Immediate Fiction – “Want, Obstacle, Action”

March 28, 2013

Immediate Fiction

Jerry Cleaver

St. Martin’s Griffin

275 pages, $15.99

Immediate FictionThis book reminds me of a section in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in which the author is putting together a barbecue grill manufactured in Japan. The first number of the instruction says something like “1. Be in the right frame of mind.” That, it seems to me is what this book does for wanabe writers, puts them in the right frame of mind.

Here are Cleaver’s rules of the page: 1. You will make a mess. 2. You must write badly first. 3. Mistakes lead to discovery. Letting yourself be bad is the best way to become good.

He says that a good story is like falling in love. We don’t think, or analyze, we are bowled over, swept away, knocked out. We already have everything we need; he shows us how to use it.

I liked his comment on “cutting” and his question, “If anyone wants to be a writer, why aren’t they?” The answer is what differentiates a professional from an amateur. “A professional is an amateur who didn’t quit.” I think the discussion drags out about 100 pages longer than necessary, but that might just be me.

Things I learned are that conflict is more important in writing than in life, that rewriting can be problematic and that cutting might be the best tool of editing. If I’d learned that much in four years of college I would have learned a lot.

4 out of 5

Order this directly from Amazon for $10.87:Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course


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