Writing Book Review of Wonderbook

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Writing Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandemeer caught my attention at a writing conference in 2019. After glancing at it several times, I purchased a copy because it was too intriguing to pass up.

Wonderbook is what it says it is, an illustrated guide to writing. The book is part prose, part art, part graphic non-fiction, part asides from various well-known authors, and part glossary of methods for boosting creativity with various exercises. So, while, there were some parts I didn’t like as well, I spent quite a bit of time pouring over its pages, marking up bits that I thought I would come back to, and writing reflections about it in my journal, as well as a few ideas sparked by some of the tips and some of the exercises.

Due to the “snippet” type nature of many of the sections of the book, I used this book as an off and on-again resource for three and a half years, so for me, it wasn’t a fast read. I plan to store it on my shelf and go back to it again, using the many tabs and highlights I created in it, because I am a book tabber and highlighter with non-fiction books I own.

Again, there are parts of the book I like less, some beliefs he has about writing that I don’t share, but I still enjoyed the book.

If you are looking for something unique, different, and visual as a writing guide, and if you write speculative fiction, you might like Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Writing Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandemeer.

Here’s a sample quote from his section on creating a hook at the beginning of a book:

“A hook cannot be just a hook, either – it must be a lure and alluring, and it must also be an anchor. You are inviting the reader to some sort of enjoyment or challenge or (perhaps) a harrowing experience.”

Jeff Vandemeer

Since I’ve owned this book for some time and I’ve stared at the cover way too many times, I have to say every time I look at the cover, I feel sorry for the whale-like creature holding up the city and wish he/she would dive into the ocean.

Have you read any unique writing books lately?

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