When working on a manuscript, editors mark up and revise sections to show writing clients what’s not working, why, and how these passages might be rewritten. We believe this is the best way to help writers identify their specific weaknesses, as well as learn how to get mastery over them.
Not every writer can afford to hire an editor to point out a manuscript’s flaws. And wouldn’t it be better for writers to arm themselves with the knowledge and skills needed to avoid succumbing to these writing flaws in the first place? We think so.
That’s why we five editors put together a year-long course online–on the Live Write Thrive blog–specifically aimed at tackling the most problematic issues we see day in and day out as we edit and critique manuscripts. While there are undoubtedly more than twelve “fatal flaws” of fiction writing, we set out to examine in depth the most troublesome and ubiquitous of these.
We refer to these issues as fatal flaws because of their potential to cause “novel failure.” Any one of these twelve flaws, if prevalent in a novel or other work of fiction, can be a writer’s undoing. And because there is no one way to fix each flaw, we’ve created multiple examples to expose each one, using passages written in a variety of genres, points of view, and writing styles. We feel this wide assortment of more than sixty examples provides just the help writers need.
In addition to being editors, we are all novelists–who struggle with these fiction flaws like any other author. We hope that by sharing our decades of experience as writers as well as book editors, we might help you seek and destroy the fatal flaws in your writing.
As a novelist at heart, I couldn’t wait to read this book compiled by several well-known book editors. Though I’m aware of the flaws that they discussed, I wanted to see if this book is one that I should add to my shelf or simply pass by. My conclusion?
I wish I’d had this book when I wrote my first manuscript.
We all learn differently. I didn’t care for a novel-writing book that everyone recommended; instead, I absorbed every word of a more obscure writing guide. That meant a lot of time and money buying and reading two books. In 12 Fatal Flaws, however, three editors address each flaw, so if you don’t connect well with one editor’s description there’s a good chance one of the other’s will find your trigger. In addition to three commentaries, each editor provides before and after segments to help you see what good and bad writing look like.
But that’s not all!
For each flaw there’s a checklist to help you edit your own work. Then there’s another sample where you can apply the techniques you’ve just learned (followed by a revised sample to help you see if you’ve figured it out yet).
This book works because it doesn’t just tell you what to do, then hope that you understood it. These editors take you through the process of learning then practicing proper writing. It’s definitely a book I would recommend to any novelist (and even to my fiction coaching clients). With so many examples, tips, and opportunities to practice, it would be hard to finish this book without walking away with a better understanding of good fiction writing.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.