The Young Writer's Companion


130 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88899-371-4
DDC j808'.042






Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


“You can use this book in many different ways,” writes Sarah Ellis
in her introduction to this quirky notebook. “Start a journal or a
masterpiece, make lists and doodles, use it as a scrapbook to collect
clippings, neat words or headlines. Store your ideas until one day,
faced with a blank piece of paper or an empty screen, you can take them
out and let them grow.”

Ellis’s own writing has earned her an impressive backlist and a
Governor General’s Award for children’s literature. In this book,
she lists the ways she gets down to the writing process and splices in
advice from many other writers. The format is a combination of short
chapters, pithy sidebars, and lots of blank lines for the owner’s own
creative thoughts.

In one sidebar, Ellis mentions that author Lois Duncan got her start in
story writing by making up imaginary disaster tales in the hope that
they would give her little brother nightmares. In a small chapter, Ellis
describes how Lucy Maud Montgomery was inspired to write Anne of Green
Gables after seeing a newspaper story about an elderly couple who wanted
to adopt a boy but instead were sent a girl. Other topics cover the ways
diaries, family stories, letters, dreams, weird neighbors, and even word
games can plant seeds for a new story or even novel.

Although aimed at young readers, The Young Writer’s Companion would
be a fine gift for anyone bitten by the writing bug. Highly recommended.


Ellis, Sarah., “The Young Writer's Companion,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024,