Review of Polly Wants to Be a Writer by Edward Mak

by Edward Mak, Age 16, Hong Kong


Polly Wants to Be a Writer CoverWriting is something that’s often seen to be a rigorous, monotonous process, but Polly Wants to Be a Writer, through its imaginative characters and entertaining—and sometimes brilliantly humorous—storyline, proves that it is just the opposite.

The story centres around a teenager named Polly, a fifteen-year-old who is filled with brilliant ideas—the one about the vampire-wolf in particular made me laugh—but has trouble developing them into actual publishable pieces of writing.

I must admit that I was skeptical and wary at first—part due to the purplish children’s book cover, part due to the dreariness of previous writing guides I’ve read—but I must say that there is something for everyone in Polly Wants to Be a Writer.

Polly’s problem with writer’s block very much parallels the struggles that I face as writer. Like Polly, I’ve too struggled with developing an idea into a coherent piece of work. The moments in which Polly learns to write are brief, but I found this is what made this part-novel, part-instruction manual such an engaging read. Writing tips aren’t crammed into the novel but rather slowly introduced to the reader, with lengthy parts of actual storyline in between, which is the time where the reader can slowly digest what he or she has just learned. Come to think of it, the way in which the novel is written very much parallels a writer’s journey of growth. Writers don’t instantly become masters of their craft but rather slowly build up their set of skills over a long period of time.

The characters prove to be both quirky and imaginative. Polly, the main character of the novel, is someone that we all relate to. We share in Polly’s troublesome plight from the very beginning of the novel, feel Polly’s anxiousness in Dr. Mammozarack’s “depression clinic,” and share in the success that Polly feels when she completes the first draft of her story at the end of the novel.

The story is lighthearted and a quick read. I loved the representation of our inner literary critic as a dragon. The idea of “muzzling” our literary dragons is a metaphor that I’m sure will help younger kids understand the importance of allowing our ideas to run wild during the first few stages of writing. Scrum was actually one of my favourite elements of the book. Without Scum, the novel wouldn’t have been as nearly as funny as it is. I was laughing when Scrum ate Polly’s laptop. I think, as readers, we were meant to feel sympathetic toward Polly, but I had a great laugh when reading that particular bit of the book.

This novel is great for young aspiring writers like Polly but also for those who just want something to read. Polly is a great story in itself.


Exclusively available in the LTC Store: Polly Writing Workbooks for short story, essay and poetry writing.


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