Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly
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Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly

4.2 34
by Gail Carson Levine
     
 

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Bestselling author of Ella Enchanted and fairy-tale master Gail Carson Levine helps you make magic with your writing!

In Writing Magic, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine shares her tricks of the trade. She shows how you can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialogue, develop memorable

Overview

Bestselling author of Ella Enchanted and fairy-tale master Gail Carson Levine helps you make magic with your writing!

In Writing Magic, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine shares her tricks of the trade. She shows how you can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialogue, develop memorable characters—and much, much more. She advises you about what to do when you feel stuck—and how to use helpful criticism. Best of all, she offers writing exercises that will set your imagination on fire.

With humor, honesty, and wisdom, Gail Carson Levine shows you that you, too, can make magic with your writing.

Editorial Reviews

Harold Underdown
“Writing Magic is a great introduction to writing for children. The “voice” is upbeat and not condescending. It is clearly written, and includes examples when they are needed. As far as I know, there is nothing else like this available.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A veritable treasure trove of advice and guidance for writers across a range of ages.”
Publishers Weekly
"This is a book about writing fiction. But it should help you write anything," begins Gail Carson Levine in her Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly. The author of Ella Enchanted and Fairest supplies the first line of a story and asks readers to write for 20 minutes; she describes why she wrote this book, and why she writes. What comes through on every page is Levine's passion for craft. Aspiring writers of all ages can dip in and out of this book, which has the clarity and spareness of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Sophie Brookover
Sporting a chummy, conversational tone shaded with the wisdom of considerable experience, this writing manual for younger teens hits all its marks beautifully. Each chapter is brief, targets a particular step in the fiction writing process, and concludes with a fun, challenging writing exercise germane to the chapter's topic. A Newbery Honor author for Ella Enchanted (HarperCollins, 1997/VOYA August 1997) and author of the recent Fairest (HarperCollins, 2006/VOYA review this issue), Levine is a friendly mentor in these pages, confiding in the reader about her relative dearth of ideas for stories, her struggles with the writing process, and her tips for creating a supportive writers' group. Each chapter covers practical ground, such as germinating seeds of ideas, working through feeling stuck, developing a voice, choosing names for characters, and submitting work for publication. The book as a whole would make an excellent textbook for creative writing classes for grades six through nine (unsurprising because it grew out of workshops for young writers that Levine leads near her home in Upstate New York). Although subsequent chapters assume that the reader has read previous ones, each chapter could be excerpted for use in stand-alone writing workshops. The prose here is engaging and the exercises useful, but the subject will appeal only to those bitten hard by the writing bug. This book is a primary purchase for school libraries and English departments, and a strong secondary one for public libraries.
Children's Literature
No idea what to write about? This book is packed with ideas and suggestions about beginnings and endings, settings, plots, and character development—and these are just a few of the topics covered. What are voice and point of view? What is the difference between telling and showing? The author gives straightforward and easily understood explanations, along with many examples taken from published works. At the end of each chapter readers will find "Writing Time!"—a list of exercises to stimulate the imagination and to encourage writing. Young writers will be encouraged to write, to write more, to have fun, and to save what has been written. A good resource for young writers and one that adult writers may enjoy as well. Writing Magic is an entertaining and very informative book that will motivate beginning writers to write and, most importantly, to have fun. 2006, HarperCollins, Ages 11 up.
—Anita Barnes Lowen
KLIATT - Anthony Pucci
As the author of Ella Enchanted, a 1998 Newbery Honor Book, Levine has a ready audience for her advice to aspiring young writers. Her 30 chapters, most of which are two or three pages long, cover all the standard topics from getting started to writing effective dialogue to dealing with rejection letters. Levine's approach is personal and conversational. She offers many examples from her own experiences and from her own writings, including her award-winning novel. Each chapter includes a number of suggestions for practicing the particular skills relevant to that chapter. Most chapters end with the mantra, "Have fun! Save what you wrote." Most of Levine's suggestions are rather fundamental, such as stressing the importance of revising as an essential element of successful writing. Some of her ideas are more provocative, such as urging her readers to "invent a word": she offers "lethescriptosis," which she defines as "the experience of having a great idea and forgetting it before you can write it down," as an example. Geared to readers ages ten and up, this book will provide some helpful suggestions for those YAs already interested in the writing process, but will unlikely be sufficient to entice more young people to write who wouldn't otherwise have done so.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up
The accomplished children's and young adult author speaks directly to young writers, providing advice on all aspects of fiction creation. Sections titled "Liftoff," "Heart and Guts," "Plowing Through," "Digging Deeper," and "Writing Forever" address such topics as coming up with story ideas, developing characters and plot, and finding opportunities for publication. The tone is friendly and direct, getting quickly to the point in each short chapter, which closes with writing prompts. Levine encourages readers to take their work seriously while remembering to have fun. An informative and encouraging must-read for young writers.
—Beth GallegoCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060519612
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/19/2006
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
628,096
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.69(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt



Writing Magic



Creating Stories that Fly



By Gail Levine


HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.



Copyright © 2006

Gail Levine

All right reserved.


