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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction Paperback – October 15, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeff VanderMeer is the author of more than 20 books and a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award. His books have made the year’s-best lists of Publishers Weekly, LA Weekly, the Washington Post, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many more. He is the cofounder and codirector of Shared Worlds, a unique writing camp for teenagers, and has taught at Clarion, the world’s premiere fantasy/sci-fi workshop for adults. VanderMeer is based in Tallahassee, Florida.
 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419704427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419704420
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.1 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John L. Kerr on November 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
I bought this book at the recommendation of an English professor at a local community college, who I happened to bump into at Barnes & Noble. Yes, I paid list price for this book, and it's paying off more than I ever expected. I'm not sure what is more valuable, the ideas that Jeff shares himself, or the other authors he brings in to offer thoughts on a specific aspect of writing. It doesn't matter at this point; I'm getting more ideas about my own book and I haven't even finished chapter 2.

if the number of PostIt notes one writes as the result of inspiration from a book is a valuable to metric to anyone, I think this book has more PostIt's per page than anything I've ever read. I stopped putting them in the book because it was a distraction of its own.

If there is any complaint I would lodge, it is that the glossy pages reflect a lot of light if one is sitting at a desk to read the book. Maybe I need a different desk lamp, so the problem isn't the book. But I'm spending several hours a day, moving at a glacial pace because I get so many ideas. If you think you are an idea person, and you want to write fiction, then get this book to help you organize your ideas. If you don't think you are an idea person, get this book and see if it doesn't help you unlock the part of you that your peers made you hide under a mattress when you were young.
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This is the most useful book about writing that I have ever bought.

Don't be fooled by the whimsical cover; much like attempting to describe with gorgeous precision the inner workings of a fantastic setting for a novel, what is going on on the inside is much deeper and more complex than you might think.

I've read a lot of books on writing at this point in my life, but most of them haven't addressed the questions that linger with me while I'm sitting down to write. So many choices that a writer can make seem to 'depend' on one thing or another that it's difficult to set out examples with hard and fast rules (or, if it isn't, a thousand other books already exist which contain those few inviolate rules, and therefore those aren't the questions that stick with me). It's a difficult beast to wrangle, especially in useful specifics. On top of that, I think that many of the processes involved in describing those choices or the results of those choices from a reader's perspective are abstract, more a question of what is sensed than something easily articulated.

Wonderbook comes the closest of any instructive book I own to digging down into the nitty-gritty of those many abstract questions. It exhaustively discusses the particulars of a written work's moving parts, and does this from many different angles whenever possible. If a novel is a deck of cards, Wonderbook seems to spread the deck all around the floor into the thinnest layer, so that you can see everything clearly, shuffling things around to have a look at the particulars in as much detail as you'd like.

For me, the 'wonder' is that doing this so acutely and with such precision did not make the book any less a joy to read.
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I purchased this book after reading an interview with Vandermeer on one of my favorite blogs (Terribleminds). I am totally blown away by this book. It is a visually stunning collection of some of the most imaginative art I've ever seen but to have that in a book about writing....it's nirvana! Many of the ideas are presented through visual art rather than all words which is a total stimulating match made in Muse-heaven. You owe it to yourself to have this in your library.

Everytime I open it, I find something I didn't see the first time. You willnot regret taking a chance on this.
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I really struggled with how many stars to give this. If I evaluate it on its usefulness to me--which is, after all, why I bought it, I would give it three stars, because it is much too basic for me. But I also find that it is beautifully done, and I found some things to like about it, so I decided to go with the four stars because I'm probably simply not the right audience of this book. That said, I'm still glad I bought it!

I've taught creative writing for 20+ years, and have books published in another genre. But I am new to writing speculative fiction, and am a bit stuck on a novel I'm working on, so I hoped to be "jump-started" by this book, or at least get some help on plotting and what to do when you get stuck in the middle. This book, unfortunately, did not help me with that. In fact, my only real criticism of the book (leaving aside for a moment that this was simply not aimed at someone like me, which is really more my mistake than the author's) was the section I most looked forward to, Middles, was virtually nonexistent. As in there was a cool image, but then it seemed to be over. A page or two which seemed more about endings but did relate to middles too, and then, nothing. I actually went back several times to see if I had missed something, but I did not. This is probably my most serious criticism of the book--what happened to the "middle" section, the section I suspect most new novelists struggle with?

If you're an experienced writer or have had good basic creative writing classes, a lot of the information in this book is going to be old hat for you. It explains scenes and exposition, use of dialogue, what constitutes a good opening, etc. There is some information on plotting which was too basic for me, but was well done.
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