Friday, 7 February 2020

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th February 2020: "How to Think When you Write" by Robin Etherington and Lorenzo Etherington (Kickstarter / Self Published)

We've been huge fans of The Etherington Brothers since first discovering their work in the fabulous Phoenix Comic - and so far Lorenzo has put together some truly stunning tutorial collections under the "How to Think when you Draw" umbrella.

But this time it's the turn of his brilliantly funny brother Robin - the 'writing' half of the team - to pour his wisdom into a fantastic tome that will give writers a huge shot in the arm in terms of skills, and a huge boost to their confidence as they start to write up some of the exercises contained in this book.

As the boys have been running their own tutorials free over at for some time now, it's great to see Robin's writing tutorials finally getting a solid roundup like this, in a gorgeously presented hardcover edition which recently launched successfully on Kickstarter.

We've been hoovering these books up whenever they're released (always worth following the guys over on twitter @theetheringtonbrothers to see what they're cooking up next!)

I'm interested in both sides of the coin, both illustration and writing - but writing is where I struggle the most, and for would-be authors it's sometimes quite daunting considering all the variables and structural elements of a piece of writing, even if you've got past the real first hurdle - getting some subject inspiration.

Robin helpfully delves into the intricaties of character and plot, but builds on these with fantastic weapons to add to your arsenal such as working in back stories, figuring out sensible naming conventions for your characters (or non-sensible ones that will still work beautifully).

At each point there are exercises to try yourself - and so far I've been working through this book with a journal, noting down and attempting each exercise in turn, and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with my own writing efforts.

What I like best about Robin's approach is that it's less preachy, less draconian about writing 'conventions' and in most cases though Robin pays due homage to 'the roolz' he does dispense with them when they're a bit too limiting, and shows you how to do the same - and get away with it!

My favourite exercises - the ones I found the most helpful - were the character-based ones, where you'll learn how to really get under your character's skin and work out what makes them tick - and how to avoid those pitfalls like making your characters too much like you (or not enough if you're self-referencing) and how to avoid getting sued by including folk in your stories that might not want to be in there!

It's brilliant this, like a reference bible for writers at any level, regardless of the genre or subject you want to write about. Having direct access to the contents of Robin's creative brain in this way can only be a good thing (particularly if you've ever seen any of the workshops or shows he and his brother produce - they're gold dust, just like this book!)

Sum this book up in a sentence: A stupendous book filled with amazing insights, tips and tricks to give your writing a real shot in the arm, or to get you started on the right foot when it comes to dreaming up stories, characters and plots.

"How to Think When You Write" by Robin Etherington is out now, self published (self purchased - not provided for review)