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Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  708 ratings  ·  83 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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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Laura Roberts
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Diane  Holcomb
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Alia Makki
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
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.
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Ken Lozito
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Mar 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing-books
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.
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
The first part of this book lays out the basics of crafting a story - want, obstacle, action, emotion, showing not telling. All those basic things I was missing when I wrote stories in school, all the things my teachers were looking for, but expected me to have picked up by osmosis. I never had someone sit down and say "look at the page -what does the character want? how does the author show that? what's stopping them from getting it? what are they doing?" So although the first part of this book ...more
Danny Knestaut
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
I found the advice in this book to tend towards the shallow side. If Cleaver taught at a medical school, I imagine his advice to students would be something akin to, "Forget all that stuff people told you about curing diseases and treating injuries. All you need to know to be a doctor is that you keep the heart beating, and the lungs breathing." And while such basic advice certainly has some value, it's not exactly the philosophy is like to see my doctor practice.

In all seriousness, I suppose th
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked 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
Randall Dunn
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
A great jump-start when you don't know how to start (or get back into) writing stories. ...more
May 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Adam AdamBoBattam
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Beacon of light in a foggy topic.
Suki Michelle
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Some techniques I may use, but overall kind of boring.

Taylor Clogston
Feb 15, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't able to get more than about 40% through this book. Cleaverseems highly cynical of my time and his own ability to keep me interested. He uses the "Wow, this example is so much more interesting than that last example, right??? Well it's because we used [current pet technique] :DDD" format that so many craft books seem to love, and he constantly uses sex and infidelity in examples and exercises when he wants to make fully sure he will have the reader's attention.

The core of the whole book
Apr 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I think it’s a bit simplistic in terms of writing not being a skill but a craft. According to Cleaver you have to have skill to be a musician or a painter, but not to be a writer – with writing it’s a matter of knowing the basic problems that all writers deal with in storytelling and dealing with them. He’s right in some respects, though he never gets onto whether you can actually put the words down on paper in the first place. I think he’s assuming that the people who read his book will have wr ...more
Belinda A. Allen
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Get busy and write some shit.” Pg. 225. Jerry Cleavor’s writing course in Immediate Fiction fulfills its title’s promise with practical advice and assurance. My favorites are the quote above and the assurance that writer’s block is part of the writing process. He provides instruction on how to tame your subconscious into generating productive creativity. Immediate Fiction has become a companion to my copy of “On Writing “ by Stephen King.
Jeffrey Fisher
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Read this book nearly two decades ago and revisiting it again reminded me how good its advice still is. Parts a bit dated, but the core ideas are sound. I didn't start really writing fiction until nearly 15 years after I read this, but its principles informed my writing, and rereading confirmed how I am on the right track. Want+ Obstacle + Action + Emotion + Showing ... that's it. Follow this in every scene you write and you won't go wrong. ...more
Becca Wierwille
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-books
I really enjoyed this writing book. I appreciated the author's constant reminders about the essentials of any story, and also his reminders that different writers have different methods. There are definitely some great ideas here that I will be coming back to as I dive into my writing! ...more
Nataliya Korn
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a really good read on the art of making novels. Cleaver describes the elements of a good story as want, obstacle, resolution, emotion and showing. This is a very good way of analyzing a story or a novel. I will use this book in my pursuit of writing my first novel.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Made every piece of abstract advice I've heard over the years make sense; in a clear and concise way! ...more
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to all writers regardless of genre. Lots of craft and technique advice and a useful guide to blocks!
M.G. Herron
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: craft
Maybe the most practical and useful single book on the craft of writing fiction.
Jazzlin Escovar
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Owl Tronne
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended.
Read several books on this topic. This was the only useful one.
Do the exercises!
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