The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes

a book review

sub-title(And How to Avoid Them)
authorJack M. Bickham
date reviewed2020.05.23

This gem of a book lives up to its title. With plenty of real-world illustrations it walks through an endless series of mistakes that most authors will recognize, and explains what to do about them. It really is that simple. The mini-chapters representing each mistake have titles like:

"Don't Fail to Make the Viewpoint Clear"

And subtitles to match:

"...when you can keep your readers riveted on a single character and his or her problem."

There are a lot of books for would-be authors that talk about the process of developing a narrative, and rightly so. But this book is the kind of how-to that I think packs a lot of punch for anyone who's struggling.

I first bought this book while living in Australia in 2001. It's 2021 and I read it again last year as I was having another go at my story at that time. In the thirty years since this was written we now have the Internet with its many web sites and forums and instructional videos. What sets this apart is that the content isn't written by random forum-goers or some crank with a video camera. It's written by someone who got 75 novels published.

👍🏼 recommended

rand()m quote

life’s too short to use shitty pens

—Ken Werneburg, slack chat 2021