car.” This is correct: “She and Shane went to the car.” Not sure if a pronoun can be used as a subject? Try each one separately. Does each one still make sense on it’s own? “She went to the car. Shane went to the car.” Saying “Her went to the car” does not make sense.
Punctuation is just as important. Narrators need to be able to read smoothly, and when sentence structure is choppy or awkward, we get tripped up, and then we get frustrated, and need to spend extra time marking up the manuscript so that it reads well when spoken aloud. When I write, I often read it aloud to myself, partly because I like to act and get into my characters, but also to make sure it’s understandable. Please put commas, semicolons, and periods where they ought to go.
Perhaps my English Honors and AP classes in high school, and the grammar drilling I had in school before then, made me a bit more sensitive than others to these sort of writing mishaps, but I believe they have also made me a better writer, and, if I chose to be, would make me a very good editor. I would probably edit for free a book I was narrating that I really enjoyed.
I have other peeves, but I think those are the biggest ones. Understanding them will make writers much more credible, and their narrators will be much happier. 🙂