Take Joy: a book for writers
The Writer Books, 2003 (2003)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
, Jane Yolen, one of my favorite fantasy writers, takes issue with the conventional wisdom that writers have to sweat blood to put their words on paper. She gives us eleven inspiring essays, that sparkle with confidence and creative energy, on the joys of writing. Each is introduced by an apt quotation and they are interspersed with
that whisper witty, wily, distilled wisdom (I especially enjoyed the '
Butt in Chair
n the title essay, this acclaimed author contends that '
it is not the writing that makes writers miserable. It is the emphasis on publication
'. She compares the writing process to flying at treetop level until the story rises up to meet you, and recommends taking joy in the experience. In
The Mystery That Is Writing
, the Japanese word
is used to explain the birth of a story in terms of a mother hen pecking at an egg, on which the chick within is also tapping ... until '
New life emerges.
tells aspiring writers to be like Loki and make writing an act of mischief, while recommending that veteran writers avoid being facile.
Building the House
compares writing to that process, starting from the preparation of a basement. In
, the author advocates for the difference and value of
, quoting from several bards (a few not previously known to me), and explaining in verse
What Is A Poem?
(The answer centers on '
takes a story idea, '
The Barbarian Has Tea with the Queen
' and develops it in many different voices:
Bardic, Schoolboy, Josephus, Boogerman, Dark Angel, Midtown Mab, David Broder
. It's an entertaining education.
Beginnings and Endings
calls the opening line '
the DNA of fiction
', and advises that the ending should be '
both inevitable and surprising
a long sigh of recognition
he Mind of the Matter
gives useful perspectives on point of view -
Omniscient, First Person, Limited Omniscient, Objective
Killing the King
advises regarding plotting that there should be '
Always something going on
', and that if elves move into your plot, it's a mistake not to hear them out.
Out with Outlines
tells us that story is organic, and
The Alphabetics of Story
provides tidbits under titles from
. The latter warns us to have zero expectations and '
Write the damn story. Nothing else matters.
f you write yourself, avoid blotting blood off your manuscript pages by reading this first. And if you know an aspiring author, this little book makes the perfect gift.
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