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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Common Mistakes in Fiction

I have now finished reading 38 Common Mistakes in Fiction Writing.
The book has been around since 1992 and has sound advice. Most of it any writer (published or unpublished) will have heard before. There again, as Bickham points out -- sometimes you do not hear what the teacher is telling you.
Sometimes you can not understand what the editor is saying. Then suddenly, a light bulb happens and you think ah yes, this was she was saying xyz. It is also why it pays to read a wide range of craft books because explanations can differ, even if they are saying the same thing.
He does make the point that with craft books, they cover a wide scope and it is impossible to say -- if the specific exercise is something you need to work on or if you are merely drawn to it because you actually avoiding looking at other areas of your work. (This is where a critique partner can help). He also points out that not every teacher works for every pupil. You have to be willing to learn and to apply that knowledge. It is not simply having the tools but knowing which tool to use in which situation.

Anyway, it is a sound little book full of helpful advice, if you are willing to listen and absorb it. It is aimed at the commercial fiction writer rather than the literary one, and not necessarily the romance genre. But somethings apply across the board.
His plan for revision very much mirrors the one I currently use but he makes some good points about what to look for.

To my mind the first one -- writers write and the last two -- persistence pays and start now are the most important lessons. And right now, as my cp has been cracking her whip, I need to write. 31 October is not really that long away.

The puppies are doing well, in case anyone is interested. They are starting to be very helpful with rounding up the ducks at night. Tess in particular is very nifty on her pins.

1 comment:

Liz Fielding said...

I think we need a pic of Tess rounding up the ducks!