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The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

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

  • Title: The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
  • Author: John Gardner
  • ISBN: 9780679734031
  • Page: 430
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers By John Gardner 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,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.
    The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers By John Gardner

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    One thought on “The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

    1. Christy on said:

      This is one of very, very many books on how to write fiction Gardner s book strives to offer than the multitude of alternatives do, however, and, generally, I d say he succeeds The first half of the book is devoted to theoretical discussions of the art of fiction, some of which is very useful and some of which is quite particular to Gardner s own literary tastes And his tastes definitely color the advice he gives It is mostly sound advice for those who wish to write fiction in the tradition of [...]

    2. Samir Rawas Sarayji on said:

      This is Gardner s classic text of how to write The incredibly arrogant tone and egotistical voice of Gardner drove me nuts at times but I plowed through to the end.The book s in two parts, the first is a collection of four essays on literature titled Notes on Literary Aesthetic Theory of which, the first two were engaging and insightful The third essay was twice as long as any of the others and gave me the impression of how much Gardner is in love with his own ideas and how infallible he believe [...]

    3. L.h. on said:

      for my creative writing class 40 pages in, I ve found a lot of useful thought, but my reactions scribbled in the margins have tended towards And Lord Gardner now graces the mere mortals with his beneficent gift of knowledge How kind and Everytime you re a misogynist, God kills a kitten and I think every 11th grade English teacher in America would disagree, Johnny re Steinbeck s failure of a novel, the unheard of and obviously inferior Grapes of Wrath REGARDLESS, if you want to write and can deal [...]

    4. Lisa Reads & Reviews on said:

      In The Art of Fiction, John Gardner explains what it takes for a writer to create great fiction it takes lots of hard work, advice that is helpful than reading manuals that set unrealistic expectations through vacuous cheer leading On a practical note, Gardner describes common mistakes and advises the writer on how to avoid them I was able to understand through Gardner s examples several mistaken tendencies in my writing.Some of his lessons are now standard knowledge, such as show, don t tell b [...]

    5. Gail on said:

      Kicking off this whole pursuit of mine to read about the art of writing, I picked a haughty tome to start with I wish I could gush about Gardner s teaching here the way others on have, but his points all of them valid and good darn near were lost on me on account of his high minded rhetoric and tone Not to mention the examples he chose to illustrate them with I ve never been a mythology girl so following Gardner s advice on the art of plotting through his rehashing of the Helen of Troy story wa [...]

    6. Grace on said:

      On the outside, John Gardner s The Art of Fiction Notes on Craft for Young Writers promises to be an intense and informative read on creating solid and effective fiction geared for new or fairly new writers Instead, The Art of Fiction is half literary theory and assumptions that all readers of this book are college educated people and the other half is equally as pompous diatribe on the fundamentals of writing rhythm, style, plot and point of view I am college educated My degree is in Writing an [...]

    7. Lewis Weinstein on said:

      reading again always something good to think about as I write and edit the sequel to A FLOOD OF EVIL A Flood of Evil

    8. sarah gilbert on said:

      It may be wonderful praise, may be a cautionary tale, that I began this book as a lark undertaken in the midst of two classes on memoir nonfiction is, I ve always believed, my life s work and serious work rewriting my food memoir s first chapter, and before I d half finished Gardner s book, I began a novel.As inspiration, this is either all of it or a great chill every sentence in this book is written with the clear undertone, writing a novel is hard, hard work That the work is worthwhile is nev [...]

    9. David Wise on said:

      Of the very slim shelf of books on writing that are worth a damn, The Art of Fiction is by far the best Passionate, evangelical, profound, deeply moving and extremely useful, it s meant for advanced writing students But everyone interested in writing can benefit from reading it beginner, advanced and professional Even book lovers who have no interest in becoming writers will become better readers for having come in contact with Gardner s wisdom.How powerful is this book After I gave my father a [...]

