7 Mistakes Readers of Fiction Need to Make

Wait a minute! Across the web you find marketers writing copy about the mistakes you must avoid making, don’t you?

Do you have the golf swing of scrawny child?

Are you making the 3 mistakes with vitamins that can shorten your legs?

Avoid these 27 common mistakes people make when setting up a nuclear power plant.

Read on and you will learn the 3 secret tips that will change your life.

We don’t want surgeons, or the architects of skyscrapers, to need to learn from making lots of fatal errors, but our common sense tells us that complex reading skills are honed on the whetstone of mistakes. The ability to choose satisfying fiction to read in this digital world of millions of books is just such a skill set.

When you have made these 7 mistakes in your reading and learnt from them, you will be able to strike that ball cleanly, watch as it rises into the sky and carries 400 yards down the fairway.

The 7 mistakes

  1. Expecting all books by a favourite author to be similar

Trying to meet this expectation stunts the creative growth of writers. After Patricia Highsmith had fallen in love with her most famous character, Tom Ripley, her Ripley novels were never as good as the first. Agatha Christie grew to dislike writing about Poirot, Conan Doyle tired of Holmes and Fleming wanted to kill off Bond at the end of From Russia With Love.

  1. Treating traditional publishers as the guardians of good writing

I attended a seminar in London at which a major commissioning editor explained how his department had been reduced from the 6 editors and 10 secretaries they once employed in the good old days, before eBooks. In that department he was still the Senior Editor, though he was the only editor left. He had one secretary and a dog.

The editor said he was now obliged to give priority to commissioning novels from already best-selling authors, footballers, staff in the firm, fashion models and comedians. The secretary spent most of her time placing unsolicited manuscripts on the slush pile and sending immediate letters of rejection. The dog read the slush pile.

  1. Downloading virtual piles of free eBooks because they look good filling a virtual bookshelf

Will we ever get round to reading any of them?

  1. Criticising a foreign writer’s style when you are reading the book in translation

I joined a literature class studying La Peste by Camus.  We had two different versions in use by members of the class. One group thought La Peste was a wry and amusing satire while those who read the other translation became thoroughly depressed. Some we never saw again.

  1. Confusing the names of authors

I once intended to buy an experimental novel by Barrington Kaye but by mistake bought a book on how to die rich, by Barry Kaye.

  1. Deciding that everyone should only read very long novels, or fiction tackling important issues

We have all read good books about Mexicans crossing the border into the USA illegally, or Russians grinding out an existence during the siege of Leningrad. I can only take so much of that. There are other things to enjoy in fiction.

  1. Choosing a book by the cover

What made me think that the cover designer would have read the book?

 So you made these mistakes, but it’s not your fault. Now pay close attention because I have the solution for you. It’s going to cost much less than you think.

You might like to start with this, because it costs less than a cup of good coffee yet gives you ideas that will last.


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