Sunday, 5 May 2019

Review: Dear Ally, How Do I Write a Book? - Ally Carter

Dear Ally, How Do I Write a Book? by Ally Carter, published by Orchard Books on 4th April 2019

Goodreads synopsis:
Ally and her author friends want to help YOU write the book you've always dreamed of. Part agony aunt, part writing guru, this writing guide is thoughtful, witty and best of all, useful.

You don't have to be a teen to find 'Dear Ally, How Do I Write a Book?' hugely informative and useful. If you have any interest at all in writing for a YA audience then this is the best guide to get you started. I'm a huge admirer of Ally Carter and I've read all of her books, so I was instantly intrigued when I heard about this title. I've read a number of other guides to fiction writing but they have all been designed for adult writers. This is the first really useful book I've come across that is written by a YA author and packed full of tips and advice for those who want to write YA fiction. It is one of those titles that you know you'll continually be picking off your bookshelf and referring back to. 

The book is broken down into chapters such as 'Planning your book', 'Developing your plot' and 'Editing your book'. The structure is linear and takes you through every stage of the writing process, from creating your characters, to building your world. There is a wealth of thoughtful and useful advice but Carter also makes it explicitly clear that there is no single right way to write. Everyone has their own style and their own process which is crafted and developed over a period of time. You just have to find what works best for you and sometimes that only comes through trial and error. 

Interspersed throughout the book are questions and answers from a number of other well-known authors, such as David Levithan, Stephanie Perkins, Marie Lu and Holly Black. I found these really interesting and insightful, as it helped to show the unique nature of the writing process, as well as providing author stories about the road to publication. Ally Carter often refers to her own journey in becoming a YA author and some of the insights she shares about choosing characters, settings or plot lines were fascinating. 

Ultimately you do have to find your own way and write about things that matter to you but if you have always dreamt of becoming a published author, or even just want to nail that next NaNoWriMo challenge then this is THE book you must read.    

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