LESS people? LESS chances?? Whoops!

I subscribe to a blog for writers that often includes good information.  Sometimes, however, it contains complaints that are poorly written, like this one:

One hundred years ago there were less writing people in the world. There were less literate people in the world able to write. It is frustrating to know that you are placing your work in a negative and overcrowded environment where you have less chances of success and that you are going to have to spend time doing what a TP (Traditional Publisher) would be doing for you rather than getting on with the book.

 

I have pointed out in several previous posts that there is a usage difference between LESS and FEWER.  FEWER should be used for things that can be counted (like PEOPLE, PEOPLE, and CHANCES).  LESS is used for things that cannot be counted (like LAUNDRY, SALT, or KINDNESS).

Having worked in both the business community and the publishing industry, I can assure would-be authors as well as prospective employees that editors and HR interviewers are often faced with far more manuscripts or applications than they can handle.  When this is the case, their first cut is almost always based on how well written the content of the manuscript or application is.  They can quickly eliminate prospects simply by using good writing as the first criterion.

The paragraph above would not pass muster with most editors, primarily because of the incorrect use of LESS in three different places. The paragraph should read this way:

One hundred years ago there were fewer writing people in the world. There were fewer literate people in the world able to write. It is frustrating to know that you are placing your work in a negative and overcrowded environment where you have fewer chances of success and that you are going to have to spend time doing what a TP (Traditional Publisher) would be doing for you rather than getting on with the book.

Quality writing rises to the top, even in slush piles, so take care with the mechanics of your writing.

 

 

 


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