    10. John on said:

      Despite Gardner s claim that this is the best book of its kind, I didn t find it helpful at all Most of Gardner s ideas are surprisingly shallow considering how pretentiously and obnoxiously he writes In describing how to write prose fiction, Gardner constantly encourages his readers to emulate Shakespear, Homer, Dante, Mellville and Joyce despite the fact that Shakespear was a playwright, Homer and Dante wrote epic poems, and Melville and Joyce are virtually unreadable and torturous to the aver [...]

    11. Cassandra on said:

      Nobody s perfect, they generously observe But the true artist is impatient with such talk Circus knife throwers know that it is indeed possible to be perfect, and one had better be Perfection means hitting exactly what you are aiming at and not touching by a hair what you are not Gardner is mercilessly, obsessively scrupulous, almost to the level of snobbishness, in his concern that fiction should be moral that is, that every little gesture, every syllable, should ring true to human experience H [...]

    12. Francesca Marciano on said:

      What to say Compulsory reading for anybody attempting to write Gardner still rocks.

    13. Natasha Oliver on said:

      John Gardner let s you know in his preface that he is writing this book for the serious writer who he defines as the literary writer , so my fellow sci fi and fantasy writers genre , we are not his target audience However, that does not mean we can not learn from him.I do not recommend this to the writer who is beginning their journey By beginning, I mean who has never written a novel length manuscript unpublished of course or at least a novella I think Gardner presents too much detail and too m [...]

    14. John on said:

      This book on fiction writing is commonly recommended I was less impressed by it than I had expected and hoped to be Be forewarned the prose is verbose, dull, rambling, and frequently wanders off into digressions I found it hard to maintain interest.High points Gardner s concept of psychic distance as part of POV the concept of frigidity when the writer accidentally lets slip that he really doesn t care about a character and profluence , the reader s sense that the story is progressing There are [...]

    15. Rachael Sherwood on said:

      I typically walk away from books about writing with a few new tips or tricks and maybe a new idea This book is very different As the title reflects, it explores fiction as both craft and art At first I worried that Gardner was kind of pretentious his style is certainly very academic But he managed to fuse together solid writing advice with interesting theory in a way that challenged me to think about how I approach writing without making me feel like I had to write like the classics He uses clas [...]

    16. Joseph on said:

      I ve had a lot of writer s tell me about Gardner s book, but I never got around to reading it until now I m glad I did It s a gem While an esteemed teacher of writing, as well as a well respected writer in his own right,Gardner freely admits there are no absolutes in creating fiction All things are at least theoretically possible I like his honesty and the relatively modest task he sets out for those who choose to teach creative writing Not surprising, is his assertion that a key to good writing [...]

    17. Nina on said:

      Dear Mr Gardner,You don t know me, but I know you particularly another work of yours, Grendel I was intrigued by your sense of humor and your unerring ear for words However, I figured this would be our first and last meeting.Consider me surprised, then, when my parents gave your little gray book to me for Christmas Thought it might be interesting, they said, which is accurate I plan to go into creative writing, and a little guidance would be helpful Most advice I ve gotten would have me studying [...]

    18. Drew Lackovic on said:

      I had this as a required text in my Senior Creative Writing class in college No one, not even the Prof cared for this book apparently it was one of those this book is required mandates from the powers that be.The problem I had with this book, is the problem I have with John Gardner in general He was the type of person who believes the world should be one way, and you should follow his law However, he can break that law whenever he wants.The book struck me as a pile of double standards, and a lot [...]

    19. Ryandake on said:

      quite probably the best book i ve ever read on writinge finest part of it is that it skips all the simple stuff at the baseline level characterization, metaphor, dialogue not that gardner doesn t have a few things to say about each, but he clearly has assumed that his reader has educated herself on the basics this is in some ways not really for absolute novice writers it assumes at least some education or habit in analyzing a text critically gardner is free to take off from the middle of the mou [...]

