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27 Fiction Writing Blunders - And How Not To Make Them!

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Sell more books and build your career by kicking these blunders to the curb! Ever wonder why some books shoot to the top of the bestseller lists? And others that you think should, don't? It's usually a matter of mistakes that could have been avoided! #1 bestselling writing coach James Scott Bell has analyzed thousands of manuscripts over the years, by both new and experi Sell more books and build your career by kicking these blunders to the curb! Ever wonder why some books shoot to the top of the bestseller lists? And others that you think should, don't? It's usually a matter of mistakes that could have been avoided! #1 bestselling writing coach James Scott Bell has analyzed thousands of manuscripts over the years, by both new and experienced writers, and noticed certain errors that keep showing up to take readers out of the fictive dream. Now he's tackled the biggest offenders and shows you how to fix them. In 27 Fiction Writing Blunders you'll learn: * The biggest reason readers get stuck in your opening pages...and how to unstick them * How to avoid marshmallow dialogue * The simple solution for low stakes * The art of getting into and out of flashbacks * Getting rid of the kind of characters that readers never want to see in your novel * The biggest point-of-view gaffe and how to spot it * How to perform liposuction on flabby scenes * The best way to show what characters think and feel And much more! Plus, Bell attacks some of the blunders writers can pull on their own careers, including fear, false competition, market ignorance, and the neglected brain. Don't let little mistakes keep you from big success. Eliminate these 27 blunders forever...and sell more books! James Scott Bell is an award-winning, bestselling author of numerous thrillers and popular books on the writing craft. Visit his website at www.jamesscottbell.com "James Scott Bell is my go-to writing teacher!" - Terri Blackstock, New York Times Bestselling Author of Intervention and Vicious Cycle


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Sell more books and build your career by kicking these blunders to the curb! Ever wonder why some books shoot to the top of the bestseller lists? And others that you think should, don't? It's usually a matter of mistakes that could have been avoided! #1 bestselling writing coach James Scott Bell has analyzed thousands of manuscripts over the years, by both new and experi Sell more books and build your career by kicking these blunders to the curb! Ever wonder why some books shoot to the top of the bestseller lists? And others that you think should, don't? It's usually a matter of mistakes that could have been avoided! #1 bestselling writing coach James Scott Bell has analyzed thousands of manuscripts over the years, by both new and experienced writers, and noticed certain errors that keep showing up to take readers out of the fictive dream. Now he's tackled the biggest offenders and shows you how to fix them. In 27 Fiction Writing Blunders you'll learn: * The biggest reason readers get stuck in your opening pages...and how to unstick them * How to avoid marshmallow dialogue * The simple solution for low stakes * The art of getting into and out of flashbacks * Getting rid of the kind of characters that readers never want to see in your novel * The biggest point-of-view gaffe and how to spot it * How to perform liposuction on flabby scenes * The best way to show what characters think and feel And much more! Plus, Bell attacks some of the blunders writers can pull on their own careers, including fear, false competition, market ignorance, and the neglected brain. Don't let little mistakes keep you from big success. Eliminate these 27 blunders forever...and sell more books! James Scott Bell is an award-winning, bestselling author of numerous thrillers and popular books on the writing craft. Visit his website at www.jamesscottbell.com "James Scott Bell is my go-to writing teacher!" - Terri Blackstock, New York Times Bestselling Author of Intervention and Vicious Cycle

30 review for 27 Fiction Writing Blunders - And How Not To Make Them!

  1. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    This author has written a ton of writing books. Despite the high ratings of this one, I wouldn't recommend it. You could find a list with these items on the internet somewhere and read it for the exact same effect. I don't remember any specific point he had, but basically it was something like: don't just sit there; write! or fairly similar advice of the sort. It's obviously valid, but nothing earth-shattering. Maybe one of his other books would be better as actual advice? This author has written a ton of writing books. Despite the high ratings of this one, I wouldn't recommend it. You could find a list with these items on the internet somewhere and read it for the exact same effect. I don't remember any specific point he had, but basically it was something like: don't just sit there; write! or fairly similar advice of the sort. It's obviously valid, but nothing earth-shattering. Maybe one of his other books would be better as actual advice?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Riley Graham

