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A Review of 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing

It’s no secret that writers love to read about writing and editors love to write about writing.  So when I was offered to review 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing, I jumped at the chance. Because we all need to learn to edit brilliantly and to do that we need a blueprint to guide us.

C.S. Lakin, Linda S. Clare, Christy Distler, Robin Patchen, Rachel Starr Thomson have written a complete, fun, instructional blueprint from the point of view of editors who are also writers. This how-to-write book is different from the myriad other writing how-to books on the market in that these editors SHOW rather than just TELL. (And then they SHOW why the mantra: “Show. Don’t Tell” is not always the correct advice. They reiterate that you need to know the rules in order to break the rules.)

Each of the twelve fatal flaws are contained in their own chapter. Flaws such as: overwriting and lack of pacing and tension. Each contributing editor instructs the reader in a non-condescending manner expanding upon the previous editor’s insight and instruction then illustrating the chapter’s fatal flaw with personal samples from their own writing. They demonstrate how to strengthen scenes by fixing the fatal flaw in those segments.

This book caters to writers and editors who love examples. ME! You’ll learn about the Rule of Three for all the writing elements and you’ll learn how to search for Word Weasels, Talking Heads, and Floating Body Parts, in addition to the fatal “Cold Mashed Potato Rule.” I love the chapter ending checklists. You’ll want to print them out and keep them handy as you write or edit.

Look for the quotable nuggets of writing wisdom under the “In Conclusion” sections. Coming off a NaNoWriMo fail, I appreciate Lakins’s final advice to slow down. To “show words the honor they deserve and work with them respectfully.”

Think of this book as your personal writing coach that you’ll return to often because no writer wants the world to know that their first draft is garbage. Make ’em believe you naturally write brilliantly.

What’s your go-to reference book for learning how to edit?