Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Paper Hearts - Book Review

Paper Hearts Volume 1: Some Writing Advice
Beth Revis


Your enemy is the blank page. When it comes to writing, there’s no wrong way to get words on paper. But it’s not always easy to make the ink flow. 

Paper Hearts: Some Writing Advice won’t make writing any simpler, but it may help spark your imagination and get your hands back on the keyboard.

Practical advice meets real experience.

With information that takes you from common mistakes in grammar to detailed charts on story structure, Paper Hearts describes:

  • How to develop character, plot and world.
  • What common advice you should ignore.
  • What advice actually helps.
  • How to develop a novel.
  • The basics of Grammar, Style and Tone.
  • Four practical methods of charting story structure.
  • How to get critiques and revise your novel.
  • How to deal with failure.
  • And much much more!


As an aspiring writer, I found this book incredibly helpful in every way. It boosted my morale, gave some insightful advice and offered a level of comfort that I have yet to find in other “how to write” books.

Rather than just jumping straight in with Do’s and Don’ts, the first thing Beth Revis shares is her own road to publication. She explains how it was her DREAM to be traditionally published, and no matter how bleak the future sometimes seemed, she stuck to her goal. It took her ten years, ten manuscripts, lots of money in classes and critiques, not to mention bucket loads of time and dedication—but she made this dream happen. If that’s not inspiration for you, I don't know what is.

However what I really liked about this book is how Beth Revis repeatedly emphasises that there is no right or wrong way to write. Paper Hearts just shares the methods of writing that worked for her—and she stresses that every writer must find their own path/style. Also she admits that not every book she writes is the same, and often her own styles and methods change, so it’s important to experiment.

Also while this book does cover grammar, characterisation, and has picture charts that can help with developing plot, everything is written in a very friendly way. Never once did I feel like I was being told what to do, but rather everything was put forward in a suggestive, “you should give this a try” kind of way.

In terms of content, I thought the advice itself was pretty invaluable. If I had this book when I first started writing I know it would have made my life a whole lot easier. Even now, it reassured me that I am doing many things right, although it also made me see there is still much of my writing that can be improved upon. 

What also grabbed was the the depth the book went into. Ways in which you can find critiques partners, how to give and receive feedback, as well as many frequently asked questions in regards to ideas, pacing, resources…. this book really did have it all. 

The only thing that may be an issue for some writers, is that Beth Revis writes YA and often the examples she uses are geared for those audiences. However I really think this book would be useful regardless of what genre or age band your writing for. This is definitely a book all aspiring writers need on their shelves!

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