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Posted December 3, 2005
An Interesting Paradox
I ordered this book, oddly enough, to see if it was as bad as Alain made it out to be. The book is an odd paradox, I found. For someone who is a fan of science fiction, enough so to want to write it, the information in the book should be intuitive. I should hope that someone who likes SF/F enough to write it has read a lot of it. For someone who wakes up one day and randomly decides to write SF/F...well, you can't just wake up one day and write SF. I think you'd have to (and I think ought to) read a lot in the genre before writing it. But by that point, this should be intuitive! Basically what Card does is organize this intuition. That's not without merit. His section on creating worlds, where he explains different means of interstellar travel and their social and technological implications, for instance, provides good insight on what should go into the planning phase of a work of SF/F. The part I enjoyed most was on how he got ideas for some of his books. This part touched on the excellence of Stephen King's 'On Writing.' I think the book would have been better if Card did what King did. Too much of Card's book is spent analyzing the works of others. Most of one chapter analyzes to death the opening paragraph of Octavia Butler's 'Wild Seed.' A rambling analysis could have been summed up by a short list of bullet points that explain why Butler's opening paragraph is well done. That section reads more like a sales pitch for Butler's book. At the end, he provides career advice. He mentions steps like submitting to publishers and finding an agent, and an aspiring writer can never get enough advice in these areas. But then he goes on to write about collaborating with other authors, getting on to panels and getting awards -after- you're a successful author. That information is useless to the aspiring author and probably irrelevant to the successful author. This is one author's idea about how to write and his ideas on the writings of others. The title is misleading. It's not much of an instruction guide, and while it provides good tips, I don't think it will make much impact on my own writing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 16, 2004
A one sided focus
You would think, judging by the title alone, that this book would be about both science fiction, and fantasy. You might also imagine a thick, in depth, everything you would want to know about a genre that has been developing for generations. At just a measly 140 pages, however, Card's 'how to guide' seemed to fall a little short of just about all of my expectations. Now don't get me wrong, Orson Scott Card is a very successful author. He's written dozens of books in the Speculative Fiction genre and I¿m sure he knows what he's doing. While the book was informative, I found it a little short on the juice I was expecting. Maybe if you woke up one day and decided to write a fantasy or science fiction novel without any knowledge on how to do so, this book would be for you. But as a young author myself, who is nearly done with the first draft of a story of my own, I found many of the tips and tricks of the trade a little tedious and generally common sense. Card writes this book with clarity, yet he doesn't present information in a typical, textbook way. Everything, from the introduction to the closing comments, is written in essay format. Vitally important advice is lost among sentences and paragraphs, instead of highlighted in bullets or side boxes. Also, just about every ounce of advice he gives has to be backed up with a long drawn out example, usually from his own life and work. By the time he's done, you have no idea what the hell he was talking about in the first place. Take out the examples and the long, term-paper structured paragraphs, and you have a very short book. Every time I think I¿ve learned enough to execute some of the advice Card offers, the chapter ends and he moves on. In short each chapter only skims the surface of a topic. Indeed, the most helpful chapter was entitled ¿Writing Well.¿ Since this book is about how to write, one would naturally think this chapter would at least be the longest, and consume a good percentage of the book. Quite to the contrary actually, Card admits that this is the shortest chapter in the book, at less than 20 pages. On the other hand, a much longer chapter is devoted to 'The Life and Business of Writing' and includes everything from publishers, to finances and handling money, conventions and awards. Awards! Are you kidding me? First of all, why is there a section devoted to Awards in a book on writing? One must first learn how to write well, and even then he has to be above all others. It would be like having a child's basketball camp teaching kids how to give interviews for ESPN and make layups fancy enough to be on the highlights. Basically, Card writes a descent book, but that's as far as my praise will stretch. No offense, but I see this as just another way for Orson Scott Card to monopolize on his own success.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 19, 2008
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