- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (June 4, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679734031
- ISBN-13: 978-0679734031
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers Reissue 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 Inside Flap
"John Gardner was famous for his generosity to young writers, and (this book) is his . . . gift to them. The Art of Fiction 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."--The New York Times Book Review.
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Top customer reviews
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Rather than rules, Gardner proposes a theory of fiction and everything (that...Read more