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On Writing and Worldbuilding, Volume I

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  493 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Writing advice tends to be full of 'rules' and 'tips' which are either too broad to be helpful or outright wrong. In On Writing and Worldbuilding, we will discuss specific and applicable ideas to consider, from effective methods of delivering exposition and foreshadowing, to how communication, commerce, and control play into the fall of an empire. ...more
Kindle Edition, 243 pages
Published May 30th 2019 (first published March 15th 2019)
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Francesca McMahon From what I've read (and I've read at least 80% of it) it adds onto the points made in the videos, as well as including/introducing new points for wri…moreFrom what I've read (and I've read at least 80% of it) it adds onto the points made in the videos, as well as including/introducing new points for writing.(less)
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Aug 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
On Writing and Worldbuilding: Volume 1 – already sounds impressive, doesn’t it? A bit like Critique of Pure Reason . Or maybe Being and Time , right? Or at the very least like On the electrodynamics of moving bodies .

Well this book declares upfront that it proposes to do a better job of explaining how to build a world through really good, discussed examples. Not like those other amateurs who can’t give examples for the life of them. This caught my interest right away because Sanderson’s
Isabella Lewis
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this book. I am doing English and was struggling at the creative writing section. This book is absolutely chock full of helpful tips without shoving it down your throat or sounding preachy. Easy to reference and I am recommending to my entire class as is helping elevate my writing to a new level. Love the part on how to write a "chosen one" as have fallen into the cliche traps before. Would reccomend to everyone I know. ...more
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love the Hello Future Me YouTube channel this author runs and really appreciate his insight into what makes a good story and characters, so even though I knew this book was just going to be basically all the videos he's made in his On Writing series in written form, I was still excited to read it. It's nice to have the words right in front of you for easy reference when you're looking for a specific thing (which is made all the more easier in the ebook version where you can just search somethi ...more
Jacob Stone
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book for the speculative fiction writer, everything I could have wanted. Based on the authors YouTube video essay series of the same title, the author created a reference book of all the essays. Having followed the channel for nearly 2 years now, it is apparent that his wisdom and knowledge is fantastic and should never be ignored. Can’t wait to see if a volume 2 pops up :)
Nov 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
In this review I wish to discuss this book titled On Writing and Worldbuilding Volume I by Timothy Hickson in detail. Hickson is a popular YouTube personality known for his Avatar the Last Airbender videos. This post's goal is to warn those new to the craft of writing and worldbuilding not to purchase this book.

First, a short summary. Timothy Hickson operates a successful YouTube channel predominantly focused on Avatar the Last Airbender, Writing and Worldbuilding. Hickson never published any pi
Steven Partridge
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is derived from the videos of the author's YouTube platform, specifically his On Writing series.

As a massive fan of the On Writing Series, I knew I'd at least somewhat enjoy this book. Its goal is to make writing concepts and principles more accessible, especially to those of us who might be casual writers or those without literary degrees.

The author does cite his sources for concepts derived from other writers and instructors of writing, and he pulls upon examples from popular media,
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I am torn to the extreme when it comes to On Writing and Worldbuilding, Volume I. I greatly enjoyed the author's at times excellent series of YouTube videos, which mainly focus on worldbuilding rather than writing.

When he announced the book I was excited. Finally some additional reading. Yet when finally purchasing it and reading through it I was left somewhat disappointed.

The biggest flaw I see is the reliance on visual medium over books. Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, it's se
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book!!!

I would recommend this to anyone that is looking to go in to writing. Great book, will be buying any sequels.
J.F.R. Coates
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This isn't a book that necessarily tells you *how* to write a book - there are far too many ways to write one to be covered. What this book does do, though, is prompt questions and spark ideas - I came up with a few new plot ideas while reading it, before even taking any of the suggestions into practice.

