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Dear Ally, How Do You Write A Book?


Dear Ally, How Do You Write A Book? by Ally Carter (and tons of other major YA authors). To Buy From Your Local Bookstore
Overview: This nonfiction, sorta-kinda anthology that is full of reader solicited questions and long answers from Ally. It also features tables full of other authors weighing in and certain letters addressed to different people. The advice within spans the basics of writing a book, writing a series, editing, publishing, and then more general advice. Overall: 3.5

There are parts of this book I really enjoyed. It's strongest asset is that it brings a giant group of very famous YA authors to give certain stats like how many drafts they tend to do, how long they wrote before publishing their first book, and how many rejections they got before becoming agented. I also loved the longer commentaries from two or three of them at the end of every chapter. While sometimes the advice wasn't the star of the show, seeing the behind the scenes into different processes was very interesting.

My problem with the book was that I felt there were many times that the tone veered toward condescending. I know that this was not the intent. Ally is a very genuine and lovely person, but, I think that it should be noted to those looking to pick it up, you won't be talked to like a peer or even like a mentee. As a teen myself, I would have appreciated if the book had addressed me like an adult, capable of producing the same level work as an adult. I wish that the "making an advice book for teens" had ended its manifestation in using YA writers to share parts of their journey and the mistakes that can be learned from. Instead, I felt it was too far at the forefront of the author's mind as she answered the question. I just can't see the tone it was written in appealing to teens, especially older teens.
Another thing that I think people should know before they buy the book is that: Writing and the writing process is 100% subjective. There are no hard and fast rules, and those rules (mostly when it comes to getting published) are easy to find on the internet.
If you are thinking about writing a novel, you really just have to try putting words on the page in fifty different ways until you figure out the way you like to do it. I know that, at first, you think you need to read everything out there about it, but, after a while, you realize no amount of reading will get you there. At least Ally acknowledges this. The answer of almost every novel is "it depends."
While I loved seeing the sections with the different authors weighing in, those were minimal. The book has a lot of obvious (at least to me) questions, and the answers rambled for a bit too long to keep me interested. There was a point on every page where I started skimming.
Whether you ultimately decide to pick this up or not, I want to reiterate, this is not a writing bible and it doesn't have all the answers because only you, writing and, later, interacting with other writers, can get you to what works for you.

My Favorite YA Geared Writing Resources:
First Draft Podcast by Sarah Enni
Write or Die Podcast 

Links of Interest:
Happy Second Birthday: Here
Five Feet Apart Movie Review: Review Here
Five Feet Apart Review: Review Here
Into YA with Lillie Vale: Here

All Purchase Links are affiliate links


Comments

  1. Thanks for reviewing! I'm trying to write a young adult book myself and I like how you just simply said just try putting words on the paper or something like that. I'm having a frustrating time since I only wrote 18 words this week. I know I want to write YA though.

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