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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to…
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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Jeff VanderMeer, Jeremy Zerfoss (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5371733,755 (4.25)20
"This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few"--… (more)
Member:psutto
Title:Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
Authors:Jeff VanderMeer
Other authors:Jeremy Zerfoss (Illustrator)
Info:Abrams Image (2013), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:2013 challenge

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Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer (2013)

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» See also 20 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Probably the best book on writing imaginitive fiction I have ever read. ( )
  CharlotteBurt | Feb 1, 2021 |
I'm not an aspiring writer but I still found it interesting. I think the book was written with people like me in mind because it has no technical aspects of writing covered, just the creative parts.

Too much lecturing on moral issues for a book about writing. The illustrations are like results of a google image search. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
This isn't a book you read cover to cover, but dip into as needed. The book totally explodes the usually dry format of the craft book, with interviews, first-hand essays and, most delightfully, illustrations that are meant to give any reader a big, fancy permission slip to do whatever is needed to write well, imaginatively and (most importantly) in whatever crazy-pants way you want. Loved it and replaced my library copy with my own Wonderbook. ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
While this didn't change my writing life, it had a lot of very useful ways of looking at the concept and practices of producing speculative fiction - and unlike a lot of writing books, it didn't claim to have all the answers, but to try and provide some examples of tools that you might try out in finding methods that worked for you on this project. The emphasis on creativity and wonder sometimes got a little trying in a tie-dye-and-love-beads sort of way, but there are some good points at the heart of it. ( )
  cupiscent | Aug 3, 2019 |
Wonderbook is a writing manual geared toward fantasy and science fiction writers. I picked it up because I wanted some insight into the creative process of a writer and also because it looked like a fun book to read.

That it is, for sure. It features beautiful illustrations, from concept diagrams to images serving as writing prompts and even games. Or just for the fun of it, really, as it is not necessarily always clear what purpose an illustration serves.

The book is divided into several chapters, each devoted to a specific writing topic. The least useful is the first chapter on imagination, probably because this is a hard topic to explain or even grasp, so VanderMeer struggles to convey how it is all supposed to work. Then you have chapters on beginnings and endings, characterization, scene composition, world-building... These are then further divided into topics such as point-of-view, dialogues, description, style and so forth.

Some concepts are meticulously broken down, such as beginnings. VanderMeer shows the possible beginnings for his noir fantasy novel Finch and then explains which ones are not that good and why he made the choice to include the one he did. Unfortunately, having read Finch, I have to say that the beginning is really the only interesting part of that novel.

Some other concepts are less closely examined and are talked about in more generic terms, without there being too many examples. This would be my main criticism of the book, as a more tangible approach with examples would probably be of some additional benefit to an aspiring writer. However, this may be by design as VanderMeer does not wish to impart his way too forcefully, but rather talks about different possible approaches and lists their strengths and weaknesses.

The manual has many outside contributions, mainly in the form of essays by other science fiction and fantasy writers, on some specific topic, such as point-of-view. Both the quality and usefulness of these vary from great to rather boring, but together they do offer a view into creative processes of their authors and the approaches they take, so it's all good.

The appendix features various writing exercises, which, not being a writer, I did not perform, but many of them looked very creative and some even seemed like they could be fun.

All in all, the Wonderbook is a good introductory text (and image!) to the world of writing, which can probably be used regardless of the type of fiction the reader intends to write, as there are not that many things that are specific to science fiction and fantasy. ( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeff VanderMeerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Zerfoss, JeremyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
Dedicated to Erin Kennedy and Jason Kennedy, with love.
For my mom, my aunt, my long-suffering friends and family, and for the free-texture community. I love you all. -- Jeremy Zerfoss
First words
Welcome to Wonderbook. Before you begin, check your supplies. Make sure you have plenty of water, food, and at least some mountaineering equipment.
Quotations
Be fiercely protective of your imagination, and nurture it. (p. 40)
Being available to social media 24/7 does not count as receptivity; it's just fragmentation.
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"This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few"--

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