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The Writer's Source Book: Teach Yourself Paperback – 30 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Teach Yourself (30 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444135910
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444135916
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 716,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Book Description

Inspiring insights and practical exercises which will help you develop, refine and polish every aspect of your work - from plot to character and from beginning to end.

About the Author

Chris Sykes is a writer, poet and scriptwriter. He teaches creative writing at Oxford University, the City Literary Institute, and the University of Sussex. He has written and extensively published poetry, is a former BBC scriptwriter, and has written and directed plays in the West End and elsewhere. He is a former Deputy Chair of the Writers Guild of Great Britain.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sally Zigmond VINE VOICE on 19 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Creative Writing is a vast subject and a vast industry. Every college and university seems to run a writing course ranging from the upper echelons (East Anglia) through to evening classes and writing groups aimed at the amateur dabblers (I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the latter, by the way. That's how I started.) Books about writing are prolific these days and varied. They all do something different and some are a lot better than others.

The problem I have with this book is that it tries to be all things to all people and comes unstuck in the middle. It begins with some fun exercises to get you writing. These are great--although I am at the stage where finding things to write about is not a problem, although I would have a go as a limbering up exercise. They are aimed more at those people who've never tried to write and want to have a go but have no idea what to write. I'm all for that but then it all gets a bit muddled.

The author moves on to developing characters over which he spends a great deal of time. Which is absolutely fine but then other aspects of writing fiction (such as point of view and dialogue) are whizzed through rather too quickly and superficially. I like the section on removing scaffolding and trusting one's readers but there's nothing as far as I can see about narrative tension and pace, use of language and imagery. He spends much time analysing well-known movies for their themes which seems out of place. (How many people who buy this book are hoping tow rite blockbuster movies?) Out of curiosity, I Googled Mr Sykes and discovered that he is a real Jack of All Trades. He has had a fascinating life and is clearly an excellent teacher but being 'master of none' doesn't help keep this book focused. It is, in fact, a bit of a dog's breakfast.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miss VINE VOICE on 25 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This little book is easily dived into and is written in a manner which is easy to read and which encourages you to start writing. It is filled with useful ideas on creating and developing characters, and suggestions for exercises which will get your writing juices flowing. It is the type of book that will help you examine each word that you write.

However, I should note that it is predominantly focused on character rather than plotting. Personally, I find characterisation easy and plotting quite difficult, so the fact that out of 12 chapters, 9 were on character and only 2 were on plot, meant that the book was not particularly suited to me.

I also found that there were quite a few irritating errors throughout. For example, there is a long (long!) discussion based upon the fact that the word 'beautiful' is an abstract noun. Except, as I think most of us would quickly be able to recognise, beautiful is NOT an abstract noun, it is an adjective. (It is 'beauty' that is the abstract noun). Mistakes like this are annoying, especially when lessons are based upon them.

I do think this book has a lot of value, but I feel it should be better balanced with regards to character and plot (or should be called A Guide to Characterisation!) and I also think it needs better editing to remove the mistakes. Nevertheless, it is worth a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack Chakotay VINE VOICE on 14 Mar. 2012
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I went through this book looking for flaws or things to pick at. As I sit here reviewing this, I declare that I am enamoured with the technique and imagination of Mr Sykes approach.

I must admit that I was initially scoffing at the first few chapters and exercises (eg Alphabet writing choose a letter and then write a short piece of prose where every word begins with that letter; Acrostics where you take a name as an acronym for the characters' characteristics).

However starting from Chapter 4 where Mr Sykes uses contemporary film examples to create characters from "inside out or outside in" and starts quoting Chekov in Chapter 8 for "Monologue, dialogue and action" my admiration grew from profound to complete. Looking back at my recollection of the book, each chapter could be a night class in a course for creative writing. Then I looked at the back of the book and under the "Chris Sykes" bio: "when he is not writing he is an excellent and popular teacher of creative writing for universities..."

Mr Sykes examples and exercises are worth doing, even just for the practice. But in my case it was starting up the creative juices to overcome the inertia of writer's procrastination. Never didactic or patronising, but always familiar and approachable, I can only hope Mr Sykes is the same in real life. For its size the technical aspects are fairly deep: one of the exercises requires you to novelise a script.

I would recommend this book to any aspiring writer to have as, 1) a quick and witty encouragement 2) the eponymous source book 3) a quick and ready guide to good writing (the passage on viewpoint is illuminating).

How do I reconcile my initial scoffing of the first few chapters to my glowing personal recommendation?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Dasani VINE VOICE on 21 Nov. 2011
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I got this book because I've always wanted to give writing a go and had always thought about taking a creative writing course for beginners, but have never found the time to get around to it. After reading the description, this book looked like a perfect platform for a novice like myself to launch from. One of my goals has always been to write a decent Horror film, in my opinion there hasn't been many decent ones in recent times, so why not write one myself?!

I've never really known where to begin with writing, until now! I know this book won't have me writing big screen blockbusters any time soon, but it certainly is a starting point. The book contains lots of fun exercises which are enjoyable and keep you engaged, character development is the most fun. The book has a great chapter on how to write monologue, dialogue and action, and the end of each Chapter is a 10 tips for success page, which I've dog eared, to remind myself briefly of what was covered in the chapter. The writer has also done a great job of using examples from classic famous films to illustrate his points so you can see how the particular point is executed in a movie to help explain it a little better.

If you've already done some professional writing courses, or have written professionally at any level then you probably won't find this book very helpful, after all it is a 'teach yourself' book. On the other hand, you're like me, and want to write, but don't have a clue where to start, then this book is aces! Grab yourself a copy and get going. Oh, and get yourself a hardback notebook in the same order, you'll need it!
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