The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

byJohn Gardner

Kobo ebook | August 18, 2010

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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.  

From the Trade Paperback edition.

John Gardner, one of the authors of the well-known James Bond stories, was born in Northumberland, England on November 20, 1926. He attended Cambridge University and was a member of the Royal Marines. He became a journalist and a critic after leaving the service. Gardner's first novel was "The Liquidator" (1964) and it introduced the c...
Title:The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young WritersFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:August 18, 2010Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307756718

ISBN - 13:9780307756718

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Understanding novels as a Writer or indeed, a Reader Gardner does give us notes on the art and craft of good novel writing not just a "how not to". A sample of fundamental insights that stuck with me include: How to build the dream; how to develop good characters and; The three participants in the novel being the author, the character and the reader. These and other wisdoms build not only your competence but an agility as well as the critiquing skills that help you determine what has not been "good" in your writing in the past, but also what will make good fiction in the future. I also found it fascinating not only as a writer but also a reader of fiction. You start to examine great authors' own craft. I reread Greene, Waugh, Forster, Thomas and a host of other fiction-writing greats with a new appreciation of their mastery. A mastery so recognized that it left me tingling at their brilliance... so... a very very good book indeed. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy reading. Enjoy writing. Enjoy its inspiration!
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Helpful with vague explanations for many concepts The basic idea for The Art Of Fiction by John Gardner seems to be that writers should not do “things that distract the reader’s mind from the fictional dream.” Gardner does not believe in a secret formula to writing a good work of fiction, thus he explains common errors, technique, and plotting. He also explains different forms of fiction writing: the novel, novella, and short story; and discusses a few different types of stories one can write: the energeic novel, lyrical novel, and architectonic novel. He examines the limitations to different points of view, such as the first-person, third-person, and third-person limited point of view. There were also several group and individual exercises at the back. I fount that what was stated was quite helpful, much more than what many other writing books offer. The following are a few points that I found useful: -Fiction that ends up nowhere, with no win or loss, makes us think we are in a hurry, and later we discover that there was nothing to be in a hurry about. -Fiction cannot have any real interest “if the central character is not an agent struggling for his or her own goals but a victim, subject to the will of others.” (65) This is a common mistake for beginners. It is important for the central character to act because the readers then care about what will happen, the character’s desires, and their values. -To make the character’s motives convincing, the origins must be shown throughout the plot. Thus, a lot of what goes into a story is because the writer needs it there to justify a later action, show the source of motivation, or to reveal a character trait. -Don’t use ‘that’ or ‘which’ to stretch out your sentence because it causes the sentence to have an anticlimactic ending. -"Dig out the fundamental meaning of events by organizing the imitation of reality around some primary question or theme suggested by character’s concern." (176) -"Theme ... is not imposed on the story, but evoked from within it-initially an intuitive but finally and intellectual act on the part of the writer." (177) -Research the theme to make fiction a serious thought. For example, if nakedness is the theme, then discuss if openness is a virtue or defect, what is said in Christianity and pagan myth about it, and how naked should people be. Search for connections between images. -Create connections: our minds return to images and events, thus if the hero meets a person in the graveyard, then that “character’s next appearance will carry with it some residue of the graveyard setting.” (192) 3.5/5
Date published: 2010-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Improves Any Writers Quality This book really helps someone who wants to write fiction. It is very helpful and provides some exercises to accelerate anyone's skill to their maximum skill.
Date published: 2006-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For Readers Too! I'm not so young. I'm not a writer. Why did I like this book so much? If you are thinking of writing fiction, this is an excellent resource. So much better than the ubiquitous "10 Steps to Story That Sells", it really helps you appreciate the Art of writing, without being snooty or pedantic. If you are interested in reading fiction, this is an excellent reference. It really helps you appreciate the Art in writing. I think that I can better appreciate the work that a good writer puts into his/her writing now, and I have a better idea of why some stories work for me. Gardner provides plenty of examples to help you understand the concepts,and he often refers to writers and their works to further illuminate his points. (Although my 14-year-old son did have some trouble understanding the section on rhythm -- yes, rhythm in a book about prose! -- but it's hard to write about an aural phenomenon.) I found that The Art of Fiction has made me more confident in myself as a reader; now I not only know what I like or don't like, but I know why, too.
Date published: 2000-09-11