I was going to read this book quickly and write a quick review, but it’s not that sort of book. Think writer’s workshop. Plan to spend a few days (or weeks, or more). Sit down with pen and paper, or convenient computer. And expect to work for the things you’ll learn. Then your writing will improve. You’ll know how to answer those “How did they do that?” questions as you read the masters’ works. And you’ll have fun.
Writing Fantasy Heroes is an enjoyable read, with lots of excerpts from intriguingly heroic fantasy books. But it’s far more than that, and some chapters are surely must-reads for any aspiring writer. Examples are drawn from sources as varied as Gilgamesh, Shakespeare, Star Trek and even the movie Escape from New York, to bring out the different qualities and aspects we use to define a hero. C. L. Werner, who writes about reptilian skaven in his Warhammer novels, adds monsters to the mix. Ari Marmell invites us to think about tropes (which are not the same as clichés). Glen Cook keeps it disastrous and logical. But my favorite chapters are those that most clearly show the editing process. Ian C. Esslemont and Brandon Sanderson offer repeating samples, rewriting scenes to show how editing gives opportunities to the author. Exposition gives way to dramatization, the reader’s imagination is effectively guided by the writer, and paragraphs that grow into chapters read faster despite being longer, with motivation and emotion taking over from the blow-by-blow of battle.
Lots of authors, lots of examples, lots of amazingly powerful advice; this book was a far longer read than I expected, and a more valuable one. Highly recommended.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to be given a free ecopy with a request for my honest review.
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