Sometimes you read a book about writing and enjoy it, but you never think about it after you put it back on the shelf. Other times a book immediately earns a spot in your section of writing resources that you reference regularly.
C.S. Lakin, the author of over a dozen novels and several books on fiction writing, joins four other editors to do what the title says: tackle the twelve fatal flaws of fiction writing. These flaws include everything from backstory dumps and POV violations, to overwriting and pacing problems. And all of the editor’s solutions to these flaws are excellent.
Each editor covers a different angle or subtopic under the chapter’s fatal flaw. But even though the book is written by various authors, it is remarkably coherent. There isn’t much repetition from editor to editor and the transitions feel natural. It’s clear that considerable time and effort went into making sure that the book felt unified despite the multiplicity of authors.
One of this book’s biggest positives is its wealth of examples. In addition to discussing the fatal flaws of writing, the editors demonstrate what these flaws look like and how to resolve them. This is helpful as it keeps the book eminently practical. I learned as much through the examples as I did from the general advice given.
This is one of the best books I’ve read so far on the writer’s craft. This book focuses on one main goal: showing how to write sentences and scenes that engage the reader, and it accomplishes this beautifully. For writers who believe they have a good grasp of sketching the broad outline and plot of their stories, but who struggle to bring it into reality, this book may be just the fix.