I found this book to be well-researched and generally full of great examples. I did find that the same examples were sometimes re-used, with one particular example used to make four different poi
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very Informative

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 22 33 44 55 66 77 88 99 00
Rachel Smith
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent compilation of his wonderful YouTube channel, everything is in an easy to read and find format.
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-this-book
First of all, the book itself looks gorgeous. I was a bit sceptic when I first saw the cover online but once I held it in my hands it is truly a beautiful addition to my shelves. I am not the biggest fan of the font though, it is occasionally difficult to read. Not all t's are crossed and sometimes the uppercase P's are missing ink. I am, however, not sure if that is because of the font, because I happen to own a copy that went a bit wrong in the factory or because I read a book with a really ni ...more
Reading Through the Lists
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’ve read many a book on writing, and even a few devoted solely to writing fantasy, but this may be my favorite one yet. Hickson skips past vague and boring questions like “what is fantasy? How can I use active verbs?” and straight into the good stuff: “How do I create a convincing polytheistic religion for my world? Should I have a prologue? How can I make my ‘Chosen One’ an interesting character?”

Even better, he builds and illustrates his points by citing extensively from other works of fantas
The Writer
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With many ideas for upcoming novels, I thought it wise to research the topic of worldbuilding and all it entails. This and the fact that I wanted to support the author's first book.

First off, the book cover is excellent and it really helps draw you in. Each segment of learning is divided and the contents explained very well. I like the fact that the author sprinkles in some humour to lighten the learning experience.

Many examples on offer are drawn from popular sources such as The Lord of the Rin
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been watching the author’s videos for a few years now. The On Writing and Worldbuilding video series takes writing elements and explores how they’re executed across different media and a wide range of genres. That’s extremely helpful, as you can see how the analysis and advice fit in with what you are writing, from videogames to novels.
While tailored to writers, On Writing and Worldbuilding is also great for people who want to learn more and enjoy thinking critically about media. It’s like
Joy Pixley
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have a lot of writing craft books already, and yet this one makes a worthwhile addition to my collection. In the first few chapters, Hickson covers some of the same ground in terms of writing as other books, but the focus on writing in terms of worldbuilding adds an interesting element to those sections. The majority of the book is on worldbuilding itself (primarily fantasy and science fiction), not just in terms of developing your setting, but how to convey that background and how setting int ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all, the book itself looks gorgeous. I was a bit sceptic when I first saw the cover online but once I held it in my hands it is truly a beautiful addition to my shelves. I am not the biggest fan of the font though, it is occasionally difficult to read. Not all t's are crossed and sometimes the uppercase P's are missing ink. I am, however, not sure if that is because of the font, because I happen to own a copy that went a bit wrong in the factory or because I read a book with a really ni ...more
Michael Tenner
Jul 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book's rating is greatly skewed by Mr. Hickson's YouTube fanbase. The 4 stars do not, at all, represent a fair, unbiased rating.

I made an utterly terrible, outright awful, mistake. I believed that a book written by a YouTuber with no works of fiction to his name could provide something of value. It cannot.

The book, and the author, lie to you in the title and then again in the book's description. It is not about writing, but it is also not about worldbuilding. This book is a way for an inter
Vikram Nijhawan
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Timothy Hickson's "On Writing and Worldbuilding" was the most active reading experience I've had in a long time. Ever since I discovered him on YouTube, I've been an ardent devotee of his creative writing advice. The book is filled with essentially word-for-word transcripts of each of his video essays, with topics ranging from Magic Systems, to tropes such as Chosen Ones and Final Battles. Every chapter examines a certain writing aspect in depth, with clear, applicable examples from beloved fran ...more
Steven Eisner
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm a fan of Tim's youtube channel which is why I bought this book, but unfortunately, that took away from my experience reading this. I felt like I was mostly just reading the transcripts of his videos and, after a time, began to wish I had saved money. None of this is to say that the book isn't well written. Rather, the problem is that Tim has mostly marketed this book to his fans but has included minimal content that would be new to his fans. If you are not familiar with the content or just r ...more
Rachael Lind
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, and it has helped a great deal with my own storytelling inspiration and creation.

