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Jeanine Berry, FictionFactor.com, author of Dayspring Dawning and Daysprint Destiny The Complete Guide lives up to its name and goes beyond the ordinary. Written by new and established voices of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Alchemy With Words offers something for writers at all levels. Its sage advice will help you avoid many amateur mistakes. Explore World Building, Relig Jeanine Berry, FictionFactor.com, author of Dayspring Dawning and Daysprint Destiny The Complete Guide lives up to its name and goes beyond the ordinary. Written by new and established voices of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Alchemy With Words offers something for writers at all levels. Its sage advice will help you avoid many amateur mistakes. Explore World Building, Religions, Food, Fighting & Weaponry and much more, to craft an exceptional story.


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Jeanine Berry, FictionFactor.com, author of Dayspring Dawning and Daysprint Destiny The Complete Guide lives up to its name and goes beyond the ordinary. Written by new and established voices of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Alchemy With Words offers something for writers at all levels. Its sage advice will help you avoid many amateur mistakes. Explore World Building, Relig Jeanine Berry, FictionFactor.com, author of Dayspring Dawning and Daysprint Destiny The Complete Guide lives up to its name and goes beyond the ordinary. Written by new and established voices of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Alchemy With Words offers something for writers at all levels. Its sage advice will help you avoid many amateur mistakes. Explore World Building, Religions, Food, Fighting & Weaponry and much more, to craft an exceptional story.

30 review for The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Alchemy with Words

  1. 5 out of 5

    K.M. Weiland

    Good reference guides for fantasy writers are few and far between. I know, because I’ve pawed through most of the options. I took a shot in the dark in purchasing Alchemy With Words, volume one of The Complete GuideTM to Writing Fantasy. Published by a small press and written by a collection of fantasy authors who haven’t much collective experience or acclaim among them, the book has much to recommend it—and much not to. On the plus side, this is one of the most varied and complete offerings I’v Good reference guides for fantasy writers are few and far between. I know, because I’ve pawed through most of the options. I took a shot in the dark in purchasing Alchemy With Words, volume one of The Complete GuideTM to Writing Fantasy. Published by a small press and written by a collection of fantasy authors who haven’t much collective experience or acclaim among them, the book has much to recommend it—and much not to. On the plus side, this is one of the most varied and complete offerings I’ve seen on the subject (and this is just volume one). Subjects include Roots of Fantasy, Characterization, Race Creation, World Building, Clichés, Plot, Medieval Clothing and Food, Health and Medicine, Magic, Mythology, Religion, and Arms and Armor. Although a few chapters skim by with only basic info, many of them include insightful and detailed explanations of aspects of the genre that every author would be wise to heed. Of course, with only a chapter devoted to each subject, the book can’t be considered definitive. But it offers an excellent jumping-off point into further research. Based on the quality of information alone, I consider the book worth reading. However, the production values offer some serious drawbacks. Aside from general poor editing and typesetting, the lack of professionalism displayed by the various authors—some to the point of out-and-out self-indulgence, in which the authors ramble about their own unpublished fantasy manuscripts or state their subjective pet peeves as if they were rules of the genre—is annoying at best and downright frustrating at worst. If you can get past the writing to access the information, you may find this book a useful primer on the world of writing fantasy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    ***NOTE MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS*** I found this book to be excellent. It brings together a variety of writers with different takes and views on how to write things. Most of the writers are entertaining and make you want to keep reading as you learn more about their ways of doing things. I only found fault with one chapter in the book, that by Milena Benini in which I felt she wrote in a condescending manner, contradicted other sources on her topic and included absolutely no source list ***NOTE MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS*** I found this book to be excellent. It brings together a variety of writers with different takes and views on how to write things. Most of the writers are entertaining and make you want to keep reading as you learn more about their ways of doing things. I only found fault with one chapter in the book, that by Milena Benini in which I felt she wrote in a condescending manner, contradicted other sources on her topic and included absolutely no source list for her chapter, basically informing the reader there was nothing in writing beyond her opinion. Fortunately her work was only used for one chapter of the book. The rest of the book is highly entertaining and each chapter included a source list giving you the option to both double check facts included and have more sources available to you if you wanted to go further in depth with researching a topic. What's great about the book is it's both a compendium on writing and a place to start for basic research on writing a fantasy novel set in medieval times. I especially liked the chapters on combat and the method of planning out fight scenes so that they're choreographed to seem more realistic. I learned many things about weapons, food, fighting styles, religions and various other topics in reading this book. It includes multiple methods on character creation and goes extremely in depth into world building. I would definitely consider it a must read and were it not for that one chapter would have given the book 5 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tuğrulcan Elmas

