Book Review: 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing

5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing (The Writer's Toolbox Series)
C. S. Lakin, Linda S. Clare, Christy Distler, Robin Patchen, Rachel Starr Thomson

Don't fall victim to the 12 fatal flaws of fiction writing.

Fiction writers often struggle to improve their craft
And the biggest challenge comes from the inability to see what isn’t working. The prose feels off. The scene isn’t gelling. The dialogue sounds stilted or clunky. But they don’t know why or how to fix it.

This book lays it all out
5 Editors Tackle the Twelve Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing demonstrates the deadly dozen pitfalls on the road to a strong story, along with revisions that show writers exactly how to avoid novel failure.

No other writing craft book offers such detailed instruction in how to spot and remedy the major flaws of fiction writing.

What makes this book an important addition to a writer’s bookshelf?

More than 60 Before and After passages showcase each of the twelve fatal flaws, which are then picked apart and examined to help writers spot these flaws in their own writing and fix them.
Five editors with extensive background in both editing fiction and writing novels bring a wealth of insights, examples, and solutions to these flaws, using various genre styles and POVs.
Each chapter ends with a checklist to help writers seek and destroy these fatal flaws in their manuscript, followed by bonus Before and After passages to help them test what they’ve learned.
This in-depth guide to self-editing is an invaluable resource for any writer of any genre. It shows, not just tells, how to write better fiction. Using it, you’ll be armed with the tools and skills you need to conquer the twelve fatal flaws of fiction writing.

Here are some of the 12 fatal flaws:

Overwriting—the most egregious and common flaw in fiction writing. Nothin’ Happenin’—Too many stories take too long to get going. Learn what it means to start in medias res. Weak Construction—It sneaks in at the level of words and sentences, and rears up in up in the form of passive voice, ing verbs, and misplaced modifiers. Too Much Backstory—the bane of many manuscripts. Backstory has its place, but too often it serves as an info dump and bogs down pacing. POV Violations—Head hopping, characters knowing things they can’t know, and foreshadowing are just some of the many POV violations explored. Telling instead of Showing—Writers have heard this admonition, but there’s a lot to understanding how and when to show instead of tell. Lack of Pacing and Tension—Many factors affect pacing and tension: clunky passages, mundane dialogue, unimportant information, and so much more. Flawed Dialogue Construction—Writers need to learn to balance speech and narrative tags and avoid “on the nose” speech. “Underwriting”—just as fatal as overwriting.

My thoughts: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it very informative and painfully (at times) enlightening. I've read book that were guilty of some of these flaws and thought to myself: "Get on with it already." I found this book extremely useful for strengthening my own writing process. As well as helping with the editing process.

If you are an author, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book today and try not to take it personally when/if you seem to be guilty of every flaw or some of them. Just grin and bear it and work through it. Your writing will be stronger for it in the long run!

My only nit-pick here is the length of the title...

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Lori L. Clark

Lori L. Clark currently resides in Hazelwood, MO with three rescue dogs. When Lori isn't listening to the voices in her head, waiting for the next creative inspiration to strike, she also loves to read, run, paint pet portraits and save dogs. Email Lori at

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