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Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  470 ratings  ·  61 reviews
The Only Writing Book You'll Ever Need

From the legendary creator of the Writer's Loft in Chicago, comes a writing course for those who want to see results now. Immediate Fiction covers the entire process of writing including manuscript preparation, time management, finding an idea, getting words on the page, staying unblocked, and submitting to agents and publishers.

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Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 3rd 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Laura Roberts
Lacking any legitimate sources of editing wisdom for writers of fiction, I found this book online through Cleaver's Story Studio. I grabbed a copy from my local library to check out the supposed no-nonsense approach, and guess what? It's pretty damn no-nonsense!

Whether you're a first-timer just trying to figure out how to get started, or you're an old hand who's wondering why you keep hitting the wall or painting yourself into a corner, Cleaver's book will help you get your writing house back in
Ashley Lauren
For me this book has some serious pros but some just a major cons.

Overall, I think the content is really valuable. Cleaver has laid out some excellent tools that writers can use throughout thier writing. He gives us specific points to think about instead of just reading over something and asking, "Was that good?" It provides a concrete plan which can be used to promote some serious creativity.

However, I don't think this is the end all book. Because there is a set plan, it doesn't have a lot of f
Cleaver’s goal is to tell you how to write a publishable story and how to write it fast. I won’t say whether or not this book has good ideas, because what works for me as a writer isn’t always what works for everyone else.

For example, I will outline a few scenes, very loosely, just to give myself a trajectory. Then I’ll pants it (that’s a term I learned during NaNoWriMo–it means writing by the seat of your pants–yay pants). It often doesn’t go exactly like my outline, but having the next few ste
Alia Makki
There's a part in this book that explains the importance of identification. Identifying with characters, identifying with stories, identifying with ourselves in our environment.

The author related to isolation experiments, where people were sealed in sensor-sterilized chambers, and they can't hear anything or feel the tips of their fingers or even feel the weight of their own bodies under the pressure of gravity. Even the strongest individuals cracked in such conditions. Schizophrenic hallucinat
As far as writing books go, this one isn't all that fun to read (unlike Orson Scott Card's books on writing, which were entertaining as well as inspiring).

The method detailed in this book seems really solid. He lays out the basic tools of writing, offers many writing exercises, and has a good attitude about writing with your own inspiration and using the tools only as a way to get "unstuck" or a way to edit effectively.

Unlike many other books on writing, though, this one seems more intimidating.
This and The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within are the two best books on writing I have ever read. Cleaver addresses the very basics: why scenes work and why they don't. With his simple formula you now know where you're going wrong and how to fix it. If you're stuck with a writing puzzle, he offers the missing piece. I look forward to reading it again, because I'm pretty sure it's one of those books that you find something new in whenever you read it.
This may actually be a three star book, but I gave it four because it gets to the point well, is clearly laid out, and the author doesn't try to tell you that the only way to write is his way.

Basically Cleaver cuts through the fog about "trusting your characters" and "letting your writing tell you what it wants" and sets out a few basic principles that make a good story. Will you be surprised to learn they're Conflict, Action and Resolution? Hopefully not. However, this book does more than tell
The intro sparked my interest then I went straight to Chapter 15: Hitting the Wall. Loved Chapter 15, it had some great insights but the book fell flat for me after that I found myself just skimming most of it.
The most tried-and-true remedy for blockage and stale creativity. Despite the cheesy title, no other book better distills the essence of story better.
Diane  Holcomb
I've always struggled with plot. Character? No problem. Strong images? Got it. Active sentences? Yep. Dialogue? Not bad. But what is this thing called Plot?

I've read other books about how to plot and how to shape the story and how to blueprint the novel and how to master plot in x number of lessons and I just couldn't get it! I was writing by the seat of my pants and going by instinct.

