- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Square Fish; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159643628X
- ISBN-13: 978-1596436282
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 79 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook 1st Edition
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make revisions, and overcome writer’s block. Fun writing prompts will help young writers jump-start their own projects, and encouragement throughout will keep them at work.
- Format: Hardcover
- Publication Date: 3/30/2010
- Pages: 288
- Reading Level: Age 9 and Up
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This book is written in a thoroughly reader-friendly style, with the two authors taking turns giving advice in a manner reminiscent of blog posts. Hayes and Potter know their stuff, and it shows: as a writer, I was pleased to see such good ideas expressed so simply, not to mention humorously. For instance, the chapter and section titles are often entertaining: "More Crawling Lizards, Please," "Truth or Dare," "The Robo-Narrator," and "Belly Buttons" are a few of my favorites.
Take a look at the book's tone in this selection from Ellen Potter: "Before I started writing seriously, I was under the delusion that 'real' writers sit down and write out the entire story in one nearly perfect, spectacularly clever draft. Oh, sure, maybe they would change a word or two, or rename one of their characters 'Nathan' because his original name, 'Jake,' reminds them too much of their cousin Jake who belches the theme music to retro TV shows. But that's about it. Wrong! Hugely, profoundly, utterly wrong."
Spilling Ink offers instructive analogies, such as comparing a story's setting to a mood ring, and useful techniques, such as "the chicken-nugget circle." The authors provide short writing samples to illustrate their points here and there, which is so much more helpful than mere explanations. A writing activity at the end of each chapter is called "I Dare You," e.g., "Write a scene about a circus, but make the mood dark and grim." These activities are so spot-on that they're practically a shock--in contrast, I've seen far too many writing practice assignments in literature textbooks and school workbooks that weren't particularly relevant.
Here writing concepts are explained charmingly, and, more important, clearly. The idea of letting your characters do their own thing and not over-managing them is tricky for many grown-up writers to understand, but Potter uses the idea of "Don't Be a Bully" to explain it. And Mazer tells us how she was inspired by those pre-Christmas calendar kiosks at the mall to create fun chapter headers for one of her series--illustrating how writers can transform everyday experiences into fiction.
Mazer and Potter share their writing process with us; for example, showing how they brainstormed to choose the title for this book. They address problems that other books about writing don't always pinpoint, such as "Avoiding the Mad Dash," that tendency to slap on an ending that young writers--and some older ones--are prone to. Spilling Ink even covers topics like journaling and working with a writing partner.
Matt Phelan's illustrations further add to the cheerful tone of the book, showing us sturdy young writers in spot art sprinkled throughout the pages.
One of the book's best treats is the Appendix. Just when you think it's over, you find out that Anne and Ellen have interviewed each other in a section called "Spilling Secrets," which is full of fun biographical tidbits and a bonus slant on what it means to be a writer.
I've seen a lot of boring books about how to write interesting books, which naturally struck me as ironic. But Spilling Ink takes its own advice: it's funny, specific, fascinating, and useful. I don't just recommend it to its target audience of 4th-6th graders, I recommend it to aspiring (and even published) writers who are in their 20's, 30's, 40's, and beyond.