Friday, June 12, 2015

Writing Magic and Writer to Writer by Gail Carson Levine

I haven't really reviewed Gail Carson Levine's books on this blog (definitely a mistake), but I remember a period of time, long long ago when I was still in Primary School, where I was binge reading her books. So while at the library with my little brother, I saw her two writing books, unsuccessfully tried to get my brother interested in it, and then borrowed it anyway.

Writing Magic may be a thin little book, but I wish someone gave me this when I was younger. It covers the basics of writing, from characters to plot ideas to getting through writers block. The chapters are short and digestible, and there are plenty of exercises for one to do. In fact, every chapter ends with the words "save what you wrote", because, as she explains it, as you grow and learn, your writing will change, and saving your writing is the same as building a time machine. When you look back at what you wrote, you'll see yourself as you were in the past.

The only chapter I disagreed with was the one on publishing. Gail Carson Levine basically warns people off putting their work on the Internet if they want to sell it, but well, lately the news has been talking about writers being picked up from Wattpad, and Fanfiction sites, so I don't think it holds true now. But this isn't a publishing book, so it's pretty easy to ignore that one chapter.

The sequel/companion to Writing Magic is Writer to Writer, which is really the "best of" from Gail Carson Levine's blog. Oh, except the section on writing poetry, which is new. I haven't read her blog, so I found the book interesting, and an expansion on what she was saying in Writing Magic. There are many examples and the story prompts were interesting. If you're a long time reader of her blog though, and don't really have an interest in poetry, you may not need to get this book.

Oh, and I'm not very good at poetry (I like Robert Frost, and Wilfred Owen and Shel Silverstein, but that's about it), so I can't judge the poetry chapters for usefulness. I enjoyed reading them, but the odds of me writing poetry isn't happening in the foreseeable future, ceteris paribus.

If I had to pick between the two books, I would probably go for Writer to Writer. It's much more comprehensive, and the same basic subjects are covered in the two books. Except perhaps writer's block, which isn't explicitly mentioned in Writer to Writer. But, she does have a chapter called "drops of blood", which is around the same thing, in my opinion.

These books will probably inspire young writers, and not-so-young writers as well. I really enjoyed reading it, and I could totally see myself doing a few prompts if I owned a copy and didn't just borrowed it.

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