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The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes…

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (edition 1997)

by Jack Bickham

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288939,063 (3.45)5
Title:The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes
Authors:Jack Bickham
Info:Writers Digest Books (1997), Paperback, 128 pages
Collections:Your library

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The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack M. Bickham



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To be honest the title of this book made me think that it was going to be some ghastly jump-on-the-band-wagon, make-money-at-home type book.
I was totally wrong. Every point in this book is gold dust for people like me that are still on the long path of learning the craft of writing. I have been guilty of most of the mistakes this book points out at one time or another.

Jack's explanations are so short and concise that they make you laugh out loud. The fact that the book is so short is no accident, he practices what he preaches and gives the facts, without bullshit, in clear and easy to understand terms. This book is spot on and worth every penny for those who take their fiction writing seriously. ( )
  peterjameswest | Nov 21, 2014 |
Breezily written but it does contain some good advice and words of wisdom while applying to publishers.
  gmicksmith | Sep 27, 2013 |
I liked that this book kept things simple and easy to digest. Each mistake had a short chapter to itself, with explanations and examples. There were some useful things that I already knew, but that this highlighted -- for example, he emphasised using conflict/change to drive a story, and not letting characters be weak. Lo and behold, what is the problem with a couple of my original characters? They aren't necessary because they don't change or act for most of the story, but simply go with the flow. (For those who know Epidemic-verse -- Niamh, I am looking at you.)

Unfortunately, I really hated the tone of it. I felt very much as if the author was secretly saying, "Here I am, up on my pedestal, and now all you little amateurs must sit and listen, because I am better than you". Really.

He also alienated me by being just plain wrong. He gave "the rosy fingers of dawn" as an example of the kind of purple prose writers who are in love with their own writing fall prey to. "The rosy fingers of dawn" is, of course, an epithet used in the epics of Homer (and occasionally, Virgil's Aeneid). And that, of course, is not only work in translation anyway, but work from an oral tradition in which epithets were an expected and necessary part of the narrative.

Pah. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Offers good, solid advice in an easy-to-read style. The advice may be presented in a light-hearted manner at times, but there's some important advice contained in the humour.

Each of the 38 writing mistakes was dealt with in a short separate "chapter;" you could read one or as many tips as you wanted to per sitting. I found it best to read a few tips, stop and absorb what had been said and then go back to the book later.

I found the book encouraging, useful and motivating. The points that resonated most deeply with me were:

No 33 (Don't pose and posture) – this point made me realise that my most precious commodity as a writer is my unique self; if I "pose and posture" and try to write what I think will sell, I lose the very thing that makes me the writer I am: my own voice.

No 29 (Don't hide from your feelings) - Editors have said to me that when my feeling gets to deep I "pull back" from my writing and become bogged down in technique. This tip highlighted the need for me to confront my primitive emotions in my writing.

There were many more tips that I found interesting; some didn't resonate with me at all. I'm sure each reader will find some point that becomes his or her personal favourite. ( )
  JudyCroome | Aug 17, 2012 |
This is my favorite writing book of all time. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in writing fiction. Bickham has a very easy writing style but makes his point stronger than most people. ( )
  JosiKilpack | Jan 29, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0898798213, Paperback)

Fictional life, according to Jack Bickham, is better than real life. You don't get struck by lightning. You are not subject to random acts of cruelty. Events proceed logically. On the other hand, Bickham says, "In fiction, the best times for the writer--and reader--are when the story's main character is in the worst trouble." Not good if you're a fictional character. The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes is as engaging as Bickham wants your fiction to be. It is sharp, focused, funny, and pointed. And it is demanding. Bickham, who has written over 65 novels and several fiction-writing guides, has little patience for wannabes. "Writers write," Bickham says. "Everyone else makes excuses." Bickham's pronouncements are decidedly negative: "Don't Describe Sunsets," advises one chapter; "Don't Write About Wimps"; "Don't Let [Your Characters] Be Windbags"; and "Don't Worry What Your Mother Will Think." But his lessons are positive. Behind each dictum is a terse, entertaining, and utterly well-reasoned examination of why the problem is a problem, and what you can do to expunge it from your prose. --Jane Steinberg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Guide to writing fiction and avoiding mistakes including proper character building, creating conflicts, and sticking to the story's direction.

(summary from another edition)

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