Free Shipping on Orders of $40 or More
Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded): The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded): The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

by Jeff VanderMeer
Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded): The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded): The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

by Jeff VanderMeer


Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Wednesday, February 8


“If worldbuilding gives you an S-class migraine, never fear. There’s one book that every speculative fiction writer should read to learn about proper worldbuilding: Wonderbook.” ―Bustle
“Aspiring writers of ‘imaginative fiction’—whether science fiction, fantasy or other kinds—are in for a treat.” ―

Wonderbook has become a definitive guide to writing science fiction and fantasy by offering an accessible, example-rich, illustrated approach for writers and would-be writers that emphasizes the importance of playfulness as well as pragmatism.

Jeff VanderMeer’s modern masterpiece of instruction exploits the visual nature of genre culture and employs bold, full-color drawings, maps, renderings, and visualizations to stimulate creative thinking. On top of all that, the book features sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names working in the field today, including:
  • George R. R. Martin
  • Lev Grossman
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Michael Moorcock
  • Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Charles Yu
  • Karen Joy Fowler
  • And more!
A true objet d’art, this overstuffed, full-color illustrated book features really glorious and cool Lovecraftian artwork of all sorts of outrageous monsters, as well as a host of advice winding their ways around the edges of the pages like marginalia in an illuminated monk’s script. Yes, it’s practical advice, useful to writers, but it also deserves a place on your coffee table for visitors to flip through and for you to look at again and again.

For the fifth anniversary of the original publication, Jeff VanderMeer has added an additional 50 pages of diagrams, illustrations, and writing exercises creating the ultimate volume of inspiring advice that is also a stunning and inspiring object.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419729669
Publisher: Abrams Image
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 53,290
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jeff VanderMeer is the author of the New York Times bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy.

Table of Contents


Welcome xi

Unique Features xiv

Organization and Approach xv

Your Guides xvi xviii

The journey xix

Instructional Art

The History of Science Fiction xii

Novel Mountain: A Typology of Discovery xix

Chapter 1 Inspiration and the Creative Life

Introduction 1

The Importance of Imaginative Play 3

The Fantastical and the Imagination 9

Imaginative Outputs 13

The Scar or the Splinter 16

Inputs for Inspiration 17

The Strangeness of the Imagination 29

Instructional Art

Inspiration: Outputs 14

Inspiration: Inputs 21

Essays: "The Muse" by Rikki Ducornet (p. 4), "What Is/What If: The Beauty of Mystery" by Karen Lord (p. 27), "Writer's Block" by Matthew Cheney (p. 34)

Spotlight on: Scott Eagle (p. 23)

Writing Challenge: Using an Absurd Prompt (p. 25)

Chapter 2 The Ecosystem of Story

Introduction 41

Narrative Life Forms 43

The Elements of Fiction 46

A Closer Look at Some of the Elements 47

Point of View 47

Dialogue 48

Description 53

Style 59

The Greater and Lesser Mysteries 64

The Complex Relationship Between Story Elements 66

The Roles of Types of Imagination 69

Instructional Art

Dialogue in Action 52

Approaches to Style 62

Lifecycle of a Story 70

Essays: "Point of View: Subjective Versus Objective and Roving" by Nick Mamatas (p. 49), "Thoughts on Exposition" by Kim Stanley Robinson (p. 56), "A Message About Messages" by Ursula K. Le Guin (p. 67)

Writing Challenge: Texture, Tone, and Style (p. 61)

Chapter 3 Beginnings and Endings

Introduction 73

The Lure of the Hook 79

Elements of a Good Beginning 82

When Not to Commit 87

Bad Beginnings? 90

Novel Approaches: Finch 91

Other Approaches to Finch 96

Style, Tone, and Voice 108

Finch as Shore Story 109

The End of Beginnings 114

The Beginning of Endings 119

Expectations and Elements 122

Falling Down at the End 126

The End of Finch 131

The End of Endings 132

Instructional Art

The Widening Context 74

Myster Odd Presents: Beginnings 76

Story Fish 80

Myster Odd Presents: First Lines 84

Doors to Narrative 102

Letting Light into the Eye 104

Finch Opening: Analysis 110

Modulations of Tone and Style 112

The Middle Zones of Story 116

Arrows and Targets 120

Myster Odd Presents: Final Lines 124

Essays: "The Beginning of American Gods" by Neil Gaiman (p. 88), "The Challenges of Endings" by Desirina Boskovich (p. 127)

Writing Challenge: "Kraken!"-Where to Begin? (p. 78)

Chapter 4 Narrative Design

Introduction 133

Plot 137

Structure 145

Unlikely Synergy: Ben Metcalf's Against the Country and Amos Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard 151

