Timothy McNeil's Reviews > The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack M. Bickham
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's review
Mar 19, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: books-on-writing, non-fiction
Read from March 14 to 19, 2012 , read count: 1

Bickham is well aware that there cannot be a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to advice on writing, but he does seem aggressive in his presentation that there is a formula (left somewhat nebulous) to the craft.
What is most disappointing is his absolute insistence that readers are stupid, lazy, and need to be spoon fed every little bit of information, whereas published authors and editors are definitionally masters of the craft and the only voices an unpublished, aspiring author should consider worthy of his or her time. If this is not how Professor Bickham feels, then he needs to make a few revisions to this work, because it is clearly what he wrote. (At the same time, he attacks the academic interpretation of literature and a small, possibly imagined cadre of authors who claim that they don't have a formula for writing.)
I would say that about ten of his mistakes are arguably not mistakes at all (not even artistic choices), but rather an expression of a man who is too used to writing formula fiction and motivating students to produce easily digestible text every week. Maybe six of the sections have meaningful insight. The rest kind of do what most books on writing seem to do, which is to reinforce that writers need to write if they want to be writers, and that the story must be coherent in order for it to mean anything to the reader.
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03/15/2012 page 16
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Meades I agree that this book doesn't have much respect for the opinion of the unpublished author. And that's not always the case. I did find though, in my writing workshop classes back in the day, that it sometimes felt like 12 people who'd never published a story trying to teach another person how to write a story, while the instructors (published authors) often provided excellent criticisms...

LobsterQuadrille I've read several books on writing books in the past,and often they seem to advocate dumbing down your writing and simplifying everything. It's kind of bothersome actually...

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