WonderBook: The Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative Fiction
By Jeff Vandermeer

(Click pictures to enlarge)

This book was recommended to me by @rageofthenerd, and it’s one of those purchases I’ve never regretted. Books offering writing advice often earn my grudging respect at best. I find a lot of them a bit too high-handed. A bit “You must” “You should” “You will”, which can restrict a writer’s creativity, rather than indulging it.

Wonderbook is something completely different. There’s no denying that it’s a powerful guide for all stages of the creative process, from inception to revision, but this book explores so much more than that. It’s  a surreal and vivid insight into writing as a culture, with its own historical roots and powerful possibilities. It doesn’t so much tell you how to write as lay out the options in front of you and invite you to try them all, and above all else, enjoy the process.

But the best thing about this book, for me, is how it shifted my perspective on creativity. 

In the modern world, despite “creative thinkers” being an employment buzzword, creators of all types are often looked down upon as immature daydreamers. Creativity is not something we are encouraged to pursue for creativity’s sake. If it’s not going to make you a profit, why bother?

Except Wonderbook does away with that.The author discusses nurturing your creativity as you might nurture your soul. It interleaves advice on different forms of writing, readers, style and substance with essays on the importance of creativity to humanity as a whole, and to the individual.

I’ve owned this book for a while, and I’ve still not read it all the way through. It’s something I dip into and enjoy in small doses, but I am always left with food for thought, as well as a greater respect for both myself and my fellow creators. 

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0442-0

(The above images are copyrighted material duplicated only for the purpose of this post, which is in no way officially related to the book beyond that I bought it and enjoyed it so much I wanted to tell other people about it.)


More Harry Potter concept art and designs by Ross Dearsley

1-2) Order of the Phoenix concept art

3-4) Some slightly chariacatured versions of McGonagall, Snape & Hagrid, and Some stylised sketches of McGonagall, Hermione & Luna.

5) Sony London’s PlayStation Wonderbook: Book of Potions concept designs. One of those quirky jobs that crop up every so often - how to tailor a tea towel for an elf?

If you've ever wondered...

“Wonderbook: Book of Spells is the closest a Muggle can come to a real spellbook. I’ve loved working with Sony’s creative team to bring my spells, and some of the history behind them, to life.”
—J.K. Rowling on Wonderbook: Book of Spells

“Raczidian was a Dark wizard who, according to an ancient story, attacked a wizarding village and attempted to summon a Patronus. However, he failed to remember that only the pure of heart can produce a Patronus, and thus for the first time in history, it was revealed what happens when a competent but unworthy wizard or witch attempts the spell. Maggots shot out of Raczidian'swand and quickly devoured him as they engulfed his body.[x][x]”

Nuff said.

The fact that the adventure is often lonely doesn’t mean it is narcissistic - a common (and lethal!) misunderstanding. The beautiful paradox of art is that what is a private journey is released to the world where it enters into the fabric of other lives.

Rikki Ducornet

I found this encouraging nugget inside the “World’s First Fully Illustrated Creative Writing Book” - Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer. If you’re a creative writer of any sort or just like cool pictures, it’s for you.

The reader doesn’t want to hear how stupidly real people talk. No, the reader wants people to talk in poetry, like on the television show Deadwood. What the reader wants also is just the meat of the conversation, and sometimes for that meat to be pressed until it bleeds. The job of the writer is just to dip into that blood, keep on writing.