ISBN: 0060519606



Chapter One

A Running Start

This is a book about writing fiction. But it should help you write anything: e-mails, essays, greeting cards, love letters, skywriting.

Pick one of the options below and use it as the beginning of a story. You can revise the sentences a little or a lot to make them work better for you. Feel free to change the names and to turn boys into girls or vice versa. Write for at least twenty minutes.

Oh, and have fun!


I have one green eye and one brown eye. The green eye sees truth, but the brown eye sees much, much more.

The ghost was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

"Be nice," my father said. "After all, he's your brother."

I am the most famous twelve-year-old in the United States.

Jason had never felt so foolish before, and he hoped he'd never feel so foolish again.

If somebody didn't do something soon, they were going to have a catastrophe on their hands.

Alison was the runt of the family, born small and ill-favored, and by the time she was thirteen, she was still small and ill-favored.

It was a witchy house: the low-slung roof; that quiet gray paint; those squinting, shuttered windows; and the empty porch rocker that rocked, rocked, rocked day and night.

The first time I saw Stephen, he painted a hex sign on my right arm,and I couldn't move my fingers for three hours.

Ms. Fleming's wig had gone missing.



Okay, you've done it. Congratulations! If you haven't finished your story, save it so you can work more on it later. If you have finished, also save it.

At this point if you want to go back and use one of the other beginnings to write another story, please help yourself. Two stories are better than one, and three are better than two. If you like, you can write ten stories, or double up and write twenty!

Now here are a few rules for this book and for writing:


1. The best way to write better is to write more.

2. The best way to write better is to write more.

3. The best way to write better is to write more.

4. The best way to write more is to write whenever you have five minutes and wherever you find a chair and a pen and paper or your computer.

5. Read! Most likely you don't need this rule. If you enjoy writing, you probably enjoy reading. The payoff for this pleasure is that reading books shows you how to write them.

6. Reread! There's nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become part of you, in a way that words in a book you've read only once can't.

7. Save everything you write, even if you don't like it, even if you hate it. Save it for a minimum of fifteen years. I'm serious. At that time, if you want to, you can throw it out, but even then don't discard your writing lightly.



That last rule needs explaining. I used to think, long ago, that when I grew up, I'd remember what it felt like to be a child and that I'd always be able to get back to my child self.

But I can't.

When you become a teenager, you step onto a bridge. You may already be on it. The opposite shore is adulthood. Childhood lies behind. The bridge is made of wood. As you cross, it burns behind you.

If you save what you write, you still won't be able to cross back to childhood. But you'll be able to see yourself in that lost country. You'll be able to wave to yourself across that wide river.

Whether or not you continue to write, you will be glad to have the souvenirs of your earlier self.

The three items below aren't rules; they're vows. Say them aloud.

The Writer's Oath

I promise solemnly:


1. to write as often and as much as I can,

2. to respect my writing self, and

3. to nurture the writing of others.



I accept these responsibilities and shall honor them always.

Continues...




Excerpted from Writing Magic
by Gail Levine
Copyright © 2006 by Gail Levine.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Meet the Author

Gail Carson Levine's first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Ever, a New York Times bestseller; Fairest, a Best Book of the Year for Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, and a New York Times bestseller; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; A Tale of Two Castles; and the six Princess Tales books. She is also the author of the nonfiction books Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly and Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink, as well as the picture books Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie. Gail Carson Levine and her husband, David, live in a two-centuries-old farmhouse in the Hudson Valley of New York State.

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Writing Magic 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Although WRITING MAGIC is geared towards young adults, this is the perfect helper for anyone who has ever wanted to write a book. Creating stories is hard work. It takes practice, discipline, and dedication. It would be nice to think that writing a book simply means sitting down and typing up words, but, alas, it really doesn't work that way. Thankfully, though, we have Gail Carson Levine, Newbery Honor author of some of my favorite books (ELLA ENCHANTED, THE TWO PRINCESSES OF BAMARRE, and the upcoming FAIREST, to name a few) who has taken the time to put together WRITING MAGIC. Filled with tons of wonderful tips about becoming a great writer who creates even greater stories, there are also writing exercises to get those creative juices flowing.

The book is broken down into five sections, with several categories in each:

Section one is entitled Liftoff, which includes A Running Start, Why I Wrote This Book, Shut Up!, Eureka!, Getting into It, and Noticing.

Section two, Heart and Guts, includes The Nitty-Gritty, The Kiss of Life, Character Helper, Suffer!, Talking, Back to Beginnings, Where Am I?, Who Am I?, Voice, and Happily Ever After--Or Not.

Section three, Plowing Through, includes Stuck!, The Operating Room, and Writers' Groups and Other Helpers.

Section four, Digging Deeper, includes Show and Tell, Abracadabra!, I'd Recognize Her with My Eyes Closed, Speaking Body Language, Method Writing, Writing Funy/Writing Punny, The Right Moniker, and Fiddling with Fairy Tales.

The final section, called Writing Forever, includes Writing for Your Spirit, Putting Your Words Out There, and Exeunt Writing.