    I think the fact that I devoured this book in one sitting and then proceeded to buy two more of Bell's craft books on the same night pretty much speaks for itself. I like long, meaty books on writing, but sometimes you just need a quick pick-me-up, and this is exactly what this book did for me. There's solid advice on just about everything from getting the writing juices flowing to handling backstory and dialogue. And even though I've read several books on writing and have taken a couple of pret I think the fact that I devoured this book in one sitting and then proceeded to buy two more of Bell's craft books on the same night pretty much speaks for itself. I like long, meaty books on writing, but sometimes you just need a quick pick-me-up, and this is exactly what this book did for me. There's solid advice on just about everything from getting the writing juices flowing to handling backstory and dialogue. And even though I've read several books on writing and have taken a couple of pretty intensive courses,I still found new techniques I'm itching to try out. Though beginning writers will benefit the most from this book, I suspect it will also help those like me who are somewhere in the middle and looking to add new tools to their toolbox.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carbunkle Flux

    This does exactly what it says on the cover. I didn't expect any less, but I might have expected a little more. A lot of his advice is more basic advice for fledgling writers--which is fine, mind you--so it didn't have as much to offer me as I hoped. I've read enough writing books that I know all the basic tips already. That said, it still had valuable advice. Whether it be new looks at familiar issues, or examples and demonstrations of the problem. One thing I really like that James does, is take This does exactly what it says on the cover. I didn't expect any less, but I might have expected a little more. A lot of his advice is more basic advice for fledgling writers--which is fine, mind you--so it didn't have as much to offer me as I hoped. I've read enough writing books that I know all the basic tips already. That said, it still had valuable advice. Whether it be new looks at familiar issues, or examples and demonstrations of the problem. One thing I really like that James does, is take a textbook example of his issue and then fix it, draft-by-draft, showing and explaining the results each time. That's really nice. And in the end, there's encouragement and a list of resources, which is also really nice to have. I suppose the only thing I didn't care for in this book is James' seeming disdain for knitting and quilting. He talks about how rough it is to handle rejection, plotting, time commitment and criticism as a writer and his answer is: "If you can't handle it, take up knitting." I know a knitter. Knitting is hard. It takes a lot of time, mighty patience and you're not immune to rejection either. Don't knock it! So, all in all, I find 3 stars is fair for this. If you're someone who's just getting started writing, get this. It's valuable. If you're more savvy, then this won't be as helpful, but it'll still offer enough to justify the purchase price. Good stuff.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kay Hudson

    I always get something new (or finally recognize something I should have understood long ago) whenever I read Bell's handbooks. This one is no exception. Lots of good points about craft, a few suggestions about life as a writer, and tips on getting started with Scrivener. Something for any writer. I always get something new (or finally recognize something I should have understood long ago) whenever I read Bell's handbooks. This one is no exception. Lots of good points about craft, a few suggestions about life as a writer, and tips on getting started with Scrivener. Something for any writer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Bunnell

    I have a 2019 reading goal to read 24 books on the craft or business of writing fiction, or about writing in general. That's a pace of two each month, as I've accumulated a bunch of craft books and have only read cover-to-cover several of them. Granted, some are set up as a thesaurus, which aren't meant to read like a novel, as they have sections with word choice recommendations for different emotions (or other lists - I have a romance writers thesaurus with a whole section on euphemisms). But, I have a 2019 reading goal to read 24 books on the craft or business of writing fiction, or about writing in general. That's a pace of two each month, as I've accumulated a bunch of craft books and have only read cover-to-cover several of them. Granted, some are set up as a thesaurus, which aren't meant to read like a novel, as they have sections with word choice recommendations for different emotions (or other lists - I have a romance writers thesaurus with a whole section on euphemisms). But, I digress, most of the writing books are meant to be read, and I intend to do it. I'm starting with the James Scott Bell books in my collection as I'm trying to decide whether to register for a writing conference where he will be the featured speaker. If attending this conference didn't involve driving 400 miles in the upper Midwest (from Minneapolis to Chicago) in February, I'd have already signed up. But, who knows whether there will be some storm which makes that impossible, so I'm delaying, but can't delay forever, and I'm reading his craft books to see if it's worth plunking down my conference fees knowing that I might not make it if we get a foot of snow that weekend. So, on to this book. This is the second I've read by James Scott Bell. I can see why he's so popular of a writing coach, as he has a humorous style and doesn't take himself of the writing life too seriously. I like his attitude, and most of his tips in this book, while not "new" to me, were good reminders told in a friendly way. He also had some fun tips for capturing creative ideas, and I put a post-it note on page 50 where he listed a number of "games" he's invented to brainstorm ideas so I can put them into use myself. I have two other books by James Scott Bell that I'll plan to read this month before the deadline for registering for the conference, to see whether they convince me it's worth attending the conference to see him speak in person.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mallary

