Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly

by Gail Carson Levine

Paperback, 2006



Local notes

808 Lev--c.1 Paperback




HarperCollins (2006), Edition: Edition Unstated, 168 pages. $5.99.


Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine shares her secrets of making magic with your writing--Publisher-provided summary.


Original language


Physical description

168 p.; 5.13 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member jaisidore
Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by Gail Carson Levine is an intriguing how-to book on creating fiction writings inspired by the author's own love for writing. Levine guides the beginner writer with simple, how-to steps on the writing process which incorporates her own life experiences on
Show More
writing and publishing fiction. From the creating of character perceptive and voice, to working in a collaborative manner, this work empowers writers to be creative, focus, determine, and more importantly constant writers on their path to becoming a published author. Writing Magic can prove helpful for ELA courses or for those individuals seeking an expert point-of-view on fiction writing.
Show Less
LibraryThing member rmthoma2
The book was really good. I’m not a writer but I’ve always wanted to write a book. After reading this book it makes me feel like I can actually to write something good. I like how this book has little writing assignments throughout the book. The book also has a positive message to all students
Show More
who want to be writers and those just have to write for school. I thought it was different to read nonfiction book helping you write a fiction stories. If I was an English teacher I would try and use this in my class.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ertreada
A good read for young writers who are interested in the creative writing process. Author Gail Carson Levine dose a great job explaining the writing process in layman’s terms and takes the pressure of writing and makes it a fun learning experience through numerous exercises. This book is geared
Show More
towards children who already have an interest in writing and I don’t know how well it would appeal to a child who has not personally pursued writing. This would make an excellent summer project book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member RangerRoss
Have you ever tried your hand at writing a story? How did it go? Were you frustrated that the words and the story came in fits and starts, or seemed clunky? Did you get stuck or give up in frustration? If so, then this might be the book for you. Gail Carson Levine, the writer of Ella Enchanted,
Show More
created this great how to book geared for young writers that even adults will enjoy. This book serves as a beginning creative writing class on its own; each chapter addresses an issue writers have, from the point of view, to writer’s block, to creating a catchy beginning, and then provides a short writing exercise at the end of each chapter. Even as a person who doesn’t write fiction, I found her activities and suggestions thought provoking and formed stories in my mind after reading them. Levine gives personal examples from her work and method of writing to help and give encouragement along the way. This book would also be a great primer for a creative writing class with its humor and approachability. Just remember to save what you wrote!
Show Less
LibraryThing member jmsummer
After reading this book, I wish that I would have had this back when I started in school as a child. I have never been much for writing anything. Over the years, all of the english classes that I ahve been in have tried the same approach to the task. All of the previous books that I have used for
Show More
writing have been more scientific and written from the standpoint of writing workshop. You followed a set plan on how to write. If you didn't understand, then you shouldn't be a writter.Levine has created a book that gets you involved with the process of writing. She draws you in with her worlds. At times it doesn't feel like this would be considered non-fiction. That is how she gets you. You forget that you will be writting anything because she makes it so easy.
Show Less
LibraryThing member rwilliamson
This is a fabulous book to use with
LibraryThing member harriewatson
I tnink this an excellent book as a guide to teaching creative writing and I positively hated it because I don't enjoy creative writing. I have, however, tutored many students at a private school that had a strong wtiting program with lots of creative writing assignments. I struggled to help each
Show More
student find their own voice. I wish I had had this book to assist them. That said, I most also state that I feel that a good fiction writer probably has a gift which can be improved upon, but not "gotten" from a how-to book.
Looking at the criteria for judging a how-to book, one finds that this book starts off well organized with both an accessible table of contents and a multi-paged index. The introduction begins with "[t]his is a book about writing fiction." The introduction doesn't discuss all of the author's teaching points, but does hit upon the main recurring themes such as write often and save your writing. I think trying to cover all her points as a preview would probably made the chapter hard to get through and would have been hard to understand in a short format. The "recipes" are offered in short, easy to access single steps with lots of guided experimental writing exercises. Each chapter is succinct and could stand alone if the reader wanted specific information about how to improve a particular aspect of writing. I would think that a determined writer of any age could find this book a help to improve their writing with specific tasks. At the end of the book Ms. Levine even suggests forming a reading/constructive criticism group to supply feedback similar to a creative writing course.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DesBelle
Great for all beginning writers and can be used as a quick review guide for more experienced writers.
LibraryThing member gilroy
I realized about two pages in that this book was more basic that I required for my personal writing journey. It is directed more toward adolescents and those who are just starting on the journey, with basic advice on a lot of small topics. What it offers is sage advice (save what you wrote!) and
Show More
good lessons for the beginner. I wish I'd read it when I first decided to be a writer.That might have corrected some errors I had early on.

