- Paperback: 210 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (February 3, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345465512
- ISBN-13: 978-0345465511
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life Paperback – February 3, 2004
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In Sometimes the Magic Works, author Terry Brooks mixes advice on writing with stories from his personal experience in publishing. A seasoned fantasy writer with 19 books under his belt, including the New York Times bestseller The Sword of Shannara, Brooks began his second career in middle age when he gave up his law practice to pursue writing full time. His move was fueled by an obsession with writing, ("If I don't write, I become restless and ill-tempered"), inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien, and constant encouragement from publisher Lester del Rey. Some of Brooks's advice is specific and useful, such as the chapter he dedicates to the importance of outlining. However, the lessons he tries to tell through his own adventures tend to be self-serving. Still, Brooks's experiences could be particularly interesting and valuable to fans of his fantasy novels--and aspiring authors of their own. --Lacey Fain --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
"If you don't think there is magic in writing, you probably won't write anything magical," Brooks asserts in this succinct and warmhearted autobiographical meditation on the writing life. He views his success as a miracle and credits editor Lester del Rey ("What he had given me was the kind of education young writers can only dream about") for his discovery and Tolkien for the inspiration that drove him to choose fantasy adventure as his medium. Brooks, who practiced law before becoming a full-time author, stills finds himself amazed that his The Sword of Shannara "sold in record numbers and changed the face of publishing," becoming the first fiction title to land on the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list. He still marvels that del Rey chose his first novel to prove that post-Tolkien epic fantasy could sell in vast numbers and that it launched a new generation of fantasy authors. Brooks often refers to his old mentor's sage advice ("Thinking about a book before you wrote it was as important as the writing itself") and promotes outlines ("You can either do the hard work up front or do it at the end"). He also discusses the disappointments encountered in a 30-plus-year career that has seen struggles with a novelization (Hook) and less than stellar sales for some works not connected to the Shannara empire; yet he keeps a positive attitude about the writer's never-ending quest, which requires "determination, instinct, and passion."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Brooks had a very interesting beginning. He was a lawyer for several years, yet when he decided to write, he wasn't interested in becoming a legal thriller writer like Grisham or Turow. He settled on fantasy. (By the way, Brooks advises that you write in as many genres as possible until you determine which genre is for you.) His first book, `The Sword of Shannara,' made publishing history by becoming the first trade paperback to make the New York Times Bestseller list. So it was a bed of roses for Brooks from that point on, right? Hardly.
`Sometimes the Magic Works' is valuable for the writing advice, but also for a glimpse into the writer's life and the journey that Brooks has taken. Readers will see Brooks as a passionate writer and a dedicated family man. (Yes, you CAN be both!) This is a book that all writers, regardless of their genre, will want to read.
It's also not a full memoir, but simply a collection of essays on his experiences with the writing life. In that it's fine. It's very similar (though not as lyrical) as Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You in that it combines memoir with encouraging people to dream. It doesn't, though, come close to the depth or usefulness of King's On Writing or Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, both of which Brooks praises.
So the strange thing is, while I expected a book on craft, I actually looked forward to reading each day's chapter. Hardly ever dry or dull, Brooks comes across as sincere, smart, and humble. There's none of the arrogance of Sol Stein's books, but simply someone who got lucky doing the work he loves, and I enjoyed these essays.
In short, if you're totally new to writing and want a nice introduction to one author's experiences, it's fine.Read more ›
Sometimes the Magic Works is part memoir, part writing guide as written by Terry Brooks. He writes about how his first book was published, some of the difficulties in writing the book that would become The Elfstones of Shannara , and about the book adaptions of Hook (horrible experience) and The Phantom Menace (wonderful experience). The other half of the book focuses on tips and thoughts for aspiring writers. Brooks writes about things that a writer should do, what they should not do, and what works for Brooks himself. There is an interesting chapter about outlining (yes, an author talking about outlining is actually interesting). Brooks talks about how he has to outline the major plot and characters and while he believes it is an invaluable tool (and the reason he does fewer drafts of the book than many writers), he was at a conference and as he was extolling the virtues of outlining, fantasy author Anne McCaffrey (The Dragonriders of Pern, and author of dozens of books) leaned over and told him that she has never outlined anything in her life.
Sometimes the Magic Works is written with a very easy writing style, and feels almost conversational, as if an old friend is telling us some personal stories. This was a very interesting book to read and it was nice to get into the personal thoughts of one of my favorite fantasy authors.
I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I read the entire thing in one evening. From peeks into the labor of the editing process to the debacle of writing the novelization of a movie, Brooks is honest and informative. He gives glimpses into his own beginnings and inspiration without seeming self-absorbed. He points future writers in the direction of hard work and quality craft. He offers a wonderful look into the joys of fiction.
Stephen King and Anne Lamott have written sublime books on the world of an author, and now Terry Brooks adds to the list a book worthy of his predecessors. If I had any doubts about his writing, I've now put those aside.
Time for me to grab one of his novels!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Terry Brooks weaves real life stories with writing advice for a book that is enjoyable to read. One chapter, "Tough Love", stayed with me ever since reading it and likely... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ashleigh D.J. Cutler
A great tool for anyone wishing to be a writer. I really love how Terry Brooks explains the writing process and the some of his personal experiences. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Thadeous C. Bach
Good tips and insights into what a published writer's life is like. Terry Brooks gives several examples from his own life on the challenges of being a writer and dealing with... Read morePublished 5 months ago by eveningsun58
Great advise. Grateful he included the difficulties and decisions he made in the process. Feeling his growth as an author motivates me to follow this literary leader. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kimberly Thompson
Fantastic book from one of the greatest fantasy writers ever!Published 7 months ago by Ken Mayfield
I have read several of Terry Brooks stories, for him to layout the magic of writing was enlightening and informative. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Wes Williams
This is not an instruction manual on how to write.
Think of this as sort of a comic con panel by a guy who loves to write for people who love to write. Read more
I have loved much of what Terry has written in the realm of fantasy. So this is a bit of a divergence, as he is writing about breaking into the publishing world. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Chris Sedlacek