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Never Say You Can't Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories

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From Charlie Jane Anders, the award-winning author of novels such as All the Birds in the Sky and The City in the Middle of the Night, this is one of the most practical guides to storytelling that you will ever read. The world is on fire. So tell your story. Things are scary right now. We’re all being swept along by a tidal wave of history, and it’s easy to feel helpless. But From Charlie Jane Anders, the award-winning author of novels such as All the Birds in the Sky and The City in the Middle of the Night, this is one of the most practical guides to storytelling that you will ever read. The world is on fire. So tell your story. Things are scary right now. We’re all being swept along by a tidal wave of history, and it’s easy to feel helpless. But we’re not helpless: we have minds, and imaginations, and the ability to visualize other worlds and valiant struggles. And writing can be an act of resistance that reminds us that other futures and other ways of living are possible. Full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish during the present emergency, Never Say You Can’t Survive is the perfect manual for creativity in unprecedented times.


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From Charlie Jane Anders, the award-winning author of novels such as All the Birds in the Sky and The City in the Middle of the Night, this is one of the most practical guides to storytelling that you will ever read. The world is on fire. So tell your story. Things are scary right now. We’re all being swept along by a tidal wave of history, and it’s easy to feel helpless. But From Charlie Jane Anders, the award-winning author of novels such as All the Birds in the Sky and The City in the Middle of the Night, this is one of the most practical guides to storytelling that you will ever read. The world is on fire. So tell your story. Things are scary right now. We’re all being swept along by a tidal wave of history, and it’s easy to feel helpless. But we’re not helpless: we have minds, and imaginations, and the ability to visualize other worlds and valiant struggles. And writing can be an act of resistance that reminds us that other futures and other ways of living are possible. Full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish during the present emergency, Never Say You Can’t Survive is the perfect manual for creativity in unprecedented times.

30 review for Never Say You Can't Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nina Harrington

    Never Say You Can't Survive is a lot more than a manual about writing and life – it is solid gold sprinkled with fairy dust. I am a bestselling published author in three genres, and a totally story structure geek, and I can honestly say that this is the first book that I have read in a long time that made me stop in my tracks, think hard about the writing process, and come out the other side inspired and motivated. I took five pages of detailed notes on everything from characterisation and the psy Never Say You Can't Survive is a lot more than a manual about writing and life – it is solid gold sprinkled with fairy dust. I am a bestselling published author in three genres, and a totally story structure geek, and I can honestly say that this is the first book that I have read in a long time that made me stop in my tracks, think hard about the writing process, and come out the other side inspired and motivated. I took five pages of detailed notes on everything from characterisation and the psychology of community support systems to the power of positive literature in a time of international crisis. It is difficult to select specific examples from a book where every page seems to have a unique thought-provoking insight into story development, but I particularly enjoyed the chapters on using plot devices and turning points and how to leverage the ending to drive the revision process. Also, how to use the power or emotion and sensory description to add layers of interest to any scene. The chapter on worldbuilding was remarkable! I would heartily recommend this book to any writer who wants to develop their story craft and build amazing works of fiction – and have fun doing it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Orey

    A great combo of a pep talk and a craft book full of good writing advice. The writing section is a bit jack of all trades, so a nice pick for getting a big overview of how to write better. There were some sections (using anger as a way to write other emotions) that I wanted to be longer.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Don't make the mistake I did when I started reading this book in a public place - because for the first time in my life, a book on writing made me cry, and it happened in public! The introduction is just so powerful and resonant as it addresses the question of how and why we can manage to write through global fear and stress and personal overwhelm. I loved the whole book, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to writers at every stage of their career. The actual craft tips (which will be very usef Don't make the mistake I did when I started reading this book in a public place - because for the first time in my life, a book on writing made me cry, and it happened in public! The introduction is just so powerful and resonant as it addresses the question of how and why we can manage to write through global fear and stress and personal overwhelm. I loved the whole book, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to writers at every stage of their career. The actual craft tips (which will be very useful for new writers) may not be new or needed by long-time writers, but it's still helpful to be reminded of them - and Anders devotes a lot of the book to the psychological game behind the writing, which is hugely valuable no matter how long any writer has been working. A really wonderful book to read and also to keep for re-reading some very powerful reminders of why it's worth it to keep going and how we can get through our worst times and stay creative (or come back to our creativity) after all.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emmalita

