Book Review: Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley (3/5)

24 Feb

I’ve been trying to read books on writing more often to encourage me to keep writing when I don’t want to. I think it’s working? Maybe?

Cover image via Goodreads

Wild Ink: Success Secrete to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market by Victoria Hanley

Summary from Goodreads:

What do you need to know to break in to the flourishing young adult (YA) market? With humor and a solid grounding in reality, author Victoria Hanley helps readers understand the ins and outs of the YA genre, how to stay inspired, and how to avoid common mistakes writers make in trying to reach teens. This book includes unique writing exercises to help readers find their own authentic teen voice and dozens of interviews with YA authors, blogging experts, editors, and agents to give inspiration and guidance for getting published. Chapters include writing exercises and self-editing techniques tailored to YA, along with encouraging words on dealing with self-doubt, rejection, and lack of time.

I think the ratings I give writing books are going to continue to go down the more I read. There’s only so much writing advice so these books start to seem repetitive the more I read them. The shining jewel of this book for me was the last section that included multiple interviews with YA authors, both fiction and non-fiction. Those first-hand stories were the most helpful for me to hear. While some writers had early success or fell into it, many did not. It’s hard to hear that your first novel might not sell but it’s encouraging to hear that many people had better luck with their third, which I’ve just finished writing. One of my biggest takeaways from this book was that in order to write for teens, it’s important to spend time with them and not talk down to them. I’m thinking of ways I could volunteer with teenage groups that would help me remember what I felt when I was in that age group and grappling with some of the problems my characters face.

I felt Hanley portrayed herself in a very real way. She’s not an author with huge name recognition, but she’s garnered a lot of praise and good sales of her books. She is well qualified to write a book on writing for teens. I think she consulted a lot of her peers to become even more educated on the subject and I really like the insight she was able to share. I think I sometimes have visions of J.K. Rowling levels of success but I also know that’s a pipedream. The level of success Hanley has had would be incredible and reading this made me better able to picture a more reasonable level of success to strive for.

Victoria Hanley
Image via Goodreads

The interviews at the end were very honest and I felt gave me a great summary of the book. It was especially helpful with how slowly I read it! The short interviews asked mainly the same questions from the writers but there was a huge variety of answers. It helped emphasize that writing is a different journey for every person who undertakes it and we can’t compare our successes or failures to the person next to us. We might be on different paths that end in different places but that doesn’t make our journey any less meaningful or fruitful.

I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember large parts of this book. It was very similar to the other books on writing that I’ve read recently so I didn’t absorb a lot. There was a lot about types of publishers that would have been helpful for someone who didn’t know anything about the market but which for me was really repetitive and a bit dull.

Writing for teens and writing for adults isn’t hugely different. Hanley makes a great point in this and it’s repeated in many of the interviews at the end. If you’re trying to teach a teen something, they’ll figure it out. If they’re reading for fun, they likely aren’t looking for a lecture. You shouldn’t go into a book looking to teach. Books are entertaining. Yes, they often have a message but they don’t have a thesis statement and 300 pages of supporting paragraphs like an essay would. Talk to teens like they’re adults and they’ll respect you more and maybe they’ll even listen to you.

Writer’s Takeaway: For a non-fiction title like this, it was great that Hanley was able to bring in other experts to share their knowledge. It gave the writers a quick plug for their own books and it also helped Hanley. I see no downside for either party in the arrangement. It gave her the ability to address opposing opinions and experiences she hadn’t had without contradicting herself. It helped round out the experience of writing to hear from so many other writers.

A useful book but not the best for someone who’s already read a few books on writing. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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One Response to “Book Review: Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley (3/5)”

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  1. Challenge Update, February 2020 | Taking on a World of Words - March 12, 2020

    […] Dutch House // Ann Patchett Sarah’s Quilt // Nancy E. Turner Finding Gobi // Dion Leonard Wild Ink // Victoria Hanley What the Eyes Don’t See // Mona Hanna […]

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