View Full Version : Please Help Me Make Up a Young Fantasy Writer's Gift Basket...

04-22-2008, 02:26 PM
Don't know where to put this. Mods: If it is in the wrong place, please feel free to move it. Thanks.

I am assembling a gift basket for a young writer and would really appreciate some feedback.

Here's why I'm asking;

He's young... 17 - So if there are any young writers who would like to let me know what they'd like to find in a young writer's gift basket, please weigh in and let me know.

He's a FANTASY writer... something I know VERY LITTLE about - So if there are any fantasy writers out there who would like to let me know what they'd like to find in a fantasy writer's gift basket, please weigh in and let me know.

I edited this writer's novel in the fall and he will be joining us at the Ontario Writers' Conference. I'm putting the basket together to have it in his room when he checks in at the hotel. I'd like it to contain the essentials for the young fantasy writer.

His biggest strength: STORY. He is a wonderful storyteller.
His biggest weakness: VOCABULARY. He has a great grasp on vocabulary... that's not what I mean. What he does, though... I've noticed, is try to use a bigger vocabulary at times when he doesn't need to. Occasionally this causes him to use a word in the wrong context.

Any fantasy how-to books that have helped others would be great.

Any suggestions would be tremendously helpful.

I am including BIRD BY BIRD and WRITING DOWN THE BONES (because I enjoyed them myself and I believe that some books transcend genre... I know a lot of people here hate the Goldberg book, but I'm including it anyway). He already has King's On Writing... he actually met King last year.

Please help me assemble my basket.

Thanks to all in advance.


04-22-2008, 02:58 PM
My top recommendation: Ursula Le Guin, Steering the Craft.
It's good for everyone really, but its examples are geared towards fantasy and sf writers. And there's a lot there on getting the craft to match and support your storytelling, and on appropriate use of vocabulary/styles/POVs/sounds/what have you.

My second might be Kate Wilhelm's Storyteller, but that's probably only if he writes short stories.
And! Just for giggles, if nothing else: Diana Wynne Jones, A Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

Collected essays on writing (ha, if you can find these):
Ursula Le Guin, The Language of the Night
Samuel Delaney, Longer Views
Jane Yolen, Once Upon A Time (She said)
Jeff Vandermeer, Why should I Cut Your Throat?

Ol' Fashioned Girl
04-22-2008, 05:08 PM
Maybe a cool journal (http://gifts.barnesandnoble.com/home-office/writing-journals.asp)... Barnes & Noble has them for every taste. And a fountain pen.

04-22-2008, 05:11 PM
Sounds to me like he got caught in the trap of English-teacher prose.

Any sort of subtly subversive material dealing in linguistic theory with a descriptivist perspective will probably get him over that hump. That's what it took for me.

Jenan Mac
04-22-2008, 05:16 PM
Office supplies. Because I've never met a writer yet who's not a Staples or Office Depot ho.

04-22-2008, 06:09 PM
The Fantasy books I recommend already have been, so I'll move right along :)

I like Getting the Words Right (http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Words-Right-Improve-Writing/dp/158297358X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208872258&sr=1-1). Between all of the books I've collected on writing and style, this is my favorite.

I also use the Visual Thesaurus (http://visualthesaurus.com)--I don't rely so much on helping me find fancier words, but rather to explore many options for words when I need help getting to the right one. When you click on a word you want to use, it gives a definition, then breaks up the meanings by nouns, verbs, adverbs, and antonyms. It's actually kind of fun to use (I have no life). Another feature I like is that this isn't just a thesaurus, it's a online subscription to hundreds of articles, word lists, and other things that might be helpful to him as a young writer or people of any age.

And yeah, count me in as one of the Staples hos ;) MMMMMMPost-its.....

04-22-2008, 06:23 PM
Not adding much except to say, wow, what a thoughtful idea. Good on you.

Maass's writing the breakout novel workbook is worth a look, in my opinion *ducks the flung veggies*

04-22-2008, 07:10 PM
KTC, in addition to the writing books, remember this is a gift basket and should include some fun stuff and some eats, too.

Crafts stores, RPG stores, and/or independent toy stores (non-chain) often have fantasy-type figures about 10 cm (4-5 inches) high which are not part of a specific world for under $5. Maybe your writer needs a wizard, a beautiful woman with wings, a hag with a malicious gleam in her eye, or a hairy muscle freak ready to do medieval battle. There are also small Lego sets which lend themselves to fantasy.

Miniature (unsharpened) weapons suited to fantasy are fun, too. Sword letter openers, bone pens, like that.

If the fantasy is medieval-ish, like many are, he may benefit from a small gargoyle, demon, dragon, or other resin statuette. They're plentiful online if you don't have a local store.

I second the ideas for notebooks, pens, Post-Its, and other office supplies.

Fill out the basket with non-perishable writers' foods like caramel corn, apples, or jelly beans. Writers need fuel.

Maryn, who'd love such a basket

Lyra Jean
04-22-2008, 07:29 PM
Orson Scott Card's Guide to Fantasy and Science Fiction. My brain is fuzzy from finishing a paper at 5am so I'm not sure if that is the exact title or not but it helped me immensely.

04-22-2008, 07:34 PM
Strunk and White.
The Ten Per-cent Solution, Kenneth Rand (I think)
If his fantasy goes back to any kind of medieval type reference, he might like some calligraphy pens.
A wand?
A beautifully bound edition of Lord of the Rings.

04-22-2008, 07:55 PM
I asked my stepbrother, who writes fantasy or sci-fi (can't remember), and he suggested:

The American Language by H.L. Mencken

Dangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison

04-22-2008, 07:58 PM
Research materials. Get him a few good mythological resource books from different cultures. Greeks (I like Gayley or Morford for Greco-Roman), Celts, Eastern, Mesopotomian--whatever preferences he might have.

Also, a copy of the Egyptian Book of The Dead. *grin* You'd be surprised at how useful it is.

04-22-2008, 08:09 PM
I would suggest a copy of Locus (http://www.locusmag.com/) magazine, the essential magazine for anyone interested in being published in the speculative fiction market.

It's a good read and shows the current trends in the genres as well as articles about the authors, the agents, the publishers, the readers - basically all the players.

It has interviews with all the above and articles about the current hot books as well as shows the current releases every month in speculative fiction as well as all the scoop about what's to come.

Reading it will give him a good buzz.

04-22-2008, 11:03 PM
Man... You guys are the ABSOLUTE best! Thanks to all. Great suggestions! I look forward to getting the list collected. Wonderful help!

04-22-2008, 11:09 PM
Wow, KTC, you are the nicest guy ever.

Um, I know that you can get these at a craft store or a nice paper/stationery store - sealing wax and a stamp with your initial. Just make sure he knows not to use the wax seal for his submissions. ;)

04-23-2008, 12:59 AM
Several fast writing pens in dif colors, an assortment of notebooks in dif sizes for home, backpack, bedside, etc. Julia Cameron's 'The Right to Write' and 'Walking In this World' are great. So are Natalie Goldberg's 'Wild Mind' and 'Thunder and Lightning'.