I loved the writing exercises included in WRITING MAGIC. From the simple (writing brief character descriptions) to the more advanced (writing convincing dialogue), this book is a great tool for anyone. If you've ever wondered how to get started writing a story, ever questioned how to get that great book idea down on paper, this is the guide for you. Pick up a copy of WRITING MAGIC, try the exercises, take Ms. Levine's words to heart, and you're guaranteed to write anything--story, e-mail message, diary entry--with an easier flow and style.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very helpful, very practical, and steers the writer away from pitfalls. It's also fun to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Writing Magic. It was one of the first how-to-write books I'd read, and I was reluctant to try it, but I'm glad I did. I continually checked it out from the library, renewing and renewing. When I had to return it, I'd check it out again. Finally, I decided it was worth it to buy it. I'm glad I did. The book is written in Gail Carson Levine's coined style, and I feel as though she's talking to me. She doesn't preach or talk down to you; she writes it as though she's right there, pointing, instructing, and discussing how to write a novel. There's an exercise after every chapter, achievable, fun ways to practice writing. She goes from the basics- character development, dialogue and setting- to details no one ever goes into- the right names, how to twist a fairytale, and how to stop the hurtful self-criticism you always get. Out of all the writing books I've read, Writing Magic is certainly the best. I reccommend it (and Levine's other books!) highly.
AlainaBrown More than 1 year ago
This book is very helpful if you're interested in writing anything. There are some great exercises that help your writing improve. It's given me new insights and helped to refine my skills. Very worth it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gail Carson Levine is one of my favorite authors of all time. Her writing style has always amazed and piqued my interest. When I discovered that she had written a book about writing your very own fiction novel, I picked it up right away! It was a privilege to look into one of my favorite author's writing style, techniques, and writing practice ideas that really helped jump start my own writing. Her advice and exercises are very helpful. I enjoyed reading the little tidbits about how she came to write sections of "Ella Enchanted," "The Two Princesses of Bamarre," and her many other tales. I loved reading how she came to write her stories and the methods that she used to help her writing along. I especially enjoyed the chapter called "Character Helper". It really helped me give my characters depth (and it helped me understand them better as well). I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is a Gail Carson Levine fan or for writers of all ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although WRITING MAGIC is geared towards young adults, this is the perfect helper for anyone who has ever wanted to write a book. Creating stories is hard work. It takes practice, discipline, and dedication. It would be nice to think that writing a book simply means sitting down and typing up words, but, alas, it really doesn't work that way. Thankfully, though, we have Gail Carson Levine, Newbery Honor author of some of my favorite books (ELLA ENCHANTED, THE TWO PRINCESSES OF BAMARRE, and the upcoming FAIREST, to name a few) who has taken the time to put together WRITING MAGIC. Filled with tons of wonderful tips about becoming a great writer who creates even greater stories, there are also writing exercises to get those creative juices flowing. The book is broken down into five sections, with several categories in each: Section one is entitled Liftoff, which includes A Running Start, Why I Wrote This Book, Shut Up!, Eureka!, Getting into It, and Noticing. Section two, Heart and Guts, includes The Nitty-Gritty, The Kiss of Life, Character Helper, Suffer!, Talking, Back to Beginnings, Where Am I?, Who Am I?, Voice, and Happily Ever After--Or Not. Section three, Plowing Through, includes Stuck!, The Operating Room, and Writers' Groups and Other Helpers. Section four, Digging Deeper, includes Show and Tell, Abracadabra!, I'd Recognize Her with My Eyes Closed, Speaking Body Language, Method Writing, Writing Funy/Writing Punny, The Right Moniker, and Fiddling with Fairy Tales. The final section, called Writing Forever, includes Writing for Your Spirit, Putting Your Words Out There, and Exeunt Writing. I loved the writing exercises included in WRITING MAGIC. From the simple (writing brief character descriptions) to the more advanced (writing convincing dialogue), this book is a great tool for anyone. If you've ever wondered how to get started writing a story, ever questioned how to get that great book idea down on paper, this is the guide for you. Pick up a copy of WRITING MAGIC, try the exercises, take Ms. Levine's words to heart, and you're guaranteed to write anything--story, e-mail message, diary entry--with an easier flow and style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever! I thought it was so cool and super helpful! I felt like Gail was with me helping me out with my writing. I loved the writing prompts. This book got me so excited to write, more than I ever have been before. I can't wait to read the sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book that really helps and geys you interested
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! I read this once and have been trying to find it again ever since! I highly reccomend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This really helped me thank u soooooooo much:) :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh yea
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unperfectwriter More than 1 year ago
Gail Carson Levine wrote some of my favorite books, and this writing guide was amazing as well! The end-of-the-chapter writing challenges were fun and helped me stretch my imagination
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Cginm96 More than 1 year ago
This book is really helpful for people like me who wants to be an author but are having a touch time getting their feet off the ground. it teaches you everything from good beginnings to getting unstuck to putting on the finishing touches. If you want a fun, honest way to write fiction then buy this book!
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You should get this book, as it has given my writing a HUGE kick-start.