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The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy, Vol. 1: Alchemy with Words (The Compete Guide Series) [Paperback]

Darin Park , Tom Dullemond
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 2006 1896944094 978-1896944098 1

Written by new and established voices of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Alchemy With Words offers something for writers at all levels. Its sage advice will help you avoid many amateur mistakes. Explore World Building, Religions, Food, Fighting & Weaponry and much more, to craft an exceptional story.

Frequently Bought Together

The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy, Vol. 1: Alchemy with Words (The Compete Guide Series) + The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy, Vol. 2: The Opus Magus + The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy, Volume 3: The Author's Grimoire
Price for all three: $56.70

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Editorial Reviews


"Comprehensive, with much advice on historical settings, weapons, combat, world building and such, and fantasy writers can profit by it."

- Piers Anthony, Author of the Xanth Series -

Product Details

  • Series: The Compete Guide Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dragon Moon Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1896944094
  • ISBN-13: 978-1896944098
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
157 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Background Material October 2, 2003
I've picked up many "genre" writing books that have proved a huge disappointment -- maybe a chapter or two of genre info followed by the usual "how to type a manuscript" stuff. This book is a refreshing change! For anyone seeking to build a "realistic" fantasy world, it's a compendium of expert advice -- covering food, clothing, weapons, warfare, religion, even a fantastic (no pun intended) section on diseases. There have been criticisms of this book based on the fact that many of the contributors aren't "established" fantasy authors. What they ARE is experts in the fields upon which they are contributing, whether that field is medicine, weaponry, or what-have-you. In short, if you were going to look up "experts" to talk to about some aspect of the world you're building, these are the people you'd ask. This book will stay on my shelf! --...
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful, but... January 9, 2007
By Heather
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a great resource for fantasy writers. It draws attention to details that could easily be overlooked by a writer in this genre; details that would make a story richer for their inclusion. It stimulates the imagination as one considers how information from each chapter might work in the world/story he or she has created.

However, it has been poorly edited and is full of typos, spelling mistakes and poor grammar. One occasionally stumbles upon a sentence so poorly constructed that it requires a struggle to understand the author's meaning, and one chapter is so disjointed and full of errors that it is very difficult to follow. This inattention to detail would make me leery of accepting the information on medieval customs as fact, and I would be careful to check any of the information from this novel against another source before using it (though some would say that's a good idea with any research).

Aside from that caveat, I still highly recommend this book to beginning fantasy writers, as it may open your eyes to avenues of world and character creation you never considered before.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource October 5, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy is a great reference guide for the aspiring fantasy author who is bubbling over with all the "How do I" questions. It is also a wonderful resource for those who have been writing in the genre for some time, but maybe need to understand one aspect of the genre more than another.
I personally found the sections on medieval food, medieval clothing and the sections on armor and combat very helpful.
You can't go wrong with this on your bookshelf.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Offers Some Thoughtful Info, Despite Its Drawbacks December 14, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good reference guides for fantasy writers are few and far between. I know, because I've pawed through most of the options. I took a shot in the dark in purchasing Alchemy With Words, volume one of The Complete GuideTM to Writing Fantasy. Published by a small press and written by a collection of fantasy authors who haven't much collective experience or acclaim among them, the book has much to recommend it--and much not to.

On the plus side, this is one of the most varied and complete offerings I've seen on the subject (and this is just volume one). Subjects include Roots of Fantasy, Characterization, Race Creation, World Building, Clichés, Plot, Medieval Clothing and Food, Health and Medicine, Magic, Mythology, Religion, and Arms and Armor. Although a few chapters skim by with only basic info, many of them include insightful and detailed explanations of aspects of the genre that every author would be wise to heed. Of course, with only a chapter devoted to each subject, the book can't be considered definitive. But it offers an excellent jumping-off point into further research.

Based on the quality of information alone, I consider the book worth reading. However, the production values offer some serious drawbacks. Aside from general poor editing and typesetting, the lack of professionalism displayed by the various authors--some to the point of out-and-out self-indulgence, in which the authors ramble about their own unpublished fantasy manuscripts or state their subjective pet peeves as if they were rules of the genre--is annoying at best and downright frustrating at worst. If you can get past the writing to access the information, you may find this book a useful primer on the world of writing fantasy.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Researchers can provide valuable assistance October 1, 2003
By A Customer
Scanning this book, I found it to be a collection of useful and well-researched information. As a librarian, I value the quality of research more than whether I have heard of the author, and the depth of coverage speaks for itself in this volume. Don't be put off if you might not have heard of some of the authors, for the sections are insightful, knowledgable and prompted some very interesting story ideas.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helped me with my fantasy idea September 12, 2003
If you're a fantasy fan like me, you probably have a novel or story idea you want to write. This book will help.
The book is written by several fantasy authors, and they devote chapters to different aspects of fantasy: plot, characters, medieval medicine, medieval food, humor, marketing, etc.
I found the chapter on Magic to be worth the price of the whole book, as it sent my idea in a whole new direction. Great book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven August 30, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Volume 1 seems to suffer from a split personality: is this book designed for fan readers or for writers wanting to break into the fantasy genre? The combination of various authors and collaborators creates an uneven quality to the articles. Some are pretty thin. Some -- such as those on worldbuilding and combat -- are worth reading. This book is best used as a basic overview. If you want more in-depth information, you'll need to research other sources.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book! Highly recommend the whole series
I love the down to earth methods of writing the authors present. Oh, there are some typos and such errors, but the information they provide either present items I know, and now... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Kj Godwin-larson
4.0 out of 5 stars Volume one
Here is a breakdown of this guide - this is not a novel, so there are no such things as *spoilers* here:

Chapter 1 - Roots of Fantasy - a brief history of Fantasy... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Joe
3.0 out of 5 stars "It's okay..." <thinks a little more> "ya, it's okay."
It's a resource. There is a real collection of resource material here. A few spelling mistakes made my view of the material drop, but a lot of time was put into it, and it will... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Aaron Gerber
4.0 out of 5 stars A Delight to Read
I found this book to be excellent. It brings together a variety of writers with different takes and views on how to write things. Read more
Published on May 23, 2011 by Jennifer Scarpa
5.0 out of 5 stars FUN TO READ
Ive had a few books that help me with technical writing but they often read like text books. This one is fun to read and focuses on my genre of choice.
Published on June 28, 2010 by Cody J. Engstrom
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Starter! Even for Mangakas!
This book is great for getting started. It's inspiring and provides a wide range of information which is very useful to keep all your writing-angles in check. Read more
Published on April 27, 2010 by Lauren M. Willier
4.0 out of 5 stars It's good
That is not the cover and it includes a bit too much imformation, overwelming the reader with so many pages. Read more
Published on March 15, 2010
4.0 out of 5 stars A good addition to a writer's reference shelf
This book offers information that is hard to find anywhere else. I am glad I purchased it, but, as an editor, I noticed several errors and felt the level of editorial fine-tuning,... Read more
Published on November 25, 2009 by Janice Phelps Williams
1.0 out of 5 stars Intro
To those out there: I just fninished reading the intro, and I got to the part on the gods. I have to highly disagree that writing about fake gods are fun, better than Christianity. Read more
Published on July 29, 2009
1.0 out of 5 stars self-congratulatory and silly
How do you get published in Fantasy Fiction? One way is to start your own company and write books about writing. I can only think that is what must have happened here. Read more
Published on May 9, 2009 by SML
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