The Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing

Many of you may know that I’ve written eighteen novels plus a small host of nonfiction books, articles, and blog posts; and on top of that I have edited hundreds of manuscripts and worked with hundreds of writing students. So when it comes to books, not many things are new to me.

Enter coauthoring! With four other author-editors!

Last year I was invited to be part of a blog series called “The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing” for the award-winning Live Write Thrive blog. I and four other editors posted every month about the recurrent problems that can cause “novel failure”—issues that can sink a book, and regularly do.

The book is part of The Writer’s Toolbox series, a great series of nonfiction books written by my fellow writer-editor C.S. Lakin.

(You may remember seeing reviews of some of C.S. Lakin’s novels around here; I reviewed her entire Gates of Heaven series as they were released.)

Of course, a coauthor’s work is never done. I wrote my twelve posts, and then I signed up to help promote the book—which has entailed a lot of guest posting on other blogs, among other things—and of course I edited the book, because what else is a writer-editor to do?

In the process of editing, I have to tell you: I learned a ton. This book is going to make me a better writer and a better editor, so you can all thank my fellow authors.

Twelve Fatal Flaws

Just what are the twelve fatal flaws of fiction writing? Here are the twelve as we identified them:

  • The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction WritingFatal Flaw #1: Overwriting [Gah! Too many words!]
  • Fatal Flaw #2: Nothin’ Happenin’ [How long can characters actually sit and think before anything happens?]
  • Fatal Flaw #3: Weak Construction [Word choices and sentences structures that make things boring, vague, uninspiring . . .]
  • Fatal Flaw #4: Too Much Backstory [Hello, Info Dump.]
  • Fatal Flaw # 5: POV Violations [Whose head are we in, anyway?]
  • Fatal Flaw # 6: Telling instead of Showing [The important advice that gets taken wrong most often and what it actually means, with a fabulous chapter on showing emotion.]
  • Fatal Flaw #7: Lack of Pacing and Tension [When stuff just draaaaags . . .]
  • Fatal Flaw #8: Flawed Dialog Construction [‘Nuff said.]
  • Fatal Flaw #9: Underwriting [Where are all the words?]
  • Fatal Flaw #10: Description Deficiencies and Excesses [The difference between living worlds and words on paper.]
  • Fatal Flaw #11: Pesky Adverbs and “Weasel Words” [Indubitably.]
  • Fatal Flaw #12: Flawed Writing Mechanics [Grammar matters!]

The book’s really unique contribution is our more than sixty Before and After example passages, to help you identify and fix all of the above, written in a variety of styles and genres. Plus checklists.

Personally, I think this would be a fun read even for nonwriters. For writers, it’s a treasure trove.

The book will be on sale December 1, but you can preorder your copy now.







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