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The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes - Jack M. Bickham This book contains useful practical advice on writing, in short chapters. Most of it is not in-depth theory on writing technique. The book does not say author Jack Bickham is or has been an editor, but he tends to have the viewpoint and attitude of one, and to be concerned with how the writer can make a work appealing to the reader. Some of the advice is:
-Don't think you're smarter than the reader, and don't let your writing patronize. The reader (and the editor) can tell, and will be annoyed.
-Also, don't show off your writing skills, such as by being unnecessarily verbose.
-Don't give much static description that stops plot events from occurring simultaneously. Most modern readers demand movement.
-Don't use living real people, especially with their real names. It's not just that they could sue you; Bickham says characters should be constructed, not copied from life.
-Passive, wimpy characters are uninteresting.
-Plot events should happen for a reason.
-Keep the story's intended viewpoint in mind.
-Avoid using dialects unless you know what you're doing.
-Look up any words or anything else you don't exactly know; don't assume you know.
-Observe everything around you in life, and take notes.
-Don't make irrelevant disasters happen to characters just for shock value or unexpected plot twists.
-Allow time in which your characters can think after events.
-Making characters or plot development obvious, easy to understand, is not only acceptable but good. Don't try to be too subtle. [I didn't necessarily agree.:]
-Don't spend too much time being your own critic.
-Let your characters feel as well as think.
-Don't share your work with writers' clubs, especially if you have to read your story out loud. Most writers' clubs members are not trained editors and don't know what they're doing, and even if they do, can give conflicting opinions that confuse you. For the same reason, don't show your work with friends or family for opinions.
-Don't "chase the market," i.e. look for what sells and write that.
-Take maximum advantage of your existing plot ideas by looking for new ways they can serve plot development.
-Don't annoy your editor by using improper manuscript format or submission methods.