    Maybe I just learn better from being told what not to do, but I liked this one more than other writing books by Bell. This one is broken into bite-sized pieces that serve as good reminders. This is one I will definitely refer back to from time to time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eldon Farrell

    It is amazing how much valuable information is packed into such a small number of pages. I flew through this book not wanting to put it down; I just had to know what each blunder was and how many of them I've made! As it turned out...I've made a few. But the point Bell makes is that every author does a few mistakes. That's why a book such as this is so important to any writer out there who's interested in improving their craft. Bell provides easy to understand examples and lays it all out, often It is amazing how much valuable information is packed into such a small number of pages. I flew through this book not wanting to put it down; I just had to know what each blunder was and how many of them I've made! As it turned out...I've made a few. But the point Bell makes is that every author does a few mistakes. That's why a book such as this is so important to any writer out there who's interested in improving their craft. Bell provides easy to understand examples and lays it all out, often in humorous prose, making it obvious what not to do with your next project. Authors unite...this one is worth the price of admission!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Edmund

    A relatively quick read, Bell provides a succinct and easy-to-read summary of some key areas to your on your manuscript. While perhaps not as thorough as your typical 'masterclass' type book or as deep an meaningful as other successful authors' 'On Writings' Bell does provide some clear practical tips to get you through writing a project. Bell's prose is easy to grasp and not-overblown he has a way of making tricky concepts straightforward and his advice is invaluable for beginners or old-hands. A relatively quick read, Bell provides a succinct and easy-to-read summary of some key areas to your on your manuscript. While perhaps not as thorough as your typical 'masterclass' type book or as deep an meaningful as other successful authors' 'On Writings' Bell does provide some clear practical tips to get you through writing a project. Bell's prose is easy to grasp and not-overblown he has a way of making tricky concepts straightforward and his advice is invaluable for beginners or old-hands.

  9. 4 out of 5

    De Jarous

    A few gems for the writer. This book is packed with gems for all writers. But that's just why I gave it three stars. What was in it for me was great. However, I didn't need about 13 of those. I was looking for straight writing gems, applicable to my penmanship, not towards my attitude about writing. Although, do understand that I love all of Bell's books that I've read. I just have to give an honest review of this one. A must-read is Dazzling Dialogue. A few gems for the writer. This book is packed with gems for all writers. But that's just why I gave it three stars. What was in it for me was great. However, I didn't need about 13 of those. I was looking for straight writing gems, applicable to my penmanship, not towards my attitude about writing. Although, do understand that I love all of Bell's books that I've read. I just have to give an honest review of this one. A must-read is Dazzling Dialogue.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jolene Cazzola

    Loved it! I'm a new author. I've been reading all kinds of books professing to help a novice increase their writing ability, but this is by far, the best one yet. It's full of great examples showing how to apply the techniques he lays out in the book. I highly recommend it! Loved it! I'm a new author. I've been reading all kinds of books professing to help a novice increase their writing ability, but this is by far, the best one yet. It's full of great examples showing how to apply the techniques he lays out in the book. I highly recommend it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carol Cram

    I really appreciate Bell's how to books. I always learn something new and get inspired to improve my own fiction. I really appreciate Bell's how to books. I always learn something new and get inspired to improve my own fiction.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Willis