I have watched a few of the YouTube videos, though not too many, and I enjoyed them a great deal. My issue is that as well done as those videos can be, I am a visual learner, so reading is preferable to me than listening. That is a reason I preferred this book to the YouTube videos, though the videos can go more in depth. If you prefer those, that's great, but for me, these were much more
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
To start with, despite a somewhat overblown feeling title, On Writing and Worldbuilding, Volume I is a solid book. It has piles of examples, a good dash of humor, and is well written enough to fly by.

I do not like the word ‘should’. Or, at least, I do not like how it has been used in books, videos, and lectures that purport to teach people how to write. The term ‘should’ is used often enough that authors might be tricked into thinking there is an objective way to write well. That there is some
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have recently discovered Timothy's YT channel and I have been enjoying it immensely. The book is written in the same style, with chapters short, to the point and very interesting - even if some jokes, puns but also explanations seem to work better for the visual medium. Also, there should be some photos of Supreme Overlord Mishka in the book.

That aside while I really enjoyed how in-depth some chapters were - especially the parts about building empires and religions, some I felt were barely tou
Victoria Elise
Jul 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This is not a perfect book. However, bits of information in this book are like finding diamonds in the rough. I’ve had some great realizations about my own stories and writing by reading this book. And for that, it was worthwhile.

If you haven’t watched Avatar: the Last Airbender, don’t read this book because none of it will make sense. It probably would have been better off or better received had it been an exploration of storytelling techniques through ATLA.

Best chapters: How Empires Rise, Ho
Tyler Thiel
In the past, I’ve always felt I knew which stories (be that books, tv or movies) were good and which weren’t. The more difficult part was trying to find the explanation as to how I came to that determination.

On Writing and World Building really helped me expand my literary vocabulary and understanding as to the underpinnings of a good story. Backing up each of his points with examples from tv, history or books helps give each section weight and helps expand on the topic.

It’s worth a read even
A lot of really good information, filled with examples to emphasis the author's point. Some of his humor didn't work with me. Still, I think this is a great primer on world building and how to implement your ideas into whatever story you wish you tell. I've watched a few of his YouTube videos and I do get the sense most of the information in here is a repeat of what is available on his channel. It doesn't bother me too much, but I think it's something to consider before you purchase this book. O ...more
Tam Chronin
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While I honestly love the videos better, having this book in my hands (on my phone & Kindle) is a different experience and I can sit and mull over ideas that have been brought up. I've found a lot of this info very helpful in my own writing, especially when I want to sit back and look at the bigger picture instead of just, "What are my characters doing right now?"

The concepts are easy to follow and digest, the prose is entertaining, and I love the pop culture examples given. I may not be a fan o
Hipólito Ortiz
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
A soft [magic] look to storytelling.

There have been a lot of instances in my life in which I had thought about writing a book. The concept of storytelling and having an audience enjoy a piece of fiction written by me has always been alluring, however I have been unable to continue past the first couple of pages. In reading Timothy Hickson’s On Writing and Worldbuilding I have found newfound examples of what I am doing wrong, and I am hopeful that my next writing endeavours may come to fruition.
W. A.
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An extremely useful reference guide for an aspiring writer such as myself. I am currently 5 months into worldbuilding for a sci-fi/fantasy epic I hope to one day publish as a graphic novel, and this book has given me invaluable insight on planning out cohesive magic system that functions both on a macro level and a micro level. This book also covers the more universal literary elements that you would similarly find in most books on writing, and organizes everything into easy to find categories. ...more
Francesca McMahon
I think what makes this book unique is the fact that it isn't telling the reader and, possibly, future writer, how they should write - but what they should consider.

As a budding writer I have often found myself struggling with certain elements, whether it be a villainous character or the dialogue in a script, and this is where Tim's book comes into use. This isn't a step-by-step guide as to how to be a writer, it is a motivator and a guide, in the sense, that it shows you what you could use to h
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Timothy Hickson is the host of the YouTube-channel Hello Future Me.


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