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Creative Writer’s Sourcebook by John Gillard

The Creative Writer’s Sourcebook is one of those unassuming books that actually makes a huge difference to anyone thinking about writers or writing as a discipline. No matter the level of attainment that readers of this selection of exercises have reached, it is the companion text that will unlock new doors and pioneer new frontiers (and other wonderfully evocative turns of phrase to describe the writing journey!).

Gillard has compiled a range of well-known and well-respected authors, taken passages from their most famous literary works, analysed them, and created writing exercises to develop the reader’s ability to replicate and emulate some of these tried and true examples. The context of each author is given - presumably to allow for some specific literary era-styled approaches to creep in (like the classic point of view of the romantics) and expand the writing exercises out across over 50 authors.

It’s akin to finding the proverbial secret sauce of magic for these writers—distilling it and making it accessible to new and aspiring authors. From the whimsy of Lewis Carroll to the characterisation of Fitgerald, the collection really does cover a wide range of skill and linguistic dexterity that is well discussed and wonderfully presented in easily digested exercises.

But modern writers are also included—Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and J.K. Rowling feature prominently. Thankfully, the latter refers to the Harry Potter series rather than her Twitter posts.

Taking 175 of these literary exercise golden nuggets really does make an impact on the new or developing writer. Too often, writing is seen as a transactional endeavour when, in reality, it is so much more. Swimmers need to get into the pool, chemists need to undertake experiments, and writers need to put black marks on white paper. This curated collection will undoubtedly assist in storytelling. It just takes time to execute and develop the skills.

This book could become immensely popular in the classroom or university lecture hall. It deserves to be. It’s time to let our own written words do the talking, to improve our craft of writing—before AI takes over and removes thought altogether.

The Creative Writer’s Sourcebook has something for any writing level. It’s already helped this writer immensely. And it is clear that the fundamentals are there to help support so many others.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Exile Publishing


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