Definitely a worthy read for younger readers and those starting on the path.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bpoche
Gail Carson Levine lends her knowledge of creative writing to this how-to book on story writing. The book is organized, and offers exercises and helpful strategies to benefit the creative process.
Any middle school class with fiction writing at the base of the curriculum would value this book.
Show More
Although the narrative isn't particularly lengthy, the book may lend itself to a classroom setting in sections. There are many exercises within the book (one for each chapter), and most require extensive, time-consuming writing.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jamiesque
Writing Magic is a how-to guide for aspiring young authors of fiction, as well as a tool Language Arts teachers can use to further the understanding of literature and the writing process. Gail Carson Levine uses simple language, sound advice and vivid examples to lead readers through the process of
Show More
writing. With a warm, conversational tone and a flexible approach to writing, Carson reveals how to crush useless self-criticism, begin a story, create inviting 'white space',develop characters and dialogue, select point of view, create suspension of disbelief, and generate ideas.
The end of each chapter contains a writing activity designed to provide an opportunity to develop a specific skill or element. These activities could also be used by English teachers as an addendum or enrichment in class to further a particular literary element. For example, in Chapter 14, point of view is outlined in a way that not only benefits writing, but encourages a reader to become more aware of author's intention and style. The chapter illuminates the thought process behind the section of perspective as well as demonstrates the effect. Overall, Writing Magic serves as an effective way to teach reading and writing in a more holistic manner.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DayehSensei
An inspiring book that will compel any non-writer to at least consider writing and any writer to work harder at it. Although this is written for adolescents, it clearly applies to writers of any age-- especially writers of children's books. The short, punchy chapters are each filled with at least
Show More
one quick writing exercise to do. Levine's text is also filled with lots of tips for how to make writing a regular lifestyle (without needing to sit down). As a person who has loved to write my whole life, and who sadly rarely/never has time or ideas, this book has given me a fresh outlook and motivation to work at it again. Levine's "no excuses" approach is both fun and firm, and her voice here is both humble and humbling. I would recommend this book to anyone teaching writing or pursuing the writing craft themselves.
Show Less
LibraryThing member enbrown504
This book was a great practical look at techniques that can be used to improve creative writing. There is a definite focus on hands on exercises that offer constructive writing experience. The book appeals to writers of varying skill levels and can also offer insight into effective reading and
Show More
analyzing of literature as well.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Chrisdier
Levine’s book is a great piece that is specifically geared towards young adults who want to be inspired to start writing, want to write better, or just want a perspective from an author about the joys of writing in general. I love to write, but after the first few chapters of this book I wanted
Show More
to put it down and start writing some fiction work. No book has inspired me like that. One of my favorite chapters was about the dialogue, chapter 11. I’ve always struggled on making dialogues but with this I’ve learned some standards in creating them.

This book is really great for all subjects, not just ELA. It will help break the mold of the “5 paragraph essay” that is being pushed on students while helping students build creativity in their writing.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jenunes
While the first word that pops out at you is that of "Magic", not quite what one would expect of a nonfiction book, Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly is an engaging how-to book. Geared towards students, I would highly recommend this for either middle school or even high school. Each chapter
Show More
expresses a new concept in writing and gives activities at the end for the reader to try their hand at. A remarkable book, I think it would prove an asset to any English teacher's curriculum.
Show Less
LibraryThing member debnance
I'd have to field test this with its target audience before I could really fairly evaluate this book. I got annoyed at Levine's habit of illustrating every writing tip with an example from her own writing. The writing starts at the end of each chapter felt too structured to me. But, then again, I'm
Show More
not ten years old.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DustinB1983
In this book geared towards the young aspiring writer, Levine gives step-by-step advice on writing a story. This book is about writing fiction. Levine starts by encouraging the creativity of the reader and how to ignore the doubting voices in one’s head. She continues to cover virtually every
Show More
aspect of building a story, from getting ideas, to developing characters, establishing a setting, introducing details and so on. Each chapter has a writing exercise that reinforces the lessons learned within the chapter.

This is an easy read, and I can envision young readers utilizing it as a reference. Rather than reading through it once, doing each writing exercise in order, I could imagine a young reader referring back to certain chapters and repeating certain exercises as needed. And I believe they would find it helpful and useful. As someone who has never delved deeply into writing fiction, I found Levine’s insider’s view of the process interesting, and I think young readers will, too.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JLCasanova
In this book, Levine gives writers advice on how to create their own fictional stories. In short chapters, she instructs the reader how to write using point of view, dialogue, character, and many other things. She also gives the reader tips on dealing with criticism and publishing. Each chapter
Show More
ends with a writing prompt. English teachers can use this book to give students mini lesson on specific tools that they want students to use in their writing. Reading teachers can also use this by reading the chapter and then having students look for examples in other stories. I recommended this book to a friend of mine who runs writing work shops for fourth and fifth graders. Levin uses a style that is easy for students to understand and is often humorous. This book includes a table of contents and an index. The organization is easy for students to follow, but be sure that students really do hold on to the writing samples because they will need them for other chapters.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kharding
It was hard for me to put this book down! The author's style of writing is very effective.