    I felt a little guilty when I was notified that I had been granted an advance reader copy of Charlie Jane Ander’s essay collection, Never Say You Can’t Survive. I am not a writer and I have no aspirations to be a writer. I have no qualifications for judging this book. However, I have never let a lack of qualifications get in my way of judging things. The short version is, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any creative person. I have always enjoyed listening to people talk about their c I felt a little guilty when I was notified that I had been granted an advance reader copy of Charlie Jane Ander’s essay collection, Never Say You Can’t Survive. I am not a writer and I have no aspirations to be a writer. I have no qualifications for judging this book. However, I have never let a lack of qualifications get in my way of judging things. The short version is, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any creative person. I have always enjoyed listening to people talk about their creative process, and Never Say You Can’t Survive is that – a writer talking about the craft of writing. Anders frames her essays around using writing to survive hard times. As a non writer, this was the piece that was the most interesting to me. Through the chapters of the book, she melds the elements of the storytelling with surviving a harsh world with your soul intact. Do you feel out of control in the world you live in? As an author, you are the god of your own world. Are you being swamped with rage at injustice? Channel that rage into a story. The joy of the book is when she gets into the details of the why and the how to construct that soul saving story. Anders uses examples from her own books, and other works to illustrate her points. I feel like Never Say You Can’t Survive is going to make me a better reader and reviewer. The essays are dense and rich. If I had a physical copy, which I will at some point, it would have looked like one of my grad school text books with passages highlighted, underlined, and sticky notes jutting from the pages. There are points when I was reading that I would replace the word writer with the word adult and the advice worked. If I could, this review would be a series of quotes that resonated with me as a person and as a reader, and quotes I want to stick in front of the creative people I know who doubt their own brilliance. I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Charlie Jane Anders' book Never Say You Can't Survive is not just a memoir. Nor is it just a writing guide. Never Say You Can't Survive is a manifesto, and all the better for it—it's a polemic, and a pep talk, too, with practical advice for the aspiring writer as well as for readers of their works. And it's polished—the "Uncorrected Proof" I received as a Goodreads giveaway seemed just about ready for publication anyway. I found nothing to nitpick about—which is rarely the case for me, even for Charlie Jane Anders' book Never Say You Can't Survive is not just a memoir. Nor is it just a writing guide. Never Say You Can't Survive is a manifesto, and all the better for it—it's a polemic, and a pep talk, too, with practical advice for the aspiring writer as well as for readers of their works. And it's polished—the "Uncorrected Proof" I received as a Goodreads giveaway seemed just about ready for publication anyway. I found nothing to nitpick about—which is rarely the case for me, even for published works. Visualizing a happier, more just world is a direct assault on the forces that are trying to break your heart. As Le Guin says elsewhere, the most powerful thing you can do is imagine how things could be different... What if? —Introduction, p.2-3 Never Say You Can't Survive is fierce, and funny, and fascinating, and foolish in places. Take the title of Chapter 6, for example: Don't Be Afraid to Go on Lots of First Dates with Story Ideas —p.53Heh... From later in that same chapter, this more serious observation: Part of the fun of writing science fiction and fantasy is that there are almost no limits. If you're writing a murder mystery, you start out with the idea that someone is getting murdered, and the murderer will (probably) get caught. If you're writing a romance, two or more people are probably going to fall in love. SF and fantasy contain hundreds of subgenres, in which certain things are probably inevitable, like a steampunk story probably needs to blow off some steam. But still, when you start writing a piece of speculative fiction, that blank page can turn into almost anything you want. —pp.55-56 Anders' advice is colloquial, breezy, and straightforward... There's only one thing more intimidating than a blank first page, and that's a blank tenth page. At least when you're starting a new piece of writing from scratch, anything is possible. But once you've started weaving a bunch of narrative threads, you'll have a much harder time unweaving them. —p.60 So I've changed how I think about productivity. A good writing session can consist of all kinds of things, including rethinking, brainstorming, editing, and even just staring into space. I used to obsess about my word count—the raw number of new words I had added to the project—until I realized that some of my best writing experiences were ones in which almost no new words of story were added, but I had a clearer sense in my head of what shape the story should take. —pp.132-133 Just about the only thing I can complain about is having to flip back and forth to read all the sidebars. But that's an exceedingly minor quibble. Find the logic in logorrhea. Nonsense has a way of redshifting into sense, if you keep going far and fast enough. Especially when there are recognizable human beings in the middle of it, which we'll talk about in a moment. Spend enough time spinning out non sequiturs, and eventually you'll find yourself making connections and associations between them, because that's just how brains work. We find patterns in anything, and all that loopitude suddenly makes a higher kind of sense. —p.172-173 And sometimes subtle... If someone else is experiencing success or acclaim writing stories where the only punctuation is semicolons, it's easy to feel as if you need to copy them. That's silly; semicolons are their thing; find your own thing. —p.222Heh... Anders' perspective is very much of the moment—her references to the COVID-19 pandemic, doomscrolling, and the former, very much unlamented 45th President of the United States make that clear. But what Anders talks about in Never Say You Can't Survive are significantly more universal topics: what to write, and how to write about what you want to write—and so I believe her guide is going to have lasting value beyond any current crises. Annalee Newitz dedicated her novel The Future of Another Timeline to Anders, but reading these two back to back was—I swear!—just a happy coincidence. I received Charlie Jane Anders' book Never Say You Can't Survive as a Goodreads giveaway—and I'm very glad I did. I loved this book, wholeheartedly, and... I think you might just love it too.

  6. 4 out of 5

    A.M.