    Nice in-breath guide. I did not stop and plan after reading every chapter, I read everything straight like reading a fiction and it was fun.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    It took me practically forever to work my way through this book. In this case, it was a good thing for it gave me many ideas on how to develop my world, story, and characters. The Complete Guide To Writing Fantasy vol. 1 was a really good introduction on the sorts of things that go into writing. The topics the authors covered were a bit about writing (6 chapters worth) and details of a typical fantasy world setting, such as clothing, food, fighting, etc. (9 chapters). At the end there was a chap It took me practically forever to work my way through this book. In this case, it was a good thing for it gave me many ideas on how to develop my world, story, and characters. The Complete Guide To Writing Fantasy vol. 1 was a really good introduction on the sorts of things that go into writing. The topics the authors covered were a bit about writing (6 chapters worth) and details of a typical fantasy world setting, such as clothing, food, fighting, etc. (9 chapters). At the end there was a chapter on using humour, and another on publishing. One of the main features of this book was the stress on good research. The authors repeated point out that the more the writer makes their world believable and accessible, the more likely they are going to succeed on writing a good story. I will admit, there were parts of the book I skimmed over. This is because I didn't have an interest in the topic at the time. Despite that, there were other chapters that I wish they would have gone into more detail about. It is still an invaluable source of inspiration and knowledge and deserves a place on my writers' resources shelf.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Roberts

    It's a good book, and it would be a higher rating except for the plethora of typos.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    To provide some background, I'm an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi writer, and this is the first book I've read on writing in the fantasy genre. Prior to this, I also read two of the most famous general writing advice books out there: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, both of which I enjoyed tremendously for different reasons. If you're looking for writing inspiration and guidance, I'd suggest starting with those tw To provide some background, I'm an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi writer, and this is the first book I've read on writing in the fantasy genre. Prior to this, I also read two of the most famous general writing advice books out there: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, both of which I enjoyed tremendously for different reasons. If you're looking for writing inspiration and guidance, I'd suggest starting with those two. Now, onto The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Alchemy with Words. The information housed in these pages is solid. Excellent, even. Almost every chapter provides useful links and resources pertaining to the topic at hand, be it weapons and armor, health and medicine, mythology, or anything else you would need to research to start writing your own epic or swashbuckling adventure. There is also a ton of useful advice on how to approach these topics, and how to incorporate them into your own original worlds. The common thread running through all of these chapters is this: do your research. Not a bad bit of advice, and there's enough foundational research in each chapter to inspire you and get you started on the road to writing realistic imaginary tales. As paradoxical as that sounds, the book drives home that the more your readers can find something to ground them in your stories, the more engaged and invested they will become. I do think there's something to that. Onto the blemishes. This book is filled with typos. It's a collaborative project, so some chapters are written brilliantly without a grammatical error in sight, while others have readers tripping over errors at every turn. The worst offender of this is the final chapter, which discusses the importance of editing and proofreading your work before submitting it to an agent or publisher, but does this amidst five or six errors in that brief chapter alone. You have problems with "it's" and "its," and misspellings of famous fantasy character names, as well as some fantasy authors. The book is not unreadable, but if you're a stickler for spelling and grammar like I sometimes am, you'll notice that not all is as it should be, especially in the first quarter of the book. Also, a couple of the writers, especially in the early chapters, use a "golly gee!" style to discussing their topics. Did you know that women can also be heroes now? Wow! How novel! This is more a style and personality critique, so depending on your own views and experiences, you might forgive this type of stuff quicker and easier than others. In the end, if you simply use this as a pseudo-encyclopedic resource that can lead you to other primary sources, you'll love it. As my introduction to books on writing fantasy, this was a very useful start, as it lit quite a few fires in my imagination while inspiring me to be better, be thorough, and to strive to be fantastic one of these days.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Allan Walsh

    The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy is a non-fiction title with numerous contributing writers, written for writers. It is a compendium that covers a broad range of material for writers of fantasy and will be useful to those writing in this genre. The Cover: The image is a good fit for a non-fiction title geared towards writers and the quill lends itself to the fantasy genre. The title clearly conveys what the book is about, but while the fonts are suitable enough, I feel the title fonts could The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy is a non-fiction title with numerous contributing writers, written for writers. It is a compendium that covers a broad range of material for writers of fantasy and will be useful to those writing in this genre. The Cover: The image is a good fit for a non-fiction title geared towards writers and the quill lends itself to the fantasy genre. The title clearly conveys what the book is about, but while the fonts are suitable enough, I feel the title fonts could have been a little better. Overall, a strong cover for the title. The Good Stuff: This book would be a fantastic addition to any fantasy writer’s reference library. It is packed with useful information on topics relevant to the fantasy genre, from medieval food and clothing, to religion and world building. This book has detailed information weapons, armour, and much more. It also provides links to websites and further reference material that is relevant and may be of use. The Bad Stuff: If there is any bad stuff, I did not notice it. I am very satisfied with this book as a reference guide for writing fantasy. Overall, this is a fantastic reference guide. It covers a great deal of topics relevant to the fantasy writer and will open your eyes to, or at the very least remind you about, checking your facts. The content is both interesting and great for future reference. I’m ranking this one 5 out of 5 golden bookmarks.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    This is a pretty good collection of tips and tricks for the modern day fantasy writer. This is multiple articles by a multitude of writers. While not every tool in here was placed into my tool box, the tools that I have are not the tools that you will have. It is well worth the read no matter the level of writer you are, or if you just have an interest in it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edric Unsane

