Book Review: The Fantasy Writer’s Companion

FantasyWritersCompanionby Michael D. Pederson

 

The Fantasy Writer’s Companio
edited by Tee Morris and Valerie Griswold-Ford
Dragon Moon Press, 280 pp.

Yes, a sequel to The Complete Guide To Writing Fantasy. I won’t dwell on the silliness though. Instead let’s cut to the chase… How’s the book? It’s not the all-purpose reference guide that’s going to revolutionize the world of fantasy writing, but then it’s not supposed to be. What it is is entertaining and pretty darned useful. Like the Complete Guide, the Companion is mostly written by authors from the world of small press publishing, however they’ve added some more recognizable names this time around like Wen Spencer and Will McDermott.

The Companion’s thirteen chapters cover a wide range of subjects including “Developing Alternative Magic Systems,” “Writing for RPG and Media Tie-Ins” and “Writing Fantasy for the Young Reader.” With a different author tackling each chapter there’s a wide range in the quality of advice being given. Most chapters give a useful (if somewhat general) view of their topics, a few only skim the surface, and a couple are downright inspirational to the aspiring fantasy writer. Evo Terra’s section on “Herbalism in Fantasy” provides great tips on creating and naming plants and also gives a thorough laundry list of plants and herbs and how they can be used. And Lai Zhao’s chapter on “Worldbuilding in Asian Cultures” is an in-depth (32 pages) and indispensable starting point for anyone that wants to write an Asian-themed fantasy.

Overall, the book has a tendency to cater more to its authors than its readers—allowing them to reference their own (often obscure) works rather than citing more common fantasy writers (Tolkien, Brooks, Moorcock) when giving examples—but if you’re looking to “add flavor” to your writing this is a great source for new seasonings.

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