    Each chapter was posted weekly online at Tor. But lately, I’ve been realizing that I haven’t actually gotten any better at finishing the stories I start. Instead, I’ve just gotten quicker to realize that something’s not panning out, and it’s time to jump tracks. When I was putting together my upcoming short story collection, I went back and looked through all the stories I wrote when I was starting out—and somehow, I had forgotten that for every story I finished, there were five or six that I did Each chapter was posted weekly online at Tor. But lately, I’ve been realizing that I haven’t actually gotten any better at finishing the stories I start. Instead, I’ve just gotten quicker to realize that something’s not panning out, and it’s time to jump tracks. When I was putting together my upcoming short story collection, I went back and looked through all the stories I wrote when I was starting out—and somehow, I had forgotten that for every story I finished, there were five or six that I didn’t. And I found tons of notes and other evidence of me banging my head against the same wall over and over. I had to learn to stop thinking of leaving a story unfinished as an admission of defeat, or thinking that it reflected on me as a writer. I had to give myself permission to move on. Oh yes… And this one: To utterly misquote Hunter S. Thompson, when the going gets weird, the weird become paladins. That’s the spirit. 4 stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    Anders reminds us how creativity can provide a respite during the worst of times. And these times are pretty damned awful. From big themes to the nuts and bolts of putting pen to paper, this guide will encourage you to try, or at least think, and that’s what matters. It just made me feel good, ya know? Now, I need to try some of her fiction!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This was the most fun book on writing I've read, and I've read a lot of books on writing. Charlie Jane Anders avoids saying the same-ol-same-ol that so many how-to-write books say. Where most books tell the reader to finish something, absolutely finish stuff, she'll compare unfinished work to blind dates where the chemistry didn't click. In other words, Anders doesn't make the reader feel guilty for all the pages that never went anywhere. Even when giving advice the reader has heard before, she m This was the most fun book on writing I've read, and I've read a lot of books on writing. Charlie Jane Anders avoids saying the same-ol-same-ol that so many how-to-write books say. Where most books tell the reader to finish something, absolutely finish stuff, she'll compare unfinished work to blind dates where the chemistry didn't click. In other words, Anders doesn't make the reader feel guilty for all the pages that never went anywhere. Even when giving advice the reader has heard before, she makes it amusing. I know I've picked up other how-to-write books and lost interest halfway through, partly because they say nothing new and partly because the writing is less than inspiring. All through Never Say You Can't Survive I kept coming up with new ideas. This book made me want to write. Thanks to Netgalley, Ms. Anders, and Tor for allowing me to read this digital ARC in return for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sahitya

    I have actually not read any of the author’s books before, maybe just a few short stories. But I love her podcast with Annalee called Our Opinions are Correct and when I saw the idea of this book, I was very intrigued. I don’t even know if I’m the right audience, because other than writing reviews, I have no other writing background or aspirations. I’m also not much of a creative or imaginative person - so I feel no way eligible to judge this book for it’s content, specifically all the wonderful I have actually not read any of the author’s books before, maybe just a few short stories. But I love her podcast with Annalee called Our Opinions are Correct and when I saw the idea of this book, I was very intrigued. I don’t even know if I’m the right audience, because other than writing reviews, I have no other writing background or aspirations. I’m also not much of a creative or imaginative person - so I feel no way eligible to judge this book for it’s content, specifically all the wonderful craft related ideas and messages the author gives. But I loved the theme of how writing a story that one really wants to tell, channeling our fears and concerns and rage into characters and stories, can really help us deal with our issues or maybe just feel a bit better for a while. I found so many quotes and lines in this book that would apply for many troubling situations, not just for a writer but for any person, and I think that’s the beauty of this book - how universal it is in its messaging while also catering to the specific needs of writers trying to put forth their work in times when the world around us is going to hell. And I thought even though the book is for writers and other creative people, it was quite helpful for me as a reader and reviewer as well, and I feel it will definitely have a positive impact in the way I consume and analyze stories from now on. I think this will be a book I will look towards many times in the future, especially when I’m feeling a bit down. Hopefully I’ll buy the paperback when it releases and highlight it a lot.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Allison Williams

    I've been a Charlie Jane Anders fan since the iO9 days, and it is such a pleasure to have her wisdom on writing and the writing process in one beautiful book! The book is organized with sections on storytelling, writing techniques, and the writing life (among others), making it easy to dip in and read a chapter before starting my own writing for the day. I'm finding useful insights that I'm able to immediately apply to my work, and I love her inspirational-but-never-cheesy tone. Every writer sho I've been a Charlie Jane Anders fan since the iO9 days, and it is such a pleasure to have her wisdom on writing and the writing process in one beautiful book! The book is organized with sections on storytelling, writing techniques, and the writing life (among others), making it easy to dip in and read a chapter before starting my own writing for the day. I'm finding useful insights that I'm able to immediately apply to my work, and I love her inspirational-but-never-cheesy tone. Every writer should have this one on the shelf! - Allison K Williams, author of SEVEN DRAFTS

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This is, at its heart, a craft book. I think the title could be misleading. While CJA does address how creativity and imagination can be a refuge and a rebellion, the majority of the book focuses on macro to micro writing advice. I took what worked for me and plan to pass it along to another writer for them to do the same. As CJA's says in the book, "nobody changes the world on their own." This is, at its heart, a craft book. I think the title could be misleading. While CJA does address how creativity and imagination can be a refuge and a rebellion, the majority of the book focuses on macro to micro writing advice. I took what worked for me and plan to pass it along to another writer for them to do the same. As CJA's says in the book, "nobody changes the world on their own."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Suz Jay

