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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction Paperback – October 15, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
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. It is stunningly gorgeous to look at, but the art is not superfluous to the learning. It's often very funny. Jeff VanderMeer is a master at espressing clearly the nebulous feelings and impulses that come along with both reading and writing stories, and thoroughly examining their place and scope, and relation to everything else.
tl;dr: Wonderbook is a comprehensive, intuitive look at the craft of writing. It's gorgeous to look at. (I don't actually watch Dr. Who (please don't kill me), but that catchphrase about the Tardis does come to mind. "It's bigger on the inside." So I think it goes with Wonderbook.)
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.
I actually found this book on a list addressing that topic, I think it was BuzzFeed, about 19 reasons books wouldn't die due to the popularity of eBooks. I found the article by chance and Wonderbook was the first book listed. The article was definitely right on this one, and this is a purchase I will not regret. I am surprised the book is so reasonably priced considering what an amazing treasure it is. As I said, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to learning styles, but I can't recommend this book highly enough.