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The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes [Paperback]

Jack M. Bickham
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

1 Mar 2001

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes

When you write fiction, you march onto a minefield. This book gives you a map.

Oh, what tricky terrain you're traveling! You must reckon with: Character, Conflict, Point of View, Dialogue, Editors, Editors, and Editors, who--by returning stories they see as problem-plagued--can burst your hopes of publication.

Where are the problems? Editors rarely take the time to map them out, so Jack Bickham has. In this book, he spotlights the 38 most common fiction writing land mines--writing mistakes that can turn even dynamite story ideas into slush pile rejects. And he guides you in overcoming them.

In to-the-point style, he shows you how to:

  • conquer procrastination--and put ink on paper regularly
  • dump wimpy characters--and build characters ready to act
  • look for trouble--and create conflicts for your characters
  • cut coincidence--and put better-than-life logic into fiction
  • escape the fog--and find and stick to your story's direction
  • free feelings--and fire your fiction with passion and emotion
In short, Bickham helps you take a giant step toward publication.

Read this book. Strengthen your writing. And start setting off explosions where they belong: on the sales charts.

Frequently Bought Together

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes + Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish (Write Great Fiction)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; New edition edition (1 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898798213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898798210
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 15 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
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WRITERS ARE A FAVORITE SUBJECT FOR CARTOONISTS, FROM CHARLES SCHULZ of Peanuts fame to those who contribute to The New Yorker. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable and a great spur 7 Jan 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Everytime I read this book it inspires me to keep on going.
It has shown me several serious mistakes that I had made in my writing of commercial fiction and I would recommend it as the ideal book for any struggling authors - particularly us unpublished amateurs who are still learning with an intent to go commercial.
I find this the perfect book to take to airports or bus stations as the chapters are short and pithy. Each 'mistake' will only take a couple of minutes to read but should arouse much thought about your own work. They say that the only way to become a rule breaker - a maverick who sets their own rules or forges their own style is to know the rules. This book shows you the rules so that if you decide to break them then at least you know what you are doing and why it may or may not work.
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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Although the title sounds negative, this book pulls no punches in telling you exactly what you should be doing with your writing. I particularly found his advice on the craft of writing scene structure useful. I have no hesitation in recommending it - it's a great buy.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and inspirational 22 Aug 1998
By A Customer
In this very short volume, Bickham manages to get to the essence of writing good popular fiction. His language is very easy to understand, very easy to apply, and yet reveals his decades of experience. He has distilled it all down into this one book, and it's a must for all those who want to write more effective popular fiction. For those looking for even more, try his 'How to Write and Sell Your Novel', which contains longer, more in-depth treatment of the material.
Warning: For those wanting to write 'literary fiction' or such stuff, this is not the book for you.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Whilst by no means a complete waste of time, Bickman's book doesn't have the general application that some better guides offer. It's probably quite useful if you write romance, or pulp westerns and espionage thrillers as Mr Bickman himself apparently did - anything with a single protagonist battling against the odds - but for most other genres his limited (and limiting) advice is less than helpful. Personally I write fantasy, horror and science-fiction, and the model he puts forward as mandatory for any good fiction would exlude many of the great works in those genres (as well as the majority of literary classics, for that matter). As proof of this there's the fact that Bickman offers almost no examples to cooborate his arguments, and a couple of the few there are are from his own works! On the plus side, it's a very readable and stirring book, and even if like me you disagree with much of what's said, it at least pushes you to question your own style and decisions. Personally I would recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, as a much more generally applicable and less personal and occassionally bizzare guide than this.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Pithy, to-the-point, and more useful than any other single book on the subject. Have yet to see the important writing questions asked (and answered) so well. Probably the best first book for aspiring writers to read, well before their manuscripts are finished.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational 24 Nov 2004
This book was a great read. An eye opener into the things we do in writing that we do without conscious thought. I bought it based on the reviews that I had read here, it is simple, short and to the point. The writer clearly states would be problems and how in some instances they aren't necessarily bad if considered and used properly. At first I was slightly sceptical about what he was saying because they disagreed with some of my experience, however the writer wrote in detail as to why he says what does and goes as far as to present examples. It is a good indicator of where you are with your own writing and is an helps raise awareness of possible problems that might occur. Not to forget this book inspired me to start being more observant and plan and make notes. For where I want to go with my writing this book is a gem however let it be made clear that it may not be the same experience for all however I will guarantee that if you are an amateur writer there will be at least sections that will be a great help.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one "must-have" book 20 Sep 2004
This is an excellent book!!! So many good points. It is a very easy read and to the point on all the main things to consider for short stories or novels. A very quick read. It left me wanting to write. It is very inspiring. I now have a notebook with me at all times to write down my thoughts/ideas/observations. I shall use this book as my reference/guide/friend to keep me on track.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good one 10 April 1998
By A Customer
This book's title doesn't do the contents justice. Slim volume full of practical advice. Maybe more of a beginner's book than Stein's On Writing, but its messages are needed for all writers. Read it in one sitting, then went back and marked numerous passages. One that stays near my work station.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I got this book from my dad for my 21st birthday and I read it in one day. People have said that a lot of the points in this book have already been mentioned in other books. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ms. C. V. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Provides a quick catch up on the things you may know, or may have forgotten, or didn't ever know. Very useful.
Published 6 months ago by Sunslave
4.0 out of 5 stars Jack M. Bickham - The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes | Review
Jack M. Bickham's handbook for fiction writers is widely acclaimed by critics and authors alike, and it's an interesting read for writers of all genres and disciplines, although... Read more
Published 13 months ago by SocialBookshelves.com
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry...
I agree with the other reviews on this page of one stars. If you have ever read any other books on writing you will know all of these 38 points. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Skywood
4.0 out of 5 stars Hmm...
I enjoyed reading this book, which did exactly what it said on the cover. However, it is a little out of date and, in places, misguided. Read more
Published 17 months ago by T. Bently
5.0 out of 5 stars No Mistaskes!
Helpful, clear, not too heavy going. Great! A good companion to the postal Writing Course I have begun, not read it all yet but what I have I like.
Published 18 months ago by Wuffi
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
I had to wait a month for this book to arrive, although I did receive it within the deadline given of 7th January (it arrived on the 3rd). Read more
Published 18 months ago by dumpledora
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful & easy read
Offers good, solid advice in an easy-to-read style. The advice may be presented in a light-hearted manner at times, but there's some important advice contained in the humour. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Judy Croome
5.0 out of 5 stars Punches well above its weight.
Don't let the length of this book put you off - no waffle just good honest advice which sometimes contradicts what your English teacher told you. But who wants to write essays? Read more
Published on 6 Jan 2012 by Tinkertoo
4.0 out of 5 stars The 38 Fiction writing mistakes
It's an instructive book and certainly ideal for a beginner, and perhaps useful for those who've been writing for years. I did disagree with some aspects of the book. Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2011 by Topcat
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