    This wonderful writing book includes five sections which cover getting started, what to write about, what constitutes a story, feelings, and writerly tricks. Some of the individual topics include imposter syndrome, uncertainty, creating characters, voice, ideas, endings, emotion, revision, plotting, common story problems, character change, world building, weirdness, writing about other experiences, and relationships. The book is a compilation of writing essays written for Tordotcom to share advic This wonderful writing book includes five sections which cover getting started, what to write about, what constitutes a story, feelings, and writerly tricks. Some of the individual topics include imposter syndrome, uncertainty, creating characters, voice, ideas, endings, emotion, revision, plotting, common story problems, character change, world building, weirdness, writing about other experiences, and relationships. The book is a compilation of writing essays written for Tordotcom to share advice for writing despite obstacles such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The book includes plenty of examples and exercises and Charlie Jane Anders’ encouragement is like having a personal cheerleader. Each essay has a conversational tone making the information more palatable than a typical writing craft book. I especially liked the chapters on keeping writing fun, writing about different experiences/cultures, and writing the story only you can tell. While Anders is a speculative fiction writer and some of the craft advice relates specifically to storytelling, NEVER SAY YOU CAN SURVIVE is an excellent resource for all writers whether they write genre, literary, non-fiction, or poetry. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks to Tordotcom for providing an Advance Reader Copy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily Fortuna

    I’m going through a hell of a time and I really was hoping this book would help me find my way through. I was ready to…write my way out. 😏 But, perhaps my personal emotional struggle is too big to simply write my way out of? The advice in the book at times came across as overly blithe, which, frankly, hurt. As an example, there’s a line in there: “So those moments when I feel most trapped at the rock bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of gaddamn needs? Those are the exact moments when I feel it healin I’m going through a hell of a time and I really was hoping this book would help me find my way through. I was ready to…write my way out. 😏 But, perhaps my personal emotional struggle is too big to simply write my way out of? The advice in the book at times came across as overly blithe, which, frankly, hurt. As an example, there’s a line in there: “So those moments when I feel most trapped at the rock bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of gaddamn needs? Those are the exact moments when I feel it healing and freeing to imagine a character who goes for what they want, shamelessly and ruthlessly.” Rock bottom, eh? Look, I’ve been very fortunate to not live with real food insecurity or worry about not having clean water to drink or something to cover my body. But as someone who has dealt a LOT with that second rung of Maslow’s hierarchy being met, in my personal experience, when you’re literally unsafe or your body is betraying you and putting you in massive amounts of pain, I…literally cannot stop and imagine something else. The need is all-consuming. So, it comes off as a bit glib to simply turn your anger into tenderness (another suggestion in the book). Maybe I’m just a Negative Nelly, and my inability to see my…not-always-survivable-situation (to quote the book) in a positive light is keeping me there. But I was hoping (desperately!) for more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alana

    Never Say You Can't Survive is the best book on writing I've ever read. Written during the pandemic and originally published as a series of essays, it's ostensibly about writing during times of crisis, but ultimately is the most readable, obvious-but-mindblowing advice and explanations I've ever read. Charlie Jane can tell you something about writing that on its surface you could probably explain yourself, definitely you knew that, and yet the way she words things unlocks something in you, leavi Never Say You Can't Survive is the best book on writing I've ever read. Written during the pandemic and originally published as a series of essays, it's ostensibly about writing during times of crisis, but ultimately is the most readable, obvious-but-mindblowing advice and explanations I've ever read. Charlie Jane can tell you something about writing that on its surface you could probably explain yourself, definitely you knew that, and yet the way she words things unlocks something in you, leaving you scrambling to your own work in a fit of inspiration—or at least, it has for me, which is amazing. My latest manuscript now has twice the depth than last week because of maybe fifty pages of advice. I recommend it for every writer, especially those on the newer or aspiring side.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    I quite enjoy Charlie Jane Anders, so I picked this up on a whim. While this was still a fun read, it is definitely geared toward writers or people who aspire to be writers.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Charlie Jane Anders is an instant love of mine from her podcast Our Opinions are Correct. This book was amazing and I could just hear her voice narrating it as I read (no audio actually included).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michelle McGrane

