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1 Beaverton Reference- Writing Fiction

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers


The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers Cover

ISBN13: 9780679734031
ISBN10: 0679734031
Condition: Standard
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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

dougpinkston, April 23, 2010 (view all comments by dougpinkston)
Gardner is an American classic. At his best, he is the best writer of English prose I've ever read. (See October Light.) His non-fiction is complex, poetic and clever. I don't understand it all, but I enjoy the ride -- which is the point.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
believemeyou, March 16, 2010 (view all comments by believemeyou)
John Gardner is a feisty provocateur in "The Art of Fiction." The book is full of insights that can and do guide the young writer. Who am i kidding? It still helps me and I am not young. I especially like the section that chastises the writer for the use of Latinate phrases. This book is a rare treasure and the voice--OK the voice--yes it is dated--but wise and Gardner's craft talk resists the forces of time. Who cares if he is out of contemporary step--his methods may be old but his lessons are classic. And every time I read this book, every time i come across that niggling voice--he is alive again. He is slamming my over-wrought syntax--he withering my diction. Gardner's teaching has become legendary and though i never had the chance to hear his voice--I still do. If you read this book and allow that voice to speak to you--you will become a better writer. The craft book has the power to transform your work if you let him scold you and deride you and sneer at your fancy prose. In "The Art of Fiction" John Gardner does not mask his voice. He'll spank your prose and lead you into your own dream of fiction. It's not a difficult read unless you're "sensitive." Sink into this book--if it doesn't make you a better writer it might just spook you a bit.
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sudra, July 24, 2009 (view all comments by sudra)
I have to agree with "a reader" below - this is NOT a book for young writers. In fact, it's more likely to discourage young writers.

Gardner seems so distracted by his love of language and the theory of fiction that he's unable or unwilling to communicate his "notes on craft" in a clear and simple manner.

There are some important concepts in this book, but you'll likely have to read it twice with a highlighter in hand if you want to get anything out of it.

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Aelnyana, February 17, 2007 (view all comments by Aelnyana)
This book is not, as the previous review suggests, too obtuse and merely abstract. Rather, The Art of Fiction is a perfect choice for every young writer to peruse and understand. Among other things, Gardner introduces in this book his significant and classic theory of "the fictional dream," his proposal that an author's responsiblity is to create a dream-like state for the reader, completely capturing him into the story with techniques available to every writer. He talks about fiction not just as storytelling or a way to make money, but as art, an art which is capable of being not only learned but refined by using several methods, some of which Gardner describes herein. This book describes, quite simply, as the back cover blurb says, "..the principles and techniques of good writing." He is more explicit about writing method in his other classic book on writing, On Becoming a Novelist, but this book is a basic bible that absolutely should be required reading for every writer, and is really no less important. I highly recommend this book for anyone thinking to step out upon the course of bringing stories to life between the covers of books.
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a reader, January 19, 2007 (view all comments by a reader)
This is more a book on literary theory than a book which will help you to write better. The author states this up front about the first chapter, but the theorizing continues till the end of the book.

Gardner talks about specific works of fiction, but at a very high level, withoug including many extracts. He draws distinctions based only on the name of an author; often no particular book or passage is cited.

Gardner should have included a list of books that should be read and well understood before tackling 'The Art of Fiction'. A reader can be well-read, but still not have any way of knowing what Gardner is talking about.

I gave this only two stars, because I personally don't like literary theory that isn't concrete.
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(8 of 16 readers found this comment helpful)
 1-5 of 5

Product Details

Gardner, John
Vintage Books
Laslocky, J.
Laslocky, J.
Gardner John
New York :
Writing Skills
History, criticism and surveys
Composition & Creative Writing - Fiction
Fiction -- Technique.
Fiction -- Authorship.
REFERENCE / Writing Skills
Literature-A to Z
Reference-Writing Fiction
Edition Number:
Vintage Books ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
TM 10-4510-206-14
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.02x5.18x.63 in. .49 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Reference » Writing » Fiction
Reference » Writing » General

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers Used Trade Paper
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Product details 240 pages Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - English 9780679734031 Reviews:
"Review" by , "John Gardner was famous for his generosity to young writers, and (this book) is 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."
"Synopsis" by , This classic guide, from the renowned novelist and professor, has helped transform generations of aspiring writers into masterful writers—and will continue to do so for many years to come.  


John Gardner was almost as famous as a teacher of creative writing as he was for his own works. In this practical, instructive handbook, based on the courses and seminars that he gave, he explains, simply and cogently, the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner’s lessons, exemplified with detailed excerpts from classic works of literature, sweep across a complete range of topics—from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of a refined sentence. Written with passion, precision, and a deep respect for the art of writing, Gardner’s book serves by turns as a critic, mentor, and friend. Anyone who has ever thought of taking the step from reader to writer should begin here.  

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