    A semi-decent guide to writing fantasy literature. Although there is a wealth of information and advice contained within, this was all mostly things I learned through middlegrade and high school, I felt it was just ok. It's still a good resource and primer for writing your own fantasy novel, but don't have high expectations for the information contained within.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katherynne Boham

    All around, this is an excellent resource. Even though my book isn't set in a medieval culture, I found tips I plan on using. I have the other two books in the set and am looking forward to reading them. I highly recommend this volume to anyone writing in the fantasy genre.

  11. 4 out of 5

    James

    This is the kind of book on writing that I find most useful. It has chapters on quite a few specific aspects of writing (e.g. world-building, plot construction, research, designing religions, etc.), a few that apply to any fiction but most specific to this genre; the content is concrete and down-to-earth without being formulaic. Although there's a fair amount of overlap between fantasy and science fiction (and some stories fall into both categories at once), they are distinct and this book is de This is the kind of book on writing that I find most useful. It has chapters on quite a few specific aspects of writing (e.g. world-building, plot construction, research, designing religions, etc.), a few that apply to any fiction but most specific to this genre; the content is concrete and down-to-earth without being formulaic. Although there's a fair amount of overlap between fantasy and science fiction (and some stories fall into both categories at once), they are distinct and this book is definitely focused on the former. There are two reasons I'm giving this book four stars instead of five. First, some of the information on specific subjects is inaccurate or incomplete; in particular, I'm thinking of the chapter titled "Arms and Armour." The authors of that piece called a shotgun a kind of rifle - for anyone who knows guns, an author who mixed those terms up would instantly lose a critical amount of credibility, maybe enough to spoil the book; and they used the word "bullet" when they meant "cartridge" - might sound as if I'm nitpicking, but again, the difference matters, and it's about credibility as well as telling an exciting story. In talking about types of swords, the same authors covered broadswords and rapiers, but managed to omit any mention of the saber, the main cavalry sword in western societies for an entire era, or of the scimitar, the primary sword of the medieval Arab world. I'm a gun guy (retired Marine) and not a sword specialist, but I know that much. The second thing that bothers me a bit is that the quality of the grammar and word selection is uneven among the contributors. Some wrote their segments very well, but others made enough mistakes to make me ask myself, "Where was the editor?" Wrong words (e.g. "compliment" for "complement" and "forward" for "foreword") and mix-ups like sentences with a singular subject and plural predicate. Again, to some it might sound like nitpicking, but it's kind of jarring for me, and in a book that's specifically about writing - or any book that's been professionally edited - I expect a higher standard. I'm an author with several nonfiction books in print, and I would never submit a manuscript that contained these mistakes. It's just lazy and sloppy. However, looking past these mistakes, this is still an excellent book and one I'm glad I've read. I'm an aspiring author of science fiction, not fantasy at this point, but I love well-written fantasy and have great admiration for the authors who create it. It's easy to see the amount of thought and care that go into a unique fantasy or science fiction world that's created in depth and with care and imagination - as opposed to some of the lazy, imitation-Tolkien stuff that has unfortunately sold too many copies - and this book will be a much-used reference for a lot of authors, to the ultimate benefit of their readers. I'm keeping it handy for use in my own efforts, even though I'm not working on a fantasy story now, and since this was titled "Volume 1," I'll try to track down whatever volumes follow it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emy

    This is a collection of essays on the art of writing fantasy, exploring topics such as character creation, world-building, writing fight sequences, and religion. I found the essays in this book to be very helpful and it made me think a lot about my own creation and writing process, and also gave me some ideas on how to move forward. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on religion, as it made me think a lot more about how my world's religions are structures and the reasons why they are that way. P This is a collection of essays on the art of writing fantasy, exploring topics such as character creation, world-building, writing fight sequences, and religion. I found the essays in this book to be very helpful and it made me think a lot about my own creation and writing process, and also gave me some ideas on how to move forward. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on religion, as it made me think a lot more about how my world's religions are structures and the reasons why they are that way. Published in 2002, there are a few bits and references that date it, but the advice is still relevant and useful today. If you are writing fantasy, this is a good collection of knowledge. It's the first in a three book series, and I definitely will be reading the other two. Recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marta

