Save the would-be author in your family a few headaches with this book from The Writer’s Toolbox Series, 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing. Editors C. S. Lakin, Linda S. Clare, Christy Distler, Robin Patchen, and Rachel Starr Thomson collaborate on how to handle twelve problems in fiction writing. Each editor writes on one or more aspects of each of the twelve problems, giving readers what amounts to a panel discussion on the problem areas.
With five editors writing on the same problem, do they repeat each other much? Maybe in the introductory comments, but they work together bring up different angles on the topic. Sentences can fail to communicate in many different ways. Dialogue flaws are multitudinous. A developing writer will likely find many spots to polish when applying this advice to their own writing.
“Once you learn to detach emotionally from the words you write,” Lakin explains, “the battle is half won.”
The editors also give five examples of bad writing on each problem as well as a summary example at the end of each chapter, making this book something of a writing workshop if you’re willing to rewrite each example and then compare your work to the suggestion provided.
The twelve flaws they tackle:
- Describing nothing that moves the story
- Weak construction
- Too much backstory
- Point of view violations
- Telling instead of showing
- Lack of pacing, tension
- Flawed dialogue construction
- Description deficiencies and excesses
- Pesky Adverbs and Weasel Words
- Flawed Writing Mechanics
Each chapter concludes with a handy review page listing all of the advice for that problem and a practice example to work on. A book like this should save would-be writers plenty of emotional (and literal) cash when approaching an editor with their manuscript.
Lakin is also the author of The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction and other titles in The Writer’s Toolbox Series. She gave me a PDF of the new book in exchange for this review.