This is an example of a How-to book. Each element of writing is broken down into a short chapter, with examples, explanation of why it is important, tips and a writing prompt to get kids started practicing.
Show More
The introduction to the book starts with an immediate task: write, write, write. I think this an excellent beginning because it sucks the reader in. If you follow the direction on the first page you will already be hooked into the process that the rest of the book is about. I used to do read a lot of creative how to books when I was a kid. Sometimes I would read them but not really get started in the task because it was complicated: I needed to read the whole book first, I needed lots of supplies, I was intimidated. But if I had read this book I am sure I would have been hooked and writing right away!

While I think this book is easiest to read from start to finish (and probably most effective if you are doing all the steps as you go) it is also accessible as a reference. The only thing that might be tricky for a kid is the titles of the chapters- while they are catchy, they might not always be easy for a kid to figure out. For example the chapter on characters is called Who Am I? which might be tricky if you didn't remember that was the chapter title. The order is very predictable, and effective for the writing process.

While reading this book I was immediately thinking- wow this is a very engaging guide for students through what can be a daunting and confusing task for kids. As a writing teacher, I am already planning on how I can use this book. This book is geared towards older kids than the ones I teach, but I think there are some chapters that I could use for 4th grade. The chapter on details in particular. My kids are not writing creative stories, but there are definitely elements from this book that would be helpful for them in their essay project. Just using the tone she uses would be helpful in the task of building confidence!

While I was reading this I was also thinking if I was teaching this age group, I would want to teach this book for not only creative writing but also a literature class. All of the techniques she talks about are part of the core standards for understanding literature at this age range. What better way to understand point of view than to practice doing it yourself! This makes me think that writing and reading should always be taught in collaboration.
Show Less
LibraryThing member cjohn64
The book is essentially a 'how to write fiction' book. After reading the first page with the activity starters for writing, I immediately came away with a thought for a short film. I had to stop and jot down the information. The book is easy to read and I felt had a lot of knowledge to give. I like
Show More
the constant reminder to "save what you wrote" that is seen at the ned of every chapter. I know from my experiences that I love looking at my old writing and seeing the flaws and laughing at the ideas I came up with. I think it would be a great book to have budding screenwritiers use as well. It can help them get their ideas onto paper and worry about format later.
Show Less
LibraryThing member KeithMaddox
This is a guide from a children's book writer about how to write books for children. I found most enjoyable, useful, and clear, and I think most any student with some reading ability would find this an engaging book, though perhaps a student with a serious bend towards science and the analytical
Show More
would be a little off-put by Levine's humanist artistic tone. The book has no pictures (though for the subject matter that may not be too surprising). Unlike most activity books, Writing Magic is only organized by chapter (in other words, there are no sidebars, charts, diagrams, appendices, etc.) though Levine uses repetition to effectively substitute for this in-text. Each chapter contains "writing time!" with exercises, and an exhortation to "Have fun! Save what you write!" at the end. Most topics I could think of on the subject were covered clearly and with humor. While it may be a little above the average third grader, and maybe a little below the average Junior, I would think that most students in between could benefit from (and enjoy) this book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member NathanielWood
Save what you Wrote! This book may set its sights on fiction, but through it Gail Carson Levine reminds us why it is important to write often, and save everything. Another constant is her commitment to positive thinking, and a conscious rejection of unhelpful criticism and critics. This is
Show More
important for someone who has not had the kind of positive voice that Gail provides for her readers and her students. As with the other sections of this book, revising and writers block are addressed in ways that talk to the angst of young writers, but for the most part this book would be useful for any writer in need of some help getting around any creative block.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kratzerliz23
This is a great How To Book about teaching adolescents how to write stories. The author's short, straight forward chapters get the reader involved in writing immediately. Every chapter ends with a writing assignment. The author also believes that every piece of writing should not be discarded. It
Show More
can be used later as a future idea or reference. Anyone can write you just have to start. The examples used to illustrate writing are easy to understand and follow. If I were an English teacher I would use this book in my classroom.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ydraughon
This book had a lot of helpful ideas for young writers. At the end if each chapter she offers ideas for writing stories. She also give tips when one gets stuck. The chapters are short and easy to read.
LibraryThing member chelsea6273
If I ever teach writing to middle school children, I will definitely use this well-written, how-to book in my class. In fact, I have referred this book to the middle school writing teacher at the school in which I teach. I like that Gail Carson Levine was very positive about any kind of writing,
Show More
and really emphasized that it is okay to not be perfect the first time one writes. I think that young kids really need the positive reinforcement that she offers, especially when it comes to writing.
I also like the writing activities offered in each chapter, since it is directed for youngsters to work on one aspect of their writing and write about creative, out of the ordinary things. I would recommend this book to young people who love to write or are interested in writing. I would also recommend this book to teachers who teach writing. Overall, I believe it had a lot of very useful tips for developing writers, and would love to be able to use it in my classroom one day.
Show Less




(101 ratings; 4)
Page: 0.4937 seconds