The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers Reissue Edition, Kindle Edition
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"It will fascinate anyone interested in how fiction gets put together. For the young writer it will become a necessary handbook, a stern judge, an encouraging friend... In the first half of the book, Gardner investigated just what fiction is. In the second half, he treats specific technical matters. The Art of Fiction is filled with lecture counsel, wise encouragement." -John L'Heureux, The New York Times Book Review
"A densely packed book of advice to all writers, not just young ones... It is serious, provocative, and funny, and I recommend it to anyone who cares about literature."- Margaret Manning, The Boston Globe
"He lays out virtually everything a person might want to know [about] how to say it, with good and bad examples and judgments falling like autumn leaves in a November storm." -William McPherson, The Washington Post
"The next best thing to graduate workshop in fiction writing. Drawing on examples from Homer to Kafka to Joyce Carol Oates, Gardner unravels the mysteries of plot, sentence structure, diction, and point of view." - Book-of-the-Month Club News
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
- ASIN : B003N9AZG4
- Publisher : Vintage; Reissue edition (May 21, 2010)
- Publication date : May 21, 2010
- Language : English
- File size : 2005 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 211 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #389,555 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Part II covers the common pitfalls and offers technical advice. Style and structure are covered, with especially good lessons on diction and proper sequencing of signals in the test (stimulus, involuntary reaction, voluntary reaction--which may be thought of as cause & effect and is explained in greater depth in Dwight V. Swain's book as Motivation-Reaction Units), with solid explanations for why mistakes here harm the fictional dream and why it is important to get it right. Also covered are the "clumsy writing" mistakes such as characters looking in mirrors to shoehorn description into the text, as well as melodrama, which relies on cheap sleight of hand in writing as opposed to real drama. I loved the section on vocabulary, which explained the problem with writing-by-thesaurus while emphasizing the importance of expanding ordinary vocabulary that include more uncommon words (such as technical architectural terms like "lintel," which, while uncommon, are a benefit to writing) as well as brand names.
What this book will do:
- Give you a good overview of fiction
- Help you understand what fiction tries to accomplish, why, and how
- Explain the common clumsy mistakes and how to avoid them
- Provide you exercises
- Entertain you with Gardner's engaging writing voice (so it doesn't feel like a manual)
What this book won't do:
- Help you understand nonfiction and how to write it
- Cover the common mistakes in-depth
- Give you genre-specific advice
- Cover anything related to self-publishing
- Explain the business of writing
- Take the place of critiquers, beta readers, or editors
This is a great intro to writing craft book. It should, at the very least, help you understand what you're trying to do and identify your weaknesses so that you may find more narrowly tailored resources to help you. I find myself referring to the passages I highlighted quite often, both in the paperback and the Kindle version.
FWIW, the Kindle version is now searchable. When I first bought it, it was not. The search function is a *great* help.
Although John Gardner was barely an average sort of novelist, this book remains the finest book on writing fiction ever penned.
What can be said about Gardner that hasn't been said yet? One of the best books on writing about writing that I have read. Comparable to Stephen King's, On Writing. Yes, it is that good. In Part I Gardner lays out a compelling treatise about the genre of fiction, what it is and why it is important. In Part II he discusses the how-to of writing good fiction, where he talks about common errors, technique and plotting at length. One of the benefits from reading The Art of Fiction is that it gives the reader a crash course in literature, who many of us that come from a Science, Technical, Engineering and Math (STEM) background are sorely lacking in. This said a writer who has grown up in the sciences, or engineering, or business worlds will find this book very useful in "catching up" a bit to our friends who have read all of classics and can retell significant scenes as though they were there. Again, this is a must (must) read for ALL writers, not just fiction writers.
Top reviews from other countries
So, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf.. all these people were what - bad writers? Really?
I wouldn’t recommend this to any aspiring writers. I’m a Published Author and it put me off. God alone knows what it would do to someone who’s just starting out. Also, for a book on fiction teaching authors to have clearly presented ideas - this book seems to have been written by a scatter brain.
I first came across John Gardner's name in a small piece by Raymond Carver, who, it seems, was taught largely by him. He's regarded as one of the best creative writing teachers America has ever had.
This book is great, but all successful writers are clear on one point, that you'll never be good without tonnes of writing practice. Without proper focus and instruction though, endless writing may lead nowhere. With this book, your writing cannot fail to improve.
J Gardner's 'On Becoming a Novelist', which deals with more personal aspects of writing, is excellent too...