    One of the biggest issues I have with books that are "X number of tips/tricks/blunders/pitfalls" type books are that almost all of them feel like the list is artificially inflated to hit a specific number. Some of these 27 blunders are useful to read about and the author does a good job of inspiring the reader and keeping them interested. But several of them felt like filler or slight twists on the other blunders listed in this book. I would have rather read "17 fiction writing blunders" where e One of the biggest issues I have with books that are "X number of tips/tricks/blunders/pitfalls" type books are that almost all of them feel like the list is artificially inflated to hit a specific number. Some of these 27 blunders are useful to read about and the author does a good job of inspiring the reader and keeping them interested. But several of them felt like filler or slight twists on the other blunders listed in this book. I would have rather read "17 fiction writing blunders" where every one of them was amazing, rather than "27 fiction writing blunders" where ten of them felt extraneous. Still, I'm very much of a "take what's useful and discard the rest" mindset when it comes to writing craft books, and this one did have some tidbits that were helpful to think about.

  13. 5 out of 5

    RiskyReads

    3.5ish stars A quick and concise read with some good advice here and there. It felt like it didn't need to be a book, but rather a long blogpost. I think that writers who are just starting out or don't watch alot of youtube writing videos would find this more insightful. My favorite advice was: • "Readers connect with characters in motion. They don’t connect with exposition" • Give your characters attitudes & agendas and tension & fear • How to handle POV • How to fix pure evil villains • Why readers 3.5ish stars A quick and concise read with some good advice here and there. It felt like it didn't need to be a book, but rather a long blogpost. I think that writers who are just starting out or don't watch alot of youtube writing videos would find this more insightful. My favorite advice was: • "Readers connect with characters in motion. They don’t connect with exposition" • Give your characters attitudes & agendas and tension & fear • How to handle POV • How to fix pure evil villains • Why readers bond with characters I'll still check out some of the author's other books since it seems like he knows what he's talking about.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hildreth

    This book contains the warning signs on the writing journey The 27 blunders in this book cover a multitude of sins. You will do well to consider them. You will be a better writer.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Akhurst

    Good little book with some good points. Best for someone who is perhaps just getting started in writing; for others, a lot of it will be stuff you've heard before. Saying that, I'm still glad I read it as it gave me some pointers and reaffirmed a few things. Good little book with some good points. Best for someone who is perhaps just getting started in writing; for others, a lot of it will be stuff you've heard before. Saying that, I'm still glad I read it as it gave me some pointers and reaffirmed a few things.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Peggy Miller

    27 best writing tips. I'm glad I blundered onto this book of writing lessons and encouragement given in a direct and easy to read to understand. If you write you need to read this book. James Scott Bell is an excellent teacher and mentor. 27 best writing tips. I'm glad I blundered onto this book of writing lessons and encouragement given in a direct and easy to read to understand. If you write you need to read this book. James Scott Bell is an excellent teacher and mentor.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Deana

    Easy, enjoyable, educational read for practicing writers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Oelerich

    Concise,

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Armani

    An entertaining and educational read. Love his books on the craft.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stella Budrikis

    Here are plenty of good suggestions for fiction writers, and even non-fiction writers, all plainly stated and told with humour and brevity. Five of the chapters are more to do with the writing life than writing technique, for instance, how to deal with fear. I thought the next-to-last chapter on "strength of will" would have made a better ending than the actual final chapter on "bland minor characters". Otherwise, a good basic introduction to the topics covered. Here are plenty of good suggestions for fiction writers, and even non-fiction writers, all plainly stated and told with humour and brevity. Five of the chapters are more to do with the writing life than writing technique, for instance, how to deal with fear. I thought the next-to-last chapter on "strength of will" would have made a better ending than the actual final chapter on "bland minor characters". Otherwise, a good basic introduction to the topics covered.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Douglas

    This was a great refresher, reminding me to get back to basics.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cyril Acosta

    James Scott Bell is one of the best Writing Guru EVER. PERIOD.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Deepak

    If only I could give it 10 stars!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jim Ringel