Then I picked up Immediate Fiction. Plot, says Cleaver, is simple: a character wants something; something or som
Randall Dunn
Really enjoyed this book! Provided a lot of simple breakdowns for how to write, instead of focusing on things that have little to do with the actual craft of telling a story. Some of the same basics I use to help people in my beginners class to get started writing and keep at it.
What I appreciated most were the bold phrases, which made it easy to skim through quickly and get the main points, for those of us who have been writing (and reading writing books) for a while. Overall, I found Jerry Cle
Ken Lozito
I've taken creative writing courses both as workshops and in college, but none of them resonated with me as much as this book has. This book proved to be an invaluable resource and improved my writing significantly. I do make it a point to go back and reread it every few years. If I ever meet Mr Cleaver I would shake his hand and say thank you for writing this book.
Oct 29, 2015 Kaleiyah-P rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: beginners, intermediates, those who need a refresher
Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver is a writing book I respect half-way. It has everything you need to know to write a good story. It distills story craft into five needed elements to make writing a story easy: conflict (want + obstacle), action, resolution, emotion, and showing. It's repetitive to the point where you want to groan, but he acknowledges the repetitive nature of the book. Furthermore, it is a writing course designed to get you to study on your own, and the casual, friendly tone ma ...more
Suki Michelle
Simple concepts and exercises to create engagement and instill forward momentum in every scene. If you read just one book on improving your writing skills, this is it.
I found this to be a very helpful book, particularly the emphasis on conflict revealing character and the chapter on time management. Both have helped tremendously.
May 07, 2007 Nate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any Writer.
Shelves: booksforwriters
Jerry is master writing teacher, and makes it easy for everyone to understand, and tells you what you need to start writing now.
A great jump-start when you don't know how to start (or get back into) writing stories.
Adam AdamBoBattam
Beacon of light in a foggy topic.
Winter Alley
This is a plainly written well-organized approach to writing. I found it helpful at the start of a first draft revision, and it is a resource I expect to come back to repeatedly. It lives up to its claim of being a complete writing course, taking the reader through the basic elements of plot, story structure, the discipline of writing, and tips on negotiating the publishing world.

I recommend this book to anyone serious about the craft.

Camilo Colorado
The first book I read on writing. Very basic and perfect for me, a beginner, who needed simple direction and motivation. Written in a very easy style to process and understand. I would recommend to anyone just starting out in writing. If you are a seasoned writer or have read multiple books on the craft it may not be enough new information for you.
Jul 25, 2014 Tamara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fiction writers
Recommended to Tamara by: Mom
Clear and concise with excellent examples given to illustrate Cleaver's proven techniques for good fiction writing. He offers a simple formula that can easily be applied to the draft, chapter, or each passage, making it universally applicable and an invaluable writing tool.
Feb 05, 2010 Bill rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who aspires to write fiction
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. What Cleaver does especially well is that way he takes the mystery out of fiction writing and breaks it down into simple, manageable tasks. I especially like his "5 in 30" technique - which is to commit to writing for 5 minutes a day, each day, for 30 days. After that, you should commit to a year - writing every day, for at least 5 minutes a day.

Cleaver is not really talking about artistry at all in this book; he's describing techniques that
I adore this book. Straightforward, fairly to the point, all those terms you've already encountered yet may not have seen put together with their interrelationships so clearly and simply explained. Above all it's dynamic... dynamically about dynamic writing. You can tell that the author is passionate about teaching and helping.

My only complaint--it's okay for rereading, but just okay. And rereading is necessary while writing, I find. There's some filler that is useful when you're reading for the
To be honest, I skimmed through the book, but it offers some good, helpful, sound advice that many people don't pause to think about.
Erin Gayton
This book is invaluable for the beginning fiction writer. Part writing guide, part self-help, it covers just about everything one needs to begin writing seriously and regularly, and for me it will serve as a benchmark for evaluating other books on writing. I was put off by Cleaver's style at first (the first chapter rather heavily sells the value of the book, door-to-door salesman meets motivational speaker) but the book is more substantial that it seems. I'll be coming back to it regularly as I ...more
I Love Audiobooks
This book answered so many questions I've had about writing... EXCELLENT. I listened using the VoiceDream app to turn the kindle to audio. Worked well.
Helpful, worth a read
Jerry Cleaver complains about not getting concrete advice when he was learning to write. Now that he is an experienced writer he wanted to do something about it and this book does a good job of it. It wasn't to my taste, however. I'm reasonably well versed in the basics and was looking for more inspirational writing. There were two sections in the back about overcoming writers block and published that I only skimmed.
Melanie Faith
This craft book will be at the top of my list for a new writing course syllabus; I think students will be quite inspired by the instruction and prompts-- I was! :)
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“stories aren’t ideas. They’re not concepts or definitions. They’re experience.” 0 likes
“Anytime you don’t have a picture in your head, you’re in trouble or will be soon.” 0 likes
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