Poetry & Short Stories, A Practice Book by Charissa Ong, #118 review

Publication date: 9 September 2021

‘How can I become a better writer?’
‘What makes a short story and poem good or bad?’
‘How can I start writing?’

If you’re asking yourself these questions, this practice book is for you. Authored by Best Selling author Charissa Ong Ty, she breaks down all the technical aspects of writing into committable short exercises that would help improve your writing process. Good luck on your writing journey!

“Poetry & Short Stories, A Practice Book” takes you by the hand and guides you through writing step by step with factual information, creative suggestions and examples for you to get inspired. It is suitable for aspiring writers or newbies who want to try their hand at writing.

It contains many exercises to improve your skill in short stories and poetry. It felt like a homeschooling experience to me. It is like studying a guidebook that plans out lessons accordingly and the difficulty levels increase as I go, slowly taking me through advanced assignments as I progress. There is useful advice from the perspective of an insider of the writing and publishing industry.

In the short stories section, you learn about:
-defining your genre and theme

  • visualizing setting and plot
  • creating your characters
  • drafting an outline
  • writing your introduction
  • manuscript prep
    -book cover
  • crafting a cover letter

In the short stories section, you learn about:
-foundation training

  • what makes a poem good or bad
    -language and story
    -vivid images
    -rhythm and meters
    -cadence and themes
    -poetic metaphors
    -dealing with writer’s block
    -reading aloud, amending, criticism

One of the exercises from the Poetry chapter is poetry prompts, you can check out my reels for a sneak peek of that exercise and challenge yourself to write with me!

The book encourages and motivates me to write better and smarter. It is perfect for writers that are overwhelmed with the limitless information online and do not know where to get started without feeling intimidated or confused by the different techniques which all end in feeling stressed and discouraged. Three poems by Penwings authors are featured in the exercise. Maybe you might be interested in checking out Penwings publications after reading the poems. The book includes empty pages for writing practices, where you can write in the book itself or write on essay paper so you can use the book exercises again and again. The number of empty pages did perplex me. Why leave so much space when you can simply instruct the reader to do the exercise on an essay paper or type in Word, since extra pages thicken the book and increase printing fees. If they were not there, their printing cost would be lower. There are references on Quotes, Books, Poems and Others (website writing references) and Glossary for potential unfamiliar words. On the last few pages, there are books by Penwings. However, the book covers are a blur, which was strange for me to see as the book was very polished and clean throughout.

Reading this book will help you explore the reason behind your writing and who you write for. Discovering your passion is an essential ingredient to crafting your piece. To quote Joss Whedon, “Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.”

Thank you to Penwings Publishing for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. You can find the book on their website or in local bookstores like MPH and Popular.

Check out my Reels on instagram to watch me do an exercise from the book. You can also join me in writing this poetry prompt. Click here.

By elysianbooksish

The Bookish Faerie who loves to read and write, and bake too

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