    If you're a writer who reads about craft, anything by James Scott Bell is an inspiration. James has a way of keeping it simple. A practical guide for any writer's library. If you're a writer who reads about craft, anything by James Scott Bell is an inspiration. James has a way of keeping it simple. A practical guide for any writer's library.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    A great collections of ideas/questions to help you think through the weaknesses of your current WIP.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    James Scott Bell has built an industry around giving advice to writers. This book is a short sample of some of his advice, delivered in small bites. It's all wonderful, useful stuff. It might be a great place to start to get a taste for how he thinks—on the other hand, it might not be a necessary read if you own one of his longer, more detailed books. Still, I love dipping into things like this as a periodic reminder of advice to keep at the top of mind while writing. James Scott Bell has built an industry around giving advice to writers. This book is a short sample of some of his advice, delivered in small bites. It's all wonderful, useful stuff. It might be a great place to start to get a taste for how he thinks—on the other hand, it might not be a necessary read if you own one of his longer, more detailed books. Still, I love dipping into things like this as a periodic reminder of advice to keep at the top of mind while writing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eileen Copeland

    Another great one from James Scott Bell Encouraging, practical, and filled with helpful ideas. My takeaway--don't stop writing. Never quit! Inspiring words from someone who sincerely wants to help writers. Another great one from James Scott Bell Encouraging, practical, and filled with helpful ideas. My takeaway--don't stop writing. Never quit! Inspiring words from someone who sincerely wants to help writers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    A.M.

    I saw James Scott Bell in a recent Joanna Penn video interview. He said he wrote an article for a writing site on what not to do and then thought of several other things he had missed out. That’s the genesis of this book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0rLZ... So for some readers, it may seem familiar. I hadn’t read any of his other books but this one is gold. He not only says what NOT to do, he gives concrete easily understood examples from books, films and writing samples. I do love taking easy I saw James Scott Bell in a recent Joanna Penn video interview. He said he wrote an article for a writing site on what not to do and then thought of several other things he had missed out. That’s the genesis of this book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0rLZ... So for some readers, it may seem familiar. I hadn’t read any of his other books but this one is gold. He not only says what NOT to do, he gives concrete easily understood examples from books, films and writing samples. I do love taking easy story lessons from movies; bad and good. (I just love movies.) “If the happiness goes on too long, there will be unhappy people out there called readers.” (Kindle Locations 607-608). Bwahaha - yep. And this one: Don’t write to impress your readers. Write to distress your characters. (Kindle Location 1059) Write them up a tree and throw stones at them… you’ve heard it before. He is also a lover of Scrivener - sigh. Me too, Jim, me too. 4 gold stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leanne Hunt

    I found this book motivating and helpful. It doesn’t rehash the same old tips that one finds in many self-help books on writing and publishing. Rather, one feels that the writer knows what he is talking about and really wants to pass on some gems of knowledge to aspiring authors. I enjoyed all the chapters, but one particularly stood out to me. The chapter about being in the doldrums had some choice suggestions, including remembering to be grateful for the basics—like the fact that you can type, I found this book motivating and helpful. It doesn’t rehash the same old tips that one finds in many self-help books on writing and publishing. Rather, one feels that the writer knows what he is talking about and really wants to pass on some gems of knowledge to aspiring authors. I enjoyed all the chapters, but one particularly stood out to me. The chapter about being in the doldrums had some choice suggestions, including remembering to be grateful for the basics—like the fact that you can type, that you have access to writing resources, and that you live in a day and age when communication and distribution of your work has never been easier. I needed to hear this, and it certainly helped improve my attitude after a series of disappointments. James Scott Bell has years of experience and it comes through in his warm language and style. I look forward to reading more of his books which cover a variety of technical and productivity topics.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kira Gold

    This book had some good points, and I like the way the author shows problematic samples and the shows ways to fix them, but there are some places that felt like fill, like the dietary advice or the section on how to interact with other authors. I did get a bit turned off at the occasional glib derisive comment. For example, "If you don't have calluses on your soul, this isn't for you. Take up knitting instead." Not so cool, for so many reasons. I thought his Plot & Structure was much better. This book had some good points, and I like the way the author shows problematic samples and the shows ways to fix them, but there are some places that felt like fill, like the dietary advice or the section on how to interact with other authors. I did get a bit turned off at the occasional glib derisive comment. For example, "If you don't have calluses on your soul, this isn't for you. Take up knitting instead." Not so cool, for so many reasons. I thought his Plot & Structure was much better.

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