    20. Jamie Maltman on said:

      I almost stopped reading at the beginning, because of his liberal use of the word trash, applied to a lot of genre fiction and contemporary art and culture But I had a gut feeling to persevere, and I m glad I did There are indeed some very useful and important points on craft to be found in this book, as well as good exercises at the end And yes, he s a lot nuanced in his views, and actually pushes literary focused authors to try and make their works enjoyable and interesting on than just an i [...]

    21. Courtney Stirrat on said:

      Good description is symbolic not because the writer plants symbols in it but because, by working in the proper way, he forces symbols still largely mysterious to him up into his conscious mind where, little by little as his fiction progresses, he can work with them and finally understand them To put this another way, the organized and intelligent fictional dream that will eventually fill the reader s mind begins as a largely mysterious dream in the writers mind Bingo.I adore this snarky, arrogan [...]

    22. Nic on said:

      Since the 1980s, when I got serious about writing creatively, I ve been hearing John Gardner praised to the skies I suspect he was one of the first writers to really elevate teaching to an art, beating the plethora of how to write books that now flood the shelves And while it s de riguer to speak ill of the dead, I am finding this text both condescending and needlessly dense Many of his ideas are right on, but I have heard them accessibly expressed in the past thirty years than they are here So [...]

    23. Garrett Cook on said:

      Considered ideal for young writers, but its exercises are masochistic and often sheer folly Gardner himself wrote tedium is the worst pain and trying to slog through Art of Fiction exercises would leave old Grendel raging at any number of additional Meadhalls The text itself is good and you can find sound advice in it, but there are much better writing books out there It might have paved the way, but so did 8 tracks.

    24. Rod Raglin on said:

      Duties, responsibilities and the author s obligation to tell the truth One of the most interesting things about this book is how attitudes have changed in regards to what it means to be an author The Art of Fiction Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner, was published in 1984, long before the advent of online platforms that make self publishing free and easy to any and everyone This is not your How to Write a Novel for Dummies and Gardner definitely would not have supported everyone s [...]

    25. Dave on said:

      Other books on writing are geared to early beginners or spend a lot of time on style word choice , sentences, pargraphs The art of fiction speaks to a advanced amateur Gardner makes unique observations about writing and give wise advice Some main takeaways fiction is like a dream, you have to keep it going by adding in real details Fiction is composed in structural units, its not one big breath, its like a series of excercise Most of the characters, dialogue and action is obligatory based on o [...]

    26. Casee Marie on said:

      What moves us is not just that characters, images, and events get some form of recapitulations or recall We are moved by the increasing connectedness of things, ultimately a connectedness of values John Gardner was perhaps as well known if not so for his instruction on writing as for his own fictional works, and his Art of Fiction Notes on the Craft for Young Writers compiles the fullness of his teachings on what makes a great writer great There is, on the whole, a lot to take away from Gardner [...]

    27. Serena on said:

      John Gardner s The Art of Fiction is pretentious and not one of my favorite writing books at all I ve heard about this book for sometime and figured I would give it a try So I picked it up from the library, hoping to learn something new and enjoy the book I usually don t bash books on the blog, but I cannot recommend this one outright.Gardner s style of writing in the book bored me to tears it reminded me of those professors that put the class to sleep in college I was an eager college student w [...]

    28. Eric on said:

      The weight of the fourth and possibly third star comes from the chapters Common Errors and much of Technique These portions are where Garder s advice is most concrete, practical and most universal That s not to say that a guide to writing should merely be a composition handbook since the advice is complex than no passive sentences It delves into how a story can work line by line That knowledge alone, I think, helps a writer become much aware of what their work is doing.Removing the above chapt [...]

    29. Jason Coleman on said:

      So in the many years since I read this book, John Gardner not only kicked the bucket in a motorcycle accident but he somehow turned into John Champlin Gardner Jr I had totally forgotten about this book and Gardner s nearly identical On Becoming a Novelist until I was poking around on this site a couple days ago, and there he was If only through his books, Gardner was the first writing teacher I was ever exposed to, and so his ideas had a disproportionately strong grip on me I remember being OK w [...]

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