As the title suggests, this book offers advice to the newbie and aspiring writer and on writing and publishing fantasy and science fiction. It is weighted slightly toward fantasy writing. It is also a sample of the books Writer’s Digest puts out.
According to the author’s blurb, Philip Athans is managing editor of novels at Wizards of the Coast, which produces hobby games. He’s also published own novels, among them the New York Times bestselling Annihilation.
After a brief description of the different genres, Athans describes the six steps: 1) Storytelling 2) Characters 3) The World 4) Details (i.e., defining culture) 5) Nuts and Bolts (action, romance and humor) and 6) Finishing Touches (keeping it fresh, avoiding anachronisms and following your own rules).
He then gives a brief discussion of getting published, and why it’s so much harder for a new writer to do so now than it was 30 or 40 years ago. He also suggests other avenues: novelizations, game and movie tie-ins, etc.
While much of what he says about writing, developing character and plot, etc. has been said before, Athans says it with a light, enjoyable touch. He also offers concrete examples, taking a sample of writing and rewriting it several times, showing how it can be improved by following the bits and pieces of advice he has for readers.
In his section about query letters to possible agents, he writes that the newbie, especially, must be realistic and positive, but at the same time wary of coming off like a jackass. Telling a possible agent that your book is “like Lord of the Rings but less boring, mixed with a much better-written Twilight” is funny, but will make you look like a jackass and not get you an offer to represent.
The book concludes with “Hugo Mann’s Perfect Soul,” a short story by R. A. Salvatore as an example of what’s come to be known as “slipstream,” that is, science fiction that is almost more magic than science. Athans offers some of his thoughts on it.
Overall, I found this book enjoyable and helpful. It neither over- nor undersold what it set out to do. Science fiction writers are given a less attention, but there is still plenty of useful material. The book is not, nor can any one book be, a single guide to writing.
Author Disclaimer: I regret to say that it has become necessary to include this, but so it has. The material above was written by me, Denise Longrie, and was intended for zoomdune.com only. If you are reading it elsewhere, please be aware that you are doing so because it has be appropriated without the author’s consent or knowledge and the website you are read it on is ripping her off. Thank you.