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on 6 March 2017
I purchased this book because I was hoping to have some very useful information about how to write science fiction and instead it is 70% a monologue about a personal writing approach who has nothing of a technical study. The author lose most of your attention in very long analysis of this or this paragraph of this book to the point that you even forget what he was trying to point out. Some informations can be useful but the problem is that you get them every who knows how many pages. Countless are the number of times I've skipped more than 10 pages because they were extremely boring and unbearable to read because thats not what I was looking for (you very often have the feeling that some pages were written just to fill the book!). Definitely dont suggest this book if you want to learn about how to write science fiction. There are also some attempts to explain a story structure from a general point of view but I rather read that in John Truby's "Anatomy of story" or Robert Mckee's "Story" which are definitely a better technical explanation and analysis of how a story must be structured. Thats the kind of explanation I was hoping to find in this book but unfortunately it is very far from being a technical analysis of how to write science fiction.
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on 17 October 2001
I found this book browsing through the library catalogue, and was sufficiently intrigued to pick it up and bring it home, where I read it three or four times over the next few weeks. It's brilliant. It not only tells you how to keep your story balanced between imaginary world and characters(which is an exacerbated problem with these genres), but it also fires at your imagination, giving you ideas all the way. I particularly enjoyed the sentence by sentence review of a beginning, which helps you see how you can hook the reader. After reading it you simply have to put your ideas in a tidied-up form on the page. Read it, and write.
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on 18 August 2003
This is the first "How to" book I've ever read that actually reads like a novel. No dry, rigid, mind-numbing lectures on how you "must" do this or "must" do that. Just practical, honest advice aimed at the aspiring writer.
Love the humour scattered throughout the entire book. The way Card deals with explaining the ambiguous, but very real line between science fiction and fantasy, the no-nonsense and *clear!* advice to any writer in the field. Card addresses the reader (and presumably aspiring writer) in a serious manner, not in the almost condescending way that a lot of writer's guides tend to do. As the title states, this is a book on "How to write science fiction and fantasy", but a lot of the tips like finishing the story you started, and delivering on promises you make to the reader are relevant to writing techniques in other genres as well.
I agree this should by no means be the only writer's guide in your collection, but it is a very, very good start.
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on 26 January 2003
If you are familiar with Orson Scott Card's Hatrack River site, you know that there is nobody in the field of science fiction and fantasy who is more committed to helping new writers. If that is news to you then certainly his resume as a writer is well known to any one interested in writing in this field. This is one of the thinner books on writing you are going to fine and that is because Uncle Orson is extremely focused in explaining his craft. Consequently, there are but five sections to this volume in The Writer's Digest Genre Writing Series. (1) The Infinite Boundary looks at the spectrum covered by science fiction and fantasy with some attention to the distictions between the two as well. (2) World Creation details how to build, populate and dramatize your new world, including working out all the necessary elements such as history, language, geography and customs. (3) Story Construction deals with finding the right character for an idea or the right idea for a character (and do not forget about "the MICE quotient"). (4) Writing Well is a collection of fundamental tips, otherwise known as the "don't do this at home" section. (5) The Life and Business of Writing deals both generally with the business but also the specifics of science fiction and fantasy. I find his use of examples, especially when he lays out a series of variations on a theme, to be helpful because they demonstrate in practice what his theoretical points and show how many additional ideas each idea generates. Perhaps most importantly, Uncle Orson is having a conversation with you; he is neither lecturing nor pontificating. His non-fiction is as readily as his award-winning fiction, and that should come as a surprise to no one. There are other books better suited to getting into the nuts and bolts of constructing brave new worlds, but I have yet to find a better book at covering the basics than this one.
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on 10 September 2009
If you want to write Sci-Fi or Fantasy, then this book will help you a great deal.

I recommend the book if only for it's revelations about space-travel. Which alone I wouldn't have given as much thought to, the repercussions of having FTL travel as opposed to sub-light is quite dramatic.

His MICE idea is also great.

Prospective sci-fi writers: buy it! Anyone else: maybe not so much, but it's still a good writer's guide.
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on 24 October 2004
This is an excellent read and a stimulating package of advice for anyone interested in writing science fiction or fantasy. Orson Scott Card makes an immediate point: no one can teach you how to write in these genres. What he sets out to do is deliver a superb exposition of the process of creativity and how it infests the imagination. He delivers a vision of creativity as a process, one you can stimulate and use, rather than something you sit back and wait for. Inspiration might be creative, but creativity is not limited to inspiration. Here we have an analysis of how ideas emerge and how they take root.
Card questions what is science fiction, what is fantasy? He offers advice and generates a score of absorbing ideas. But his advice takes a vital, practical direction. If you wish to write, then read, read, read!
To succeed as a writer, there is no magic formula. You need to learn the skills of your trade, you need to learn to free your imagination, and then you need discipline and the determination to work hard and improve and hone your skills.
An excellent, stimulating read, well worth the money, and a book you will treasure.
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on 27 February 2002
Not all of this book was that useful to me, but all of it was interesting - enough so that I finished it in a single evening.
The parts that were less useful were the discussion of what SF&F is, and the discussions of concepts such as star drives, time travel, hyperspace, etc... presumably the intended audience for the book will have read plenty in this genre, so these sections might be superfluous. On the other hand, it's interesting (for example) to see the various ways of dealing with interstellar journey times set down and analysed, including their impact on the mind-set of the arriving travellers.
For me, the real meat of the book was the second half: the chapters on story construction and writing well. The MICE quotient (milieu, idea, character, event) gave me a new way to think about my book, and the section on controlling exposition was excellent.
I'm giving this book 5 stars because it was a very enjoyable read, and because I took several ideas from it that I think will be valuable. Don't get it as your only "Craft of Writing" book, though. That's not what it sets out to achieve.
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on 24 June 2008
Overall this is a good book. I bought it hopig to pick up a few tips and was pleased to do so. Orson Scott Card has obviously worked hard to make this readable and helpful.

The reason for losing two stars..

First fantasy isn't covered too well. It is mentioned, but only really to differentiate it from the science fiction - where 'hard science' or logical extension of this is the premise.

Second. Scott Card feels that he needs to criticise other works and concepts. The text here would have been successful without this, and I am not keen on knocking others work. Star Trek in particular gets a hammering!
When all said and done one of the most popular 'sci-fi' offerings of the past half century must be doing something right!

Overall worth reading, just screen the criticisms.
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on 27 March 2016
This book offers great insights in what it takes to be a sci-fi writer: how to build your worlds, make characters and language believable and how to go about publishing it. It will show you how to join the right groups, get the support you need and how to train your Wise Reader to help you in your work. This is the only book I could find on sci-fi writing and was worth every penny. Highly recommend.
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on 28 March 2016
Although I don't have many issues with it the presentation of the book is quite boring. I personally engage more with instruction book when they have sections and I know what each chapter is about. In addition, I thought that it would have different parts for fantasy and sci-fi but it tends to mix them up. Kind of dissapointing honestly.
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