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The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy
Tom Dullemond and Darin Park, Editors
Review by Jeanine Berry

Fantasy writers live in the realm of imagination, and in that realm there is a magical volume filled with all the knowledge they will ever need to write their fantasy novel.

The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy may not contain all the knowledge you'll ever need, but it comes close. Written by several different contributors, each with experience writing in the realm of fantasy, its pages are jam-packed with information. And since it is an electronic book, it goes one step beyond and offers a wealth of reference material at the close of each chapter, including links to enough Web sites on the Internet to keep you busy for the rest of your life.

The Guide offers something for writers at all levels. If you want to write a fantasy novel, but feel the need for help in creating a believable world, this is definitely a book you will want to add to your library. Its sage advice will help you avoid many amateur mistakes. If you are already a published fantasy writer, you will still want this book, for its enjoyable style and its wealth of reference material.

The Complete Guide lives up to its name and goes beyond the ordinary. It is remarkably thorough in covering the various aspects of world-building. At the same time, it manages to avoid becoming a dull tome on "things you should know about history" in order to make your world real. While each chapter provides fascinating insights on topics you need to know about how to make your fantasy world complete- such as food, religion, and weapons-the authors manage to keep the presentation of all this information entertaining and fun.

The Guide starts out by discussing the roots of fantasy, a valuable overview that will help the aspiring fantasy writer understand the long history behind this marvelous genre. From there, the contributors move into the guts of writing the novel-how to write effective fantasy without clichés, create memorable characters, and weave a riveting plot.

Whether you're a beginning writer or plotting book six of your seven book series, you'll find some helpful advice in this section. From "eight steps to bringing a character to life" to an entertaining list of the kinds of characters usually found in a fantasy novel, to an explanation of how to select the best point of view for telling your character's story, the writers of the Complete Guide provide you with valuable advice on the things you need to know.

After covering the essentials of the actual writing, the Guide moves into the nitty-gritty of creating a believable fantasy world. Chapters provide a wealth of information on such topics as world-building (how many moons is best?), creating new races, and then deciding what they are wearing, how they live, what weapons they will use to fight their battles, and what they might believe.

No fantasy is complete without magic of some kind, and the guide provides some excellent advice on the myriad of factors you need to consider when deciding how magic will work on your world. From wizards to quantum physicists with a firm grasp of the theory of alternate realities, there's a right way and a wrong way to make magic work so your reader will believe it. But with the help of the Guide, you'll soon master the basics of SDP-scarcity, difficulty and price.

When was the last time you hauled out your trusty broadsword and fought a battle to the death? If it's been a while, you'll also appreciate the extensive information on weapons of all kinds, as well as the martial arts. Describing a fight is a tricky process - it can get complicated quick when there are several people moving and thrusting and paring and kicking and slugging at once-but the Guide will provide you with a step-by-step procedure to work it all out.

After you've created your world, constructed your plot, made your characters memorable, and written a few hundred pages of magic and mayhem, it will be time to think about where to send your masterpiece for publication. The Guide covers this topic as well with some commonsense advice on manuscript presentation and a comprehensive list of possible publishers to get you started.

In fact, there is so much in this book that it's impossible to mention it all. It's the sort of book you can read once for enjoyment and come back to again and again for handy reference and helpful advice. For more than a little help in making your writing dreams come true, check out The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy.

Print version available with Dragon Moon Press:
http://www.dragonmoonpress.com/guide.htm 350-plus pages, ISBN: 1-896944-09-4

E-book available with Twilight Times Books, www.twilighttimesbooks.com Format: E-book, 250-plus pages. ISBN: 1-93201-44-7

Berry is the author of several fantasy novels, including Dayspring Dawning and Dayspring Destiny. You can visit her Web site at http://clik.to/Jeanineberry.

Rating Scale:
* * * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* * = Slow, difficult to read, could have been improved.
* = Imminently forgettable.


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