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Welcome to my blog. Here you will find tips that will help you write books and articles that establish you as the expert in your market.
                   --Lee Pound

January 2019
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Why I am so Hard on Fiction Writers

You’ve heard me mention how many badly written novels I’ve looked at and edited over the years.

It’s terribly frustrating to see those who should know better make a hash of fictional and story techniques when they should know better. Many of these errors are small but devastating, ruining the suspense and emotional impact of the book.

Why does this matter?

It matters first because fictional and story techniques are at the heart of persuasive writing and speaking. If a fiction writer cannot master these techniques, how can we expect a non-fiction writer to master them?

Fiction writers are the masters of pure story. They know how to keep you reading, to create suspense, believable characters, believable situations in unbelievable places, and to create a powerful emotional experience at the end. They know how to slip in lessons and calls to action along the way.

These are exactly the same techniques great non-fiction writers use to influence people to accept new ideas and to buy products and services. They look to fiction writers for examples of how to do this properly, which is why I believe that fiction writers must master their craft before publishing their work.

What are these errors that dilute the effectiveness of fiction writing?

I’ve covered a lot of them in previous posts. They include heavy use of passive constructions, lots of adverbs, adverbvial tags on dialogue, flabby writing (far too many words than needed), long paragraphs, flowery language, and jargon. The list could go on and on.

They also include even more important errors like these:

  • Not differentiating characters by the way they speak
  • Not giving enough detail so we can visualize the scene
  • Adding enormous amounts of backstory that is not needed
  • Using similar names for characters, like William and Willard
  • Giving away too much information in the beginning.
  • Using cliches
  • Giving too much detail about inconsequential objects
  • Using filler dialogue that does not add to the story
  • Using scenes where characters simply go from one place to another
  • Direct, ping-pong dialogue.

I could go on and on. The point here is that if you are a fiction writer and don’t know what I’m talking about, get to some classes and seminars to learn how to do it right.

One other point: Many writers experiment and do so successfully. Today’s post is for those who have not yet mastered the basics. Remember that Pablo Picasso, the famous artist  who broke so many conventions, mastered traditional art before he started breaking the rules. He know exactly what he was doing and what effect he was having on his viewers.

As fiction writers, we need to know our craft and when we experiment we must know exactly what we are doing and exactly what effect our words have on our readers before we publish. If we do so, we will create far more powerful writing and will influence and move people. That, after all, is our goal, isn’t it?

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