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


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The Writer's Source Book: Teach Yourself + How to Craft a Great Story: Teach Yourself Creating Perfect Plot and Structure (Teach Yourself: Writing) + NLP for Writers: Teach Yourself
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Teach Yourself (30 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444135910
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444135916
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 170,934 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 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 thementalmen on 16 April 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A book to inspire the caged writer? Um, probably not but it will at least teach you the basics and structure of writing and it is more than capable of doing that. Have already bought a copy to give to Jordan as I think she may benefit from the book.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack Chakotay VINE VOICE on 14 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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?
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a typical example of the `Teach Yourself' series of books and very useful it is too. It consists of twelve chapters covering such aspects of creative writing as plot, creating characters and settings. Each chapter is further sub divided into headings and there are regular insight boxes to break up the text and sum things up in a few words. There are also plenty of exercises to try in order to hone your writing skills.

At the end of each chapter there are ten tips for success listed if you just want a quick summary to spark off ideas. There is a useful chapter entitled `What if?' which shows how stories and characters can be developed by asking this question whenever you get stuck with either plot or character development. The `Insight' at the end of this chapter sums up all writing for me: `A lot of discoveries in writing are trial and error; you do it and see if it works. If it does, keep it; if it doesn't, put it back the way it was.'

Many chapters include quotations from famous writers to show how techniques work in practice. There is a short list of further reading at the end of the book and an index. Any writer will find this a useful book to dip into for inspiration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Dasani VINE VOICE on 21 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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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