by Emily Wedell
Page After Page: Discover the Confidence & Passion You Need to Start Writing & Keep Writing by Heather Sellers is a short guide on how writers (or anyone, really) can fine-tune their writing habits. A successful poet and author herself, Sellers has written and published memoirs, children’s books, and countless short stories. Page After Page was published in 2005, which was after her collection of short stories was published. The main objective Sellers had in mind while working on this book was how to get people started on writing, and how to encourage them to continue to write. Each chapter addresses a slightly different aspect of developing yourself as a writer, from engaging with other authors, to defeating the infamous “writer’s block,” to dealing with rejection. Sellers uses many personal experiences and examples, as well as a few exercises at the end of each section for the reader (or the writer who happens to be reading) to try. While the advice Sellers gives seems geared towards budding writers who wish to practice creative writing, her exercises can help any writer further develop their skills.
There were a few parts in particular that I liked. First, the chapters are short, focused, and each discuss a specific topic (though they are all interconnected). The exercises Sellers gives at the end of each chapter may at first sound trite or irrelevant, but any writing will help develop a writer’s voice and help that individual get into the practice of writing. Next, Sellers encourages aspiring authors to write whenever and wherever, and even goes as far as to take a night off and sit and write. She explains that writers should be outlaws: free to write whenever, wherever, and to do as they please, because inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. As nice as this sounds, restraints such as jobs, responsibilities, and time usually prohibit taking writing time to oneself, but Sellers still encourages writers to try it, for a break and to see how much progress that writer can make with this method.
Overall, Seller’s book Page After Page offers lots of helpful advice about multiple different aspects or topics concerning writing. Even though some of her tips may not be entirely possible for one to practice due to prior responsibilities, the best advice she offers to aspiring writers is to simply write. She stresses that in order to succeed, writers must be dedicated and devote time to their craft. Her advice is useful for students, teachers, professional writers, or anyone who wishes to write.
Review by Soulinda Somvong
Writing Blockbuster Plots is written by Martha Alderson. She is known as the Plot Whisperer for her books on plot and for winning an award on the blog she manages, The Plot Whisperer, which has been awarded top honors by Writer’s Digest from 2009 to 2015.
Writing Blockbuster Plots was published in March 31, 2016, the book is divided into parts: Plot Planner and Scene Tracker. Both parts provide step-by-step instructions on how to maximize the impact of your scenes and strips the confusion out of the plotting process.
The book helped me tell the differences between scene and summary. Alderson states that a scene shows the action, while summary tells. Each scene has a tiny plot structure of its own, beginning with a goal or desire, followed by some sort of conflict and tension, and ending with an unanswered question or a cliff-hanger, something that makes the reader want to continue reading.
Summary is a place to rest; I can use summary to compress time when appropriate. The use of summary is helpful in moving quickly, so that I can focus on creating scenes to show the moments that are more important to my plot.
By the end of these book reader will be able to:
Review by Sarah Nicholson
Mare Barrow has a terrible life. Her brothers are conscripted into the never-ending war for the King of Norta and by her next birthday she will be too. Poor, desperate, and willing to do anything to keep her family alive, Mare sets out to steal enough to buy her freedom, but fate has other plans. The world is divided between the Silvers and the Reds. Those with Silver blood have abilities; stealth, metal manipulation, the ability to invade the minds of others, incredible strength, able to heal immediately, Silvers are as beautiful as they are deadly and they rule everything. Those with Red blood, are plain. There are servants and cannon fodder for the Silver’s never-ending war with the neighboring Lakelanders.
Mare is a Red. Mare can control electricity. Mare should not exist. When the Queen finds out about Mare’s extraordinary talents she is launched into the den of the people she hates the most. Now forced to hide her Red blood at all costs, or risk her family’s safety from the wrath of the Queen, Mari must fight not only for her own freedom, but for all the Reds.
Thus begins the first of four books in the Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard. This young adult fantasy novel has everything that makes the genre popular-- conflicts, love interests, cliff hangers, and plot twists that keep make you want to devour all the novels as fast as they come out. Aveyard has even included two novellas in the series, Queen Song and Steel Scars. These latest installments that show backstories for two of the series minor characters and tide fans over until the final book in the series comes out. While novella’s serve as nice supplements between the larger books they also provide a good opportunity for authors. When you start writing a world building series, like the Red Queen, you have to consider the back stories of every character, even if you know that information will never make it into the main novel of series. All that work, never seeing the light of day can be a tragedy, so novellas offer the perfect win-win for author and audience. Queen Song follows the story of the Queen Coriane, the first queen of King Tiberias, and her short reign in Norta. Steels Scars likewise follows the backstory of Captain Farley, a leader in the Red resistance. Both stories give us details we would otherwise be forced to speculate on. The novellas let us understand the decisions of the characters in the main series better and give us hope for better outcomes in the present situations, by viewing the past.
The Red Queen series is a full-fledged fantasy that both readers and aspiring writers can enjoy and learn world-building technique from. The last book of the quartet is due out in 2018. Current reading order for the series is Red Queen, Glass Sword, Cruel Crown (physical print of both novella’s), King’s Cage.