    From the internationally bestselling and critically-acclaimed speculative fiction writer, Charlie Jane Anders, comes 𝑵𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝑺𝒂𝒚 𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝑪𝒂𝒏’𝒕 𝑺𝒖𝒓𝒗𝒊𝒗𝒆: 𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒐 𝑮𝒆𝒕 𝑻𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝑻𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑴𝒂𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑼𝒑 𝑺𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒆s, a non-fiction guide about the craft of storytelling. Filled with personal anecdotes, encouragement, insight and advice, 𝑵𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝑺𝒂𝒚 𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝑪𝒂𝒏’𝒕 𝑺𝒖𝒓𝒗𝒊𝒗𝒆 is the perfect companion for fostering creativity in unprecedented times. “2020 was the worst year of my life, the same as for many other people. My father From the internationally bestselling and critically-acclaimed speculative fiction writer, Charlie Jane Anders, comes 𝑵𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝑺𝒂𝒚 𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝑪𝒂𝒏’𝒕 𝑺𝒖𝒓𝒗𝒊𝒗𝒆: 𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒐 𝑮𝒆𝒕 𝑻𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝑯𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝑻𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑴𝒂𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑼𝒑 𝑺𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒆s, a non-fiction guide about the craft of storytelling. Filled with personal anecdotes, encouragement, insight and advice, 𝑵𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝑺𝒂𝒚 𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝑪𝒂𝒏’𝒕 𝑺𝒖𝒓𝒗𝒊𝒗𝒆 is the perfect companion for fostering creativity in unprecedented times. “2020 was the worst year of my life, the same as for many other people. My father died of covid-19, and this was part of a death toll that felt seismic, as if the landscape itself was being churned by overwhelming loss. I was coping with a cluster of family crises and struggling to finish a late book manuscript while try to keep a dozen other commitments. And the world around me was nine kinds of messed up. One thing got me through that hell-year: dreaming up imaginary worlds and larger-than-life people who never lived.” Throughout that ghastly year the author was also writing the essays in 𝑵𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝑺𝒂𝒚 𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝑪𝒂𝒏’𝒕 𝑺𝒖𝒓𝒗𝒊𝒗𝒆. “Early in 2020 I had pitched the idea for a book about how to write your way through hard times, which could be published in real-time instalments at Tor.com. I could already tell that 2020 was going to be a uniquely heart-crushing time, and I hoped these essays would help a little.” Anders had no clue just how awful 2020 would turn out to be, and how much she would need a space to think about the ways fiction could help her heal herself from harm. With the essays in this book, she was reminding herself, as much as anyone else, that writing can be an act of self-preservation. That creativity gives us heart and purpose and clarity and the ability to keep going. You can heal yourself just by making up your own fables. These concise essays came out of a talk that the author gave at the Willamette Writers Conference and elsewhere. And the book’s title, 𝑵𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝑺𝒂𝒚 𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝑪𝒂𝒏’𝒕 𝑺𝒖𝒓𝒗𝒊𝒗𝒆, is borrowed from the 1977 album of the same name by Curtis Mayfield. “Putting any kind of story together,” explains Anders, “makes you a god in your own private universe and grants you control over a whole world inside your mind, even when the outside world feels like a constant torrent of awfulness.” The essays are a mixture of encouragement, ideas for how to use writing to feel okay in a world that is not okay, and technical advice on things like character building, plotting, and worldbuilding. The first section is “Getting Started”. Then there’s the second section “What’s a Story and How Do You Find One?”. The third section is all about harnessing the power of your emotions, and the fourth section “What We Write About When We Write About Spaceships” delves into how you use your fiction to process the trauma of living through unspeakable disaster. The final section is called “How to Use Writerly Tricks to Gain Unstoppable Powers”. In her introduction, Anders comments: “Writing is a solitary act — but it’s also a way to feel connected to the world, in a different way than spending ten hours a day on social media. When you write, you always have an imaginary reader in your head, but you also get to be part of a community of writers, each reading each other’s work and building on each other’s ideas, and supporting each other through all the frustrations and setbacks.” It’s comforting to remember all the support and morale-boosting contained in this book. I shall be repeatedly referring to it. I loved Charlie Jane Anders colloquial style of writing. It felt much like sitting across from a more experienced writer while having a cup of coffee. Every page was a pleasure to read. I highly recommend this book to writers at any stage of their development. Thank you so much to Goodreads, Tor.com and Charlie Jane Anders for this five star read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jackson

