Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: Book Review

December 1, 2016

Title: Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction

Author: Orson Scott Card, Phillip Athans, Jay Lake

Published: 2013

Genre: Writing, Fantasy/Science Fiction

Pages: 406 (paperback)

Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction by Orson Scott Card, Phillip Athans, and Jay Lake is a writing guide that is designed for genre fiction. If you are interested in writing a novel, or even if you are curious about the process, then Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction will answer a lot of your questions. The reader will probably even find the answers to questions that they did not even know they had to begin with.

There are four major parts to the book: How to Write, The State of the Genre, The World of Steampunk, & The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference. Within each of these sections are subcategories, although the Steampunk section is relatively brief. World Creation, Story Construction, and general writing tips are provided in How to Write.  I found the Writing Well portion, which is a mere 15 pages, to be one of the most useful. The writing tips are generally intended to help the prospective author to produce writing that is organic and engaging. There are so many specific concepts, like how to use particular diction for different characters, that stuck with me long after I first read the book.

The State of the Genre focuses on recent trends (at least as of 2013) that apply to fantasy and science fiction writing. The emergence of young adult literature, urban fantasy, and a discussion of independent E-book authors are all addressed in this section. There are too many specific trends to mention here, but the reader will learn about all of the major changes happening in the industry. True, the information is dated by a few years at this point in time, but many of these trends that the book identifies have only intensified since 2013.

The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference, which makes up over half the length of the book, includes descriptions and definitions for all sorts of essential fantasy and science fiction concepts. Some of these include Magic, Fantasy Races, Dress and Costume, and Anatomy of a Castle. The reference sections are thorough and provide very clear definitions for every term. These small dictionaries are extremely useful for any writer, especially for anyone who is creating a world that is drawing from medieval times. Research can be extremely frustrating without a handy reference.

There are innumerable books that are about writing and I have read quite a few of them. I wanted to review Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction because it is the best that I have come across. The reference section alone justifies the purchase, but all of the expert writing advice really sets this book apart.

Rating: 4.5/5

Purchase Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction

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