Saturday, August 15, 2009


I am reading a book called "The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)" by Jack Bickham. I'm only up to number 10, but am finding it a very helpful resource/reminder as I continue to work on my novel. I plan to use it as a checklist once my first draft is finished and I begin the self-editing process.

Here are some bits I liked from #6 - Don't Describe Sunsets:

"Readers need description in the stories they read to visualize settings and people-really 'get into' the action. But sometimes writers get carried away and go too far in trying to provide such descriptions; they stop too often to describe such things as sunsets, thinking that pretty prose is an end in itself - and forgetting that when they stop to describe something at length, the story movement also stops."

"Fiction is movement. Description is static"

"...Whenever you try to inflict on your readers a detailed description, your story stops. And readers are interested in the story - the movement - not your fine prose."

"Does this mean you should have no description in your story? Of course not. Description must be worked in carefully, in bits and pieces, to keep your reader seeing, hearing, and feeling your story world. But please note the language here: it must be worked in, a bit at a time, not shoveled in by the page."
I think I have the opposite problem. I could probably use more description in my novel. I've lived with it so much in my own head I sometimes forget the reader can't see what I see.


  1. Excellent advice. Now if we could just pass that on to a select few writers...


  2. Sounds like a good book there. Maybe I'll look for it...

    And that is a good tip. Things just screech to a halt if you describe something for too long. You don't really need to tell anyone that a sunset is pretty, or that a desert is hot, or that an ocean is wet... You just know it. ^,^

    Oh, and btw, have you guys heard about "The Lateiner Gang Book Review Spot?" This guy Dave and his family run this site. They write fun book reviews and are right now holding a couple giveaway contests. One for a copy of Alvor, by Laura Bingham, and another for an ARC of Maze Runner! Here is the link for anyone interested:

    You guys won't want to miss a piece of this action! (Oh, and remember to mention my name when you enter. I get extra points the more I tell people about these contests. ^,^)

  3. Thanks Magenta. I love Dave's comments on Dashner Dude but haven't made it over to check out his site like I've been meaning to.

    Linda, Great advice and a nice picture. Even though I rarely read nonfiction that book sounds like a great reference.

  4. Something to keep in mind. Thanks for the tip!

  5. All the writers I would jokingly poke at with their MASSIVE descriptions are recently deceased, and it would just feel wrong...Graham, we've talked about one of these authors before...

  6. Ok, keep that in mind all. Overdescriptiveness can lead to DEATH.