    One of the things that marks my writing experience are periods of existential loneliness, times when I think I’m fooling myself about this whole author thing. Then a friend, an article, or a Tweet will come at me from left field saying “I got you. You *are* a writer. Feeling weird is normal. I believe in you.” Those moments help me go on, and they’re one of the three reasons you’ll love “Never Say You Can’t Survive” by Charlie Jane Anders. This book is full of those moments. I’m not a professiona One of the things that marks my writing experience are periods of existential loneliness, times when I think I’m fooling myself about this whole author thing. Then a friend, an article, or a Tweet will come at me from left field saying “I got you. You *are* a writer. Feeling weird is normal. I believe in you.” Those moments help me go on, and they’re one of the three reasons you’ll love “Never Say You Can’t Survive” by Charlie Jane Anders. This book is full of those moments. I’m not a professional book reviewer, I’m just a guy trying to be a professional writer. So when Anders put the offer out to let me review her new book on Netgalley, I jumped at it. It was important for me to know what she could teach me about my own journey. Never Say You Can’t Survive is chock-full of stoic wit, and there are three reasons you’ll love it as soon as you start reading. Three Reasons You'll Love "Never Say You Can't Survive" Make no mistake, however. This might be be a book by and for writers, but everyone else should read it, too. Anders captures the discomfort, weirdness, and rollercoasters of emotion you travel on your journey to feel comfortable in your own skin. ‘Weirdness gives me the strength to keep going,’ she says as a chapter title, and peppers the book with great music references that I thought only I knew. It’s her way of saying ‘you are seen.’ That was very comforting to me, and it’ll make you feel good, too. Are you othered? Different? Just to the left of normal? Never Say You Can’t Survive is a party and you’re invited. That’s the first reason you’ll love this book. The second reason is that along the way to Whoville, Anders offers helpful tidbits about the process of writing that I found insightful. I’m always on the lookout for ways to hack the work, but as Anders brings out in ‘Find Your Voice and Make It Loud,’ writing style is not an austere matter. As you develop your writing style, don’t be afraid to experiment, be expressive, write about what makes you feel good no matter what anyone else says. Your writing style should be a snuggly blanket that keeps you safe and warm from the inhospitable outside world. After all, it is painful to have to pretend that the world makes sense. We all know it doesn’t, but Anders isn’t afraid to say that quiet part out loud. A third and perhaps the largest reason you’ll love Never Say You Can’t Survive is the idea that you must be you, in order to be you. You cannot write the book that feels close to your heart if you aren’t in touch with your heart. Writing is an act that forces you to peer into the abyss, and let the abyss peer into you. Writing is an act that forces you to uncover what you’re really trying to say, and what that says about you. That can be a scary, difficult, and yes, a liberating process. Don’t run from it, Anders says. As Robert Mailer says in his novel ‘Boonville,’ it’s never easy to be yourself. Never Say You Can’t Survive acknowledges this hardship, while refusing to be shackled to it. Yes, it’s hard, Anders wants you to know. But that is what makes it good. The struggle is real. You’re getting closer to who you’re supposed to be. Welcome the struggle. There are many reasons you’ll love Never Say You Can’t Survive, but these three will help you get started.

  19. 4 out of 5

    P.J.

    I was super excited to find out that Charlie Jane Anders wrote a book about writing! And it was perfect timing for me to read it now, between struggling to be creative during what she refers to as “the present emergency” and the fact that I love the imagination and emotional depth of her sci-fi stories. For some time, I’ve been curious about her creative approach and about her as a person, so Never Say You Can’t Survive was a treat. This book is an excellent resource for writers who want to put m I was super excited to find out that Charlie Jane Anders wrote a book about writing! And it was perfect timing for me to read it now, between struggling to be creative during what she refers to as “the present emergency” and the fact that I love the imagination and emotional depth of her sci-fi stories. For some time, I’ve been curious about her creative approach and about her as a person, so Never Say You Can’t Survive was a treat. This book is an excellent resource for writers who want to put more of themselves into their art. One thing that surprised me was how applicable her advice is to all kinds of writing, even creative nonfiction centered on real events and people from the actual past. Charlie Jane is masterful at channeling emotional dynamics into her characters and prose, and she’s just as articulate about how other writers can do the same. For that reason alone, I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants their stories to connect with readers on an emotional level. The book’s introduction stands alone as its own essay (don’t skip it!) about how escaping into your imagination can be an important act of resistance, and the stories you create can inspire others to look at the world differently. I love this idea, which provides a foundation for the themes of creative permission and heartfelt encouragement that permeate all the sections of the book. The essays in each of the five sections give a lot of insight into how Charlie Jane approaches creating characters, identifying which ideas to turn into stories, channeling your present emotions into your writing, how to work with the political angles that stories inevitably have, and using tricks from the writing toolbox to tell the story you want to tell. Beyond the great craft advice, I so appreciated the sense of play that comes through when she talks about writing. From trying out lots of ideas like they’re first dates, to getting to be someone else for awhile when you connect with your characters, I loved how she demonstrated the senses of openness and acceptance you can wrap yourself in when you’re being creative. While I did receive an ARC from Macmillan-Tor/Forge & Tordotcom (thank you!!), I liked the book enough to buy a hard copy to keep handy. And Charlie Jane reads the audiobook, which I’d also recommend if you’re interested but don’t feel you have time to sit and read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ithil