Creating Scenes 154

Pacing: Beats and Progressions 155

The Beginnings and Endings of Scenes 157

Repetition and Invisibility 160

Cutting Scenes 162

Intercutting Scenes 166

Translating Movie and Television Technique into Fiction 167

What Not to Dramatize 169

The Uses of Interruption and Contamination 172

The Role of Time 173

Instructional Art

Natural and Dramatic Scenes: Story versus Situation 134

Plot Diagrams 139

Plot Lizards 141

Life Is Not a Plot 142

Plot Devices 144

The Structure of Iain M. Banks's Use of Weapons 148

Tire Structure of Angela Carter's Story "The Fall River Axe Murders" 149

The Structure of "The Leonardo" by Vladimir Nabokov 150

Myster Odd Presents: Structure 152

Beats Examined (Under the Microscope) 156

Fred the Penguin and Danger Duck: Progressions 159

The Hand of Possibilities, The Eye of Cause and Effect 161

Cutting Scenes: Airship Disaster 163

Intercutting Scenes: Conflict on the Island 164

Flay and Cook: Gormenghast and the Action Scene 170

The Science of Scenes 174

Spotlight on: Nnedi Okorafor (p. 146)

Writing Challenge: Beyond Standard Plots (p. 140)

Chapter 5 Characterization

Introduction 177

Types of Characterization 178

The King and His Hippo: Full versus Flat 183

Whom Should You Write About? 185

Getting to Know Your Character 189

Mistakes to Avoid 192

Creating Further Depth and Nuance 197

Character Arcs 204

Instructional Art

Protag/Antag 179

Mystery Odd Presents: The Character Club 186

Transfer of Energy and Emotion 199

The Secret Life of Objects 201

Types of Character Arcs 202

Mexican Wrestler Monomyth 205

The Zeros Relapse 208

Essays: "Writing The Other" by Lauren Beukes (p. 193), "The Zero's Relapse" by Michael Cisco (p. 207) Spotlight on: Stant Litore (p. 180)

Writing Challenges: Animals as People (p. 191). Secondary Characters (p. 196)

Chapter 6 Worldbuilding

Introduction 211

Worldview versus Storyview 216

Language and Wordbuilding 218

Characteristics of a Well-Realized Setting 220

Dangers and Opportunities 233

The Strangeness of the World 238

Instructional Art

All Our Fictional Worlds (types) 214

Myster Odd Presents: Worldview versus Storyview 218

Essays: "What Everyone Knows" by Catherynne M. Valente (p. 223). "The Role of Maps in Narrative: The Heroes" by Joe Abercrombie (p. 227), "On the Synthesis of Minor bur Noteworthy Universes" by Charles Yu (p. 236)

Spotlight on: David Anthony Durham (p. 221)

Writing Challenge: Investigation of a Floating City (p. 222)

Chapter 7 Revision

Introduction 245

What is Revision? 246

Drafting Strategies 248

Specific Questions for Writers of the Fantastical 250

Systematic Testing 256

Step 1: Reverse Outlining 257

Step 2: Interrogating Your Characters 260

Step 3: Paragraph-Level Edits 261

Your Process: To Keep in Mind 264

Choosing First Readers 268

Reconciling Feedback 274

Don't Kill the Spark 277

Instructional Art

Chart of Revision 252

Peter Straub Manuscript Pages 258

Grandville Character Circle 262

Bestiary of First Readers-To Avoid 270

Story Fish That May Require Revision 272

A Tale of Resurrection 278

Essays: "Thoughts on Revision" by Lev Grossman (p. 265), "Finding My Way" by Karen Joy Fowler (p. 275)

Spotlight on: Peter Straub (p. 258)

Writing Challenge: Transformation by Increments (p. 260)

Workshop Appendix

Letter from the Author 282

LARP and Writing by Karin Tidbeck 283

George R. R. Martin on the Craft of Writing 287

Shared Worlds: Tie Benefits of Collaborative Storytelling 296

Let's Find the "Duck": Conceptual Art and You by Rosie Weinberg 304

Theo Ellsworth on Comics and the Organic Impulse 308

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah: Intercutting Scenes for Maximum Effect 312

Gormenghast: Flay Vs. Cook, "Blood at Midnight" Action Scene 318

Normal: First Scenes 322

Annihilating Annihilation Book-To-Film 326

The White Deer Terroir Project 332

Unconventional Ways of Approaching Narrative 339

Additional Writing Exercises

Cannibalism & Constraint: Finding the Story Right in Front of You 346

Stealing the Skeleton: Goldilocks and the Three Nubs 348

Cause and Effect: Tbe Case of the Wheelbarrow Deer, the Severed Finger, and Your Mcssed-Up friends 349

Found History: Everything's Personal 350

Tactile Experience: GO! 352

Can You Taste the Light Your Third Eye Brings You? Exploring Beyond the Five Senses 353

Fantastical Monsters & You: What is Monsrrour and How Do You Write It? 354

The Forgotten Works of Cassandra N. Railsea 356

"The Leonardo" Variations: Living Without Fantasy 358

Stages of (Fantasy) Writer Development 360

Creator Biographies & Acknowledgments 362

Credits 364

What People are Saying About This

Nnedi Okorafor

"Wonderbook is one of the best books about writing I’ve ever read or experienced.”

Customer Reviews

Explore More Items