You can’t tell from the picture, but I’ve tabbed and highlighted this book within an inch of its life (in fact I cracked the spine so badly it’s coming apart) – both because it’s hilarious and full of useful advice. I have a review of this most excellent writing guide on my blog, but I wanted to a quick-hit list of why you should be reading it.
First (and most obvious):
You are/want to be a writer
Chuck Wendig primarily uses examples best suited to novels, yet the concepts he discusses can easily be applied to TV, movies and even games. In fact, most of the examples he uses are popular films and shows, like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Die Hard.
Wendig covers topics like character development, defining your terms, exposition, arrangement, and language. He dishes out advice like:
The question mark is shaped like a hook for a reason. It drags us forward.
Never give the audience more information than they need to progress through the narrative.
Then he goes into detail and gives numerous examples from familiar media that I found really helpful in understanding his points.
You enjoy media
Be it books, movies, or TV, Wendig’s advice will help you understand why you love the characters or plot arcs that you love.
For instance, when talking about how some characters and some are dynamic, he mentions that Solo goes from “scoundrel to soldier” and Leia from “resisting love to embracing it, her veneer as a haughty princess cracked by the charm and smarm of the scoundrel, Solo.”
He also notes:Why we care for these characters – the give-a-f**k factor – isn’t just about their heroism, big or small. It’s about how human they are, and how that helps us to understand them.
Really though, if you don’t care about tips on writing, but love Star Wars, I’m pretty sure he mentions the movies and characters at least once per chapter, so it’s still worth a read.
Last, but not least:
You like to laugh
My first introduction to Wendig was his blog and I immediately fell in love with his tone. He’s bold, foul-mouthed, animated, and a riot to read.
My favorite quote:
We like to think of storytelling as actual magic. Like we have a little wizard or witch hiding in our heart, and she’s the one who’s barfing inspiration into us – where we translate that magical inspiration-barf to our fingertips as we write or to our jabbering mouth-hole as we, in turn, regurgitate the tale at hand.
Less ridiculous we have:
Dialogue, for instance, tends to be a lubricating component. Dialogue greases us up like a wiggly pig and launches us down the chute.
His narration and footnotes had me smiling or chuckling throughout the whole book. This is by far the most “feel good” writing advice book I’ve come across.
I could quote pages and pages of this book to prove my points (and others), but really, you should just pick up a copy. I mean, just check out that cover – so classy!
In all seriousness, this is a laid-back, but informational book of advice. Wendig is funny, relatable and unpretentious. His advice feels practical and the examples he uses makes everything easily understandable. This is certainly a guide I’ll be returning to often.
You can also check out Chuck’s blog for writing prompts, advice from other writers, feminist musings and more!