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Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Speculative Genre Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers Paperback – February 20, 2014
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Previous editions of the Now Write! series have focused on nonfiction, general fiction, screenplays, and mysteries. It was inevitable it would get around to sf and fantasy, and why not? As the book’s contributors point out, there are a lot of unique challenges to writing in these genres. The dozens of essays here—some by notables including Harlan Ellison, Joe R. Lansdale, and Simon Clark—tackle such subjects as freelancing for sf TV series; writing interspecies romance; building an internally consistent system of magic; creating a compelling but believable villain; creating a television series; tapping into the most common human fears; and much more. The book’s only drawback may be that, in trying to pack so much into a relatively small space, the editor has selected a lot of very short essays: most of them are only a page or two long, and, in many cases, we’re just settling in, and suddenly we’re already done. A useful but also a tad superficial book. --David Pitt
"Whether you're looking to write the next HUNGER GAMES or conceptualize the next installment of AMERICAN HORROR STORY, the newest NOW WRITE! installment will set you on the path to meeting your goal."
--Renee C. Fountain, New York Journal of Books
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The essays are very short, right to the point, and yet require one to think rather deeply. You do not get lost in any one writer's instruction or pontificating and lose sight of the most important thing you should take away from each essay. Instead, you get each writer's admonition, tip, trick, or guidance shoved right in your face. Then the exercises are there to help you process and attune yourself to the idea(s) in the essay.
Well-done. No wastes of time. Writers cannot afford to lose time on blowhards, so this book is a godsend. Great writers giving great ideas that will take YOU one more step closer to greatness as an author.
Also check out 1) David Morrell's book on writing, 2) Stephen King's book On Writing, 3) Dark Thoughts: On Writing by Wiater, and 4) Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.
This book (and the others in the series) is like taking a creative writing course. You're given exercises on a number of different fronts: from creating settings, to tackling writers block, to adding depth to characters and creating your characters in the first place (and much more).
Laurie Lamson has once again done a great job of gathering up a plethora of authors and creative writing teachers and organizing all of the information in an easily accessible volume. The introductions to the "teachers" are just the right length. Not too long, not too short. So you can get right to the exercises.
The thing I like so much about this book is that unlike many other creative writing books which seem to be more theory based this one is exercised based. It's sort of akin to trying to teach someone to swim by having them read a book but never getting in the pool. Really, the first thing they need to do is get in the pool. This book does just that for writers.
A few other things I find helpful are...
--While it can certainly be read start to finish it does not have to be. If you want to dive into character development, have at it. Same for world creation, and on and on.
--If you aren't in the middle of writing anything use the exercises to "sharpen your tools". And you never know maybe that writing exercise is the genesis of a short story, novel, etc. (it worked for me!).
--The other part that really helped me is this: I am in the midst of writing a sci-fi/fantasy novel and was stuck on some plot and character development. The exercises in this book helped me along greatly in the process. Great for generating ideas and helping to expand the imagination.
--Lastly, while the book obviously slants towards specific genres there are still plenty of exercises and advice (most actually) that can be applied to almost any genre.
It was fantastic. While not every writing exercise will fit every author, I found 6 that I think can make me a better writer.
There were tips and tricks even in the vignettes where I probably not do the exercise itself.
The book is energizing.