    So. It took me a long time to read this so called complete guide of fantasy writing, mainly due to taking huge breaks while reading something more entertaining. Nothing really bad to say about this book, really. It covers all the basics, I guess. Has some tips and tricks, references all around internetz that may be outdated now, but still good start for one's research. Some things I did know already, some seemed rather from Captain Obvious arsenal. Some of the authors wrote in an annoying style, ma So. It took me a long time to read this so called complete guide of fantasy writing, mainly due to taking huge breaks while reading something more entertaining. Nothing really bad to say about this book, really. It covers all the basics, I guess. Has some tips and tricks, references all around internetz that may be outdated now, but still good start for one's research. Some things I did know already, some seemed rather from Captain Obvious arsenal. Some of the authors wrote in an annoying style, making somewhat silly jokes that didn't sound as intended. Some did some patronizing. Overall though, it is a good start for anyone's research and first knowledge-gathering in the world of writing. Of course, I may still change my mind, as I do dive deeper myself, but it was not a complete waste.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I wish I could give half stars... this is really a 3 and a half book rather than a 4 star book. There is a lot of good information between the covers, but some of it I found trite, like the entire humor section. The religion section makes the fallacy that religion isn't rational and that its either/or when it comes to religion and science/rationality. I also got tired of the "And we did this in our novel..." bits. But when it was good, it was *very* good, and is certainly a decent book for the begi I wish I could give half stars... this is really a 3 and a half book rather than a 4 star book. There is a lot of good information between the covers, but some of it I found trite, like the entire humor section. The religion section makes the fallacy that religion isn't rational and that its either/or when it comes to religion and science/rationality. I also got tired of the "And we did this in our novel..." bits. But when it was good, it was *very* good, and is certainly a decent book for the beginning writer, as well as a nice refresher for the more experienced writer. It's worth having alongside Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Love of Hopeless Causes

    "Complete Guide" is a reaching title for a book in a trilogy. Introduction to Fantasy Concepts, would be a more accurate title. I was disappointed, so Volume One did not inspire me to get the rest. Not much here for veteran gamers who have read books on writing. It looks like small press magazine articles from 2002. In my opinion, Gary Gygax's Living Fantasy, Insidae, and Nation Builder, have more to offer in a brainstorming, world building sense. I'm going to reread this and see if my opinion "Complete Guide" is a reaching title for a book in a trilogy. Introduction to Fantasy Concepts, would be a more accurate title. I was disappointed, so Volume One did not inspire me to get the rest. Not much here for veteran gamers who have read books on writing. It looks like small press magazine articles from 2002. In my opinion, Gary Gygax's Living Fantasy, Insidae, and Nation Builder, have more to offer in a brainstorming, world building sense. I'm going to reread this and see if my opinion remains steadfast.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chamaree

    When I started writing fantasy a few months ago, I thought it would be super easy. Well, I'm just going to come right out and say it, just because you read a lot of fantasy doesn't mean you will be great at writing it. That's where this book came in. I've been eyeing this book for a long time, so naturally, it was the second place I looked (after google!) when I was struggling with world building and magic. I bought the book for those two chapters but I ended up reading the entire book in an hou When I started writing fantasy a few months ago, I thought it would be super easy. Well, I'm just going to come right out and say it, just because you read a lot of fantasy doesn't mean you will be great at writing it. That's where this book came in. I've been eyeing this book for a long time, so naturally, it was the second place I looked (after google!) when I was struggling with world building and magic. I bought the book for those two chapters but I ended up reading the entire book in an hour and LOVING IT! I cannot wait to get the other volumes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scott Haworth

    Some helpful information for beginners, but not nearly enough of it. More of an overview of medieval stuff for people who don't know enough about living in medieval times, but there isn't even enough of that here. Read the chapter about magic and its consequences for a society, but otherwise be prepared to be bored.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nic

    This book is fan-freaking-tastic. It has great broad basics, like a chapter on world-building and one on race creation, plus a focus on medieval techniques, technology, food, and so on that was quite helpful to me, though it might not apply to everyone. It also has nice tips on writing combat, magic systems, and even some plot advice - and it's a really fun read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Singer

    Generally speaking authors should stay away from "craft books" and instead read their genre. I found this book quite handy in terms of day to day life in midevil life. I especially liked the list of diseases, described the cause, how it was transmitted and the symptoms.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tzutopia

  21. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tomislav Škrljac

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nats

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eve

  28. 5 out of 5

    Willow

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lo r n a Dodge

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jess

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