Today I have the pleasure to present to you a book that I got from the author himself, Richie Billing! He kindly asked me to read and review his book and so he sent me a paperback ❤
If you have read my reviews, like ever, you know by now that I don’t sugarcoat things. I openly disliked books that have lots of admirers.
Let’s see how this book did! ( Short review on my Goodreads profile, at this link)
What is it about?
Well, the title is kinda self-explanatory, right? It is a fantasy writers’ handbook. I dare say it is a writers’ handbook though as it proved to be a fantastic tool in understanding the basics of writing but I will get to that later in the review.
That being said, it is a non fiction read and comes in 303 pages – paperback format.
- writing: have you ever had a friend or someone you knew who seemed to have a knack for explaining things? Like you’d swear the fog cleared and clouds lifted the second they opened their mouths on whatever subject. Well, Richie is like that. He manages to explain technical and sensible subjects in a manner that is super easy to understand and he doesn’t bother with flowery and overflowing details just to fill up the space. I insist on this because the terms in English when it comes to writing differ a ton from those in Romanian and for a foreigner to understand the topic of this book like I did… well it means that’s a very well written book.
- information: there’s a lot of it. The book has three parts: the pillars of story telling, writing in the fantasy genre and when the writing is done. It took me by surprise to see that he cared enough to talk about what happens when the writing is done too. I feel like this subject is often left hanging. Kudos for that!
- structure: fantastic. You can either read the whole book or just the chapters you are interested in… and they are so well separated that you can always revisit something and be sure you get the information you want ( eg. An approach to editing, Cartography, Fantasy and religion, etc.)
- book size and textures: I’ve said this before and I will repeat myself. I hate it when I feel like doing gym work for my fingers when reading. I want to read your book without going to surgery to add a sixth finger on my hand just to be able to hold said book. Also, I want to be able to admire your cover whether I am in the shade or sun. Getting blinded by a full shine cover is not a plus on my list. Luckily, the text size, placement, the book proportions and cover work great for this one. It has a velvety cover with super fun illustrations, the text is easy to read so your eyes won’t get tired fast and the size of it makes it easy to just open wherever you need and handle even with just one hand while you take notes.
- Since this is a non fiction book and it checked all my boxes as far as I was concerned, I don’t have any bad things to say about it. What seemed a bit too much were the constant parallels and references to LOTR and GOT. I can understand though why he chose to do that so I can’t complain too much.
I really liked this book. I found it very useful for all writers and reviewers. I know that to me, as a reviewer, it opened my eyes to see a lot more of the background and what’s going on behind the scenes when writing books. I found it to be a very educative tool especially for beginners so if you plan on writing a book, I highly recommend you throw an eye on this one.
Who’s Richie Billing though?
I asked him to introduce himself because the whole wiki search is very impersonal. Here’s what he had to say about himself:
My middle name is Edward, so my name is also Dick Ed, though I much prefer Richie (although Dick Ed is sometimes warranted). I’m from a city called Liverpool, known for football and The Beatles. I like Neil Young, The Allman Bros, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Tess Parks and more, and most nights I’m up till the wee hours either scribbling away or watching the NBA. Over the last few years, I’ve invested a great deal of time studying the craft of writing, the fantasy genre, getting published, and marketing my writing self, and decided it’d be not only helpful to me, but to others as well, to compile all my nonsensical notes into a coherent book. I think I’ve just about managed it!