- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (October 15, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1419704427
- ISBN-13: 978-1419704420
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 163 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
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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.)
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.