    I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions my own. I am not a writer, nor I aspire to be one but I will gladly read everything that Charlie Jane ever publishes because I am a proper fangirl and I am committed to be the best fangirl possible. If you think this book is not going to be for you because it’s just about “how to be a writer” let me already tell you that you are wrong. To describe this book like that would be to lie as it is s I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions my own. I am not a writer, nor I aspire to be one but I will gladly read everything that Charlie Jane ever publishes because I am a proper fangirl and I am committed to be the best fangirl possible. If you think this book is not going to be for you because it’s just about “how to be a writer” let me already tell you that you are wrong. To describe this book like that would be to lie as it is so much more. Truth is, I was very moved and inspired by it. I found myself reading with growing interest and commitment and I am pretty sure that any person who undergoes hardships would. It is very easy to extrapolate Charlie’s advice and life experiences with yours and is heart warming to let yourself to be enveloped in a nice and comfy blanket of understanding without judgement. Each chapter of the book is formed by essays, that are sometimes divided in smaller fragments of text. The essays are rich and complex but without being dense to read or understand. They are full of ideas and reflections, but at the same time, she is such a great writer and has such dominion over the written language, that makes her own views easy to understand by the reader. It isn’t one of those books where you have to take break because of how condensed and confusing its ideas may be. I found myself wanting to stop just to make notes, underline phrases and re reading paragraphs by sheer pleasure of doing so. Not only I absolutely adored this book, but I will be buying copies for all of my friends who are (aspiring) writers or just creative persons. Because they may not know it jet, but they will want to read this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    I feel like Never Say You Can't Survive is the novella that many fans and writers alike have been waiting for. Written by Charlie Jane Anders, this novella talks about well, surviving difficult times through writing. We all need coping mechanisms in our lives. Some people bake cookies (guilty), some people work out, and others write. Writers can turn their anxiety and stress into fantastic worlds that will then become an escape for their readers. It's a delightful cycle, come to think of it. I l I feel like Never Say You Can't Survive is the novella that many fans and writers alike have been waiting for. Written by Charlie Jane Anders, this novella talks about well, surviving difficult times through writing. We all need coping mechanisms in our lives. Some people bake cookies (guilty), some people work out, and others write. Writers can turn their anxiety and stress into fantastic worlds that will then become an escape for their readers. It's a delightful cycle, come to think of it. I love Charlie Jane Anders's worlds: All the Birds in the Sky, The City in the Middle of the Night, etc. Seeing how directly they tied into events and emotions in her life was actually quite fascinating and inspiring. What I loved the most about Never Say You Can't Survive is that it really makes you think. More than that, it makes it seem like anyone can turn to writing as a way to cope, and that is a beautiful thing right there. Thank you, Charlie Jane Andres. Both for this book and everything else that you do. Thanks to Tor.com for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own. Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Terry

    Disclaimers: I was given an advanced reading copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I also only write for fun, not professionally, and I've never read a book about about writing before so I can't really compare it to other books about writing. That said, I think it was a great book on writing for me to start with. It's more than just some very helpful essays on how to create stories from one of my favorite authors, it also addresses why we should create stories, and how creating stories Disclaimers: I was given an advanced reading copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I also only write for fun, not professionally, and I've never read a book about about writing before so I can't really compare it to other books about writing. That said, I think it was a great book on writing for me to start with. It's more than just some very helpful essays on how to create stories from one of my favorite authors, it also addresses why we should create stories, and how creating stories can help us get through hard times. It's part writing advice, part self help, part memoir. I already feel more inspired to create, and I feel like I have more tools at my disposal to do so. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys writing fiction, particularly if the events of 2020 made you feel like your writing didn't matter, that you should be writing something more "serious" to respond to the moment, or just sucked away all of your creative energy. Spoiler alert: write the stories that only you could write! Both you and the world may need it more than you realize.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ana W

    Charlie Jane Anders is one of my favorite authors. This is the first nonfiction book I've read of hers. It is a book about the writing process. Anders focuses on how writing can be helpful during difficult times and then on how to write. I read this on my kindle and found myself constantly bookmarking sections that I wanted to go back and reread. There is just so much practical information about writing: developing characters, revisions, plots, writer's block. But what I think sets this book apa Charlie Jane Anders is one of my favorite authors. This is the first nonfiction book I've read of hers. It is a book about the writing process. Anders focuses on how writing can be helpful during difficult times and then on how to write. I read this on my kindle and found myself constantly bookmarking sections that I wanted to go back and reread. There is just so much practical information about writing: developing characters, revisions, plots, writer's block. But what I think sets this book apart (and above), is how Anders wrote it as if giving advice to a friend. It's as if, she is sitting in a coffee shop sharing wisdom with a friend. Her writing is personal and funny and helps to remove the mystique from writing. I think that anyone interested in writing, either in appreciation of books in general or in writing their own stories would enjoy Never Say You Can't Survive. I received an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. Never Say You Can’t Survive is the most unique and personal writing craft book I’ve ever read. While containing a wealth of advice on the various facets of writing, from the basic character and plot to defining your author identity and being yourself instead of trying to copy someone else, I loved the mix of personal anecdotes with the writing advice. And when so much of the advice wr I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. Never Say You Can’t Survive is the most unique and personal writing craft book I’ve ever read. While containing a wealth of advice on the various facets of writing, from the basic character and plot to defining your author identity and being yourself instead of trying to copy someone else, I loved the mix of personal anecdotes with the writing advice. And when so much of the advice writers get feels doled out in absolutes, and can make those who aspire to the craft feel demotivated, I loved how Anders maintains a sense of positivity and encouragement throughout, with acknowledgment to the unprecedented times we’re living in, as well as the life stresses that can complicate writing life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeannette

    Full Disclosure: I received a copy of Never Say You Can't Survive by Charlie Jane Anders from Tordotcom via Netgalley in exchange for possibly providing my feedback. Confession: I had already started reading it when it was published as a series of articles on Tor.com, so getting a copy of the book was a bonus. I'm not a writer. I'm a reader. If you read my reviews, you know this. I am not necessarily the target audience of this book. HOWEVER, I am here to tell you that you don't need to be a wri Full Disclosure: I received a copy of Never Say You Can't Survive by Charlie Jane Anders from Tordotcom via Netgalley in exchange for possibly providing my feedback. Confession: I had already started reading it when it was published as a series of articles on Tor.com, so getting a copy of the book was a bonus. I'm not a writer. I'm a reader. If you read my reviews, you know this. I am not necessarily the target audience of this book. HOWEVER, I am here to tell you that you don't need to be a writer or a want-to-be writer to enjoy this book. I LOVE pretty much anything that Charlie Jane Anders writes and getting insight into her writing process was a fun experience. I enjoyed all the behind-the-scenes details of her books. And, all the nerdiness/geekiness warmed my heart. It felt like have a conversation with a friend about good writing. You don't have to be a writer to enjoy that. Bonus points for Charlie Jane writing a book that makes you feel like you can conquer the world by just being you.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather Jones

    I didn't read this book because I want to write. I've written, a bit, and decided not to pursue it seriously because it seriously cuts into my reading time. I read this book because I really like Charlie Jane Anders. What I learned was, this wasn't the right reading choice for me, because it actually is about exactly what it says - how to write. Anders provides encouragement, inspiration, and solid, specific strategies, so for a person who does want to write, this will be exactly the right book f I didn't read this book because I want to write. I've written, a bit, and decided not to pursue it seriously because it seriously cuts into my reading time. I read this book because I really like Charlie Jane Anders. What I learned was, this wasn't the right reading choice for me, because it actually is about exactly what it says - how to write. Anders provides encouragement, inspiration, and solid, specific strategies, so for a person who does want to write, this will be exactly the right book for you. For me... I decided I'd rather reread "Victories Greater than Death," so that's what I'm doing now.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    (This review made possible by an Advance Reading Copy through NetGalley. NetGalley: Read Tomorrow's Books Today!) A collection of essays on writing and life from the delightful Charlie Jane Anders. Excellent advice for both when the Real World is going poorly, and contains amusing snark. To wit:Lately people keep asking me one question: how can we avoid writing burnout, when everything is one big trash-volcano? Okay, two questions. People also want to know the best way to make tiny pro-wrestler c (This review made possible by an Advance Reading Copy through NetGalley. NetGalley: Read Tomorrow's Books Today!) A collection of essays on writing and life from the delightful Charlie Jane Anders. Excellent advice for both when the Real World is going poorly, and contains amusing snark. To wit:Lately people keep asking me one question: how can we avoid writing burnout, when everything is one big trash-volcano? Okay, two questions. People also want to know the best way to make tiny pro-wrestler costumes for their thumbs—because thumb-wrestling is getting seriously artisanal lately.So yes. Two thumbs up, would but that I had more thumbs.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    “When you’re telling the story, you get to draw all the lines.” As an aspiring writer, this book was so powerful. I was only 15% in when I found myself writing down tons and tons of quotes. Charlie Jane Anders wrote this book in a simple, non-condescending way that really gave me the kick I need to start my story. Write whatever the fuck you want. It’s your story to tell. Thank you to Net Galley, Tordotcom, and Charlie Jane Anders for this advanced review copy! Never Say You Can’t Survive releases “When you’re telling the story, you get to draw all the lines.” As an aspiring writer, this book was so powerful. I was only 15% in when I found myself writing down tons and tons of quotes. Charlie Jane Anders wrote this book in a simple, non-condescending way that really gave me the kick I need to start my story. Write whatever the fuck you want. It’s your story to tell. Thank you to Net Galley, Tordotcom, and Charlie Jane Anders for this advanced review copy! Never Say You Can’t Survive releases on August 17th.

  29. 5 out of 5

    anklecemetery

    A series of highly personal essays about how to write stories in difficult times. Anders has solid advice, but her prose style relies heavily on pop culture in a way that turns me off a bit. If you've never read a guide to writing and you are seeking a queer approach to writing and worldbuilding methods, this would be a good place to start. If you have read more than one guide to writing, or you're not into the CW/YA as a genre/pop-inspired essays, you may feel ambivalent. A series of highly personal essays about how to write stories in difficult times. Anders has solid advice, but her prose style relies heavily on pop culture in a way that turns me off a bit. If you've never read a guide to writing and you are seeking a queer approach to writing and worldbuilding methods, this would be a good place to start. If you have read more than one guide to writing, or you're not into the CW/YA as a genre/pop-inspired essays, you may feel ambivalent.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Norman Parker

    This is just another book about 'surviving' the Trump presidency. Oh amazing crises in our lives, a four-year presidential appointment... poor baby. Yes, there were other circumstances she mentioned but the big one was a presidency she could not abide. Skipping ahead, I found some decent suggestions in this book but the sour intestine premise that she couched as trauma was too much to bear. This is just another book about 'surviving' the Trump presidency. Oh amazing crises in our lives, a four-year presidential appointment... poor baby. Yes, there were other circumstances she mentioned but the big one was a presidency she could not abide. Skipping ahead, I found some decent suggestions in this book but the sour intestine premise that she couched as trauma was too much to bear.

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