Advice on Writing Great Fiction scott biddulph

Advice on Writing Great Fiction

Hello dear friends and fellow wielders of the pen, it has been a while since I last posted here at Two Drops of Ink. I have been busy trying to finish my book “Twisted Ride.” Along this journey of writing, I often find nuggets of truth—either by painful experience or by the experience of someone else—that I like to share with you all.
I have studied my craft as well as anyone can. I read books by successful writers that teach the skills of writing. I study grammar books, sentence structure, and anything I can get my hands on to become the best writer I can; however, I still make mistakes, bore my readers at times, and suffer horrid editorial reviews. This is just all part of the world of a writer—none are exempt.
That said, I wanted to share a book here on the blog that I recently read. It’s a quick read, and it gets to the real meat and potatoes of writing fiction successfully. The book is titled: “The 38 most common fiction writing mistakes” by Jack M. Bickham.
The book is only 113 pages long and is fashioned in an almost bullet point style of facts and examples on how to write good fiction. There is always a positive aspect to every problem in life. In my case, most of the painful mistakes I have made as a writer have only made me better; however, some mistakes can make you or break you as the author of a successful fiction novel. As I read this book, I was delighted to see that I was already following some of his advice or techniques quite naturally; on the other hand, I was also guilty of some of the worst mistakes he mentions.
One of the things I loved was his way of explaining the essentials of good fiction in a very concise and coherent manor—in laymen’s terms if you will. The number one lesson I took from the reading of this book was to keep fiction moving forward at all times; meaning, learning how to use dialog, narrative, descriptiveness, and other literary techniques in just the proper way, or in the proper amount, to keep the story moving rather than static.
I thought of one of the chapters in my draft manuscript that goes into deep detail of the protagonist’s past history. I remember when I let my wife read it for the first time. I had this gut feeling it sucked, but I needed to be sure. I watched her eyes (the ever-present window of the soul), and I could see the moments of interest and excitement…then, suddenly, her eyes glazed over like the walking dead. Yep, you guessed it; she was reading the portion of my book that included a history lesson on my main character. I was reminded of my favorite chapter in Anne Lamott`s book “Bird by Bird” called “Shitty first drafts.” I learned that I can tell this history in bits and pieces along the way rather than in an entire chapter, which makes my reader want to use my book as a torture mechanism for enemy combatants.
As always, I write here because I love to write, to share thoughts about prose and poetry, and also because I hope that some other writer will benefit from my personal experience.
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  1. I love the visual of your comment (laughing). Yes, I learned the hard way, and through tough editorial rants, that not everything I wrote was a great as I thought it was. If you get a chance to read “Bird by Bird” by author Anne Lamott, you`ll love her chapter on “Shitty first drafts.” Anyway, thanks for the visit and the comment. I`m so glad you enjoyed the post. WP

  2. Some good advice, William. I'm working on my third in a series. I sometimes struggle getting my main characters' history in without putting myself to sleep. If I wake up with my keyboard imprinted on my face, then it's time for a do over.

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