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Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  619 Ratings  ·  69 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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Laura Roberts
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, 2012
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
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for_writers
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
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Adam AdamBoBattam
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Beacon of light in a foggy topic.
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.
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.
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 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!
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!
K. Parker
Oct 13, 2015 rated it liked it
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
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
Jan 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I picked this up during a desperate period of near-inescapable writer's block. It...didn't help, mainly because Cleaver thinks that attacking struggling writers with the literary equivalent of a severe beating is a constructive motivator.

ETA: After giving this a second look during a recent attempt to streamline my fiction, I've found it to be more helpful than I first gave it credit for. It's good for helping even snotty, "I know it all" published authors re-acquaint themselves with the basics o
Erin Gayton
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
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
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I am really liking this book. After finishing NaNoWriMo this year, I picked this up and it has had a positive impact on my writing. It has proven to be a good investment.

Too many good tips to list here, but one of the best was that just like actor's get stage fright, writers get blocked and get "page fright".

Cleaver boils down novel writing into small simple pieces that any writer will find helpful.
Winter Alley
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
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.

Apr 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
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.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Seems decent overall - I'm certainly no expert. Mostly inspirational with some good advice and feedback on keeping motivated and keeping at it. The author stays away from getting in to dense literary terminology and collapses story form down to simple components. A quick read that I think will be useful.
Benjamin Kelly
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jerry Cleaver distills the creative writing process down into a simple formula anyone can understand. I had a manuscript rejected by a publisher, who recommended this book. After doing a rewrite and putting Cleavers formula to work, I resubmitted and got accepted. I highly recommend Immediate Fiction to any writer who has been rejected.
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“Anytime you don’t have a picture in your head, you’re in trouble or will be soon.” 3 likes
“And faster writing is better writing.” 1 likes
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